The Crucial Step Missing from Most Sales Training Programs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

Most companies don't understand that crappy customer service is really a sales issue.  When a company's customer service is thoughtful, helpful, kind and thorough, that great customer service actually serves the sales organization.  It becomes easier for salespeople to renew accounts, cross-sell, up-sell and succeed.  When a company's customer service sucks, it has the opposite effect, creating objections, resistance, disdain and animosity.

As an example, I had such an experience with Safelite, whose website claims that they are the #1 auto glass specialist in the country.

I had a ding in my windshield and scheduled Safelite to come to my office to repair the windshield.  Easy!  In the middle of the repair, the technician called to let me know that the windshield had cracked to the bottom and that this happens sometimes with repair attempts.  Frustrating but Okay, so I needed to know, if my repair payment would be applied to a new windshield and how soon I can have that completed.  The technician was vague but he said not to worry - it would be taken care of.  I should have known from his vague response that he knew transitioning from a failed repair to a windshield replacement was not one of Safelite's strengths!

Over the next 24 hours, I didn't hear from Safelite so I reached out to customer service.  I left a voicemail, sent an email, and sent a text.  Nothing!  Frustrated, I looked at the other options for windshield replacement but there weren't any - Safelite had bought up all of the competitors!  I had no choice but to schedule the windshield replacement through Safelite so I did. 

By now the crack created by Safelite (that's one way of up-selling from a repair to a replacement) was quickly expanding in three directions. Time was of the essence but the first available slot was two weeks away but beggars can't be choosers so I booked it.  A week later, customer service finally responded to my email but their response had little to do with what I asked them.  I began receiving reminder emails and texts telling me to be on time at two weeks ahead, 1 week ahead, 2 days ahead, 1 day ahead, 12 hours ahead and 30 minutes ahead.  I pulled into their shop at the scheduled time, having blocked out the morning to get the repair completed.

I was greeted by a man who looked at the car (Lincoln Navigator) and then asked, "Are you the Lincoln Navigator?" 

Wow, that was an intelligent question but I digress.  "Yes."  

"We have a problem."

"What's that?"

"We don't have the windshield for your car."

I said, "You've been texting me non-stop to make sure I was here at 8am.  If you didn't have the glass, couldn't you have let me know last night?"

He replied defensively, "First, I haven't been texting you - that's done from Ohio.  I have nothing to do with that.  Second, the glass is delivered overnight so we wouldn't have known last night and yours wasn't delivered. I'm trying to find it now"

Did you notice how well he diffused the situation and lowered my resistance?  Not.  He basically said, "Hey, it's not my fault!"  How about, "I am so sorry."  Or,  "Wow, we really screwed up."  Or,  "You must be really upset."  Or, "I feel terrible - this was totally unfair to you."

I'll save you from the rest of his ugly conversation with me and fast forward to the call I received later that day.  Brooke was calling to reschedule and she offered me a date two weeks out.  I reminded her that I had scheduled this two weeks earlier - with her - and I didn't understand why they would need another two weeks to get my windshield, especially in light of what had happened earlier that day.  She said, "You probably didn't schedule it with me."

I said, "Yes, it was you, Brooke."

She said, "Well, that doesn't matter."

I was thinking that this arrogant, defensive, ass-covering attitude was part of the culture at Safelite.  I said, "I'm not going to schedule a date two weeks out and have this happen again.  Call me when you have the glass in your possession and then I'll schedule it."

I don't think Safelite has a sales organization or has to worry about up-selling or renewals.  They are the only game in town over much of the country.  Can you imagine what would happen if they actually had competition or had a sales organization worrying about how much business they would lose to those competitors with customer service as bad as theirs?  No wonder they gobbled up their competitors! 

There is a lesson here for those of us in the sales development space.  When we train, coach and develop salespeople, we must demand that customer service get the training and coaching required so as to not sabotage the great work we do with sales organizations.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, sales effectiveness, safelite

Masks and Sales Assessments - You Lose a Little Freedom and Control for Safety and Confidence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 @ 13:09 PM

mask-in-public

A short end-of-the-week post.

Earlier this week I wrote this article about correlation versus causation.  I compared analyzing restaurant dining and positive Covid-19 tests, and assessment findings and results.  This article will depart from correlation and causation but we'll still use the Pandemic as a metaphor for certain sales assessment experiences.  

I wear a mask whenever I leave the house or the car.  As someone in the vulnerable age group for Covid-19, a mask makes me feel much safer and more confident when I encounter other people.  When I wear my mask, I lack some of the freedom I previously had and I lose some control because I can't see where my feet are when I'm walking down a flight of stairs!  Of course that's only problematic if I miss a stair and knock on wood, that hasn't happened in the first 6 months of the Pandemic.

