Understanding Competency Based Assessments - What Ditch Diggers and Salespeople Have in Common!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2022 @ 13:06 PM

I use a tool called Zapier to create zaps that automate some of the tasks that I do.  Zapier's newsletter had an article on 11 tech tools you need during economic uncertainty or in other words, during a recession. I clicked on the article and the first tool recommendation was written by Linda Scorzo, CEO of Hiring Indicators on the topic of competency based assessment technology. She wrote the following:

"Using competency-based, job-specific assessment technology is an absolute must for anyone looking to up-level their hiring. Getting beyond the interview and into the heart and soul of your candidates can give you a truer gauge of can they do the job and thrive as a member of your team.
With a recession comes an increased need to hire and to protect every dollar by lessening the risk of turnover. Assessment technology...has shown time and time again how you can get in front of the eight-ball and hire qualified and dynamic candidates."

Do you have any idea how many assessments are actually job specific?

The assessments that companies most commonly use are personality and behavioral styles assessments and as such, are not job specific.  Cue Objective Management Group (OMG).  Its assessments are not only specific to sales but also role specific, as in outside roles like account executive, account manager, and channel manager, as well as inside roles like BDR, SDR, and account manager.

OMG's sales assessments measure candidates against 21 Sales Core Competencies (and several additional sales competencies) and compares candidates to the more than 2.2 million other sales candidates that OMG has assessed. This measurement standard is "normative" while personality and behavioral styles assessments tend to be "ipsative."  Ipsative scores provide a comparison within an individual and are NOT recommended to be used for recruitment and selection purposes because they don’t make a comparison between individuals.

Each OMG Sales Core Competency has an average of 8 attributes for a total of approximately 200 sales specific findings, customized to the specific role for which the candidate is being considered.  OMG adjusts the requirements for a positive recommendation based on the difficulty of a specific sales job and role.  Various industries, businesses, sales roles, complexities, sales cycles, price points, territories, markets, audiences and decision makers are not remotely similar so a sales assessment is only useful if those factors are considered in the scoring criteria and subsequent recommendation.

As an example, let's say you were seeking to hire a ditch digger.  While you must identify someone who is strong, can use tools and dig holes, the width and depth of the hole, as well as the difficulty of the digging is more important.  Will this individual dig in sand, screened loom, compacted soil, clay, gravel, or rock?  If an assessment, even one that was specific to ditch-digging, only looked at the tools they had available and their ability to dig in general, it would not necessarily identify someone who could dig monumentally huge holes in soil with large rocks.

It's the same with a sales assessment.  A sales assessment that scored a territory salesperson who takes orders from plant managers for industrial supplies equally with a salesperson who sells multi-million dollar capital equipment to the C Suite of the Fortune 500 enterprises, is of limited value.  When the assessment can be configured to specify the requirements for those two sales roles and distinguish between the candidates applying for those two sales roles, we have perfection.

Let's return to part of the the quote at the beginning of this article where Linda writes, "Getting beyond the interview and into the heart and soul of your candidates can give you a truer gauge of can they do the job and thrive as a member of your team."  You do need a gauge, but the gauge should not be if they can do the job, but whether they will do the job.  OMG effectively distinguishes between can sell (you've met those ghosts - candidates you hired who are no longer with you but they still haunt you!) versus will sell (they are your top performers).  The other part of that quote which needs to be modified is where she says "getting beyond the interview."  You shouldn't be wasting time interviewing those candidates who can sell when you can focus only on those candidates who will sell in the specific role for which they are being considered.  Use the assessment early in the sales recruiting process to identify and disqualify the candidates that are not recommended.

OMG's sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments are legendary for how accurate and predictive they are.  Want to learn more?

Download a sample.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, zapier

Selling and the Need for Speed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 08, 2022 @ 08:06 AM

speed-limit

We had Chinese for dinner and my fortune said, "Speed is not as important as accuracy."

When you think of speed what are the first things that come to mind?

Fighter Jets? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to Mach 6.70 (5,140 MPH)

Racing Cars? The 6 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 304 MPH.

Motorcycles? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 273 MPH.

Power Boats?  The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 317 MPH.

Light travels at 186,270 miles per second!

And salespeople.  What?  That's right, salespeople speed.  Let me explain.

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to close - before an opportunity is even closable.  

