5 Year-End Awards from Top Sales World

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 @ 08:12 AM

2016-Awards.jpg

I am always honored when my work is recognized and this year is no exception.  The judges at Top Sales Awards named Objective Management Group (OMG) the Top Sales Assessment Tool for 2016.  That marks the 6th consecutive year that OMG has won the Gold!  We believe that we have developed the best Sales Assessment tools in the world but it is gratifying when others validate that belief for us!   It's also nice to receive recognition for my personal content.  The judges awarded my Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, with a Bronze medal for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2016.  That marks the 6th consecutive year that my Blog has earned a medal.  In addition, this article won the Bronze for Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post.  Will Barron interviewed me earlier this year and that particular podcast won a Gold Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Podcast. Finally, a Webinar I did earlier in the year on How to Sell value won a Gold Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Webinar.  I would like to thank the judges and congratulate all of my colleagues in the sales training and consulting space who also won awards.  A very nice way to end 2016!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top salespeople, Top Sales World, will barron

I Admit it - Why Words in Selling Really Are Important

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 05, 2016 @ 06:10 AM

euphemism-george-carlin.jpg

In the past I've written about how words aren't that important.  Here are two such articles:

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/sales-performance-stop-worrying-about-the-words-you-say

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/effective-selling-is-less-about-the-words-and-more-about-how-you-say-them

But today, I'll play politician, reverse my position, and talk about why words are very important.  I've written about the importance of words before too.  http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/101263/Specific-Words-are-So-Crucial-to-a-Sales-Conversation.aspx 

When it comes to words, there was probably nobody more clever than the comedic genius George Carlin.  The video below is the funniest and best example of his use of words.  Watch that and then we'll talk about how the same premise applies to sales.

It seems to me that the same thing that George talks about has happened in sales.  Today we have phrases like:

  • Sales Velocity
  • Sales Enablement
  • Chief Sales Officer
  • Chief Revenue Officer
  • Unique Value Proposition
  • Buyer Journey
  • Sales Process
  • Sales Methodology
  • CRM
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Positioning Statements
  • RFP's and RFQ's
  • Scope of Work
  • Consultative Selling
  • Sales Model
  • Quantification
  • Qualification

Have we complicated this process or what!  Salespeople are now called any one of the following:

  • Sales Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Major Account Executive
  • VP Major Accounts
  • Representative
  • National Account Manager
  • Distribution Manager
  • Manufacturer's Representative
  • Product Specialist
  • Inside Sales Representative
  • Field Sales Manager
  • Territory Sales Manager

Things were much simpler when we were all peddlers!  We sell.  Some of us are better than others.  Some of us have a more difficult sale than others.  Some of us have a more complicated sale than others.  Some of us enjoy the challenge more than others.  But when it comes right down to it, all of us are peddlers.

"The more you can simplify what you are saying, the better your chance that prospects will understand what you are selling." Dave Kurlan

Don't miss these:

Barb Giamanco interviewed me for the first edition of this fall's Sales Hardtalk series.  You can listen to the podcast on selling value here.  Shimon Abouzaglo, President of the Value Selling and Realization Council, also interviewed me about selling value and specifically, how you can develop salespeople to become value sellers and hire salespeople who already have the ability to sell value.  You can listen to that presentation here.

The October issue of Top Sales World is available today.  You can download your issue here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales interview, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World, words in sales, george carlin

Sales Compensation and Stupid Human Tricks

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 07:02 AM

sales-compensation

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

OK, so we'll begin with something more along the lines of stupid pet tricks before we get to stupid human tricks.  There is a great TED talk about two monkeys that were unfairly compensated.  This is a must-see video!  With compensation - fair or unfair - in mind, I reviewed this year's 2015 Sales Compensation Survey Highlights by the Alexander Group and Sales Compensation Solutions.

The first finding that I noticed - we have seen this particular data point in nearly every white paper, report, survey, analysis, study and anecdotal story - is that only 50% of all reps made quota last year.  In surveys like this, a small number of large companies were involved and very often, when the companies are this large, the findings don't apply equally to your company and mine.  However, in this case, it's fair to say that this particular finding accurately represents the state of salespeople and quotas across the board.

