How the Cheesecake Factory Menu Can Make You a Better Closer

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 15:09 PM

cheesecake-factory

Have you ever visited a Cheesecake Factory?  I LOVE the menu - they offer EVERYTHING.  The downside is that because there are so many items to choose from, it's difficult to decide what to order.  That's better than the options you have with my Blog.  [Please stay with me - the info on how to become a better closer is coming and if you can't wait, just scroll to the last 4 paragraphs.]

Buried in here - somewhere - are more than 1,700 articles.  But can you find any of them?  I can't!   If you scroll the left-side navigation of the Blog, you'll see that I created several categories but most of the series are not up-to-date.  Shame on me.  Despite that, there is a better chance of finding the articles you are most interested in by selecting the appropriate series than by scrolling or using the built-in Google search functionality..

The left-hand navigation menu begins with an opportunity to subscribe to the Blog, order Baseline Selling, followed by the article series, the most popular articles of all-time, 10 most recent articles, awards, and finally, free resources.

My top 5 favorite categories are:

Data and Research 
Comparing Salespeople to Children 
Sales Pipeline 
Music and Selling 
Articles Debunked 

From the most popular articles of all time, my top 5 favorites are

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments
SPIN and Miller Heiman Compared to Baseline Selling
Personality Assessments - The Definitive Case Study
How Your Salespeople Measure Up in 21 Sales Core Competencies
Rebuttal to What Elite Salespeople Do Differently

As with the Cheesecake Factory, the choices are practically limitless but the restaurant has a much better menu.  Salespeople are guilty of the Cheesecake Factory approach too.  We'll call it the CFF for Cheesecake Factory Factor.  Several complications occur when salespeople provide their prospects with too many choices:

  • They GIVE prospects a reason to think it over which results in delayed closings
  • They FAIL to be an expert.  If they asked the right questions and actually listened to the responses, then there would be only one ideal recommendation and/or solution that is both needs and cost appropriate.
  • They ALLOW their competitors to demonstrate their own expertise, recommending a single ideal solution and differentiating.

This will seem cheesy but compare the Cheesecake Factory to a 1960's era McDonalds.  There were only 2 choices back then - a hamburger or a cheeseburger. Of course you could order fries and a shake too.

Here's how it might sound: 

Based on what I know about you, I strongly recommend that you order the cheeseburger from the Cheesecake Factory, which will be a healthier choice than McDonalds.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cheesecake factory, top sales blog, Closing Skills

Can Free Sales Content Send You Down a Dangerous Path?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 02, 2016 @ 05:05 AM

FreeCouch.jpg

Did you ever drive down a street and see a "free stuff" sign?  Maybe it was a free sofa, chair, or table.  Maybe it was a free lawnmower or bicycle. It even could have been free kid's stuff.  Nearly all of the free stuff you find on the side of the road, available to the first taker, is somebody else's junk.  Instead of throwing it out, and rather than taking the time to donate it (if an organization would have it), they are simply giving it away.  

On the Web, there are three kinds of free sales content available.  

There are free articles - like this one - where you could be inspired, might have to think a bit, might learn of an approach you weren't aware of, or might be privy to some statistics or science you hadn't read about.  

There are free White Papers, which could be anything from a scientific report on Sales Selection, Longevity,Trust, or The Challenger Sale (the topics of my White Papers), to a marketing piece made to look like a scientific report.  

And there are Free Downloads offering a great value in exchange for your name and email address.  I downloaded one such free value this weekend - a Sales Process Cheat Sheet - which promised a standardized playbook and a simple, easy-to-follow sales methodology to help managers coach their inside sales reps into following a proven, standardized process from discovery to close.  Was there value?  It was a joint promotion from Hubspot and InsideSales.com. - maybe you received the same offer in your inbox.  Was it any good?  Was it a process?  Was it a playbook?  Was it a methodology?

It was designed for inside salespeople - BDR's and SDR's - whose role is to connect with prospects and book meetings for account executives or AE's.  In my opinion, it was not a Playbook because it did not show how to execute the call.  Playbooks are how-to's with scripts and action trees.  It was not a Methodology because it did not have a defined approach for moving from one milestone to the next.  Methodologies focus on the kind of conversation that is required to move from one step and stage to the next.  And it was not a Process because it was focused on tasks and outcomes, more than a series of milestones.  A sales process must have stages (typically 4-6) and within each stage, milestones that build on each other.  