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to present - before an opportunity is even qualified.  Most salespeople are in such a hurry that they completely skip things like qualifying and discovery.  And when salespeople do perform discovery they accept the very first indicator they hear and rush to explain how their product or service addresses that indicator,

Example. You tell the doctor about a stomach ache and the doc says, "No problem - I can help" and calls in a prescription for an antacid.  And while that example actually happens, a good, thorough doctor would ask questions like, "Where does it hurt?"  "Does it hurt to the touch?"  "Is it always sore or does it come and go?"  "Is it more frequent after a meal or when you're moving around?" "How long have you been experiencing this discomfort?"  "Can you show me the exact area of the pain?" "Have you been overly stressed or anxious?"  "Have you made any changes to your diet?" 

[I'd make a good doctor!] 

Then the doctor would say, "I want to make sure we aren't missing anything.  I would like to get you scheduled for X-Rays, and an MRI so that we can rule out a few things."

He's still in discovery.  A good doctor has no need for speed.

Back to salespeople who do have a need for speed.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and how a company, team or individual salesperson scores on those competencies tells a story about how they sell, what they encounter, and how effectively they can turn those encounters into business.  Several competencies overlap with Discovery, the two most obvious being Consultative Seller and Value Seller.  However, those two competencies are much easier to complete when we include the competencies Reaches Decision Makers and Relationship Builder.  The numbers in the 3 images below show the percentage of 2.2 million salespeople who are strong in these four competencies.  All salespeople are on the left, the top 10% are in the middle and the bottom 50% are on the right.

Do you see the problem?  Even some of the top 10% struggle with the Consultative approach but they excel at Reaching Decision Makers and Selling Value.  Why do even the best salespeople struggle?  Because among the 10 or so attributes found in the Consultative Seller competency, the 2 most crucial are listens and asks great questions.  Most salespeople struggle mightily with listening and when one doesn't listen effectively, the next question isn't that obvious.

To execute the 4 competencies above, a certain amount of Sales DNA is required.  When strong, Sales DNA supports the execution of sales process and methodology.  When weak, Sales DNA sabotages those efforts.

Only 22% of all salespeople have strong Sales DNA.  Here are the average Sales DNA Scores for salespeople.

  • All salespeople have an average score of 65.
  • The top 10% have an average score of 81. 
  • The bottom 50% have an average score of 56.

More challenging selling roles require higher Sales DNA scores while less challenging selling roles require lower Sales DNA scores.  Here are three examples:

  • A salesperson who sells industrial batteries (for golf carts, truck fleets, wheelchairs) in a territory can get by with Sales DNA of 64.
  • A salesperson who sells payroll software to HR departments in a territory can succeed with Sales DNA of 72.
  • A salesperson who sells 7 to 8 figure capital equipment to the C Suite of the Fortune 500 against formidable competition in an 18 month sales cycle requires Sales DNA of over 82.

The salesperson the first example and those in similar roles to that salesperson have a need for speed.  It's a transactional sale.  They can move the sale and the relationship from transactional to consultative by S-L-O-W-I-N-G down.

The salesperson who is successful in the second example has slowed down.  Their biggest challenge is competition.  It's not a question of if the company will buy and use payroll software, the only question is whose software they will use and who they will purchase it from.  Slowing down even more will help to differentiate.

The salespeople in the third example have learned that if they are to have any success in this role, they must crawl through their sales process.  Slow is the name of the game.  I don't mean slow as in extend the sales cycle. I mean slow as in thorough.

[Update: One reader suggested that the crucial piece is having a variable speed where you move as fast or as slow as your customer.  I agree that you need variable speeds but many times the client wants to move fast and you need the ability to slow down the client or it will become a transactional sale.  So variable is OK but only when it provides an advantage to you.

They say speed kills and other than driving, nowhere is this more true than in sales.

Evaluate your Sales Team.

See scores for your industry in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, selling value

The Recession is Here - How to Take Advantage and Prepare Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 31, 2022 @ 07:05 AM

crash-landing

You boarded your plane, got seated, the plane pulled away from the gate and you fell asleep.  Later, a hard landing woke you and you wondered, "Are we already there?"  Yes you are and you slept through the entire flight.

The same thing is happening with the economy.  While you were sleeping, distracted by Russia invading Ukraine, baby formula shortages, off-the-chart gas prices, a migrant surge across the southern border, mass shootings, supply-chain shortages, and runaway inflation, the recession crash-landed and it's here.   

The two biggest tell-tale signs are new home sales were 100,000 or so units below expectations for April, and the first of many interest rate hikes have been enacted. And the biggest sign is that government officials continue to tell us that there is nothing to see here, the economy is booming and there will be a soft landing from inflation.  Sure.

