Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 @ 13:09 PM

improve

I've written extensively about how salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies. Typically, both the articles and data are shared in the context of the difference between top salespeople and weak salespeople but rarely have I written about what happens after salespeople have been evaluated.

Here's how it usually works.  A company asks their outside sales expert for help growing sales.  As a first step, the expert suggests evaluating the sales force using OMG's incredible suite of tools.  The results are shared and reviewed with the client and anonymous data from the evaluation is added to our nearly 1.8 million rows of data.  That is the data I so often write about and you can see the aggregate scores, sorted by sales percentile, industry or region, at our public statistics site.

Post evaluation, the expert will likely help the company by providing some combination of training, coaching, consulting, recruiting, systems and processes updates in the areas that need to be improved.  As a result, do salespeople actually get better?  That's a direct result of the trainer's/consultant's effectiveness, the company's commitment to change, and the sales managers' ability to coach to the sales process and methodology, all well out of OMG's hands.  However, we do have some insight into how much their salespeople improve.

Approximately one year after the initial sales force evaluation, OMG offers to conduct a checkpoint where change can be measured and now I have the data.

I looked at the before and after scores for eight of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as the Reaches Decision Makers, Account Manager and Farmer competencies for a total of 11.  See the table below:

checkpoint-changes

One of the first things you might notice is that scores went down in 2 competencies - Relationship Building and Account Management.  Many salespeople believe that selling is simply having relationships and showing up. Then, when training and coaching targets the more impactful competencies, it's not unusual to see scores actually get worse in the two competencies they previously took for granted.

Another thing you might notice is the significance of change for Closing, Reaching Decision Makers, and Selling Value, a bi-product of what I assume the training and coaching would have been focused on post evaluation.

Twelve months later, there is an overall 18% improvement in scores.  We know that a just a 10% improvement creates a 33% increase ins sales.  Don't believe me?  Check out this table:

10-percent-improvementIf a 10% improvement creates a 33% improvement in revenue, what does an 18% improvement create?  Math is a really important tool in creating value and in this case, math tell us we can expect a 59% increase in revenue.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Closing Skills, sales core competencies, sales data

How to Achieve Short-Term Explosive Growth from your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 @ 10:09 AM

explosive-growth

Explosive Growth.  Positive Momentum.  Better Morale. Greater Confidence. Improved Capabilities.

Wouldn't you just love using those phrases to describe your sales force?

We know from the data in this article that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching have salespeople who are 28% more effective.

We know from OMG's data in this article that sales managers who are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 16% more effective.

And we know from the same data that sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching AND are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 49% more effective. 

That's 49% more effective!

So what would a 49% bump mean to you and your company and what will it take to get there?

For your coaching to have that kind of impact takes dedication and practice.  It's not easy.  But if you want to be recognized for the growth, impressive revenue bump, and subsequent increase in earnings, it is well worth the effort.

Let's work backwards.  Coaching is effective when salespeople consistently:

  • Rave that the coaching was incredibly helpful
  • Ask how soon they can be coached again
  • Respond by doing exactly what they were coached to do and getting a positive result
  • Discover at least 2 lessons learned from a coaching conversion
  • Grow the quantity and quality of their pipeline
  • Shorten their sales cycle
  • Improve their closing ratio

And you will become an effective sales coach when you are able to effortlessly:

  • Debrief recent sales calls by working your salespeople backwards through the call
  • Punch holes in the information your salespeople provide
  • Identify the two reasons (cause and effect) for each sales call that did not achieve the desired outcome.
  • Role-play any scenario, at any point in the sales process, playing the part of the salesperson
  • Provide your salespeople an appropriate plan of action to implement the lessons learned
  • Hold your salespeople accountable for the changes they agree to

Those are two good sets of guidelines but guidelines alone won't be enough to transition you from where you are today to where you need to be.  It's all about how to be more effective and you can't learn that from a list.

That's why so many sales leaders attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I usually offer that annually in the spring but we sold out with a waiting list in May so we are offering a fall session this year.

It's two intense days with me and my team.  At least half of those two days are devoted to mastering the art of coaching salespeople. This is not material you have ever heard or learned before.  You'll also leave with a sales process, appropriate metrics and keys to holding your salespeople accountable to change.  The session is limited to just 24 people and there are 15 seats available as of September 15. 

This. Will. Work.

Clear the dates - October 29-30.

Learn more here.

Use this special link to receive a 30% discount when you register.

