Why Speed on Base Wins in Baseball and Sales

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Nov 05, 2018 @ 18:11 PM

 

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Dave Roberts' stolen base in game four of the 2004 American League Championship started the Red Sox historic comeback against the Yankees that resulted in them winning the 2004 World Series.

The mental battle between a runner and the pitcher (the runners who are threats to steal are often referred to as “Speed on the Bases” by broadcasters) perfectly describes what salespeople must accomplish to create a high-value relationship with a prospect. When the runner gets into the head of the pitcher, a base stealing opportunity is created. When you get your prospect to pay more attention to you than anyone else a sale becomes exponentially more likely. 

In OMG's Relationship Building competency, 65% of Elite, 58% of Strong and 55% of the Serviceable salespeople are strong compared to only 36% of the bottom 10%.

Over the last five weeks I have conducted seven sales and sales leadership intensives for about 150 sales professionals. A high percentage of them viewed relationship creation as creating rapport and finding common interests. Virtually all of the Account Managers saw their job as keeping people happy at all costs. As a result, they tend to posture themselves as vendors instead of advisors.

To create Speed-on-Bases (SOB) in sales you must take a different approach. It not about making people feel comfortable, it’s about creating equality, trust, value and intimacy. 

In OMG's Doesn't Need to be Liked Competency, part of Sales DNA, 54% of the top half of salespeople are strong compared to just 20% of the bottom half. 92% of the top 20% have this as a strength.

When we at Kurlan begin a sales development project, we generally conduct sales and sales management intensives. These are typically our first encounters with the entire team. These are cold groups and analogous to an early meeting with a prospect. The attendees can be skeptical, reluctant, uneasy, wary and in some cases on a mission to undermine our efforts. We are in the truest sense of the word just another vendor.

To achieve a positive outcome requires us to quickly develop Speed-on-Bases with the group and the individual members. 

SOB quality is comprised of Relationship, Honesty, Credibility, Value-Add and Posture. Salespeople tend to focus on the first element most frequently without intention.

Relationship is primarily about warming people up and creating rapport. Getting people to laugh, having some fun and being a little vulnerable. After all, we are all people trying to help each other. Honesty requires speaking the truth even when it’s uncomfortable, acknowledging the elephant in the room, “many of you are skeptical about me and what we are doing here”.

Credibility is using their language or speaking from the perspective of the audience in my case. With prospects you must know what it’s like to be them. How they think, what their day looks like, the politics of the organization, communication challenges and the problems they face including those that have nothing to do with you. 

Value-Add is by far the most important. It cannot be created without the first three SOB elements. In short you must challenge and poke holes in their thinking. Presenting, talking about solutions, features, benefits and your value proposition do not add value. They make you sounds like all the other ineffective salespeople they have met.

Finally, there’s Posturing. At its core, posturing is being the advisor instead of a salesperson, as the table below shows. 

Weak Posture

Strong Posture

Talking

Asking tough questions

I / We can help

I don’t know if you will be a good customer

I will do whatever it takes to win your business

I don’t need your business

Help me with how to sell to you

This Is how I do business

Tell me about the challenges you face

What is your part in these challenges?

If you are not comfortable sharing your budget that’s OK

I can’t help if you don’t trust me

What are you trying to fix?

What is the business driver?

Most salespeople are conditioned to accept the inequality prospects want when they buy. It’s considered OK for prospects to spin the truth, lie by omission, string salespeople along and cancel meetings without notice. Weaker salespeople accept this as the norm and don’t push back. From an objective, non-emotional perspective, this is crazy. Salespeople need to toughen up, stand their ground, stop seeking approval and stand up for the noble profession we all embody.

Want to learn more, click on image. evals.

Topics: sales advisors, advanced selling skills, elite salespeople, selling value, differentiate our company, differentiating yourself

Wordiness Sabotages Improvement

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

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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.

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

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