You lose a little freedom and control but you feel a lot safer and more confident when going out in public.

The same thing happens when clients use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  They lose a little freedom because they no longer arbitrarily interview salespeople who they feel like interviewing, and refrain from simply offering positions to people because they have a gut feeling about a candidate.   However, they lose some control because one half to two-thirds of the candidates will not be recommended when they aren't great fits for the particular sales role for which the company is hiring, or simply aren't very good salespeople - period.

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Companies that use OMG sales candidate assessments for sales selection are seeing huge improvements in applications, assessments completed (the candidate pool), and a sharp decrease in recommended (more lousy sales candidates and/or imperfect fits for the role) candidates, cost per assessment, days to hire and compensation.

quota-attrition

Companies that use OMG for sales selection have 80% higher quota attainment, and 238% lower attrition. 

You lose a little freedom and control to feel a lot safer and more confident when offering sales candidates a position.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment, sales selelction

How the Correlation Between Restaurants and Covid 19 Applies to Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

wearing masks

Do you hate meetings as much as I do?

They're the worst.  But I have one weekly meeting that's always uplifting and productive.

I'm talking about my weekly meeting with John Pattison, COO of Objective Management Group (OMG). He happened to mention a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pointing to the correlation between people who recently dined at a restaurant and later tested positive for Covid-19.  Of course the media was doing its best to spread misinformation as the article titles below suggest:

The report actually included facts they didn't share in their titles, like:

  • It was not known whether they dined inside or outside
  • It did not say that they contracted Covid-19 at the restaurant or because they ate at a restaurant

restaurants

John pointed out that this is a clear case of correlation, but not causation.  In other words, there is no proof that eating at restaurants caused anyone to contract the virus.  He said there could be many reasons why people eating at restaurants also have higher rates of infection.  For example, people who don’t like to wear masks might be more likely to eat at restaurants.  Assuming that is true, the cause is more likely to be a lack of mask wearing, not eating in the restaurant.  

But does it really matter whether this is causation?  Is there that big of a difference?  Is correlation enough?  It depends on what you are trying to show.  Let's take sales assessments for example.

All assessments produce a number of findings and scores, most in the context of personality or behavioral styles.  When used to assess salespeople, they can make a case that there is a correlation between a finding like drive, and sales success.  Correlation, not causation.   Why?  because drive does not cause sales success.  There are lots of people with drive who were epic failures at selling!

Personality and behavioral styles assessments are not sales specific, even when their publishers refer to them as sales assessments.  They were not built to measure sales competencies, but instead attempt to correlate personality and behavioral findings to sales.  None of the assessments in this category are sales specific, they don't measure actual sales competencies, and there is no causation. The information they provide is simply nice to know, but unfortunately, not predictive of sales success.  

OMG's sales assessment was built for sales, is used only for sales, measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies, has 280 sales-specific findings and is extremely predictive of sales success.  For an assessment to have predictive validity though, its findings must correlate to on the job performance.  There's that correlation word again.  Since there only needs to be correlation, does that mean that causation isn't important?  Correlation is not required, but it is vitally important.  

For example, one of the differences between sales producers and sales imposters is the difference between whether they can sell versus whether they will sell.  Can vs. Will. Who needs another salesperson whose best sales call is the one where they convince you to hire them?  You want salespeople who will find and close new business.  There is causation between Will to Sell and sales success.

Of course there are other examples.  A candidate who scores high in OMG's Consultative Seller competency and Value Seller competency will perform successfully in a complex sales environment.  There is causation. 

A candidate who scores high in the Hunter competency will succeed in a cold-calling sales environment.  Causation.

Here's another way of looking at correlation and causation.  Someone who scores well in a personality assessment will generally do quite well at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  It's a one-way correlation.  Why?  Because someone who is good at developing, building and maintaining relationships is not necessarily a good salesperson.  There is no causation.

Back to my meeting with John.  While we were meeting, Guy Kawasaki's twitter post appeared.

The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment is a really great cake but John and I agreed that despite a visual dashboard that tells the story of the candidate and effectively illustrates the scores for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, it has dog poop for frosting compared to the look we believe we can create.  We agreed to reimagine the dashboard and how we visually show each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies throughout the report so that we have the sweetest, most beautiful looking frosting ever spread on an assessment.  Stay tuned for an all-new look to the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment coming in early 2021.  In the meantime, it would be malpractice to hire salespeople without taking advantage of the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Images copyright 123RF and 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, Correlation, personality assessments, personality test, coronavirus, covid-19, causation

Most Companies Can Boost Sales From 30-100% in Just One to Two Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 @ 18:09 PM

maserati

Your teenage daughter, growing 4-6 inches per year, asks for two new pairs of sneakers.  She's already outgrowing 3 pairs each year and these two, which are completely unnecessary, would keep her in fashionable footwear for only a few months.  It would make total sense for you to say, "Let's wait a few months until you've stopped growing so fast."