Worse than not really being any of the things it was advertised to be, it was WAY TOO COMPLEX for sales reps whose job is to book meetings.  By comparison, the sales processes that Kurlan & Associates builds for companies are designed to be thorough, yet clear, concise and simple.  Simple does not imply that it is inadequate.  Simple means that it works without being overly complex or difficult to execute. Of course Kurlan charges for its work and the cheat sheet we have been talking about was free.  Does that mean it was as valuable as the old sofa, chair or table?

One of the many reader emails I received last week was from someone complaining that he used to get value from my articles, but no longer felt like he did.  I responded to him, apologized, and asked what I could write about that would be valuable for him.  He didn't respond.  No article can be all things to all people.  I'm sure that if you're a regular reader, you dismiss some as easily as you find some save-worthy.  Then there's the free part.  I always save the best stuff for the paying clients, for the consulting and training and coaching and evaluating and recruiting.  Unfortunately, and honestly, the material you get for free falls more into the tease category than the value category.   Even Amazon Prime does that.  There are certain movies that Prime members can watch for free, but you have to pay for the best stuff. 

There are some great thought leaders writing good articles in the sales space.  Just look at the list of the Top 50 Sales Bloggers and you will surely find some useful free content.  But as with my material, the others will save the best, most valuable, and most important information for their paying clients.

It's great that today you can get stuff for free.  Just don't confuse what you get for free with what others are paying for.

Speaking of paying - this is the final call for the last 2 available seats for my Sales Leadership Intensive, May 17-18 outside of Boston. [Update - Sold Out].

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales process, sales methodology, inside sales, top sales blog, insidesales.com, sales playbook

Lots of Gold and Bronze for Sales Achievements in 2015

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 08:12 AM

Blog-Gold-2015.jpg

My final blog post of 2015 is a brag article.  Sorry.  Feel free to stop reading now if you don't care about the outcome of the 2015 Top Sales Awards.  Before I list the awards, I want to congratulate all of this year's nominees and winners.  This year's winners are truly the best of the best and that was further emphasized this year with the elimination of the popular vote.  Instead, all of the winners were determined by a panel of 24 judges, all sales experts who were not nominated for awards this year.  Objective Management Group (OMG) and I were nominated for 7 awards and here are the results:

For the fifth consecutive year, OMG won the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment Tool.  That makes me so proud and to me it's a more important award than all of the personal awards combined.  Developing the finest sales evaluation and assessment has been my life's work and I am so proud of the work my team does every single day of the year. Not a day goes by where we don't attempt to make every component of our sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessments better.  The award continues to validate those efforts!

My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, won the Gold Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2015.  I am very proud that my Blog has earned a medal for 5 consecutive years!

One of my Blog Posts, Fix Your Mediocre Pipeline for Accurate Sales Forecasts, won the Bronze Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post of 2015.

My eBook, 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales, won the Bronze Medal for the Top Sales & Marketing eBook of 2015

And finally, I was awarded the Bronze Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader of 2015.

If you're still here, thanks for reading all year.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a safe and happy New Year.  I'll be back with more thought-provoking material in January!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top sales blog, gold medal, top sales assessment tool

Sales Traditions and Rituals - They're Not Just for December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 @ 05:12 AM

holiday traditionFor some salespeople, selling is as caked in tradition and ritual as any religious ceremony.  To get a sense of this, consider the many inside sales roles, demo-centric salespeople, and low-level, in-home salespeople.   Many inside salespeople repeatedly read from the same script.  Most demo-centric salespeople must cover all of the features and benefits.  And many in-home salespeople perform a mini-show on every sales call.

I have several rituals that I can share with you below.  I always:

  • visit their website to get a sense for what they do,
  • prepare to take lots of notes,
  • visualize the outcome,
  • guide them through a conversation that they've never had with anyone before,
  • hit the milestones of our sales process, and
  • discuss and agree to next steps.

December is also the time of year when companies and salespeople send cards, pretzels, brownies, cookies, popcorn, wine, champagne, and other gifts.  These actions are very kind and generous, but not unexpected.  A nice note, card or gift, at a time of year when it's not expected, can differentiate you and your company even more!

Along with the holiday traditions celebrated by you, your family and friends, my Blog has three traditions in December:

  1. I ask readers to vote for their favorite article from the past 12 months (coming next week). 
  2. I am honored to have won one or more of  the annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards since the event's inception several years ago.  This year I was nominated for 3 awards and Objective Management Group was nominated for 1 award.   
  3. I always repost this very popular article from several Decembers ago, Only 11% of Salespeople Do This at the End of a Call.  There are 3 great lessons in this article that are still true today.