While I'm citing events in the United States, there is no doubt that this will be a global recession.

So what must you do to prepare your sales team and how can you leverage the effects of a recession?

You'll know the recession is real when in the next 90 days, sometime between now and the end of August 2022, the first domino falls and a major corporation announces they will layoff thousands of workers.  Others are sure to follow.  Then come the spending freezes.  This trickles down to mid-size and small businesses and while this is taking place, consumer confidence plunges, people stop buying things, which reinforces the decision to stop corporate spending and vindicates them for the layoffs.  We're gonna get clobbered!

You can leverage all of this by hiring salespeople.  That's right.  Resist the urge to layoff salespeople and instead, take advantage of what will finally be a surplus of good to great salespeople.  They have been in very short supply for several years and this will be one positive consequence of a recession.  Gobble them up, upgrade and smart-size your team and use OMG's Smart-Sizing tool as part of a sales team evaluation. Use OMG's sales candidate assessments to distinguish the sales winners from the imposters because past success is NOT a good predictor of future success in sales. You should already know that from experience otherwise your track record would be better and all of your salespeople would be meeting or exceeding quotas.

You must prepare your salespeople so they can convince people who are on a spending freeze to spend money despite the freeze.  This REQUIRES that they be effective at calling on, reaching and engaging actual decision makers as they are the only people who can override the spending freeze.  In addition to developing their skills at engaging decision makers, they must be equally effective at using a consultative approach, selling value and using a sales process optimized for a value-based, consultative approach.  Why consultative?  Selling value doesn't work well outside of a consultative approach.  Not only that, but salespeople struggle to achieve differentiation outside of a consultative approach.

What could go wrong?

OMG has evaluated and assessed more than 2.2 million salespeople and the data shows that taking a consultative approach is where salespeople are LEAST effective.

As you can see, only 11% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 28% have reaching decision makers as a strength and only 31% have selling value as a strength.  But it's worse than that.  Weak salespeople make up 50% of the sales population.  Weak salespeople don't sell this way!  The next graphic isolates weak salespeople - the bottom 50% - only.

Only 1% of weak salespeople (half of your sales team!) have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 10% have reaching decision makers as a strength, and only 4% have selling value as a strength.

This is why half of your salespeople don't hit quota!  But over the past several years they have gotten by because they have been in order-taking mode.  With demand dropping like a rock and order-taking going away what will you do?  These are the five steps you should take.

1) Evaluate Your Sales Team  to determine who will be part of your future and who was part of your past.  Determine the exact competencies in which they will require training and coaching.  Better understand where the bottlenecks are and what it will take to increase your win rate. 

2) Assess Sales Candidates as you hire better salespeople.

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3) Customize and Optimize your Sales Process for a Consultative Approach

4) Get your sales managers trained and coached to be effective and consistent at coaching up their salespeople

5) Get your sales team trained to hunt decision makers, take a consultative approach, and sell value.

The economy might make a crash landing but there is no reason you or your sales team need to do the same.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, selling in the recession, sales candidate assessment, selling value, sales team evaluation

Top 12 Sales Blogs of 2022 That Make You Think and Sell More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 20, 2022 @ 12:05 PM

reading-blog

I conducted a Google search for the Top Sales Blogs and it showed 616,000 results.  I can work with that!  Not.  I started browsing page by page and I found approximately 50 different lists of top sales blogs on the first 6 pages.  My Blog was named on many of those lists but it got me wondering, why so many lists, why are so many different Blogs listed, what are the criteria, and which Blogs should you really be following for the best sales advice?

I chose to start with criteria required to be named on the lists. 

The most common criteria is personal choice as in "These are my favorite Sales Blogs!"  And that's OK as long as readers know they are your favorites and as such, won't necessarily have the best content.

Some of the lists use Blogs that are named on other lists and simply cull them down from a top 50 list to a top 25 list. 

Others use traffic as a criteria as in the Blogs that get the most visitors must be the best blogs.  Not really.  They're the Blogs that are most heavily promoted and get the most traffic.  Similarly, others use the number of Facebook or Twitter followers as their criteria for which are the best.

Some lists are pay to play where for a fee they'll include the Blog on their list.  The list may not have the best sales Blogs but give them credit - the authors paid for you to read their content!

Some lists are created by authors who have their own sales Blog (like I'm doing here) and they include their friends from the community (which I am not doing).