The second finding that I noticed is that 60% of the companies will make mid-year adjustments to their quota.  In which direction do you suppose those quota adjustments will go?  The median quota was $2 Million USD.  Let's attempt to determine what the thinking was behind these quota adjustments:

Executive 1: "We will set the quota at $2M this year."
Executive 2, six months later: "Well, reps aren't hitting their quota.  Should we train our sales managers to become more effective at coaching their salespeople, train the salespeople better, evaluate the sales force to find out what's preventing them from being more successful, or all three?"
Executive 1: "Or we could simply lower their quota to show what great managers we are - they'll love us!"
Executive 2: "Yes!  That would be so much easier - we can complete that in an hour.  It could take months for those other 3 suggestions to kick-in!"

I have favorite blogs and newsletters too.  One of my favorites bloggers is Dr. William Campbell Douglass, a renegade MD who exposes the ties, lies and buys that take place between Big Pharma and our government.  I am borrowing a line from this article of his because the line describes what occurred in my imaginary, but very real discussion above.  Dr. Douglass said, "It’s like watching a lunatic argue with himself, and lose."

How else can you explain how quotas are set, missed and adjusted as often as the Boston Red Sox go from worst to first to worst and the New England Patriots go to the Super Bowl?  [Sorry - I had to get a sports analogy in there somehow.]

The Sales Compensation Survey also indicated that 64% of companies plan to increase base pay.  What should you do when your salespeople complain that their commissions aren't high enough?  That's right - they raise the base pay.  If you've been reading my blog since 2006 then you know how I feel about base pay versus commission.  It's not one size fits all and base pay is important to salespeople who are intrinsically motivated while commissions are important to salespeople who are extrinsically motivated.  If you have a plan that offers commissions, there is never, ever a reason to increase the base pay.  If commissioned salespeople want more money, all they have to do is sell more!  Even the CFO's of these companies should be able to figure that one out!  But the more likely scenario is that the same brilliant, large company Sales Leaders who were involved in the "set it, miss it, adjust it" quota goof, gave in to the demands of their large company entitlement-minded salespeople who would leave if they didn't get their raises.  I'm sorry, do they want their salespeople to fail?

The survey findings are good and important - the authors did a great job collecting and reporting on the information and I have nothing but praise for what they produced.  My issues are with the idiots who are running the companies that participated in the surveys!

In most cases, if these companies did a better job on selection - and that goes right to the Sales Leadership roles - all of their salespeople would hit and surpass quota, quota would go up each year, base pay would decrease, commissions would increase, and everybody would be thrilled.  Speaking of selection, there are a two upcoming events you might want to attend:

On February 19, I'll be presenting an online webinar hosted by TAB - The Alternative Board - on how to find, attract, assess, interview, select, hire and retain your next salesperson.  Register here.

On February 26, I will conduct a guided tour of the Magic in Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.  Register here.

The latest issue of Top Sales World's magazine is available here.  Be sure to check out my article on the best practices for onboarding new salespeople.

And from the "I can't believe it file", I was recently named to 3 more Top 100 lists:

Did you notice that each of these lists are related to Social Selling?  I'm flattered to be on their lists, but I don't consider myself an influencer in Social Selling as much as a participant and protagonist!  When I am influencing relative to social selling, it's usually that we need to spend more time on actual selling and less time pretending to be selling.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales compensation, sales commissions, social selling, Top Sales World

How Significant is the Migration to Inside Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 06:09 AM

Sales Leadership Intensive

Last week, I led our annual Sales Leadership intensive and hosted the best group of sales leaders to ever attend the event.  Chad Burmeister, who is well known throughout the inside sales community, was one of the attendees.  At one of the lunch breaks, he was talking about the customers his company, Connect and Sell, helps.  He commented that most of them are inside sales organizations.  Chad thought that we would have data to demonstrate the transition to inside sales over the past several years.

I began by reviewing my personal clients at Kurlan & Associates and compared them with clients from several years ago.  Sure enough, the numbers were amazing.

As recently as 5 years ago, only 20% of my personal clients were inside sales forces.  Today, that has increased by 150%.  Half of my own training, coaching and consulting clients are inside sales forces!  I investigated further and looked at the many other Kurlan clients who work with the rest of my team and learned that 73% of those clients are inside sales forces.  