An employee asks for a new car, believing that an SUV crossover (not the Maserati in the picture!) would be more practical than a mid-size sedan.  There are 8 months left on the lease so it would be completely reasonable for you to say, "Sounds good.  Let's make that change when the lease comes to an end in 8 months."

In both 2012 and 2016, companies everywhere were telling salespeople, "We're going to wait until after the election."  There was tremendous uncertainty surrounding those two elections and companies didn't want to commit to anything until they were sure who the next President of the USA would be.

Surprisingly, in the year of the pandemic, salespeople are not hearing the dreaded, "We're going to wait until after the election."   Despite the polling, pandemic, and incredible divisiveness, companies are not pushing the pause button.  But why?

It's not because salespeople have become so strong that they have obliterated that put-off!  89% of all salespeople accept stalls and put-offs and that's changed by only a quarter of a percent since before the start of the pandemic.  That's right.  There has barely been a change in salespeople's ability to overcome stalls and put-offs since before the pandemic.  Ugh.

Biden has promised to raise both the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax if he gets elected so it can't be fear of that.  

It's not because there's a vaccine on the way which will help stop the spread of the virus because when it comes to Covid-19, nothing is certain.

So what is it?

Many companies already experienced at least 3 to 6 months of uncertainty and they can not withstand even 2 more months of that.   As a result, companies are investing, streamlining, expanding, hiring and going all in to save their 2020s, and position their companies for historical growth in 2021.

As I review what our clients are hearing, what OMG's partners are sharing, and adding my own anecdotal experience, there has never been a better time to sell!

But seller beware. Favorable conditions do not equate to easy selling.  There is tremendous pressure on margins, competition is fierce, and the selling challenges are more difficult than ever before.

Current conditions require resistance proof sellers however only 54% of all salespeople fit that description and that's improved by only 1% since the start of the Pandemic.  Current conditions require salespeople to take a much more consultative approach and sell value.  Unfortunately, only 12% of all salespeople have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength and only 30% have the Value Seller competency as a strength.  Among the weakest of all salespeople - that's half the sales population - the percentages drop to 2% and 7% respectively.  As we begin to purge the virus, how can companies surge when half of their salespeople suck at selling?

Companies don't really look as I just described them.  We don't see many companies where half the people in the sales organization suck.  In many of the companies whose sales organizations we evaluate, most of the salespeople suck!

You don't think that applies to your company but you aren't really sure whether a quarter, a third, half, or all of your sales force sucks because some of your people sell more than others.  Don't be misled by distribution of revenue.  Keep in mind that distribution of revenue usually has more to do with quality of the territory, number of established accounts, size of the established accounts, length of time in the industry, repeat business and call-in business than sales capabilities.  There are only two ways to compare the relative sales capabilities of your salespeople:

  1. Have every salesperson look for new customers under the exact same conditions (calling on the same size accounts in the same vertical against the same competition in the same territory)
  2. Have us evaluate your sales force and from the more than 180 findings and 21 Sales Core Competencies, compare Sales Percentile scores.

The ability to compare the sales percentile scores of your salespeople is not the ideal reason to evaluate your sales force.  But identifying where your challenges lie and learning what it will take to significantly increase sales is. Large and small companies alike that evaluate their sales teams learn that with targeted training and coaching in the areas identified, sales increases of between 30-50% within one to two years are very achievable. Some companies are able to double sales in the same period of time.

This is not the time to purposefully do nothing, wait and see, or worse, hope for the best.  Improving sales effectiveness has a greater impact on your top and bottom lines than any other thing you can do, including cost-cutting, operational efficiencies and lay-offs.

When it comes to sales transformation, you don't say, "let's wait until things get better" because sales transformation is the very thing that makes things better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, objections, sales statistics, election, selling value

3 Selling Characteristics for the Age of Covid, Politics and Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 08, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

poliltics

This is a longer article than usual and includes many links to related articles so grab a snack and a beverage, settle in, and stay with me.  It will be worth it because I know I'm going to get you fired up.

