Chris Mott

Recent Posts

The Science of Developing Salespeople - Data Makes The Difference

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 @ 19:08 PM

pipeline

Objective Management Group has tested 1.8M salespeople since 1988. Of this, 6% are elite and 11% are strong. The remaining 33% who assess in the top-half represent the majority of most companies’ salespeople. Not surprisingly, half of the salespeople in the bottom lack good development potential, meaning they are not highly motivated to improve.

 Applying this data to a sales force of ten, two are strong, three are in the middle, two plus are weak, and two plus are very weak. Most CEO and Sales Executives agree with this breakdown.

This means the best salespeople (most return) to develop are the five in the middle. 

On the sales side there are four primary obstacles to accomplishing this:

  1. Poor Sales DNA
  2. Excuse Making
  3. Weak Selling Competencies 
  4. Low Figure It Out Factor.

For sales managers, the limitations are:

  1. Ineffective coaching,
  2. Not enough time spent developing salespeople,
  3. Ineffective sales process,
  4. Lack of holding salespeople accountable
  5. Impatience

                 The table below shows where you should focus the development for people on the bottom.

Skill / Conceptual Obstacle

Top Three Salespeople

Bottom Two Salespeople

Difference Between the Top and Bottom

Follows Sales Process

59%

39%

20%

CRM Savvy

48%

32%

16%

Reached Decision Makers

48%

29%

19%

Qualifier Competency

62%

42%

20%

Consultative Seller Competency

52%

34%

18%

Has No Need for Approval

52%

18%

34%

Able to Control Emotions

45%

24%

21%

Comfortable Talking About Money

47%

15%

32%

                 This table compares the remaining three salespeople to the strong group.

Skill / Conceptual Obstacle

Two Strong

Top Three

Diff Top/Bot

Follows Sales Process

66%

59%

17%

CRM Savvy

63%

48%

15%

Reached Decision Makers

58%

48%

10%

Qualifier Competency

73%

62%

11%

Consultative Seller

64%

52%

12%

Has No Need for Approval

74%

52%

22%

Able to Control Emotions

61%

45%

16%

Comfortable Talking About $

77%

47%

30%

Improving people’s adherence to a well-designed milestone-based sales process is strongly correlated with positive development outcomes. Weaker salespeople need both skill development and coaching to overcome their DNA gaps while stronger salespeople benefit most from continuing to overcome their DNA challenges.

Additionally, the development effort required to move someone from the bottom to the middle is different from moving someone from the middle to the strong category. Sales managers need to be flexible and patience enough to accomplish this.

While the notion of coaching salespeople differently is not new, using accurate time-tested data to help achieve this makes a huge difference in the results.

Consider the following reasons why starting with science is crucial.

  • Managers usually know what their salespeople’s gaps are but not why they exist
  • Mastering a new skill is easier when salespeople also fix their DNA challenges
  • Good data focuses development in the right areas
  • Makes it easier to improve time allocation for development
  • There are more high-return conversations
  • Talking about the underlying issues can increase trust and value

Sales Managers can more easily coach their salespeople up with data.  If you want to know more about your salespeople click here.

Topics: improving your sales team, qualities of great salespeople, 21 sales core competencies, sales data, coaching culture, How should I coach?

Make a Few Small Changes And You'll See Big Sales Results

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 @ 14:08 PM

Kangaroos Jump

New data shows there is a meaningful relationship between the quality of your pipeline and your effectiveness in the qualifier and value selling competencies. By making a few small changes you will see a big impact. Watch this two minute video post to learn more.

 

 If you are committed to improvement sign up for our Live On-Line Sales Training Series. Click Here   

Topics: sales training, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, closing percentage, steps in a sales process, sales data

New Data Shows Why Above Average Salespeople Need Significant Development

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Jul 09, 2018 @ 15:07 PM

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Please watch my 2-minute video that summarizes recent research on salespeople in the 60-80% percentile range. Under-estimating how much help they need is a mistake and my video explains why.

 

You can get a snapshot of your sales force's capabilities by clicking here. 