Do you have any sales rituals or traditions that you would like to share in the comments?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, top sales blog, Nutcracker, top sales thought leader, top sales assessment, Top Sales Article

Insider Opinion - Why Sales Experts Can't Agree on Anything

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 @ 17:11 PM

debateI recently published, Increase in Social Selling Yields No Improvement in KPI's.  In addition to my blog, this article appeared on at least 5 other websites leading to many interesting comments and very strong opinions.  The discussions, comments and opinions, especially at CustomerThink.com, helped me realize why so many experts are arguing - not only about the future of selling, but about what's taking place today, right now.  Among the things being debated are:

  • The migration from outside to inside sales - Yes, it's happening and it's good; but, it won't happen in every company, to every salesperson or necessarily soon.
  • The rise of inbound marketing - Yes, it's happening, and yes, it helps generate leads; but, it's not the be-all, end-all that inbound marketing folks make it out to be.  Salespeople are not being replaced.
  • The integration of social selling tools (the topic of the aforementioned article) - Yes, it's happening and it's helpful; but, it hasn't changed the results  - no measurable change in KPI's at all.
  • The death of selling - Yes, marketing people are predictably predicting this; and no, it's not going to happen.
  • The change in how selling will be conducted - Yes, it's changing; but, some of that change is for the wrong reasons and could be change for the sake of inbound marketing.

I wrote the following response to 12 conflicting comments on my article on CustomerThink.com:

Thank you all for contributing to the discussion and in both challenging and adding your own results and evidence for and against. I'm sure we're not done yet...
It's clear that everyone is approaching this from their own perspective, using their own experience, anecdotal evidence, surveys, studies, clients and subscribers, in the industries in which they work and the marketing and/or sales teams with whom they communicate.
I'll repeat the essence of the article because it already seems to be getting lost or twisted.
The data I used was a selection of around 10,000 Objective Management Group sales assessments (not a survey) completed in the month of June 2013. The results show us that usage of these tools is way up. The companies that these salespeople worked for were reporting no change, or worsening of KPI's. The conclusion is what you had the problem with: Lack of correlation between use of the tools and key sales metrics. That's it - nothing more and nothing less. How could you conclude anything else from this particular set of data?
The 10,000 assessments were taken in a cross-section of industries (companies in more than 200 industries use our assessments) so that is part of the problem. Most of you who are surprised with these results are working with companies and industries that are more likely to see results than the overall population of 15 million plus salespeople.

To summarize, most of the disagreements, arguments, challenges, and strong opinions occur when experts feel threatened by an opposing viewpoint or simply aren't in a position to have a similar viewpoint.  Many of the viewpoints, that are in opposition to what I write about, are from people who just don't have as broad a vantage point .  I am very fortunate to have unique access to data, science and business that isn't available to anyone else:

  • 200 Industries!  That's industries, not companies.  Most of the survey data being used out there is extremely limited by comparison.  Only big companies, only small companies, only SaaS companies, only companies that use inbound marketing, only marketing people responding, etc.
  • 700,000 salespeople!  That's a huge sample size and I can mine it for anything I need to find.  Not only that; but, the population has grown over the years so we can track changes to the data.
  • Salespeople!  We only look at three roles - sales, sales management and sales leadership.  Our data is validated, relevant and impressive.
  • Companies with sales organizations!  Due to the way we go to market, I have access, through our partners, to almost any company, anywhere; and as such, trends across those 200 industries, not just the companies I might personally be working with.
  • Manufacturing!  My colleagues, that limit themselves to technology companies or financial institutions or insurance companies, don't know what they're missing.  When I work with the executives of manufacturing companies, I get to see things before they happen.  Manufacturers are the first to experience increases, decreases and even global spending freezes (these occurred prior to November 2008), allowing me to see the trends before they happen.  These are forward-looking indicators and when the same things happen to multiple companies at the same time, we can predict shifts and changes in the economy.
  • Evaluations and Assessments!  Not surveys.  Anyone can use SurveyMonkey to ask questions, populate drop-down lists and incorporate radio buttons, send the survey to some companies and collect the data.  Surveys are typically a collection of questions and answers gathering opinions, aren't validated, and typically aren't representative of all people reading the results.  The data, that comes from our evaluations and assessments, is always based on science.  Validated.  Accurate.  Predictive.