Some lists include Marketing Blogs.  Why not read a Marketing Blog when you're looking for sales advice? Most of the sales advice from Marketing Blogs is to stop selling and start marketing.

Some lists include Blogs on Sales Enablement.  Again. Nothing wrong with that but you'll usually get an adult dose of "technology is your answer" along with an extra-large serving of self-promotion.

Is there is an objective list that isn't pay for play, that doesn't list friends, that doesn't have off-topic content, that you can rely on for honest-to-goodness, entertaining, funny, engaging, thought-provoking articles that ask great questions and provide good, practical, real-world, usable advice? 

Not that I could find.

So I have assembled a list of Sales Blogs that fit that description. It is my opinion, but I really tried to be as objective and unbiased as I could.  These are the sales experts whose work I read!  Some are on the other lists I found while some are not.  Some have large followings and some do not.  Some are well known and some are not.  They are all heavily focused on sales and or sales leadership.  They are not ranked as that is way too much work, it is unfair to the sales experts, and I am way too efficient to waste time and effort on ranking.

I apologize to the sales experts who are friends and acquaintances whose Blogs are not named here.  I assure you it isn't personal but I worked hard to make sure this was not an all-inclusive list but truly a list of the best material.

Understanding the Sales Force by Dave Kurlan - We'll get the shameless promotion over and done with early. My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, with its 2,000 articles and heavy emphasis on data and generous use of stories and analogies is on my list.  Most of the articles are entertaining, not too long, and include data to back up my conclusions.

The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino -  The Sales Blog is not to be missed as Iannarino is one of the best at sharing useful insights.  Visit Anthony's Blog for the best ideas in both sales and leadership.

Partners in Excellence Blog by Dave Brock   I love Dave Brock's blog because his thinking reminds me of me!  He has the ability to take complex sales concepts and make them simple and easy to read. Dave is another veteran of the sales consulting space who has seen it all and done it all and his wisdom and sense of humor comes shining through. 

Mike Weinberg's Blog  Mike Weinberg is a great story-teller who whose practical advice includes making sure you pick up the phone and use it for prospecting.  There aren't many sales experts who still believe in the phone as a tool but Mike does and he helps salespeople use it effectively.   

Selling from the Heart by Larry Levine Larry Levine is unique in that his advice comes from the perspective of being authentic, caring and honest and you can't go wrong if you follow that advice.

A Sales Guy by Keenan   Keenan is another original but he is not for the faint of heart.  He's passionate about being great at selling and the passion comes through from his not so occasional use of the f-bomb.  If you can get past that - and you should - his writing is entertaining and very helpful.

Rain Group Blog The Rain Group's blog is about sales effectiveness and it relies heavily on data and statistics.  Right up my alley!  The advice is great and you should include their Blog on your reading list.

Sales Pro Insider by Nancy Bleeke    Nancy is another longtime veteran of the sales expert space who is an entertaining writer providing sound, practical advice along with occasional reviews of books and tools in the sales space.

Cerebral Selling by David Premer    I recently came across David's blog and was impressed with how well it fits a niche in sales that isn't written about or discussed very frequently.  If you're a thinking person, this is the sales blog to read.

The Sales Hunter by Mark Hunter    Another veteran of the sales expert space, Mark Hunter talks about hunting - a lot!  So if you're in a role that requires prospecting for new business, you will definitely want to check out The Sales Hunter Blog.

Keith Rosen  Keith Rosen writes almost exclusively about sales management and sales leadership so if you're in one of those two roles then you must become a regular reader of Keith's Blog.

Membrain by George Bronten  George sometimes reposts content from other sales experts and sometimes promotes Membrain, but that aside, his material is great and you should include his Blog in your regular reading.

Image copyright 1232RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Keith Rosen, membrain, s. anthony iannarino, best sales blog, Dave Brock, george bronten, nancy bleeke, larry levine, mike weinberg, cerebral, keenan, mark hunter, best sales blogs

5 Steps to Grow Sales by 33% in 12 Months

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 11, 2022 @ 08:05 AM

I'm a baseball guy and a die hard Boston Red Sox fan but I can't bear to watch them right now.  They are playing the worst baseball since I was 10 years old so that's going back 55 years!  It's not hard to understand why they are so bad because the data tells the story.  Their stats show that as of May 9, 2022 their bullpen has 9 blown saves.  Bullpens rarely blow 9 saves over a full season never mind over five weeks but if you look deeper, they wouldn't be in so many close games if their offense was producing.  Only three guys (JD Martinez, Xander Boegarts and Rafael Devers), are hitting!   Coaches will review game video and hitters will take extra batting practice to work on their mechanics and timing.