In the first 1,825 of articles from my fourteen years of Blogging, only 21, or less than 1%, mentioned politics.  When I do use political examples I refrain from lecturing, don't take sides, and use what is taking place as a metaphor for sales.  I found that by remaining objective and using current political events as examples of effective and ineffective selling, I receive minimal negative feedback and most come in the form of emails taking a side and lecturing me about what they think are my political views.  They are usually wrong but they won't be wrong after this article!

These are the articles I have written which mentioned politics and/or politicians:

Articles from Before and Inclusive of the 2012 Election

Two Fantastic Examples of Handling Objections  (Links to the next 5 articles also appear in that article so you can skip them here or there)

Sales Force Lessons from Gates, Crowley and Obama  

Obama and McCain - Competing Salespeople Fighting for the Big Sale 

Obama and Friends on Stage - Implications for the Sales Force 

Did President Obama Do More Damage to the Image of Salespeople? 

Two Keys to Selling Success from Ann Romney and Chris Christie 

Articles from Before and Inclusive of the 2016 Election

Best Non-Sales Video Ever on Handling Objections  

A Great Way to Handle Objections, Challenges and Push Back   

Latest Debate Had Some Great Sales Leadership Examples   

A Sales Expert's Take on Who is the Most Deplorable  

The Benefits of Completely Bashing Your Competition  

The Rise of Trump   (article appeared on LinkedIn)

Articles Leading up to the 2020 Election

What Sales Organizations Must Learn from the Impeachment Hearings

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility With Their Prospects   

Managing and Overcoming Resistance is a Key to Sales Success   

It's OK For Salespeople to Lie When This Happens   

Perhaps Hope is a Selling Strategy After All   

How Sales Coaching Utilizes a Quid Pro Quo     

Sales is Like Baseball and Baseball Can Save Law and Order, Capitalism and Liberty  (I took a side!)

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews  

5 Keys to Get Your Prospects to Trust You and Then Buy From You  

Thanks to the non-stop political news cycle, I went from averaging just over one article that mentioned politics per year to two!

This article will be different.  For the first time in fourteen years of blogging, I am going to share what I think, uncensored, and despite some concern for what you think, not quite enough concern to stop me from writing about it.  There will still be a sales tie-in so stay with me as I build the case for 3 powerful sales characteristics.

I didn't pay much attention to politics prior to the 2016 election cycle. I'm a registered Independent and never voted based on party.  For example, I voted for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012.  Now Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans all have reasons to hate me!

I have clients all over the world but most of them are in the United States of America. 80% of the partners who represent Objective Management Group (OMG) are also in the USA.  Despite warnings to stay away from Politics, I'm curious as to which side of the political spectrum people are on.  When I think it's safe, I'll sometimes ask a sports question like, Indians or Reds if they're in Ohio, Yankees or Mets in if they're in New York, or Dodgers or Angels in Los Angeles.  Then I might say something like, "Are you in Trump country or Biden country?"  Depending on whether they answer enthusiastically or disappointingly, I can tell which side of center they are on.  When I tell them that I share their sentiments we can talk about it - especially about how the next election will affect our businesses and lives as we know it.

My clients are mostly CEO's, COO's Presidents and Sr. Sales Leaders and they are representative of most of the leaders of the four million B2B companies in the US.   While the personal feelings of the leaders of B2C companies could be similar, they must first and foremost protect their brands from being cancelled by the mob.

One paragraph on where I stand.

I'm for the safety and security that results from law and order, not rioting, looting, violence and shooting.  I'm for democracy, the flag and freedom of speech, not the cancel culture.  I'm for low taxes, limited government and limited regulations, not economy killing tax increases, regulations and a government that controls everything but can't get anything right.  And you and I need a robust economy.  I'm for all that way more than I'm for a particular candidate or politician. 

One paragraph on Trump.

Like him or not, embrace him or puke, however you may feel about his tweets, believe most of what he says or call him a liar, think he's hilarious or a clown, think he's fighting for Americans or his own personal glory, think he's a narcissist or self-proclaimed King, he fights for the issues that I care about and as a result, Trump will get my vote despite his many character flaws.  

One paragraph on Biden.

I like Joe Biden. He's more likable than Trump, but thanks to his alignment with socialists like Bernie and AOC, he stands on the opposite side of these issues or on both sides depending on when he last stated his position.  If you're on that side of the issues, it's fine with me, I respect you for it, and won't try to change your position and certainly won't attack you.  I believe that it is critical to hear both sides of every issue whereas the cancel culture will aggressively act to cancel me if they don't agree with me.

Now let's get to selling and for that, let's use 3 of Trump's characteristics.