Next, I reviewed around 250 of the newest Objective Management Group (OMG) accounts for sales candidate assessments and discovered that 42% of the open positions are for inside sales roles.  That number is quite different from the percentage I found with Kurlan clients and even though 42% is significantly greater than five years ago, I wanted to learn more about why there was such a disparity between the Kurlan versus OMG percentages.  

I dug deeper and learned that the likelihood of an account being for an outside sales role was in direct proportion to the number of years that our OMG Parter/Sales Expert has been with OMG.  That's code for how old the OMG partner is!  Sure enough, most of the older, longtime OMG Partners are still most comfortable doing business with, or positioning themselves with companies that have traditional outside sales forces.  When I looked at the recent accounts represented by newer and younger OMG Partners, 75% of them were for inside sales roles - much more consistent with what I found when I looked at the distribution of Kurlan clients. 

Who knew?

Chad knew.  Way to go, Chad!

What do these number mean for you?

Last year I wrote about the Great Migration to Inside Sales.  The article highlights eight scenarios that help you determine whether or not making that move is right for your company.

I wrote about the move to inside sales again in December and asked why the migration took so long to occur?  That article explains the various inside roles and makes a better case for migration winning out over the status quo.

SALES EFFECTIVENESS STUDY

OMG is working on a major sales effectiveness study that looks not only at traditional sales effectiveness, but also inside, inbound and social selling effectiveness.  The study must be inclusive and not just for huge companies and that's why I need your help.  I would be so appreciative if you would take 5 minutes from your busy day to provide your anonymous data.  No names, no emails, no follow-up.  Although it's an easy survey to take, it's crucial that we produce this unbiased study.  Won't you please help me?


The September, Week 4 Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available 
here.  And the brochure for the 2014-2015 Top Sales Academy is available here.  On October 8, I'll be leading the session on How to Master the Art of Coaching Salespeople

Salesforce.com's blog posted an article of mine that asks whether or not you can turn customer service reps into salespeople.  If you have CSR's, then you must read this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, Top Sales World, objective management group, salesforce.com, chad burmeister, connect and sell

Top 10 Reasons Why Inbound Cannot Replace Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

INBOUND V SALESWell, it's really happened now.

I was following a discussion in the Hubspot VAR Group on LinkedIn, where the question posed to the group was whether or not the first sales hire should be a sales or a marketing person.

[Disclosure:  Hubspot is a client of both Kurlan and OMG; This blog is hosted on Hubspot's terrific blogging and lead-gen platform and I was one of their very first customers back in 2006.]  

Hubspot's VAR's are all marketing agencies specializing in inbound marketing.  There were some terrific comments, but one particular comment stopped me dead in my clicks and scrolls.  The comment was from a well-respected Hubspot executive who said, "Do not hire a salesperson."  It's a polarizing comment for a number of reasons:

  1. I'm speaking at their international INBOUND14 Conference next month (if you want to attend, you can use this discount code: GOINB14) and my topic is, "Interviewing for the Inbound Sales Role"!  Should I back out?  Do you think anyone will show up to hear me?
  2. This comment, as well as articles and comments like this, are the source of exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about in this cover story for Top Sales World Magazine last week.
  3. And it's exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about with Selling Power Publisher, Gerhard Gschwandtner, in the video below, recorded at last month's Sales 2.0 conference in Boston.

Once again, it's imperative for everyone to understand that there are many scenarios where salespeople cannot be replaced by inbound marketing!  If you or your company are involved in any of the following 10 scenarios, you absolutely must have salespeople:

  1. Complex Sale 
  2. Big Ticket Sale
  3. Long Sales Cycle
  4. You are the Underdog.
  5. You Have a New Technology.
  6. You are Not the Market Leader.
  7. You are Not the Low Price Leader.
  8. You are Not the Recognized Major Brand.
  9. It is Not an Existing Expense for Most Customers.
  10. Your Product or Service is Not an Easy-to-Sell, Affordable Subscription.

So, it should be quite obvious why an inbound marketer, following up on an inbound lead, cannot possibly run the sophisticated sales cycle that would be required to successfully sell and close a prospect or group of prospects in the 10 scenarios listed above.