Sales teams go through periods like this too but sales leaders rarely seek out the data that would immediately point to the real problem.  They tend to hope things will improve and go from there. However, there are several levels of data to be reviewed so let's take a look.

As the article title suggests, there are five steps you must take to grow sales by 33% in 12 months.  You can't pick and choose as all five are required.

1. IDENTIFY BOTTLENECKS - A quality CRM application, like Membrain, will show your win rates, age in stage, conversion ratios, pipeline velocity, pipeline volume and pipeline quantity and more.  Dig into that data to determine year over year changes and identify where your bottlenecks have been and where they are today.  Be mindful that this is lagging data and are merely symptoms of the real problems!  (My personal favorite is the Baseline Selling edition of Membrain)

2. IDENTIFY THE REAL REASONS - An OMG Sales Team evaluation will explain why you have those bottlenecks and why your team gets the results it gets.  Note which of the 21 Sales Core Competencies are to blame - by team and individual - and more importantly, how much revenue is being left on the table and who is capable of upping their game.  For example, are deals getting stuck because salespeople aren't capable of reaching decision makers?  We know that salespeople who can begin with the decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business!  A training curriculum can be designed from these conclusions. Learn MoreRequest Samples (Request Sample Sales Force Eval)

3. PROFESSIONAL OUTSIDE SALES TRAINING - Provide your sales team with appropriate training to close the competency gaps, improve skills, and achieve better execution.  This should not be a one or two-day event.  Change requires on-going, long-term training to change beliefs, approaches, strategies, tactics and develop skills!

4. DAILY COACHING - Sales managers must provide daily, one-on-one coaching to their salespeople to help them with their individual gaps and improve their Sales DNA.  Only 7% of all sales managers come equipped with effective coaching skills so they will need to be trained and coached in order for them to provide effective coaching.

5. ACCOUNTABILITY - Sales Leaders must hold sales managers accountable for coaching as sales managers hold their salespeople accountable for change.

Once you have the data and take action, there is absolutely no good reason why you can't bump sales by at least 25%!  That's right, AT LEAST 25%.  If everyone improves by just 10% you will grow sales by 33%!

  • 10% more opportunities
  • 10% higher average sale
  • 10% greater win rate

That comes out to 33%!  Don't believe me?

Start with monthly goals of 20 opportunities, a 20% closing rate, and a $20,000 average sale. That translates to 4 sales for $80,000 or $960,000 annually.  10% more equates to:

  • 22 opportunities
  • 22% closing rate
  • $22,000 average sale

That's 4.84 sales at $22,000 which totals $106,480 per month or $1,277,760. A 33% increase in revenue!

What are you waiting for?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, crm, omg, how to increase revenue, sales increase, membrain, sales team evaluation

Do You Know the Accurate Reason Why a Salesperson Is Not Performing?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 20, 2022 @ 13:04 PM

failing

How quickly can you determine why a salesperson is failing? 

Dinger loves to play catch with his ball.  He has seven of them but loves his white ball the most.  When we're out playing catch and I point to a ball and say, "there it is" or "right there" or "get it" he just can't seem to find it!  Dinger has good listening skills but his ability to see the obvious isn't very good.

Such was the case earlier this week when a surprised client wanted an explanation for why one of their salespeople, who does not perform very well, scored well on his evaluation.  "How can someone who is not my top performer score better than someone who is my top performer?"

That sounded like a challenge so I said, "Let's go!"

Objective Management Group's (OMG's) evaluations are very accurate so I always assume the evaluation is correct and simply ask questions to determine whether something needs explaining, or they might not be looking at the best data to determine whether a salesperson is truly a top producer or an under performer.  The most common pushback occurs when someone they have inappropriately labeled as a top performer does not evaluate very well.  In almost every case, it's because the salesperson manages more revenue than anyone else, but isn't the one who sold those accounts.  A good account manager, but not a producer. 

In the case of this evaluation, the salesperson was simply not performing as well as his peers so I assumed there was a good explanation.

I'll share what I found.

First I looked at his 5 Will to Sell competencies which include Desire, Commitment, Outlook, Motivation and Responsibility - all specific to sales - and while I expected to find an issue with commitment, I did not find the issue there. 

Next I looked at the 6 Sales DNA competencies, expecting to find an explanation there and while his Sales DNA is only fair at best, at 67 it was certainly not the primary source of the problem.