Topics: science of selling, sellingpower, sales management role, need to be liked, joint sales call, 21 sales core competencies

Why Sales Processes Fail to Work

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 @ 16:04 PM

Old Dog

A well-defined milestone-based Sales Process doesn’t work for most salespeople. Hearing this comment coming from a sales development expert probably sounds like heresy. However, if you peel back the onion I believe most of you will agree.

For example, here are two actual sales processes from companies I am familiar with. While they could be updated, they are thoughtful, clear and logical.

 

Example One
Step1: Cold call, or lead follow up call
Step2: Engage
Step3: Schedule meeting
Step4: Needs analysis, ID problem, opportunity or pain
Step5: Identify a need
Step6: Interested
Step7: Tour
Step8: Evaluate the opportunity
Step9: Determine fit
Step10: Who is decision maker
Step11: Timeline for decision
Step12: Ask about money or budget
Step13: Decision making process/criteria
Step14: Qualified
Step15: Present/demo
Step16: Sell value
Step17: Differentiate yourself
Step18: Value proposition
Step19: Proposal or Quote
Step20: Handle Objections
Step21: Negotiate
Step22: Close

Example Two
Step1: Cold call, or lead follow up call
Step2: Research lead
Step3: Evaluate the opportunity
Step4: Schedule meeting
Step5: Find compelling reason to buy from you
Step6: Quantify the problem
Step7: Value proposition
Step8: Talk about capabilities
Step9: Determine fit
Step10: Who is decision maker
Step11: Meet technical team
Step12: Meet decision maker
Step13: Ask about money or budget
Step14: Proposal or Quote
Step15: Handle Objections
Step16: Negotiate
Step17: Close
Step18: Sign contract

So, what is the problem? When I debrief salespeople and sales managers on opportunities and ask about the specific needs, compelling reasons, pain or quantification their answers are too often about what their prospects need to buy and not why they need to buy it.  For example, perhaps they need to change suppliers due to underperformance, buy something different because what they usually buy no suits their needs, or change what they are doing because it is no longer working.

Although most salespeople and their sales managers believe they sell consultatively, few actually do. Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed more than 1.7 million salespeople. Not even half of the top 10% of all salespeople are strong Consultative Sellers. Take this simple challenge: Define and/or have your salespeople define consultative selling. Here are some things you likely won’t hear.

• Helping prospects to identify and quantify the impact of problems they don’t know about
• Helping prospects to connect their personal risk with not changing the status quo
• Getting people to express their feelings about the problems they face

This brings us to the primary reason why Sales Process doesn’t work: It is because salespeople don’t follow the process. Unfortunately, most managers either underestimate this problem or don’t hold their salespeople accountable enough. Yes, many companies need to better define their process. Many need to build the process into CRM so people are forced to evaluate whether the strategy is correct and next steps have been executed. But, the truth is that most salespeople will not consistently execute a defined process unless they are held accountable for it. Let’s consider why.

Consider this list of self-limiting sales traits that many salespeople share.  They tend to be:

• Overly optimistic
• Too trusting
• Great at rationalizing
• Likely to interpret situations positively
• Following the path of least resistance
• Not detail oriented
• Have little patience

Is it reasonable to expect “self-motivated” people with these traits to hold themselves accountable for following a structured process, particularly when their prospects want to end the sales call as quickly as possible? This is a rhetorical question.

So, wha is a salesperson or sales manager to do? My advice is to slow down, get feedback from other people, ask yourself a lot more second and third level questions, assume you need to dig deeper, walk away more often and stop doing what you have always done.

Do you want to be more effective? Click on the image below.

evals

 

Topics: sales process, managing patience, data on salespeople, sales and sales management tips, customer engagement

The Yin and Yang of Great Sales Calls

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Apr 03, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

Yin Yang

When you underestimate the bias of your prospects you do so at great risk. 

Last night I watched a commercial bashing car salespeople with the tag line “we are not like that”. You are probable saying I don’t sell cars so why is this relevant.

Take a step back and honestly answer yourself these questions.