How do you feel about this topic?  Please weigh in below, regardless of which side of the fence you are on.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, HubSpot, Gerhard Gschwandtner, jonathan farrington, Top Sales World, selling power

Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Under Pressure

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

 AngryCoachBefore I unveil the top 5 mistakes, you might be interested to know that last week, Top Sales World Magazine went from monthly to weekly.  I was featured on the cover, but I'm most hopeful that everyone will read Jonathan Farrington's interview with me.  He got me to be very outspoken about what's taking place right now in our industry and I believe that everyone will benefit from reading it.  View it online here.  

Now for the Top 5 Mistakes.  At a recent baseball tournament, a panicked coach watched as a 12-year-old did not not run as hard as he possibly could to first base.  Despite that, he reached on an error and the coach screamed so that everyone could hear, "Get your butt out of your head."  He also told the boy that in the next inning, he would be on the bench for not hustling.

The coach had become emotional and in doing so, he clearly overreacted, got the well-known expression backward, embarrassed the kid, and embarrassed himself. 

There are some sales lessons here.  

Many salespeople panic and become emotional when they hear certain objections, get asked certain questions, or are told certain things.  When this happens, several things can occur:

  • They may be completely unable to use their words (you might encourage a 2-year-old to, "Use your words.")
  • They may say something stupid.
  • They may say something completely unrelated.
  • They may become defensive.
  • They may become offensive.

Regardless of the type of reaction, when panicked, salespeople tend to lose control of the sales call, while their prospects become less comfortable with the idea of doing business with them.

There are some sales management lessons here too.

When a sales manager perceives that a salesperson may not be putting in the desired effort or time, or may not be as focused, he may not be able to bench or suspend the salesperson without being told where to stick it.  However, a discussion should take place so that the manager can learn why the desired behavior isn't there and offer some encouragement, coaching or counseling to improve performance.  If performance (effort) doesn't improve in the agreed upon timeframe, termination, not suspension, may be the appropriate course of action.

Many volunteer youth baseball coaches scream the outcomes they want, like, "Get on base!", instead of coaching kids on the approach they should take to reach base in their next at bat.

Many Sales Managers are guilty of similar mistakes when they instruct their salespeople to, "Go sell something."  Effective sales managers can pinpoint exactly why their salespeople are struggling and offer coaching to solve the problem.

Salespeople and Sales Managers alike must remain cool, unemotional, in the moment, and learn to respond rather than react.  When they become emotional, bad things happen.  The best way to stay in the moment is to stop thinking.  Just listen.  Don't think.  Don't strategize.  Don't plan.  Don't script a next move.  Don't get creative.  Don't engineer anything.  Don't worry.  

You know Nike's tagline, "Just do it."  Well, use my tagline, "Just don't."

You can always respond with something along the lines of, "How would you like me to address that?"  Listen to their instructions and respond to those.

Image Copyright: toonerman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales mistakes, Top Sales World

Key to Significantly Improve Sales Training Results

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 13:05 PM


Before we discuss how to improve sales training, a quick promo for the latest and greatest taking place over at the ever-improving Top Sales World.  The June issue of Top Sales Magazine has been published and you can download it here.

  • Among all of the important articles this month is mine on The Top 5 Reasons Salespeople Fail to Meet Quota and the Common Link to All 5 Reasons.
  • Jonathan Farrington interviews Jill Konrath on her new book, Agile Selling.
  • In the June issue are the Top Sales Article and Top Blog Article for May.
  • They announce who are the Top 50 Sales Influencers of 2014.
  • They introduce a brand new eLibrary!
  • Finally, they have redesigned their website and it's better than ever!  See it here.

 

Cooperstown

baberuth

For the last 6 years, I have been coaching and/or managing youth baseball teams and personally coaching our son since he could stand.  Monday, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching him during a baseball practice for a 12-and-under team that will be competing in Cooperstown later this summer.  It's a really big deal and it's a very talented team.

It's not just about the talent.

The coach of this team provided some very good, advanced coaching to this group of very coachable, extremely talented kids and he ran some terrific, fast-paced drills.