Today there are a tremendous number of blogs on sales.  There are 85 of them featured on AllTop.com.  TopSalesWorld.com lists the top 50 sales blogs.  I counted 240 different people writing on the subject of sales at EvanCarmichael.com.  You should always consider the author's context, industry, background, experience and bias when reading their sales articles.  Ask yourself, "For this author to have this opinion, are they pushing an agenda, reporting on a trend within a particular industry, expressing an opinion formed only from their personal experience, selling something (I'm sometimes guilty of this), sharing the results of a skewed survey, talking about something that isn't globally applicable, suggesting something that isn't scalable, promoting something that isn't duplicable, talking about something that isn't even sound?"  Some would suggest that if someone causes someone to adopt something so outdated and ineffective in today's world, that they should be found guilty of malpractice.  And finally, the best of all; the experts that only post-attack comments on other experts' blogs.  Do I love them...

As with any industry, ours has some pretty smart, forward-thinking experts who can help any company with any challenge.  I know most of them.  Some of them partner with Objective Management Group.  But the number of really good ones is not 240 or 85 or even 50. Remember, that was the top 50 blogs - not the top 50 sales experts.  Some of the really good experts are included there and some aren't.  Some of the really good blogs are written by people you may not want helping you.  A blog does not make the top 50 list because the author is a brilliant sales mind.  Most of those rankings are based on number of posts, consistency in their posting, and number of readers.  I know a few great sales minds that don't have blogs and vice versa.

I've gone a bit off the track and probably pissed off a lot of people.  But what else is new?  I apologize.

Good things are happening in the world of sales and some of those things are coming your way.  Just keep both eyes open, your nose to the ground and your antenna up.  You'll intuitively know whether or not what you are reading is a bunch of bunk or the real deal.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales consulting, top sales blog, sales results, top sales expert, KPI, social selling

Top 5 Sales Leadership Articles of 2013 - So Far

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 @ 08:07 AM

top 5 sales articlesI found it difficult to select the Top 5 articles because that means different things to me.  Most Popular?  Best?  Most Commented?  Most Linked To?  Favorite?  Written in the last 6 months?  Read in the last 6 months?

I couldn't narrow them down for a single article, so I decided to go with the topics above.

 

1.  MOST POPULAR SALES ARTICLE

The most popular article was an article from two years ago, What's the Difference Between Sales Commitment and Motivation.

 

2.  MOST COMMENTED ON ARTICLE

The article receiving the most comments was on an Inc. Magazine article which I debunked, Inc. Gets it Wrong on Consultative Selling.

 

3.  MOST LINKED TO ARTICLE

The article, linked to more than any other, was simply a how-to article on email, Email for the Sales Force - How it Should be Used It was actually pretty simple, but got a lot of links.
 

4.  FAVORITE ARTICLE

My favorite from the past 6 months is well...I had two and since this is mine, to heck with the numbers.  The Doctor, The Drug Dealer and The User was fun and Why Accidental Sales Training Works More Effectively was insightful.

 

5.  TOP SALES THOUGHT LEADERSHIP ARTICLE

I had three for this one - the first, To Salespeople, Demos and Presentations are Like Snack Food; the second, View From the Top - When Salespeople Call on Purchasing; and the third, This is How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople.

 

And finally, as long as we are on the topic of Sales Leadership, you can reserve your seat and pay later for the November Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston on November 14-15.  Check out these video testimonials for the event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, top sales articles, top sales blog, top sales blog posts, top sales leadership

Questions You Should Ask Sales Candidates and Much More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 @ 07:12 AM

giftThis is my final post of 2011 so as my holiday gift to you I have included links to original articles I have written for other sites, links to some articles on this site, and links to two recent interviews.  All in all, there is enough material here to more than make up for the 10 days I won't be writing!

What are the Best Answers to Sales Interview Questions? is a terrific guide to the questions you should be asking, as well as what to look for in your candidates' answers.  I wrote this article for task.fm.

I also wrote How Do You Best Select a Candidate to Hire? and How Do You Manage Salespeople in a Startup Environment? for task.fm

Speaking of interviews, here are two interviews that were recently conducted with me:

Aaron Ross interviewed me for his Predictable Revenue Blog where the topics included sales process, music and fatherhood.  There is an article and the interview is here on audio.

Brendan Cournoyer interviewed me for OpenView Labs where the topic was Which Sales Competencies Matter Most? A transcript of the interview and audio are both on the page.

I wrote six articles for the Alister Paine blog.  They include: 

The Key to Driving Revenue 
How to Close More Business
Incentivizing Your Sales Force 
How to Predict and Prevent Sales Turnover 
What to Do With Your Useless Sales Pipeline
The Pros and Cons of Hiring Green Salespeople.