• How do I really feel about salespeople?
• What words describe salespeople for me?
• How do I feel when I am the prospect?
Over the years I have asked roomfuls of salespeople these questions. I have never had more that 50% answer in a positive way. This means salespeople don’t want to be seen as salespeople. So how do they want to be seen? The words trustworthy, honest, high-integrity, not pushy, likeable, helpful and valuable come to mind.

If 50% or more of salespeople are negatively biased against salespeople, what percentage of your prospects do you think feel the same way? This does not mean they can’t become trusting and open. It means the “relationship” begins on rocky ground and is greatly influenced by their experiences, perceived or real, which are usually negative.

Back to the commercial. It’s based on the premise that viewers emotionally connect to a negative car buying experience and that telling them this won’t happen will persuade people to give them a try. Unfortunately, people’s general response to being told what they believe is “not true” is BS or, at a minimum, results in a high degree of skepticism.

A quick teaching moment. When prospects ask your opinion what they are almost always asking is for you to validate what they already think. At best you have a 50/50 shot of answering correctly. The correct response is some form of validation, thanks for asking, followed by a question, what are your thoughts.

The risk I spoke about earlier is not just yours. The guarded, cautious approach you see from prospects also hurts them. If you don’t break down the barriers to the relationship you can’t be of maximum service to people, something I believe most salespeople desire and prospects deserve. In a roundabout way the negative bias exhibited by prospects makes it harder for them to make great buying decisions and effectively solve the problems they face.

Who must bear responsibility for this? Salespeople. Yet, while trying not to appear as the salesperson we don’t want to be, we ultimately reinforce the biases of our prospects. When we message, "trust me," without allowing them to talk about their distrust, we make things worse. Relationships are emotional, not intellectual. Unfortunately, to compensate for the dis-ease prospects feel, they approach us intellectually. You must help your prospects let go of these defenses and open up emotionally. If you don’t, you are and always will be a commodity and/or transactional salesperson.

Let’s look at some of the things that salespeople believe or do that reinforces the problem:

• "I need to close this deal" can make me appear desperate
• "I’m not like that" so I need to honestly explain why
• "They seem very guarded" and I would be as well
• "When they ask for my thoughts I must provide the answer" so I talk but they don’t
• "That sounds inconsistent" but If I push back I may upset them
• "It’s OK when they think it over because prospects who think it over will eventually buy from me" so I extend the sales cycle and risk losing the business.
• "I know they are not the decision maker" but if I push back or go around them I could lose the business
• "I want to create a comfortable selling environment" because challenging prospects is risky
• "They won’t share their budget" and in this situation I wouldn’t either 

This list goes on and on and varies by salesperson, but the impact remains the same, we look just like every other salesperson.

Great salespeople ask difficult, tough questions, remain OK if they lose, confront bias when they see it, and are acutely aware of managing the anxiety that their prospects feel. They believe selling relationships must be equal, demand to be treated well and speak the truth even when it may be uncomfortable for the prospect. Most of all, they tenaciously focus on momentum. This means asking about changes as soon as they occur.

Want to learn more and become a better salesperson? Click Below.

Baseline Selling

Topics: difficult customers,, comparison of top versus bottom salespeople, communication skills, how to sell, sales efficiency

Wordiness Sabotages Improvement

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 @ 14:03 PM

Wordiness.gif

Selling is harder today. Prospects are more educated; the competition is ferocious and differentiating yourself requires better skills and execution.

If you don’t change how you sell and how you manage, the competition will win. It’s a zero-sum game, you must either commit to improvement or ride status quo to the end.

Salespeople today must be highly effective hunters, skilled at having wide-ranging business discussions, steadfast in their commitment to walk away, tenacious at closing, and capable of establishing high-value relationships on the first meaningful call.

Using Objective Management Group data, I compared average salespeople with 10-15 years’ experience to average salespeople with 3-5 years. The seasoned group is slightly better. In relationship creation, hunting, consultative selling, qualifying, value-selling and sales posturing their scores are 3-5% higher. The percentage of “veterans” OMG defines as having strength in these same areas is 10% higher than the newer salespeople.