The event will take place west of Boston at our training facilities in Westboro MA.  The best nearby hotel is the Doubletree Hotel just a mile down the road.  I hope you'll join us!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales data

How the Cheesecake Factory Menu Can Make You a Better Closer

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 15:09 PM

cheesecake-factory

Have you ever visited a Cheesecake Factory?  I LOVE the menu - they offer EVERYTHING.  The downside is that because there are so many items to choose from, it's difficult to decide what to order.  That's better than the options you have with my Blog.  [Please stay with me - the info on how to become a better closer is coming and if you can't wait, just scroll to the last 4 paragraphs.]

Buried in here - somewhere - are more than 1,700 articles.  But can you find any of them?  I can't!   If you scroll the left-side navigation of the Blog, you'll see that I created several categories but most of the series are not up-to-date.  Shame on me.  Despite that, there is a better chance of finding the articles you are most interested in by selecting the appropriate series than by scrolling or using the built-in Google search functionality..

The left-hand navigation menu begins with an opportunity to subscribe to the Blog, order Baseline Selling, followed by the article series, the most popular articles of all-time, 10 most recent articles, awards, and finally, free resources.

My top 5 favorite categories are:

Data and Research 
Comparing Salespeople to Children 
Sales Pipeline 
Music and Selling 
Articles Debunked 

From the most popular articles of all time, my top 5 favorites are

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments
SPIN and Miller Heiman Compared to Baseline Selling
Personality Assessments - The Definitive Case Study
How Your Salespeople Measure Up in 21 Sales Core Competencies
Rebuttal to What Elite Salespeople Do Differently

As with the Cheesecake Factory, the choices are practically limitless but the restaurant has a much better menu.  Salespeople are guilty of the Cheesecake Factory approach too.  We'll call it the CFF for Cheesecake Factory Factor.  Several complications occur when salespeople provide their prospects with too many choices:

  • They GIVE prospects a reason to think it over which results in delayed closings
  • They FAIL to be an expert.  If they asked the right questions and actually listened to the responses, then there would be only one ideal recommendation and/or solution that is both needs and cost appropriate.
  • They ALLOW their competitors to demonstrate their own expertise, recommending a single ideal solution and differentiating.

This will seem cheesy but compare the Cheesecake Factory to a 1960's era McDonalds.  There were only 2 choices back then - a hamburger or a cheeseburger. Of course you could order fries and a shake too.

Here's how it might sound: 

Based on what I know about you, I strongly recommend that you order the cheeseburger from the Cheesecake Factory, which will be a healthier choice than McDonalds.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Skills, top sales blog, cheesecake factory

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 1.8 million salespeople and sales managers from 25,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so their was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales improvement, sales core competencies, omg, Closing Sales, sales growth, sales qualification, sales data

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 @ 17:08 PM

sales-team

We all see the effects that strong leaders have when they surround themselves with either strong, mediocre or weak people.  What happens when strong leaders inherit a mixed team?  What happens when they hire a mixed team?  What happens when we ask the same questions about weak leaders?

I dug into a subset of data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of the salespeople who report to more than 15,000 sales managers to determine whether the best sales managers actually have the best salespeople.  I was surprised and disappointed by what I found.  Check this out!

In the first table, you'll notice that salespeople reporting to elite sales managers are 14% stronger overall than those who report to weak sales managers.  That's good, but why isn't there a larger gap?  I'll answer that question shortly.

mgrs-to-sp-comparison

The second table clearly shows that strong sales managers have 25% more elite and strong salespeople reporting to them than elite sales managers. How can that be explained? And the relatively small gap from the first table?

mgrs-w-elite-spI have a simple explanation that you may or may not agree with.  Elite sales managers have so much confidence in their abilities, that they refuse to give up on mediocre salespeople.  They believe that given enough time they can coach everyone up.  Along the same line of thinking, elite sales managers also tend to believe that they don't have to hire A players because as long as the salespeople they select have a great personality and industry knowledge, they believe they can train and coach them to become strong performers. Because of that, elite sales managers tend to take shortcuts at hiring time as evidenced by their lower scores for recruiting.  Without a doubt, they should be using an accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessment like OMG's award-winning tool.

While the best sales managers do tend to have better salespeople, the contrast is not nearly as sharp as most of us would expect it to be, but explains why leaders don't understand when strong sales manager's teams are not significantly more effective than weak sales manager's teams.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales performance, hunting, sales effectiveness, objective management group

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 @ 15:08 PM

urgency-image

How effective are salespeople when it comes to creating urgency?  I'm not talking about salespeople who create urgency by telling their prospects that if they don't order today the price will go up or it won't be available.  I'm talking about salespeople who create urgency by asking questions to uncover problems, the consequences and cost of which, create urgency.

