This is What Would Happen if Bob Got Promoted to Sales Manager

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 07, 2023 @ 07:02 AM

worst

For those of you who are familiar with my series of articles about Bob - the worst salesperson ever - you can catch up by enjoying, laughing, and making fun of him here.  12 of the articles that show up on that page are about Bob!

Today, I reviewed the worst OMG evaluation of a sales manager that I have ever seen.  It was literally the worst because he was in the 1 percentile, meaning that 99% of all sales managers are stronger than he is.  

As I reviewed it, I said to myself, "If Bob were promoted to sales manager (I don't even want to put that thought out there), this is what it would look like."

There are so many reasons as to why he is so bad and I'll share the most important reasons below.

Bob's  Sales Management Competency Scores

The first thing I noticed was his score of 19 on the Sales Coaching competency.  He lacks the skills and perhaps thankfully, he doesn't actually do any coaching but when his salespeople ask for help the only help they get is technical or pricing help.

Did you see the score of 15 for Pipeline Management?  Those 15 points are because he does pipeline reviews --- by himself!  Can you believe it? A sales manager that doesn't review the pipeline with his salespeople!

Even if he wanted to coach and hold his salespeople accountable, he wouldn't be able to because they don't even like him.  OMG's Sales Team evaluation showed that his salespeople don't trust his intentions, they don't respect him, and worst of all, he is focused on himself, instead of his team.  He takes credit for wins and points his finger at them for losses.  Trust, respect, relationships and team focus are prerequisites for coaching to have any chance of working - and that's assuming that there will actually be coaching .

His score for holding salespeople accountable was even worse, coming in at zero. All of his salespeople made excuses for their lack of performance and he does not challenge them on their excuses because he too is an excuse maker as evidenced by his Responsibility score of zero.

Then there is his Sales Management DNA.  For the simplest of sales management roles, a sales manager should have a minimum Sales Management DNA of at least 68 and much higher for more demanding roles, with minimums ranging from 72-82.  His Sales Management DNA is only 52 and it was skewed up because of his one strong DNA score of 83 for the Comfortable Discussing Money competency. 

Without that one strong score bringing up Sales Management DNA his DNA score would have been in the 40's!  I've never seen one that low before!

The two bright spots are that he scored 68 on the Sales Process competency, and 77 on Selling Value.

His Sales VP really likes him and she doesn't want to lose him. She is hoping and praying that he can be trained and coached up to be a more effective Sales Manager.  Unfortunately, his score for Commitment to Sales Management success is only 30.  With a Commitment score this low, there is very little chance that he will do the work, overcome his weaknesses or change.

Only 18% of all Sales Managers should be in a sales management role and only 7% are any good at coaching salespeople and this individual should not even be in sales.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, accountability, evaluation of sales management, excuse making, selling value

Made Up Sales Statistics and Their Contrast to Real Data

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 02, 2023 @ 07:02 AM

made-up-stats

A sales consultant who knows that I geek out on sales data read that 84% of salespeople suck because they don't enjoy what they do.  A huge percentage of salespeople do actually suck but the actual number is closer to 75%.  Is it really because they don't enjoy selling?

Most of the data I write about comes from Objective Management Group which has assessed more than 2.3 million salespeople.  OMG has around 250 data points on each salesperson so there is a lot of data to work with.  My plan was to mine OMG's data to see what might support the claim that 84% don't enjoy selling and to conduct a Google search to find the source of that claim.

I began with Google and searched for "84% of salespeople."  While I couldn't find a reference to unfulfilled salespeople, I did observe that 84% must be the favorite made up statistic by all of the people (those who will benefit from selling you a service) who make up statistics!  

  • 84% of B2B Buyers start the buying process with a referral (nope.  They start with who they usually buy from)
  • 84% of salespeople are active on LinkedIn (not a chance in hell - it's more like 5%)
  • 84% of top salespeople crush their sales goals because they are smarter (sorry - it's because they reach decision makers, thoroughly Qualify, have strong Sales DNA, and take a consultative approach to selling)
  • 84% of salespeople have invested in CRM (nope - their companies are investing in CRM and based on OMG's data, only 42% of salespeople use it)
  • 84% of salespeople at businesses that have adopted professional sales enablement strategies are reaching their goals (No company anywhere has 84% of their salespeople reaching their goals unless the goals were lowered so that everyone could receive a participation trophy)
  • 84% of salespeople think their 3-month onboarding training was ineffective (not completely surprising but not nearly that high)
  • 84% of salespeople will miss their performance targets for the year (Not. This varies from 47%-57% every year)
  • 84% of sales teams are more productive selling from home (if it's from not driving around all day the number should be 100%)
  • 84% of salespeople like being recognized for their performance (not even close.  OMG's data says it is 21%)
  • 84% of top performers ask for commitments (This is so far off.  OMG's data shows this number to be 27% for the top 20% of all salespeople)
  • 84% of top salespeople rank high in achievement orientation/goal setting (OMG's data has it as 72% for the top 20%)
  • 84% of sales training is forgotten within 2 years (it's a made up number and probably closer to 50%)

The references to 84% continue but let's go back to the claim that 84% of all salespeople are not fulfilled in their sales roles.