This means average new salespeople do improve over ten years but only marginally and that a higher percentage of veteran salespeople were either strong when hired or became strong in these critical skills.

 My conclusion: the status quo is way too acceptable.

The term, gift of gab, has been used to describe “born salespeople." Unfortunately, one reason salespeople struggle with improvement is wordiness or over-talking. As a result of this:

  • Prospects get bored
  • Prospects get confused
  • We oversell
  • We talk over prospects
  • We lose our train of though
  • The discussion is no longer a conversation
  • We sound like a salesperson
  • We don’t hear what people say

Our brains are wired to continue “normal” behavior. This means doing what we have always done. Patterned behavior can be changed but the new behavior must be repeated many times before it begins to become normalized. Learning to shorten your statements and questions requires practice and intentional application. You need a coach to listen to you and tell you when you are off course.  

When you use lots of words, it’s hard for people to understand. They tend to ask clarifying questions which can reinforce the behavior.

Try to avoid the first long-winded statement, this makes it easier to manage yourself. It’s best to leave props (literature, presentations, talking points) at home since they may get you talking.  Above all else focus on listening and asking about what you heard.

If you are really committed to be a better salesperson or manager, you need to become comfortable being uncomfortable. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do. Comfort comes from discomfort. Discomfort is a natural response to changing what is normal. If what you are doing feels too comfortable, it likely means you are not getting better, and getting better is a requirement for continued success in today’s sales environment.

If you are brave enough to look in the mirror, click on the link below.

evaluation_checklist_cta

Topics: value added seller, improve my sales teams performance, better management skills, sales force excellence, elite salespeople, difficult sales

Creating Urgency Without Using Price

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Mar 05, 2018 @ 22:03 PM

254B831500000578-0-image-m-50_1422966022060.jpg

If you see yourself as a transactional seller don’t waste your time reading this article.

Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. In this case insanity means using price to close end of month or quarter business. Why is this insane you may ask? Because you already know what going to happen. You will very likely be chasing your prospects as the deadline passes. What’s worse, some prospects want “the deal” you offered at the end of the month, only later, when they're ready.

Let me be more specific about the downside.

  • You wasted your time getting special pricing approved.
  • You taught your prospect that you will cave on price.
  • You stopped selling consultatively and became transactional
  • You convinced yourself that the prospect was ready to buy.
  • You set yourself up for disappointment.

Prospects don’t buy when you want them to for a few simple reasons. You did not uncover compelling reasons to buy or create urgency, your contact was not the decision maker, you were being played, you rushed the process, or something changed on their end without you knowing.

Prospects act when the pressure or perceived risk of inaction is unacceptable. This connects directly to fear of failure, exposure, job security or advancement or other personal reasons. We don’t buy things because we want them; we buy when we convince ourselves we need them now, even when we don’t. 

The question is not what do you need to buy, but why do you need to buy it. Price concessions assume the prospect is actually ready to buy and needs to act now.

Creating urgency requires you to take a methodical, milestone-based approach. You can’t properly learn what makes it compelling to fix a problem(s) until after you have a clear understanding of what the problem is and the current or future impact.

Here is a sequence of questions you can ask which will expose or create urgency or show you that there isn’t any or not enough. When you don’t find any or enough urgency I suggest you focus on other opportunities. Insanity is just around the corner. 

  • What’s not working or needs to work better?
  • Why is it not working?
  • What is the impact of this?
  • How long has this being going on?
  • What have they done to address it?
  • What happened as a result?
  • Who else cares about this and why?
  • How does it affect them?
  • What is the cost (money, time, emotion, opportunity, etc.) ?
  • How does this impact your contact(s)
  • Are they committed to do something about it?
  • When does it have to be fixed?
  • What makes it compelling to act now?

Some of you are telling yourselves that you already know all of this.

The second instance of insanity occurs when we convince ourselves that what we think we heard is always what the prospect said. In truth, it’s not. In virtually every role-play or post-call debriefing I do, I hear words and phrases that expose the assumptions salespeople make. We are sure we heard them say something when, in actuality, we inferred what they said. This is because we are listening to two voices, ours and theirs. We hear our own voice first and loudest.