You probably know that most aren't great at it.  After all, with so few salespeople having mastered the consultative approach, it's unlikely that one can achieve urgency using a transactional approach.

The latest data below from Objective Management Group (OMG) shows sales effectiveness relative to sales percentile and ability to create urgency. The following 1-minute video explains the difference between a transactional sale and a consultative approach, along with the differing outcomes.

 

The table below is derived from nearly 1.8 million salespeople assessed or evaluated by Objective Management Group, Inc. (OMG).  These findings make up some of the attributes of the Consultative Seller competency.  You can see and interact with data from all 21 sales Core Competencies here.  
urgency-stats

The 1st column in the table above shows the distribution by Sales Percentile, the next 3 columns show the percentage of salespeople in each group and how wide and deep they penetrate to find reasons to buy.  The last 3 columns show the state of buying readiness they achieve and the last column on the right shows the percentage of salespeople who are able to create urgency.

While only half of Elite salespeople are strong at creating urgency, elite salespeople create urgency 326% more often than their weaker counterparts, fail to uncover anything more than interest 700% less often and fail to get beyond "nice to have" 329% less often.

Unfortunately, weak salespeople make up 50% of the sales population and in the US alone, that's 8 million weak salespeople!

Make sure you don't hire any of that group by using OMG's accurate and predictive, sales-specific Sales Candidate Assessments.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales assessements, creating urgency, sales data

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 @ 11:08 AM

pitcher

As you know, I'm a baseball guy.  I wrote the best-selling book that merged baseball and selling, my son is a ranked high school catcher and I use baseball analogies in many of my articles.  With apologies to soccer, hockey, football, basketball and golf fans, no sport is more analogous to selling than baseball.

Before we get to sales and the data, let's take a quick dive into the most important skill position in baseball, pitching.  Even that's a sales word!  Pitchers don't have to throw hard if they have great control and effectively and consistently locate their pitches.  Hard throwers don't need to be as precise as long as they have a second and third pitch to keep the hitters off balance.  Pitchers who throw hard, locate their pitches and have a 4-pitch mix are elite.

One group of special pitchers are the closers.  They typically enter games in the 9th inning, throw hard and close out the game.  For example, Craig Kimbrel, the Boston Red Sox closer, has been such a guy.  Entering play on August 14, 2018, he has appeared in 49 games, pitched 49 innings, has amassed an amazing 75 strikeouts and has saved 35 games in 39 chances.  At the other end of the spectrum, less effective pitchers usually fail in the closer role because they don't dominate the hitters.

Pivot to sales.  Elite salespeople don't need to close and weak salespeople suck at closing.  Want proof?  Let's review some data from nearly 1.8 million evaluations and assessments of salespeople conducted by Objective Management Group (OMG).  You can see and play with the data here.

closer-competency-1

Only 108,000 out of 1,800,000 salespeople are strong at the closer competency and 63,000 of them are from the elite top 5% and the next group of 20% who are strong.  This proves that salespeople who are strong at the 7 Sales Core Competencies that precede closing don't need to be strong closers.  Those 7 competencies are:

  • Hunter Competency
  • Sales Process Competency
  • Relationship Builder Competency
  • Consultative Seller Competency
  • Value Seller Competency
  • Qualifier Competency
  • Presentation Approach Competency

The data also proves that the remaining 75% of salespeople who are serviceable or weak and also ineffective at most of the 7 Sales Core Competencies that precede closing, can't close even when they try!  Closing is so overrated!

Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, objective management, closing deals, OMG Assessment, delayed closings

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 07, 2018 @ 09:08 AM

qualify

My latest data mining project reveals that the answer to this question is a partial correlation.  

Check out the two tables below and you'll see just what I mean.

All of the data in this article comes from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of nearly 1.8 million salespeople.  See the data yourself in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and find out how your team compares by industry, region and more.