By comparison, the always likeable kids on a typical regular season team have skills ranging from limited to all-star caliber and everything in between.  On the regular season team, most practice time is devoted to baseball basics while not moving any faster than the speed of the average player.  

Which players and on which teams do you think show the most improvement?

If you guessed the best players, you would be half correct.  The best players, getting the advanced instruction on the travel teams, improve the most.  Those same kids, on their regular season team, learn almost nothing new and aren't challenged or pushed.  Practice, and sometimes even the games, can be so boring for them that they don't play their very best.

Translation from Baseball to Selling

If we translate all of that baseball to selling, the only two things that change are the activity and the age of the people being coached and trained.

In order for your best salespeople to improve, they need to be part of a group that won't hold them back, allowing for more advanced, faster-paced skills training.  They can be coached up very quickly if they get the right training and coaching at a pace that challenges them!

The Talent Warp

It is extremely difficult for some executives to understand this next point.  Some refuse to acknowledge that it's even possible. YOUR top salespeople, when compared with the rest of the sales population outside your industry, might only be B or C Players.  It's just not that unusual to discover that the top salespeople in some companies aren't at the top because of their skills, but because of their accounts, their assigned territory, their expertise or tenure in the industry.  It's important to note that studies show you will get the best bang for your buck when you train your B's!

When it comes to your less effective salespeople, it's important to understand that not all of them CAN be coached up and most of them have hidden weaknesses that cause difficulties becoming comfortable with what they're learning. That makes it nearly impossible for them to apply it in the field unless they are also getting extremely effective coaching from their sales managers.  They struggle to change.  That's why some of your underachievers shouldn't be trained at all.  Some of them just shouldn't be selling!

More on Baseball and Sales

If you like articles that use the baseball playing or baseball coaching analogies, then you may enjoy some of my other articles about baseball and selling:

Are You Any Good at Evaluating Sales Talent?

Improve Sales Effectiveness at the Salesperson's Hall of Fame

When it Comes to Compensation, Sales is Not Like Baseball

Baseball's Huge Impact on Sales Performance 

Sales Lessons from Baseball's 2013 World Series 

World Series, Superbowl and the Sales Force: The Rallying Cry 

Winning and Losing is Contagious 

Sales Coaching Lessons from the Baseball Files 

Making it Easy for Salespeople to Succeed 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales effectiveness, jonathan farrington, jill konrath, Top Sales World

The Real Impact of Coaching Your Salespeople, Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 01, 2014 @ 13:04 PM

Positive Impact of CoachingI read several books while on a recent vacation and one of them, Edgy Conversations, by Dan Waldschmidt, was in a class of its own.  Once you commit to the first page of his new book, you won't be able to put it down.  I know Dan and we talked about his book last month.  He told me that it took him FOUR YEARS to collect the 1,000 stories that he decided to share - stories about how ordinary people achieved extraordinary success and how you can too.  I highly recommend his book.  You can learn more about it here.  You can order it from Amazon.com beginning on Wednesday, April 2.  I'm sure Dan would like you to order it only on Wednesday. :)

I'm in the middle of another page-turner, this one called The Man Who Killed Kennedy - The Case Against LBJ.  It's difficult to put a positive spin on this amazing, insightful book, about one of the biggest assholes the USA has ever known, but I can take two unintentional sales-related lessons from the book:  

  1. Who you know, how well you know them, how well-connected they are, and your ability to leverage those connections are an intangible that trumps all strengths, skills and strategies.  In this case, the connections were mob bosses, FBI directors, oil magnates, politicians and the underworld, but they were very real and strong connections.
  2. Effective coaching will lead to all of the desired outcomes.  In this case, coaching was used for evil purposes, but it was coaching nonetheless.

Let's discuss coaching.  It has been well-documented that effective coaching will positively impact sales. My own data shows sales managers, who consistently and effectively coach their salespeople, grow revenue by an average of 26% annually.  However, according to Objective Management Group's data from evaluating more than 100,000 sales managers, just 18% are capable of the effective part of the equation and even fewer are willing to invest 50% of their time on coaching.  That's a huge problem!

So what to do?