Trump does have three desirable selling characteristics but before I share them, keep in mind that I am singling out these three characteristics, isolated, from his more undesirable characteristics.  I apologize for having to state this 5 times but I do.  Remember, isolated, without the undesirable characteristics which, as some insist in their comments, would come along with Trump as salesperson.  Yes, they would come along with Trump, but we don't want Trump on our sales force, only the 3 characteristics described below.  Just the 3, OK?  No more, "But Trump this" and "Trump that" comments.  Just these 3 characteristics.

Trump is a fighter.  Whether or not you agree with his position on an issue or like him, you have to agree that he is a fighter.  If he is attacked he fights back, even if the attack is justified.  If he wants something he fights for it.  He may piss off some people along the way but that's unavoidable today.  I wish more salespeople could fight for what they want the way that Trump does.

Trump is persistent.  To fight for your beliefs is one thing, but if you aren't persistent you won't win too many of your fights.  I wish salespeople were more persistent.  Not annoying, but persistent.  There is a huge difference between annoying and persistent.  While many find Trump's tweets annoying, he is persistent.

Trump is entertaining.  He engages people with humor and shock, and by getting them riled up or angry with him. Whether positive or negative, people get emotional when it comes to Trump.  I wish salespeople were more entertaining and could get their prospects and customers more emotional.

Objective Management Group (OMG) does not measure fighter, persistency or entertaining.  Perhaps we should.  Or perhaps they would be a distraction from the 21 Sales Core Competencies which, by the way, will be the recipient of an update this month.

We are introducing a new Sales Technology Competency which will include Video/Virtual Selling, CRM and Social Selling. Reaches Decision Makers, already a full blown competency, gets promoted to one of the 21 Core Competencies, and Remote Seller, an important finding for the last 10 years, will be more prominently featured.

Should we add these three selling characteristics?  Let me know!

Do you agree with my political position?  Let me know. I understand that just because I showed you mine you might not be comfortable showing me yours.  I won't have a problem with it but I know there are others who will.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales competenices, Obama, romney, Donald Trump, joe biden

The Best Solutions for Hiring Great Salespeople for Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 28, 2020 @ 12:08 PM

plane

Would you fly on a huge jet from Minneapolis, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota, usually a 15-minute drive?

Would you take a train between intersections of the same city block, usually a 2-minute walk?

Would you take a bus to the bottom of your driveway - usually a 1-minute walk or less?

Would you walk from Boston to Miami - a 3-hour plus plane flight?

These are all examples of inappropriate solutions to the simple question, "What is the best way to get there from here?"

How about the simple question, "What is the best way to assure that the salespeople I am about to hire will succeed in the chosen role?"

An OMG Partner pointed me to this article which has 7 assessment solutions. 6 of the recommendations are every bit as inappropriate as the solutions to my travel questions.

There are three additional questions that must be asked in order to answer the primary question that asks the best way to hire the right salespeople:

Are assessments in general good enough to identify those salespeople?  There are many types of assessments, including intelligence, honesty and integrity (illegal in some US states), personality (challenged in the courts), behavioral styles, cognitive ability and of course, skill-specific tests.  Because most of these assessments can be provided to any potential employee and are not specific to sales, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Are personality assessments good enough to identify those salespeople?  Personality assessments are not role-specific so they have been challenged in the court.  The dimensions and findings in Personality assessments are not predictive of anything and there is no specific personality type (including Meyers-Briggs, 16PF, DiSC, and Caliper which were all mentioned in the article) that indicates that one is a better salesperson than another.  Again, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Is OMG's sales-specific assessment a personality test?  Despite its inclusion in the article's list of 7 assessment solutions, Objective Management Group (OMG) is NOT a personality assessment. OMG provides a sales-specific assessment that measures a sales candidate's capabilities in all 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as several additional sales-specific competencies. Does it help identify the right salespeople because it is sales specific?  That is part of the reason but the more important reason is that OMG is validated using Predictive Validity.  Predictive. Validity.  Most validations show that an assessment is properly constructed and will provide consistent and reliable results. That is Construct Validity. On the other hand, Predictive Validity correlates the findings to on-the-job performance.  It is not enough though to simply identify good salespeople; you must identify the right salespeople for the role or roles in question.  Configurations for each role are customized so that the ideal salespeople are recommended for the company's specific role(s).  Right people in the right seats.  It's about getting sales selection right.  OMG has proven its accuracy and track record in sales selection having just passed 2 million sales assessments in 30,000 companies.  In the case of OMG, the answer is a loud and resounding YES.

Here's another question.  Why only 30,000 companies?  If OMG is that predictive and accurate, shouldn't it be used in 3 million companies?  I don't think there are 3 million B2B companies that qualify but certainly there are 300,000.  So again, why only 30,000?

There are 3 answers that deserve consideration.