Next I looked at the 10 Tactical Selling Competencies and found what I was looking for.

He scored an 8 on Relationship Building!  If you look at these 10 scores in the proper sequence, he's a hunter who can reach decision makers and when he schedules a call or face to face meeting, and they talk with him, he isn't able to connect with with his prospects. 

He scored 84 in the Hunting competency but that's deceiving!  What prevented him from scoring 100? If you look at the attributes in the Hunting competency below, there are two important attributes he's missing. The first is Likable!  If a salesperson isn't likable it's very difficult to get beyond that!! They simply won't perform!  The second is Maintains Full Pipeline. Clearly, he struggles to convert the scheduled calls and meetings into opportunities.

The answer is always in the OMG evaluation but you need to look at more than a single score!  At a bare minimum, read the dashboard where these scores come from.  You don't have to read 30 pages but at least read the first 2 pages!

Going back to my opening paragraph, "Right there!"  "There it is!"

Clients use OMG's Sales Team evaluations as a development tool to uncover sales skill gaps, opportunity for growth, and most importantly for answers to age-old questions like, why aren't we selling more?  Why is our win-rate so low?  Why aren't we generating more new business?  Why do so many opportunities come down to price?  Are our salespeople in the best roles for them?  How much more business could we be generating if we coached and trained on these gaps?  Are we hiring the right salespeople?  Are our sales managers coaching effectively? 
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Clients use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments to hire the ideal salespeople for the selling roles they wish to fill.  
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Sales consulting and training firms choose OMG for their clients because it is sales specific, and is more comprehensive, more accurate and more predictive than any other assessment you can find.  Sales consultants and trainers can learn more here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, sales results, preditive of sales performance, listening skills, sales team evaluation, failing salesperson

The Philosophy of a Pitching Coach Will Improve Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 04, 2022 @ 07:04 AM

pitching

I find ideas and material for this Blog everywhere, especially when I'm not looking for them. Yesterday I received a daily email from a Paul Reddick, a baseball coach who was drumming up some business for his baseball institute. It resonated - not for its baseball coaching - but as sales coaching.  Here's what it said:

If your coach is talking about any of the pitching flaws that you see listed above…

Run… Run Fast!

That Coach is working on “flaws” that will have no impact on your pitching.  He is working on symptoms… not the illness!  He is trying to fix things that are happening as a byproduct of incorrect movement early in your delivery. If you get the first second of your delivery right, almost all of these flaws get fixed instantly. 

Do you know how this applies to sales? 

I'll explain exactly how it applies and I promise you will be surprised!  Click here to read last year's fun article comparing pitcher's fielding practice (PFP) to role-playing in sales.

If a CEO, Sales Leader, Sales Manager, Sales Coach or Sales Expert suggests that closing or negotiating is a selling flaw, then that individual does not really understand what salespeople must do in order to win business.

Closing is over-rated. 

Always has been.

Except for the concept of when to close, closing shouldn't even be taught!

If a salesperson is effective adding opportunities to the pipeline, reaching decision makers, building relationships, taking a consultative approach and uncovering compelling reasons to buy, selling value, qualifying, and doing that in the context of a effective and efficient sales process, they will earn the business and it will close at the appropriate time.

If they suck at any or all of the nine competencies referenced above, then the lack of wins will appear to be a closing issue, when it is actually symptomatic of something that wasn't properly executed earlier in the process.

Same goes for negotiating.  If an opportunity is properly qualified at the appropriate time, there should not be anything to negotiate.  However, if qualifying lacks thoroughness and is completed too early, it invites a negotiation at closing time.

Training and coaching should be targeted towards the competency in the sales process that has the lowest conversion ratio.  In other words, if salespeople struggle to get opportunities into the pipeline, focus on prospecting.  If salespeople are booking meetings but opportunities stagnate in the pipeline, the issue is with the consultative approach and/or value selling.  If opportunities get as far as qualified but fail to close, then the issue is probably with qualifying and/or consultative selling/value selling.

The most important thing to identify is where ALL of the skill gaps are.  How can salespeople leverage their strengths, sharpen existing skills, learn new skills and improve their conversion ratios?

The best way to do that is to know exactly what they are capable of, where their bottlenecks are, what their blindspots are, and what they need to do in order to improve.  This should never be a guess because most sales managers, sales leaders and CEOs guess wrong!  It sounds like most of the calls and emails I receive where the potential client says, "Yes, we're looking for someone to provide some sales training on closing and negotiating."