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies with an average of 10 attributes for each. Some directly and/or loosely correlate to fulfillment.  If 84% are not fulfilled we would convert that to a positive and say that 16% are fulfilled.  Here is the real data:

  • 55% of all salespeople Enjoy Selling and this goes up to 78% for the top 10% and down to 23% for the bottom 10% but their number is supposed to represent all salespeople and that isn't close to 16%.
  • 62% of all salespeople have a strong Outlook and feel good about themselves and what they do.  This goes up to 75% for the top 10% and down to 40% for the bottom 10%.
  • 61% of all salespeople are highly Motivated.  This goes up to 89% for the top 10% and down to 12% for the bottom 10%
  • 3.5% of all salespeople feel that selling isn't fun.  This goes down to .5% for the top 10% and up to 38% for the bottom 10%.

In conclusion, the majority of salespeople feel good about selling, enjoy it, and are motivated to do it. There is a direct correlation between fulfillment and the percentile in which a salespeople find themselves.  Better and more successful salespeople find more fulfillment in sales than weaker and less successful salespeople.  While that shouldn't surprise anyone, 84% of salespeople lacking fulfillment is not to be believed.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Motivation, assessment, sales enablement, omg, sales data

This Company's Best Salesperson was 2500% Stronger Than Their Worst

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 01, 2023 @ 07:02 AM

It's been four months since the baseball season ended but college baseball begins in less than 4 weeks and it will be fun to watch our son play for his college team (while freezing our asses off!).  It's also been a while since the last time I shared a top/bottom analysis but I completed one this week that I had to share.

For new readers, a company's top three performers are compared to the bottom three under-performers in one or more selling roles.  Our analysis identifies the specific scores and findings that differentiate the tops from the bottoms and proves that Objective Management Group (OMG) can differentiate ideal sales candidates from undesirable candidates for a particular selling role at that company.  It can be used as a proof of concept or as a set of custom criteria to further improve predictive accuracy.

The following image is a screen shot of the analysis.

1-30-top-bottom

We identified 45 scores and findings that differentiated the tops from the bottoms. The biggest contrast was between the top salesperson and the worst salesperson where the top salesperson scored 2500% higher (100 and 4) than the worst salesperson.

Some differences are the result of not understanding which selling experiences are crucial to a salesperson's success.  For example, the salespeople who were failing had not previously called on management, had never asked for more than $250,000, had not worked on a commission-heavy compensation plan, and were not well-suited for working remotely.  Those four differences do not require training or coaching to fix, but do require a change in selection criteria.

Huge differences were seen in three of the five competencies included in Will to Sell including Desire for Sales Success, Takes Responsibility and Sales Motivation.  You can't measure those competencies in an interview and if you try you will be fooled every time because you'll mistake them for either enthusiasm or lack thereof.  There are more competencies you can't measure in an interview and their top performers easily outscored their bottoms in five of the six competencies found in Sales DNA, the combination of strengths required to support the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy, sales tactics.

The top performers outscored the bottom performers by a significant margin in seven of ten tactical selling competencies, with the biggest gaps found in Sales Process and Reaching Decision Makers.

What does the disparity look like at your company?

Would a complimentary proof of concept help to justify using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments for sales selection at your company?  Would it help you to see how accurate our sales team evaluation would be?  We've been conducting top/bottom analyses for 14 of our 33 years and we can do one for you too.  

Use this link to our, "Ask a Sales Expert" request form.  Copy and past the next line into the "Question" field on that form:

I am requesting a complimentary top/bottom analysis

Someone will contact you to arrange for your complimentary top/bottom analysis.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, reaching decision makers, sales assessments, sales data

Top Salespeople are 8600% Better at This Than Weak Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 20, 2023 @ 07:01 AM

Don't mix alcohol with prescription drugs

You're not supposed to mix alcohol and medication, which isn't an issue for me because I don't drink and I avoid medication. But those aren't the only two things you're not supposed to mix.  You're not supposed to use mixed metaphors either so I am breaking the rule, incorporating 4 separate analogies, and then attempting to string them together at the end.  

When I'm driving, I usually fire up Spotify and listen to one of my playlists but for some reason, last week I chose to play songs by the 70's band, The Raspberries.  I like three of their songs a lot but lacked familiarity with the other songs on their four albums. I figured that there had to be some other good tracks to discover.  Wrong.  The Raspberries just do not compare to some of the great talents from their era.  The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, and solo artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie routinely produced albums on which every song could have been or was a hit single. [Note: It seems like all you needed to be a star in the 70's and 80's were two first names and not just the four I named, but also consider Huey Lewis, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, George Harrison, and James Taylor!] The comparison of successful hit-makers to common musicians are analogous to sales pipelines where top salespeople have a never-ending flow of good, strong, qualified opportunities and weak salespeople have fewer opportunities and most of them aren't very well qualified. 