Ego.  Far too many sales leaders believe that their gut instinct is more accurate than some assessment.  Given that the overall success rate for hiring salespeople is hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, they couldn't be more wrong.  Of the candidates who were not recommended, but clients hired them despite OMG's warning, 75% failed inside of 6 months.  Of the candidates who were recommended and eventually hired, 92% rose to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.

Knowledge.  Far too many HR leaders believe that their expertise is in hiring and either don't need an assessment or they choose one they are familiar with, like DiSC, Caliper, Predictive Index or Myers-Briggs.   The reality is that only 14% of all HR professionals understand how assessments work.

Stupidity.  At some large companies, in-house counsel has banned the use of assessments.  While they often justify their own existence, this stupid practice occurs out of ignorance.  While attorneys are protecting their clients from law-suits alleging discriminatory hiring practices, only personality assessments have been successfully challenged in court.  Remember, OMG is not a personality assessment - it's sales-specific, or in other words, a role-specific assessment which is perfectly legal to use, has never been challenged in court, and shows no adverse impact on protected minorities.

If you aren't already using them, check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You'll improve your sales hiring success rate immediately!

If you aren't familiar with all 21 Sales Core Competencies, check out some of the data here.

Image Copyright

Topics: sales assessment, sales hiring, assessments, hiring salespeople, sales testing, sales hiring process, hiring mistake, sales hiring tools, predictive sales test

FDR and Sir Isaac Newton on Why Salespeople Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 @ 07:08 AM

fire

There we were, in the dark, in the middle of a hotel parking lot, at 3:45 AM.  Why?  The hotel fire alarm went off and we didn't want to ignore the warning that was so loud my wife and I couldn't hear each other speak.  Why was every other guest in the hotel parking lot with us?  Well, what if the hotel was on fire?  What if our lives were truly in danger?  

Unlike the made up fears that prevent salespeople from asking tough questions, qualifying more thoroughly, or picking up the phone and making a cold call, the fear of burning alive in a hotel fire seemed like a pretty justifiable one.

What are salespeople so fearful of?  Rejection?  Not being liked?  Not getting a meeting?  Not closing a sale?  Oh yes, incredibly scary.  If I had those fears I might not want to leave the house.  Oh wait, most salespeople aren't leaving their houses.  Is it because they're afraid of the virus?  No.  It's more likely that they're home because their companies have asked them to work remotely.  But make no mistake.  Even if they won't admit to it they are afraid of the things I wrote a few sentences back. And today, more than ever, they are loving their convenient excuses for hiding behind their laptop screens, churning out emails instead of making phone calls, and hoping that as Ray Kinsella's daughter, from Field of Dreams said, "People will come."

Why are these imagined fears so debilitating? 

Because we allow them to be.

I'm guilty of having debilitating, imagined fears.  When my son got his driver's license, my wife and I worried endlessly. Where is he? Do you think he's OK? Could he have gotten in an accident? Do you think he is paying attention? I hope he's not playing his music too loud. Could his friends be distracting him? Why isn't he home yet?  Did I ask, "Where is he?"

Turning back to salespeople, suppose the things they worry about were to actually happen?  Who would care?  How would life change?  The only ramification would be their inadequate pipelines.  The only ripple effect would be in the size of their commission checks. Their inaction is the only thing that can hurt them.  Remaining in their comfort zone hurts them.  Failing to change hurts them. 

In his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself." 

Sir Isaac Newton's third law of Physics states that for every action there is an opposite reaction.  What would the opposite reaction be to the action of not taking action? 

NOT taking action, and that includes not asking the tough question, IS an action against your pipeline, your income and your success. 

NOT taking action due to fear IS an action against your self-worth. 

NOT taking action, whether due to laziness or complacency, IS an action against what your company and your customer expect and deserve from you.

I'm sounding the alarm.  This is why salespeople fail.

Image Copyright 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, closing, prospecting, sales fears, fear of rejection

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 @ 13:08 PM

cnn-fox-news_list

I don't really care whether or not you like, approve of, tolerate, or agree with President Trump and/or the issues he stands for.  Doesn't matter to me.  And you shouldn't care what I think of him or which side of that invisible center line I am on.  Shouldn't matter to you.  While this is an article about coaching salespeople, I am going to use the current divisiveness as an analogy to help you better understand how sales leaders can have a huge impact on your salespeople.

If you're on the side that hates the President and can't wait for him to leave office when Biden gets elected, you might be watching CNN.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for attack.  They will rarely, if ever, share any of his accomplishments, wins or achievements and even lie to make sure he is constantly vilified.  What fun for his critics!

