Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 07, 2018 @ 15:02 PM

garage.jpg

Recently, I installed vented plastic garage floor tiles like those in the picture above to improve the look of our garage.  It's the same garage, but now it looks awesome.

Yesterday I received an email from Richardson Training, letting me know that they have completed their 2018 Selling Challenges Study.  The data in the report, which you can download here, hasn't changed a great deal since 2017, but the report's new look is awesome.  I reported on last year's report in detail here, but my conclusion for 2018 is the exact same conclusion I came to in 2017.

In 2017, the biggest challenge that companies faced was selling value and that continues into 2018.  It's no surprise.  Most sales organizations that Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates appear to be quite challenged when it comes to selling value. For example, if you visit OMG's public stats page and scroll down to the Selling Value competency, you'll notice the following:

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  • Only 35% of all salespeople have the competency as a strength.
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 56.

In order to effectively sell value, salespeople must also take a consultative approach and use a sales process that supports consultative selling and selling value.  If you scroll from the Selling Value competency to the Consultative Selling competency and then the Sales Process competency, you will find that:

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  • Only 22% of all salespeople have the Consultative competency as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 46 in the Consultative Competency

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  • Only 26% of all salespeople have the Milestone-Centric Sales Process as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 49.

By contrast, if you scroll to the Presentation Approach competency, you will find that:

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  • 69% of all salespeople have Presentation Approach as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of 73.

So the question is, why does selling value continue to be such a problem for so many companies?  

It takes me and my team at Kurlan & Associates about 8 months, training twice per month, to move salespeople to the point where they are confidently, effectively and efficiently selling value.  That's 16 training sessions, reinforced by at least 32 coaching conversations from their sales managers over the same 8 months.  And prior to those 8 months it takes some time to get sales managers to the point where they can handle the heavy lifting that coaching requires.  So it brings me back to my opening.

Do most companies do the sales training equivalent of laying down the garage tiles by finding non-disruptive training so they can say they provided training?  Or do they refurbish the entire garage - find training like Kurlan provides and make the decision to require their sales managers to become great sales coaches?

Only the refurbishing option will cause change.

Sales Managers won't find better training at turning them into great sales coaches than the training we provide at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I have 5 seats left for the training on May 22-23 outside of Boston.  You can learn more here and register here.

Topics: value selling,, Consultative Selling, sales process, Richardson, Dave Kurlan

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

the-one-thing-salespeople-can't-do

Can you guess what it is - the one thing most salespeople are unable to do?

Based on what I most frequently write about, you might think that it would be consultative selling, but that's not it.  You might also guess that it's the sales equivalent of eating right - not doing demos and presentations so early in the sales process. But that's not it either.

However, there really is one thing that all but the most elite salespeople are unable to do.  It is partly a result of their inability to sell consultatively while continuing to demo, present, quote and propose too early.  Can you guess what it is now?

Most salespeople can talk about their value proposition, and they can certainly add something of value, but they are unable to provide value - enough value so that their prospects will pay more to do business with them.  I'm not just talking about salespeople selling value, I'm talking about salespeople being the value!

How huge is this problem and how hot is this topic right now?

In just the past week, it has been the host's topic of choice on 2 radio shows on which I was the guest, the topic of 2 articles I was asked to write, the topic of two keynotes I was asked to give, and the topic of an upcoming presentation my team will conduct (you're invited!) later this month.  Is this a hot topic or what?

The inability to sell value is nothing new though...it has been going on for decades.  What's different now is that so many people care so much about it.  Why do you suppose that it's suddenly so important?

[Insert your answer in the comments below.]  I'll give you my answer right here.

Only one company in each product category can be the low price leader and they have to sell shit-loads of their stuff to make any money.  Everyone else must fight for the business that may not go to the low price leader.  Some try to get the business by competing on price, while others try to get the business by attempting to justify a higher price.  That's where it's essential for companies and their salespeople to sell value.  And most aren't very good at it.  So companies are getting fed up with making very short money on the business they are winning, while losing a much larger number of opportunities than they care to admit.  For most, this is a losing battle that can't continue.  Therefore, one of three things will occur:

  1. They will give up, shut the doors, and go away.
  2. They will give in, lower their prices, and try to make it up on volume.
  3. They will give us (or someone else) a call and get some help selling value.

If only it was that easy.

There are many reasons why salespeople aren't able to sell value.  The categories include, but aren't limited to:

  • Lack of alignment on Philosophy,
  • Unclear, ineffective and/or inconsistent Strategy,
  • Useless and ineffective Tactics,
  • The mission can't be supported by salespeople's Sales DNA,
  • Salespeople have Sales Skill Gaps, and/or
  • The Sales Process does not support and/or reinforce a value sale.

I don't have the space to write in detail about each of these categories in this article, but there are some things you can do that will help:

Buyers will continue to drive prices down until salespeople learn how to stop it, or companies start dropping like flies.  The time has come to stop the squeezing.  Won't you join me in putting an end to the madness?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling value, overcoming price objections, value selling,, Evan Carmichael

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

negotiation Image Copyright: violin / 123RF Stock Photo

I was discussing the OMG Partnership opportunity with a gentlemen from Hong Kong, who objected to our reasonable licensing fees, refusing to pay any fees to a US company.  This is when the conversation began to resemble a sales call.  He did what a lot of buyers do to salespeople and began to boast about how well-positioned his company is to market OMG in Hong Kong and what a huge opportunity this would be for OMG.  He expected me to waive the fees in exchange for the great opportunity he described.

Most salespeople - 74% to be exact - not wishing to jeopardize a great opportunity, start negotiating or worse, agreeing, to the unrealistic requests.  There are ripple effects to this, for example:

  • It creates precedent, making it difficult to uphold terms with new and even existing customers
  • It makes whatever deal they sign very short term.  It is only a matter of time before someone else offers a better price and the business goes away before it has a chance to generate enough volume to make up for the discounted pricing. 
  • It threatens the profitability from the account.  If you reduce or waive fees and/or prices once, the customer expects to negotiate and win every time, making it more difficult to achieve profitability.
  • In OMG's case, the potential partner would have no skin in the game - removing the urgency for them to generate business, and further eroding the potential for a profitable partnership

Weak salespeople mistakenly see the compromise or discount as the value when, in fact, selling at a premium actually establishes the value.  This is so difficult for most salespeople to comprehend.  They think they are doing everyone a favor when they acquiesce, but in reality, they are setting everyone up for failure.  

Most executives think that this is a training issue, but they would be wrong.  While training can provide a number of strategies and tactics for dealing with prospects and buyers who behave this way, it doesn't change the misguided salesperson at all.  At best, these salespeople have new words, but still execute with the old beliefs.

The root cause appears in the way that salespeople make major purchases for themselves. If they have always shopped for the best price, that behavior becomes the norm.  When a prospect wishes to do the same, the salesperson views that as acceptable - appropriate even - and finds a way to accommodate.

This particular issue is one of the many hidden weaknesses that OMG identifies when we evaluate sales forces and assess candidates.  It can explain why margins are poor, why salespeople are unable to sell value, and why business is lost because of price.   Listen carefully to this entire audio clip, taken from a sales training webinar, where a salesperson ambushed himself as a result of this very weakness.

How many of your salespeople have this hidden weakness?  How many candidates have you considered that have this hidden weakness?  How would your business change if none of your salespeople had this issue?  What did you learn from the audio clip?


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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales weaknesses, sales assessment tools, value selling,

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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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