There are a couple of ways to find out what your team is really capable of and how much better they can become:

An OMG Sales Team Evaluation is the best solution and provides answers to every possible question you might have about your team.  In addition to the comprehensive Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA), Executive Summary, and Visualizer (interactive tool to play with the data), you and your sales team will learn how everyone measures up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

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OMG has a free self-serve solution as well.  You can see how your team collectively compares to other teams in your industry and to companies overall in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  You won't get any reports or individual results but you'll see where the team-wide gaps are.

Check out the Free solution (or first step)

Companies that have their sales teams evaluated experience faster, quicker and greater growth than those who don't.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Closing Sales, sales assessments, sales team evaluation

Top 10 Sales Videos and Rants From Dave Kurlan

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 21, 2022 @ 07:03 AM

video

From time to time I record impromptu unscripted rants as well as some that are more well thought-out videos.  From among the collection presented below, most are rants so the rants are much more popular.  The most-watched (I have added to the list so there are more than 10 now!) videos are shown below in order of popularity and while I like all of them, I indicated my personal favorites with an asterisk.  All but three of the videos are three-minutes or less, one is six-minutes, one is ten-minutes and one is eight-minutes.  Topics include:

1. Revenue Sensitivity - a rant on the lack of correlation between top salespeople and revenue

2. On Sales Process and Methodology - the difference between popular sales processes and methodologies

3. Why Your Prospects Won't Talk with You and What to Do About it - a rant

4. On Attracting Salespeople When Recruiting - a rant on the Two Keys to Attracting More of the Right Sales Candidates

5. Transactional versus Consultative Selling - a rant

6. Why Forecasts are Always So Inaccurate - a rant on why it's not the forecast!

7. Dinger's Listening Skills - how my Dog's Listening Skills are better than those of most salespeople

8. Protect Your References - a rant on why you shouldn't give out references unless it's the perfect time

9. Why People Should Consider a Career in Sales

10. On Cold Calls - a Rant

More...

1.  On Revenue Sensitivity *

2. On Sales Processes and Methodologies

 

3. Why Your Prospects Won't Talk with You and What to Do About it

 

4.  On Attracting Salespeople When Recruiting

 

5. Transactional Versus Consultative Sales

 

6. Why Forecasts are Always So Inaccurate

 

7. Dinger's Listening Skills *

 

8. Protect Your References

 

9. Why People Should Consider a Career in Sales *

 

10. On Cold Calls

More.

On How Nothing Has Changed in 35 Years.

On Not Getting Distracted

 

On How to Shorten and Speed Up the Sales Process

On Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

On The Importance of Momentum in Sales

Momentum Part 2: The Difference Between Discipline and Consistency - You'll Need Both!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales methodology, sales recruiting, top salespeople, tips on selling, listening skills, sales forecasts, best sales video, career in sales

Great Sales Managers are Like Great Baseball Coaches Without the Screaming

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 15, 2022 @ 12:03 PM

baseball-is-back

So there will be Major League Baseball in 2022.  Suddenly the bitching and moaning about the owners has stopped and everyone is just happy that baseball is back.

Speaking of baseball and bringing sales into the discussion, let's talk about coaching.  First the baseball.

When my son was home for winter break, I asked him to rank all of his baseball coaches, an exercise that he found quite interesting.  Starting with Little League, through travel teams, all-star teams, tournament teams, High School teams and finally College, he has had 18 coaches not including me.

He played 4 years for his #1 ranked coach.  For the first two years he was afraid of this coach and for a very good reason.  The coach screamed at him, embarrassed him, and made an example out of him every chance he had.  At the very same time the coach pushed him, challenged him and brought out the best in him.  From the coach's perspective, he knew Michael could take it, saw his potential, and knew he could play even better than he did.  Some of Michael's best games and clutch performances were played under this coach.  The coach didn't scream at everyone.  Other players who disappointed the coach were simply ignored. He didn't want to waste his time screaming at them because he knew it wouldn't change anything and the players would repeat their mistakes.

I was not surprised over the coaches that Michael ranked 14-18.  They weren't very good at coaching, didn't add much value, and their teams didn't win anything. 

The nicest coach Michael ever played for, the one who we, as parents liked the most, and the one Michael loved the most, didn't make the top 5.  They loved each other but didn't win anything together and the coach didn't bring out the best in Michael.  He was simply way too chill.

So let's pivot back to sales.