Your salespeople MUST be coached.  You and/or your sales managers MUST devote the time and learn to effectively coach the salespeople.  However, most sales managers have an ego that's larger than their actual sales management competency.  For many of them, their ego screams, "I don't need any help.  I know how to do this.  I don't need anyone telling me to do it differently.  I'm probably better at it than they are."

We coach sales managers like that all the time and the first session can be challenging.  However, when we get beyond that first session and they learn how much there is that they didn't know, how much better they can be, and how much more of an impact that they can have on each and every salesperson and each and every deal, things change rather quickly.

Are you providing effective sales coaching?  Here's an easy test to determine for yourself.  We know that when the coaching is really effective and impactful, the following things occur:

  • Salespeople can't wait to come back for more.  Are your salespeople begging for your coaching?
  • Your coaching leads directly to positive changes in behavior.  Do your salespeople change after each coaching session?
  • Your coaching has a direct impact on a salesperson's ability to close a deal on their own.  Do your coaching sessions lead directly to closed business?
  • Your sales force becomes exponentially better.  Is that happening?

I would like to blog about the transition of a sales manager, where the individual grows from a supervisor of salespeople, to a master sales coach.  This transformation requires and allows for unlimited coaching (usually 2x weekly) from me for one year.  To facilitate this, I will make a coaching slot available for half the normal fee to the first two companies to respond (one slot per company).

Speaking of coaching, the April Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available for download today.  It may be the best issue ever and it includes some terrific articles including one by me.  You don't want to miss "The Biggest Sales Skill Gap of All" because the information in that article is crucial for the master sales coach.

Enjoy.

Image credit: michelangelus / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Linda Richardson, jonathan farrington, Top Sales World, LBJ, Dan Waldschmidt

Combo Article Friday - Finding New Business and Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

on the phone sellingI wrote an article for the Sales Blog over at Hubspot on how Inbound Marketing has really been around, like, forever.  

Mark Roberge, the Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot, wrote an article there this week that has elicted one of the best discussions I've seen in the Sales Blogoshere - and not a single attack on any of the contributors (as of the last time I checked).  The article was about who should be your first sales hire.  I wrote my own article on the topic 3 years ago called Startups and the Dilemma of the First Sales Hire.  The inbound audience loves to engage in discussions, but not so much the CEO's, Presidents and Sales VP's who read these articles.  Chime in!

The February Issue of Top Sales Magazine was published yesterday and it includes an article with my latest thinking about using the phone for prospecting.  You can download the issue here This issue also announces a Top Sales Contest for Salespeople.  If there is a salesperson who you would like to nominate, instructions and guidelines are here.  

My article Tips for Great Keynotes and Better Sales Presentations was named a Top 10 Sales Article for the week over at TopSalesWorld.com.

I'll be speaking near you over the next two months:

WEBINAR: Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 1
Wednesday, February 5, 11 AM ET
Register: http://hub.am/1jLizo2 

The latest thinking about growing, developing, tweaking and managing the ideal sales force.  Part 1 will address:
  • Sales Process - Optimizing Conversions
  • Sales Methodology – Why It Matters
  • Sales Messaging - How to Get It Right
  • 3 Critical Conversations
  • Executing in a Changing Economy
  • Sales Model – Making It Scalable
  • Channels - Optimizing Your Traction
  • Sales Training - Critical Components for Maximum Impact 
WEBINAR SERIES - Baseline Selling Open Enrollment
Begins February 20 for 12 Weeks
More Information: http://hub.am/1fhbMvv 
WEBINAR - How to Get the Most from OMG's Sales Candidate Analyzer Tool
February 26, 11 AM ET
Register 
SALES 2.0 CONFERENCE IN PHILADELPHIA - What to Ask To Determine If You Need to Implement Sales Force Transformation
March 10 
Register
ECSELL SALES COACHING SUMMIT IN CHARLOTTE NC - What Does Commitment to Sales Success Mean?
April 15
Register
EO AUSTIN TX - How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle and Close More Sales
April 23
Email me 
Image credit: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, EcSELL Institute, Top Sales World, Sales 2.0 Conference, EO, Top Sales Article, Hubspot Sales Blog, Mark Roberge