If you choose to use price as an incentive that’s your choice, but as a professional salesperson, you are likely selling yourself short. Patterns and habits are hard to break, the first step is being fully transparent with yourself.

If you want more transparency click on the image below and grade your  sales process.

Sales Process Grader 

Topics: Consultative Selling, sales process, closing deals

Everything Leads to Something

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 @ 16:02 PM

 

Tree Roots.jpeg

On Friday I interviewed a true hunter. I was struck by his mindset.

He was absolutely sure there was no substitute for picking up the phone and calling people. For him social selling, conferences and networking were all a means to an end. His message was to talk to as many of the right people as possible and as quickly as possible. Do this consistently and everything will work out. It’s no surprise he has a track record of consistent quota overachievement and numerous new business awards.

In sales mindset is everything. How badly you want to succeed, a conviction that you must ask the hard questions, knowing you belong, expecting a positive outcome (including no), demanding equality and calling things as you see them occur because you believe.

Along the way he said, "When I call people, I always get the names of at least two other people I can call."

This got me thinking about the simplicity and absoluteness of human connectively. In our technology abundant world, we take “connectivity” for granted, almost to the point of how we see electricity. When we are off grid or off network we notice. Behind the devices and the lights are an endless chain of connections, each talking to another in a very organized and predictable way.

Joe Girard credits his consistent practice of tossing business cards into the stands at baseball and football games for much of his success. It’s quite likely that someone who picked up a couple cards gave one to their friend. And so, everything leads to something, at minimum another fork in the road through which opportunity knocks.

Over the past two years I have had the great pleasure of working with thirty-five corporate clients, twenty-nine, or 83%, come via an introduction.

I’m going to give you a simple challenge for the next two weeks. All I ask is that you commit to it fully and see what happens.

  • Identify and call five people from your social/personal network. Get together with three
  • Each week, call five clients from a previous job, find out how they are doing, and tell them what you are doing
  • Each week, identify five prospects in your Linked In network using second level search and ask your connection to make an introduction.
  • Each week, call five current clients and check-in, ask how you can help and ask for an introduction
  • Each week, find five people you can help and do something for them
  • Talk to five people each week when you are out and about i.e. coffee or grocery line

Why do this? Besides getting out of your comfort zone which is always a good thing, you are practicing talking to people, asking for and offering help, and putting yourself in the flow of human connections.

Send me an email at the end of next week and let me know what has happened. Remember, you must fully commit. What’s the downside? Status quo.

What to find out more about what makes you tick? 

evaluation_checklist_cta

Topics: referrals and introductions, prospecting tips

Do You Leverage the Most Powerful Selling Tool of All?

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Feb 05, 2018 @ 14:02 PM

intro.jpg

Depending on which data you use, the percentage of salespeople who make quota each year is no bigger than around 50 percent. While no one is happy about this and the year-over-year quota attainment doesn’t vary by much, many of us seem to have accepted this as being “normal”. There are few business leaders I’ve meet who would tolerate performance like this in other departments and in a moment, I'll share a powerful tool that can help every salesperson attain quota, regardless of skill level.

The top priority for virtually all the companies I work with is new business.  This is a combination of new accounts, expansion of share in existing accounts, selling a company’s complete product and service lines, and penetrating other groups and divisions.

Salespeople that don’t make quota typically have a pipeline without enough (number and size) quality new opportunities while a small percentage of salespeople have good pipelines but aren't very good at closing.

As a sales development expert, experience has proven that real, sustainable sales force improvement requires a change in culture. This means greater transparency, more accountability, constant focus on training and coaching, the recruitment of stronger salespeople, impactful sales management and great systems and processes. The return will be profound, but it takes time, effort and commitment.

Everyone needs short-term wins.

Do you have a structured, milestone based, KPI driven referral and introduction program? If the answer is yes, I’m preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, it’s a rhetorical question and the vast majority of companies and sales organizations say, "No." Your size, sophistication, verticals served, products and services don’t change this answer by much.