The biggest difference between great sales managers and crappy sales managers is how effectively they coach up their salespeople to make them better.  There are two parts to this:

The first part is tactical - How to coach effectively, when to coach, what to coach on, how frequently to coach, and what good sounds like.  It can all be taught but it relies so, so heavily on listening skills.

The second part is Sales Management DNA -  How comfortable sales managers are when it comes to confronting, pushing back, challenging, being truthful, and providing constructive criticism.  It relies heavily on not allowing their fear of upsetting or losing salespeople to get in the way, preventing them from providing great coaching.

We can draw a comparison between Michael's #1 ranked coach and a great sales manager.  Pretend that coach #1 is everything described above except for the screaming and  embarrassing.  If I rewrote the description, it would say: the coach pushed him, challenged him and brought out the best in him.  From the coach's perspective, he knew Michael could take it, saw his potential, and knew he could play even better than he did.  Some of Michael's best games and clutch performances were played under this coach. 

Isn't that what we want our sales managers to accomplish?

Sales Managers:  Stop worrying about whether salespeople like you, and make sure they respect your coaching, trust your intentions, and truly want to improve. Bring out the best in them.  Show them what good sounds like through role-play.  If you do that, your relationship with them will be first rate.

The key is role-playing - the only possible way to demonstrate what good truly sounds like.  Most sales managers don't know how to do this effectively or don't include role-playing in their coaching. If you want to improve your ability to role-play, Kurlan & Associates has a self-directed online course that includes more than 40 unscripted role-plays extracted from live coaching and training conversations.  They cover nearly every scenario, include a layer of realtime coaching during the role plays and ARE EXACTLY WHAT GOOD SOUNDS LIKE.  If you want examples that you can model on how to coach salespeople through role-play, it doesn't get any better than this.  It's just $795 and you get access to the ever-expanding library for a year!  You can see the course topics here.  Have questions? Feel free to email me.  I respond to my emails!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, role playing

The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4,000% Better at this than the Bottom 10%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 03, 2022 @ 07:03 AM

Why Do Deer Run Into Cars

This weekend, a deer ran across the highway and hit our car.  The deer was injured but she did manage to run away so we were relieved that she wasn't killed.  After we returned home, I couldn't find our dog, Dinger.  Regular readers may remember Dinger from these posts:

My Dog Has Better Listening Skills Than Most Salespeople 

Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople

How Top Salespeople Manage Resistance

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Veteran Salespeople or Millennials?

I found Dinger with his nose glued to my front bumper where some of the deer's hair was still attached to my car.  Dinger, who loves to bark at deer from the safety of our home, seemed to be saying, "Ohhhh, so THIS is what a deer smells like!"

The exact same thing happened to a salesperson I was training.  It wasn't a deer or a dog, it was about Jim's sales aha moment.

His team was asked to send me an email with their five biggest lessons from their first six months of training.  Among Jim's top five was this one:

Your own bias affects the selling process - Wow!  I did not realize that my biases are affecting my sales process and approaches.  For example, I have a money bias that was unknown to me until recently.  I make a strange face (as if I am going to get punched in the face) whenever I tell the client the cost for a service or product.  I started noticing my strange face recently on my zoom calls and I now know that my money bias was likely affecting my sales.  I was not confident in my ask for the cost of the service or the product and thus it showed on my face as I waited for the client's rebuttal.  (And usually their rebuttal would feel like they punched me in the face)

What a great lesson!  Jim was referring to a sales competency found in his Sales DNA called Comfortable Discussing Money and an attribute called High Money Tolerance found in another competency, Supportive Buy Cycle

Salespeople who don't have high money tolerance become very uncomfortable when the amount of money being discussed exceeds the amount they consider to be a lot of money.  Jim believed that $500 is a lot of money yet he was asking companies for $500,000.  No wonder he made a strange face - that's 1,000 times greater than his choking point!  If the salesperson lacks confidence in how much money they are asking for, why in the world would we expect the prospect to have any confidence about buying from the salesperson?

The top 10% of all salespeople are 4,000% more comfortable discussing money than the weakest 10% - 4,000%!  And the top 10% of all salespeople are 100% more likely to have a high money tolerance than the weakest 10%.

Finally, being comfortable discussing money and having a high money tolerance directly support a salesperson's ability to uncover the actual budget.  Salespeople who do uncover the actual budget are 172% more likely to close the business - 172%!

Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and has assessed more than 2.2 million salespeople.  You can view some of the data here, see how the data changes by industry, and how you and/or your sales team compares to other companies in your industry and overall.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales assessments, sales data, uncovering budget

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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 medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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