2011 was a terrific year.  My Blog won the Gold for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2011, my article, Money Motivated Salespeople a Dying Breed (there were two follow ups to that article; The Offer is here and Non-Stop Sales Motivator is here) won the Silver for Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post of 2011, Objective Management Group won the Gold for Top Sales Assessment Tool of 2011, and I was a finalist for Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader of 2011.  Thanks to the panel of expert judges for their decisions and to all of the readers that lended their support with the popular vote.

Have a great holiday!

Have a wonderful holiday and I'll be back in two weeks with more to disucss.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, hiring salespeople, top sales blog, money motivated salespeople, top sales thought leader, top sales blog post, sales assessments

Winning in Sales Isn't Everything - Yes it Is!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 17:11 PM

Sales Manager:  How did the call go?

Salesperson: Really good.

Sales Manager: Excellent.

Isn't that a lame discussion?  The sales manager can improve it by simply asking, "What made it such an excellent call?"

The salesperson might respond with, "They were willing to talk, they seemed to like me and they said they'd be happy to speak with me again."

Depending on where we are in the sales cycle, our response to that salesperson's answer should be:

Attempting to schedule a first meeting: Unacceptable

Moving from Suspect to Prospect: Uncacceptable.

Moving from Prospect to Qualified: Unacceptable.

Moving from Qualified to Closable: Unacceptable.

Moving from Closable to Closed: Unacceptable.

There must be a win, characterized by meeting defined criteria, not feelings, before one can say a call of any kind was excellent.  Yet that hypothetical sales conversation takes place in most offices of most companies on most days.  Sales managers should be asking things like, Why were they willing to talk?  Why will they talk with you again?  What can you help them with?  What are they hoping you can do?  Why would they want to do business with us? Why didn't you [insert next desired step here], etc.

Speaking of winning, Top Sales World will present awards to the winners in 11 categories in the first annual Top Sales Awards on December 16.  Jonathan Farrington, CEO of Top Sales World and Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power will be the hosts.

You can see the categories here.

My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, has been nominated for the Top Sales Blog but I was busy celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying some much needed time away and failed to let people know to vote for it.  So, now I'm a week behind and I need your help to generate enough votes to come from behind,  take over the lead and win this thing.  But you'll have to help!  To vote for this Blog as the Top Sales Blog of the Year, click here - but only if you think it is worthy.  I don't want votes out of obligation or friendship...or do I?  Sure - I'll take all the votes I can get.  You can even ask that miserable brother-in-law that you had to spend Thanksgiving with vote!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, Top Sales Awards, top sales blog, winning in sales, Top Sales World

Game Seven - There is No Tomorrow with This Sales Opportunity

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 @ 12:06 PM

Game 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had hoped to write this post a day earlier, before the drama of game 7 actually played out, before the outcome was in the books.  But busy happened.

I was thinking about all of the Game 7's that occur for companies, sales teams and salespeople, when there is no tomorrow.

I believe the phenomenon is counter-intuitive.  You hear about the last week of the month, quarter and year, and the sales managers that are putting on full-court presses, making calls, getting executive help and working overtime to get deals done.  But, in these scenarios, there is a tomorrow, at least from the prospects' perspective.  They can just as easily buy from you or someone else next week, next month or next year.  All this drama is just so that the sales folks can hit their numbers and they are only in these life or death situations - every month, quarter and year - because they didn't work the sales process as defined. They skipped steps, didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy, weren't thorough enough, didn't qualify effectively, and as a result, because of their artificial deadline, are offering price incentives to get the business closed today.  It's a bad strategy.  As soon as a competitor offers their price incentives to take the business away, your customer is either gone or becomes unprofitable.

There are some opportunities that do come down to No Tomorrow.  But those are customer/prospect driven, not sales driven.  Believe it or not, most sales organizations do not respond to the real Game 7 scenarios with the same urgency as they do in my previous example.  It seems that when it's more about "who will we choose?", instead of "How much of a discount will you offer?", salespeople are woefully ill-equipped to do what it takes to will a victory the way the Lakers did last night.

This is actually #19 of the Top 20 Requirements - How Salespeople Can be Better at Closing - differentiating themselves without talking about how they're different, but by asking questions instead.

Speaking of differentiating, I just learned that this Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, was named one of the Top 20 Blogs on Sales by the folks that write the Lead Generation Blog called, About Leads.

In summary, don't turn opportunities where there IS a tomorrow into a desperate, "How much of a price concession do we have to make?", last ditch effort to close it today scenario, but do turn a customer/prospect-initiated deadline into a Game 7 scenario where you do whatever it takes to earn that business!

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, Closing Sales, Game 7, top sales blog, lead generation

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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