Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

bugged.jpg

Yesterday, I noticed a large, furry, dead bug on the hood of my car. It seemed to be attached to the outer lip of the hood - like the edge of a cliff - right where the hood drops down to the grill. I got out of the car to remove the chunk of dead fur and I was shocked to see how wrong I was. It was dead all right, and it was furry. I'm not a tall person, so I wasn't sitting high enough in the car to notice the distance between the bug and the lip of the hood, but my estimate was off by more than 2 feet! What I thought I saw was completely different from reality.

When salespeople don't call high enough into a company, they experience the exact same thing. What they believe they are seeing and hearing is quite different from what they would see and hear if they were higher up, talking with an executive that can communicate the entire story, rather than the partial view and limited information they get from a middle manager. This is Vertical Reach.

One area where vertical reach has a huge impact is selling value. I wrote a very important article on the role that emotions play in selling value for the Selling Power site last week.  

The ability to truly sell value is one of the competencies that elite salespeople have, but ineffective salespeople don't.  I have data from the nearly 1,000,000 salespeople and sales managers that have been evaluated or assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). Regular readers have read about the elite 6% and the bottom 74%, but today I want to provide some additional eye-opening statistics that differentiate the very good from the not-so-good salespeople. What makes them different?

That's the question that most behavioral scientists and personality assessments don't answer. They usually find traits, styles or qualities that are common among top performers, while failing to realize that bottom performers have those exact same qualities - qualities that brought them into sales in the first place. They don't see that the bug is 2 feet short of the lip.

OMG clearly differentiates the top performers - the studs - from the bottom performers - the duds. Not only are there findings that differentiate top sales performers from those at the bottom, but some of those findings tend to vary by company, industry and selling role.

For example, in one company, top inside sales performers had sales DNA scores of better than 65, while their bottom performers had Sales DNA scores of below 57; top performers had Sales Posturing scores of over 45, while bottom performers all scored below 37; and top performers had qualifying scores of over 60, while bottoms all scored below 50.  Tops had Figure it Out Factor scores of over 75, while bottoms scored below 63; and compatibility scores were over 72 for tops and under 68 for bottoms. These are just a small sampling of the differences.

In another company, top outside sales performers had scores above 78 for being able to stay in the moment, while bottoms were under 67; tops didn't need people to like them, all scoring over 75, while bottoms scored below 62; tops had scores above 83 for Desire for success in sales, while bottoms had scores below 75;  tops had Sales DNA over 63 and bottoms were below 49; tops had closer skills over 33, while bottoms had scores under 22; tops had account management skills of better than 50, while bottoms had scores under 40. Again, these differences are just a small sampling.  

Those two examples are consistent with the variations we find in every sales force evaluation and very useful when it comes to identifying new sales candidates who will succeed in a specific role at their specific company.  And in case you don't think the differences in scores are significant, consider the difference between a baseball player with a batting average of .300 versus one who hits .270.  The .300 hitter is a perennial all-star while the .270 hitter is rarely known outside of his home market.

Returning to the bug on the hood, there is a much larger difference than what you might see with your own eyes when comparing the elite 6% and the bottom 6%.  For instance:

  • 93% of the elite have strong commitment to sales success compared with only 33% of the bottom.
  • 94% of the elite take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses compared with only 20% of the bottom.
  • 78% of the elite don't need their prospects to like them compared to only 6% of the bottom.
  • 98% of the elite are very comfortable talking about finances compared to only 2% of the bottom.
  • 79% of the elite have supportive sales beliefs compared to none at the bottom.
  • 76% of the elite have supportive buying behaviors compared to 8% of the bottom.
  • 95% of the elite are rejection proof compared to 18% of the bottom.
  • 77% of the elite have most of the attributes of a hunter compared with only 31% of the bottom.
  • 100% of the elite have strong desire for sales success compared with none at the bottom.

As you might suspect, there are dozens of additional differences. For example, elite salespeople have, on average, more than 80% of all possible good Sales DNA, while those at the bottom have less than 55%. [Click toTweet] The impact of those 25 points is HUGE! It's the difference between executing a sales process and methodology versus having only the ability to talk about it.

There are many great reasons to evaluate a sales force. Being able to accurately predict which new sales candidates will succeed at your company is only one of them. One of the best reasons to evaluate is to learn which underachievers can become A players, what it will take, how long it will take, and how much improvement you can expect. Of course, you would also learn which underachievers will never get any better than they are today and why.

Today, we sell in very different times than a few years ago. A sales force evaluation helps us understand which of your salespeople have adapted - who is truly selling value instead of price and who can learn? Who is truly taking a consultative approach and who can learn? Whether the sales force has what it takes to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate and why? These are just a handful of popular reasons to evaluate the sales force today. Interested in getting some of your pressing business questions answered? 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, top sales performer

The Delayed Impact of Lack of Sales Commitment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 02, 2010 @ 12:06 PM

commitmentWhen should you pay attention to how committed an individual is to sales success?

Clients tend to believe that as long as they're getting results from a salesperson, lack of commitment is not a problem.

Clients tend to believe that when they're not getting results from a salesperson, lack of commitment explains everything.

Clients who recruit backwards (interview, then assess) tend to fall in love with candidates, then learn about their lack of commitment and attempt to justify the redeeming features of the candidate and discount the commitment problem.

Clients who recruit forward (assess, then interview) tend to ignore candidates who lack commitment - they don't even speak with them.

While commitment is a single data point - not the be-all-end-all - it's a very powerful and predictive data point as well.

If you are a client, upon learning that a top producer lacks commitment you might be asking, "How can that be?"

Top performers didn't lack commitment  when they were top performers. While their noteworthy performance may have been recent (last year), their lack of commitment is probably brand new (last month).  So while clients may fight this finding, they have to understand the predictive nature of the finding too.  It isn't showing up in the results yet and won't show up for some months to come.  If your company has a 6-9 month sales cycle the results are still 6-9 months away.  I'm penning this on June 2, 2010, and the results in a medium to long sales cycle won't be known until at least January of 2011.  So of course the client doesn't see it - yet. 

What does lack of commitment look like anyway?  It's different for every salesperson but it has nothing to do with work ethic!  Plenty of salespeople have a great work ethic despite their lack of commitment.  It's the subtle things that commitment interferes with; The extra attempt to turn a prospect around;  The additional attempt to reach a prospect that hasn't responded;  The one additional question that might turn a so-so opportunity into a great opportunity.  Aren't those skills?  Sure they are.  But when the salesperson has the skills but doesn't use them consistently, it can be attributed to commitment.  Only when they lack the skills can you attribute the problem to lack of skills.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales performance, top sales performer, Sales Candidate, commitment, sales cycle, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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