If you're on the side that loves, likes or tolerates the President and you prefer that he be reelected instead of Biden, you might be watching FOX.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for praise.  They will rarely, if ever, share his disappointments, defeats or mistakes and even lie to make sure he is praised (except on their hard news shows which do tend to go right down the middle).  What fun for his fans!

OK, so that should have been detached and objective enough to prevent anyone getting upset with me so far.  Hooray for me because that isn't easy these days.  But you ask, what does all this have to do with coaching salespeople through an opportunity review?

There are two sides to every story.  Trump is rarely as horrific as CNN makes him out to be and rarely as awesome as FOX makes him out to be.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The same holds true for your salespeople when you ask them to tell you about a current opportunity and why it might be in a stage of the pipeline that it's been stalled in for weeks or months.

Your salesperson might explain what a great opportunity this is, how well they have connected with their contact, the good feedback they have received from their conversations, why they expect movement in a week or two, how this is just the tip of the iceberg because there's more where this came from, and they are extremely confident.  Like FOX talking about Trump.

You look in your CRM application and observe that critical milestones have not been met, it's been stuck in stage 2 for 60 days, the salesperson still has not met with the decision maker, doesn't know the compelling reason why they would switch to your company, and noted that their company has been buying from the same incumbent for 8 years yet the salesperson hasn't uncovered a single negative issue about that incumbent.  You begin to think that this is about getting a lower price from you to keep the incumbent honest.  You conclude that this is a terrible opportunity.  Like CNN talking about Trump.

As with the coverage of Trump, an opportunity review with a salesperson is often two tales about the same prospect.  The salesperson's version compared with yours.  FOX compared with CNN.

This is very important!  If you begin to review an opportunity without that difference in mind, without looking for holes, without looking to challenge them, without looking to invalidate or dismiss their optimism, it will be a wasted review.  Your job is to help your salespeople to better understand their own next steps to either move the opportunity forward, justify leaving it where it is, or abort the opportunity altogether.  Often times, your salespeople are way too close to the opportunity to see it clearly and objectively.  This will be especially true when your salespeople don't have enough opportunities in their pipeline, causing them to be even more attached to and hopeful for the few opportunities they do have.

Your salespeople don't know what they don't know and can't do what they can't do.  That's why you're there!

Politics is the business of where different parties stand on various issues.  It's supposed to be about healthy debate.  It's not supposed to be as divisive and nasty as it has become.  Similarly, a solid, thoughtful, helpful opportunity review should be a healthy debate about the opportunity.  The salesperson should not be attacked or made to feel bad.  All criticism should be constructive.

Are you conducting productive and effective opportunity reviews with every salesperson every day?  If not, then today is a great day to start!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, crm, sales opportunities, fox

15 Things Salespeople Must Do to Make up for a Lackluster 2nd Quarter

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 12, 2020 @ 09:08 AM

risk

Last week we moved our son into his dorm to begin his freshman year of college. The college President's opening remarks were virtual, so we joined the Zoom stream from our hotel room and listened in.  He had some really useful things to share with the new freshmen and while his thoughts were targeted to the students, they apply quite equally to salespeople.

Among the points he made, these seemed to be just as applicable to salespeople:

  • Show up
  • Do the Work
  • Try approaches that you haven't previously attempted
  • You will be uncomfortable but do it anyway
  • Ask for help
  • Ask lots of questions
  • The effort is even more important than the results
  • You will be pushed
  • Push yourself
  • Take responsibility
  • Show tolerance of people whose beliefs and opinions are different than yours
  • Wear your mask and socially distance

Translating his hopes and expectations to sales, here are 15 things salespeople could do that they may not have been doing, comfortable with or effective:

  • Proactively prospect - push yourself - 34% of salespeople do not prospect consistently
  • Live in CRM - be considerate of those in management who need to see what's in there in real time - 90% of salespeople do not live in their CRM applications
  • Fill the pipeline - the more that's in there the more will close - only 35% of salespeople maintain a full pipeline
  • Follow the sales process - it's there for a reason - only 30% of salespeople have and follow a sales process
  • Be more consultative, listen more and ask more good, tough, timely, effective questions - this is how you differentiate - - only 27% of salespeople listen and only 25% ask enough questions
  • Thoroughly qualify - stop wasting your time - only 30% of all salespeople do this
  • Work harder to build solid relationships - get past rapport and be authentic - Only 52% of salespeople succeed at this
  • Learn your video platform inside and out - stop being so ignorant - only 30% have done this
  • Attempt to schedule all of your sales calls virtually over video - what are you waiting for?  Only 49% prefer video to phones
  • Have a more tidy and professional background or use a non-distracting virtual background for virtual selling - get with the program - 40% are using virtual backgrounds
  • Take an interest and show that you care - don't be so transactional 
  • Be a problem solver - not a presenter
  • Stop focusing on price and sell value - it's time - Only 40% are strong at selling value
  • Stop giving yourself a pass because you aren't comfortable - suck it up.