This is How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 06:03 AM

HallOfFameLast week I posted an article that linked to two additional articles I wrote for EcSELL Institute and Top Sales World.  [Speaking of Top Sales World, they just published a page showing all of the greats (I'm honored to be included) that have been inducted into their Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in the past 3 years.]  Apparently there were issues with those links from last week because I got dozens of emails letting me know that you couldn't get to those two articles.  I will share the article I wrote for EcSell below.  Sales Management must spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople like this: 

An enormous part of developing salespeople these days is helping them to differentiate themselves from your competitors.  Effectively applying a consultative sales process helps to accomplish this.  Executed correctly, the salesperson has a conversation with a decision maker that is unlike any conversation the competition has had.  It uncovers the compelling reasons for spending money, changing vendors, buying a product or service and, as important, buying it from you.  That creates urgency, and an incentive for a prospect to self-qualify.  The end-result should be a prospect that is willing to spend more to do business with you, and a sales cycle that is not based on winning the price war.

A salesperson told me he met with a customer that had taken their business to a competitor because of price.  It sounded like they were getting what they were paying for: 

    • Paying more for freight,
    • Finding variations in the product,
    • Stocking more inventory than necessary because of availability problems

The salesperson accomplished enough to uncover some issues and while these aren’t compelling reasons, additional questions would lead us there.  To keep the story short and get to my point, let’s assume that the salesperson did enough correctly to continue moving the opportunity forward.   

The Salesperson Comes to You Having Said This to the Former Customer 

“If you had access to local delivery, through a distributor, and the price was competitive, would you consider looking into this?” 

Step 1 – Can you identify what’s wrong with his outdated trial close?

Step 2 – Can you articulate why it’s wrong?

Step 3-  Can you explain the root cause of why it happened?

Step 4 – Can you role play the solution?

Step 5 – Can you get to lessons learned? 

Coaching – Step 1

Forget for a minute that the call to action was horrible; “Look into this” instead of “Pay a little more for my help solving this problem”.  

That wasn’t the worst of it.  

The horror of the salesperson’s question was that he introduced an unnecessary criterion - competitive pricing - for doing business with him.  

Coaching Step 2 - What’s wrong with that? 

Two things: 

    1. Even if you wanted to be the low priced seller, and you don’t, after that question, if you don’t come back with a competitive price you don’t get the business!
    2. He didn’t need to offer competitive pricing because he sold value!  He identified the problem and has a solution for the problem.  That is the value someone will pay for and he undermined it by bringing the customer’s attention back to price! 

Coaching Step 3 – What’s the Root Cause? 

The salesperson was afraid to ask the customer to pay more so there are 4 potential weaknesses at play, as well as the possibility that he hadn’t remembered the correct way to ask the question.

    • Discomfort talking about money prevented him from addressing it
    • Understanding of Price Sensitivity because that’s the way he buys
    • Need for Approval caused him to believe the customer may not like him anymore if he asks a tough question.
    • Self-Limiting Belief that he needs a competitive price in order to get the business 

Coaching Step 4 – Can You Role Play the Solution? 

Salesperson: “How important is it to have continued availability of quality, local inventory?”

Customer: “Extremely important”. 

Salesperson: “Tell me how that would affect your business. 

Customer: “I’ll have control over costs and availability.” 

Salesperson: “Peace of Mind?” 

Customer: “Exactly.” 

Salesperson:  “And, in order to solve this problem, get local, as needed, quality inventory, eliminate your enormous freight costs, and restore peace of mind, are you willing to pay a little more for my help and solve this problem once and for all?” 

Coaching  Step 5 – Lessons Learned

I hear an awful lot of salespeople complaining that they can’t sell in their business unless they have the best price.  The reality is that there are only four reasons why price becomes an issue:

    • The salesperson made it an issue (experience)
    • The salesperson accepted that it was an issue (non-supportive beliefs)
    • The salesperson didn’t know how to prevent it from being an issue (tactics)
    • The salesperson was foolishly calling on purchasing instead of an actual decision maker who owned a problem or an opportunity. (strategy)

What did you learn?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales skills, sales management, Sales Coaching, EcSELL Institute, sales weaknesses, sales enablement, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World

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About Dave

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

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