The first table shows the percentage of salespeople that have the Qualifier competency as a strength.  Look at the difference between elite salespeople where 93% have it as a strength versus weak salespeople where only 9% have it as a strength.  Also notice that the all of the scores in the table correlate to Sales Percentile.  The correlation ends there.  Strong and elite salespeople who are strong at the Qualifier competency are also strong at the Value Selling competency and have strong pipelines.  However, the 9% of weak salespeople who are strong at qualifying do not have strong pipeline quality and are not strong at selling value.

correlation-qualifier-to-pipeline

The second table has the same three competencies but it's framed based on those with strong pipeline quality.  Once again we see a partial correlation between pipeline quality, qualifier and value selling.  Most elite and strong salespeople who have strong pipeline quality are also strong at qualifying and selling value.  However, most weak salespeople who have strong pipeline quality are not strong in the qualifier or value selling competencies.

correlation-pipeline-to-qualifier

My takeaway from this is that when weak salespeople have strong pipeline quality, it's not because of them, it's because of the circumstances they find themselves in.  They likely stumbled upon the good opportunities, prospects shared more information than normal, and the opportunity moved to a late stage.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, qualifying, selling value

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 @ 06:07 AM

best-worst2

Professional athletes have one trait in common - they are all very athletic and their skills are among the top several hundred in the world in their particular sport.  For example, in Major League Baseball, there are 30 teams with 25 players each, making those ball players the top 750 in the world.  Dig a little deeper and in each sport there is an even smaller subset of players who are all-stars. Among the top 750 baseball players in the world, just 34, or just a little shy of 5% of that group are named to the all-star team each year.

Professional salespeople have one trait in common - they are all professional salespeople.

Since there are 16 million of them in the USA alone, they are hardly a rare breed and everyone knows someone or a lot of someones who are in sales.  However, once we look at salespeople as a profession, much like sports, around 5% are all-stars.  The difference between an all-star baseball player and a bench player or substitute for one of the 30 teams is that the all-star hitter consistently crushes the ball, the all-star pitcher consistently dominates hitters, and the all-star closer consistently shuts down hitters in the final innings of play.  

In sales, we don't have substitutes, but we have lots of weak salespeople who are far less effective than subs.  First, there are so many of them it would be like including all 2,500 or so minor league players (A, AA, and AAA leagues), 1,110 or so independent league players who aren't good enough to play for a minor league team, all 50,000 or so college baseball players, and all 500,000 or so High School players and you still wouldn't come close to the 8 million inferior salespeople in the USA!

That said, there are some things that the elite salespeople do which weak salespeople aren't able to do and it doesn't involve hitting a baseball.

The table below which shows how comfortable salespeople are when it comes to money and related discussions with their prospects, including whether or not they are speaking with the actual decision maker.

talking-money

There are so many take aways from this!

  1. Strong across the board correlation to Sales Percentile
  2. Elite salespeople are score 613% higher in the competency Comfortable Talking about Money
  3. Elite salespeople score 86% higher in Money Tolerance - their concept of how much is a lot of money
  4. Elite salespeople score 23% higher in the competency Buying Habits Support Selling Value - they buy value instead of buying based on price
  5. Elite salespeople score 74% higher at uncovering actual budgets
  6. Elite salespeople score 55% higher in the competency reaching actual decision makers.

When you put it all together, elite salespeople are 200% more likely than their weaker colleagues to succeed at selling value, while having a financial conversation, with a decision maker.  Put another way, a weak salesperson has very little chance of having any kind of financial discussion or even reaching a decision maker.

That begs the question, why do so many companies put up with having so many weak salespeople?

You can see data for hundreds of thousands of salespeople in more than 200 industries in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  If you want to get serious about selecting and hiring better salespeople you can take OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment for a test drive here.

Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, elite salespeople, talking about money, sales data

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 @ 08:07 AM

bryce-harper3

Some of you might have seen Bryce Harper's incredible last-minute barrage of home runs in the 2018 All-Star game. It's one of the highlights of summer!  Today I give you a barrage of my own with three killer videos and a powerful data-packed article.  

All 3 videos and the article use data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluation and assessments of nearly 1.8 million salespeople.  You can see some of the actual data for yourself.

First up, this article that I wrote for Selling Power, has data that shows how strong salespeople score 375% better than weak salespeople in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Second in my barrage, the video below explains why the need to be liked is such a serious handicap in sales.

 

 

Third in my barrage, this video explains why 80% of salespeople aren't getting to decision makers and what to do about it.

 

 

Finally, my barrage ends with this video explaining why most sales managers aren't effective at coaching.

 

 Photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2018/07/did-bryce-harper-cheat-to-win-2018-home-run-derby-cubs-fans-think-so/

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, reaching decision makers, need to be liked, sales data

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About Dave

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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