Baseball, basketball and hockey recently restarted  - with changes.  The changes affect the players, coaches and fans but that's the way it is right now.

We must adapt! 

You might feel that there is risk associated with doing something you haven't done before.  None of these things will get you killed or even hurt, so unless you believe there is risk in having better quality sales conversations with your prospects, there isn't any risk.

There should be a greater urgency to get our products and services sold to make up for the lackluster second quarter that many companies experienced.  There should be even more urgency to make up for the personal dip in commissions from the same time period.  And if you took your foot off the gas during March through May because you were uncomfortable asking people to buy and pay then you have only 4 months to make up for your self-inflicted second quarter disaster.

Take responsibility.  

Show the world what you are capable of, stretch, do the one thing you've never done before in sales, and start right now!

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, Relationship Selling, selling value

Data Shows Sales Commitment and Motivation Changed During Quarantine

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 @ 16:07 PM

quarantine

Steve Taback and I started our respective sales training firms at the same time back in 1985.  We became great friends and he became the second licensee of Objective Management Group (OMG) in 1990.  He emailed me asking if I had seen a change in any of the scores of the 21 Sales Core Competencies since the Pandemic had hit.  Specifically, he was wondering if there was an increase in the number of salespeople who lacked Commitment or whose Outlook wasn't good.

OMG! (the other version of OMG this time)  Was he asking me to do some research on sales assessment statistics?  God, I love that!

Damn that Steve is good.  Turns out he was right.  Below I'll share the changes in Commitment, Outlook and Motivation, all of which fluctuated during the past several months.

Take a look at these three screen shots which tell one part of the story.

Pre-Pandemic

pandemic-before

Mid-Pandemic

pendemic-mid

Pandemic-Recovery Period

pandemic-after

You'll notice that scores for Desire, Commitment and Motivation all dropped while we were in world-wide quarantine, while surprisingly, Outlook scores remained steady.  In the period of May 15 - July 15, scores returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

[Update: Wouldn't you have thought that scores for Outlook (how they feel about themselves and what they are doing) would have crashed during Quarantine?  And wouldn't you have thought that scores for Responsibility (whether or not they take responsibility for their results or make excuses like the pandemic or the economy) would have taken a nose dive too?  Well, ]those who made excuses prior to lockdown continued to make them while those who didn't make excuses didn't use the lockdown as an excuse.  As for Outlook, the positive salespeople remained positive and the negative salespeople remained negative.

Another strange change occurred within the Motivation competency.  During Quarantine, there was a decline in the percentage of salespeople who were intrinsically motivated while the percentage of extrinsically motivated and altruistically motivated salespeople increased.  Intrinsics want to make the world a better place, love being part of something bigger than themselves, and love mastery.  Extrinsically motivated salespeople are after the financial rewards and Altruistically motivated salespeople want to be of service.  We certainly saw salespeople preferring NOT to sell during late March and early April, offering to be of service instead.  And we certainly saw salespeople scrambling for business during those weeks to make sure that their commissions continued to flow.

There was another change that occurred within Sales DNA.  In the competency Comfortable Talking about Money, the average pre-pandemic score was 53%.  During Quarantine, that score dropped to 49%, and during the recovery phase it only improved to 51%.]

These scores were for employed salespeople only.  If we dive deeper into those scores, they tell a different story.  Something completely different occurred to the top 10% of salespeople.  Commitment and Outlook scores went up, not down.  The best salespeople saw an opportunity to distance themselves from everyone  else!

The story is different for sales candidates too.  Their scores prior to the pandemic did not change during quarantine.  But when we started the recovery phase between mid-May and mid-July, their scores for Desire, Commitment and Motivation went down!  That's right.  Those salespeople who were candidates prior to the pandemic, were still candidates during quarantine, so conditions didn't really change for them.  But when jobs began to be filled again, and they were still candidates, it negatively affected them, thus the drop in scores.

But there's an even bigger story here.

OMG clients are seeing a huge increase in the number of candidates competing for open sales positions.  Check out this table!

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Everything has turned in your favor.  If you can find the money, hire good salespeople now - even if you don't need them!  Upgrade the quality of your sales teams!  Better yet, evaluate your sales force and learn which of your under performers aren't going to get any better and replace them!

Image copyright RF123

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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 eight 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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