Among the many reasons why, discomfort asking clients/customers for help is at the top of the list. This may well include you. Here are some of things I hear when I ask, "Why?" 

  • What if they say no?
  • I’m not sure if they are really happy.
  • Have I / we done enough for them?
  • They might be uncomfortable being asked.
  • I don’t want to upset them.
  • …..

If you have an established business with some happy repeat customers, you must create and execute a formal process that nurtures and drives introductions and referrals. This includes everyone.

An effective process sets the expectation that you will be asking for help (with introductions) when the time is right. It nurtures existing customers, fostering their desire to help you and assures you are helping them in unsolicited ways. Everybody from the CEO to line staff needs a role, defined expected behaviors and measurable metrics. It needs to be fun, rewarding and celebrated.

I’ve asked thousands of salespeople what percentage of their time is spent in “real high-quality selling situations”. I have never heard more that 25%. The power of introductions is significant particularly when measured against effort. It’s ongoing, helps with pipeline challenges, improves relationships, is great practice and can leverage the entire company.

The table below uses traditional, generic conversion ratios to show how much more effective and simpler it is to generate revenue when you are getting quality introductions.

intro-table.jpg

You can do this - it's easy.  It's actually easier than what you are doing today!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: getting referrals, referrals and introductions, reps making quota

The Case for Using Audio for  Great Sales Coaching

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 13:12 PM

audio.jpg

Have you ever recorded a new voicemail greeting only to re-record it multiple times because the words were not right, your tonality was off, the flow was bad or you just didn’t like how you sounded?

When we call a business for customer support, virtually every major company has a “This call may be recorded for coaching” message. Many technology companies with inside sales organizations use call recording software, yet many don’t leverage these tools for coaching.  When I ask a group of salespeople how often they listen to their own sales calls  less than 10% typically say yes. When I ask about the frequency of calls they record the number is even lower.  If salespeople simply asked more and better questions and more relevant questions their success rate would rise, yet almost no one reviews and improves their single biggest asset - how they sound on the phone.

The reasons for not recording and listening include: 

  • I don’t know how 
  • It will take a lot of time
  • I’m not sure what to coach people on
  • People don’t like listening to themselves
  • I don't think it will really help?

Salespeople frequently struggle with transitions because they spend too much time in some areas and not enough in others. If you break a call into simple parts; the introduction, rapport, expectations, questioning, summary and next steps you can identify the areas that need the most work. 

One of the biggest obstacles to being effective on the phone is expectations. Identifying a clear, appropriate, desired outcome and getting the prospect to agree to this upfront helps enormously. Pre-call strategy helps but what actually happens on the call is usually quite different from what was strategized and practiced. Without hearing the actual call, sales managers must coach to the outcome instead of what caused the outcome.

To have real impact on their salespeople, sales leaders must help their salespeople identify what they could have done differently and how this will improve their conversations and their outcomes.

Common opportunities for improvement are:

  • Did the salesperson ask one question or three at a time?
  • Did the prospect answer the question?
  • Did the salesperson repeat the question if necessary?
  • Are salespeople asking for clarification on the “labels” used, i.e. happy, fast or expensive?
  • Do salespeople allow their prospects to finish?
  • Are they interrupting?
  • How often are they summarizing?
  • Are they saying things to keep their prospects comfortable?
  • What was said that your salespeople missed?

A simple way to get started is to have a salesperson pick a call they want to review. Using the questions above as a guide, listen to it and make notes on the challenges / opportunities for improvement. Then, listen to the call with the salesperson and stop at the point(s) where you heard something important. Ask them what they heard. Your goal is to get them to identify the areas for improvement. Ask them what may have caused the challenge identified and what would have happened if they had done something different.

You may have to tell people what you heard, but resist your desire to explain. When salespeople self-discover their challenges it sticks, when you tell them, it may not. 

As for those who don’t use audio coaching enough, the question you need to ask yourself is, am I going to continue to accept my own rationalization for not leveraging this powerful tool? Can you imagine elite athletes not watching game film? I can’t!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, chris mott, coaching salespeople

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