If we look into some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data from the assessments of  2,296,264 salespeople, we see the following as it relates to the Qualifier competency and its 12 attributes:

Qualifier CompetencyQualifier Competency Data

As you can see from the table above right, the top 5% of all salespeople are 56% stronger at qualifying than strong salespeople, 452% stronger than serviceable salespeople, and 8600% stronger than the bottom 50%.  8600% Stronger!!!!  Who says qualifying isn't important?  See how your industry/salespeople compare.

We were first-time diners at Friendly Toast, an all-day brunch restaurant in the Boston area. Unfortunately, my inner 12-year-old ordered and because of my inability to control him, I was ecstatic over my hot chocolate peppermint waffles!  My reaction was consistent with a sales opportunity where the salesperson receives a very strong introduction from a happy customer, the large opportunity was completely teed up, the sales cycle was short, sweet, and easy, and the deal closed without competition.  How many salespeople EVER get to experience that kind of easy?  According to OMG's data, only 3% of all salespeople have a steady flow of quality introductions and referrals and for weak salespeople, it's half that.  

One of the dashboard displays in my car shows the pressure for all four tires.

Low Tire Pressure Gauge

When a tire begins to lose pressure the early warning system is incredibly helpful.  Membrain is the CRM application that we most frequently recommend to clients, and our clients LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Membrain compared to Salesforce dot com.  Membrain comes with a win/loss analysis consisting of more than a dozen criteria.  While they won't all have significance, most of them do.  The four analyses that I believe are most analogous to the tire pressure warning are:

Age, Time in Stage, Stalled and Time Spent.

Time in Stage

The  taller green bars in the Time in Stage image shows that the largest percentage of deals won remain in each stage for only a day or two while the odds for closing deals that remain in stages for more than a week are not good.

Time Spent (not shown) shows that an average of 1 hour and 9 minutes is spent working in Membrain on deals that are won, but an average of only 9 minutes is spent on deals that are later archived.

 Stalled Opportunities

The Stalled image above shows that the average time stalled on a won deal is 43 days compared with 110 days for an archived deal.

And finally, the Age finding (not shown) tells us that the average age of a won deal is 39 days, compared with 105 days for an archived deal.

Together, these four components of the win/loss analysis show that when deals are stalling, we don't spend time working on them, and the chances of closing them are in direct disproportion to how long they stall.  It's our version of the tire pressure display!

What do these four analyses have to do with qualifying?  The more thoroughly qualified the opportunity, the less likely it is to stall for long, and the more likely it is that you can either lose fast - a good outcome - or win fast - a better outcome!

So whether it's mixing drugs and alcohol, scoring a prolific number of hit songs, eating an awesome meal, or a dashboard warning indicator, they all tie back to the importance of thoroughly qualifying opportunities and winning deals.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, chicago, win-loss analysis, the beatles, beach boys, the raspberries, michael jackson, elton john, billy joel, lionel richie

Sitcoms, Sales Process, Sales Assessments and Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 11, 2023 @ 16:01 PM

New CNN Original Series 'History of the Sitcom' Premieres with Back-to-Back  Episodes on July 11 | WarnerMedia

If I created a list of the top sitcoms of all time, I could end up with a list that includes the following shows:

  • Friends
  • Seinfeld
  • The Office
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • The Cosby Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • All in the Family
  • I Love Lucy
  • Cheers
  • Family Guy

If I sent out a survey and asked you to vote on the top sitcoms of all time, the list would have 100 sitcoms to choose from and we might end up with a list that looks like this one.

The keys to these two questions and hypothetical lists are that the first list is my opinion and the second list would be the results of a survey, a popularity contest, or opinions of the masses.

While that's all fine and good when it represents people's opinions of pop culture, it's not fine and good when it comes to business best practices, assessments that could impact whether an individual is offered a job, or even business processes.

More specific to the topic of this Blog, Sales Core Competencies, Sales Candidate Assessments, and Sales Processes cannot be created from popular opinion, surveys or personal bias.  

Conduct a Google search for attributes of successful salespeople and you'll see a page with these results:

These articles include the opinions of college professors, writers and editors reporting on survey results, and people sharing their opinions.  For example, Hubspot, an inbound marketing company published a list of 18 Sales Core Competencies which include non-sales competencies like customer service and data analysis.  Job site Indeed published a list of 18 Sales Core Competencies which include non-sales competencies like leadership and change management.  I'm not suggesting that these capabilities aren't important, but in no way, shape or form should they be considered core sales competencies.  Why would people turn to any of these lists of opinions when there is a widely accepted, definitive list of 21 Sales Core Competencies backed by science and data on more than 2.3 million salespeople?  Perhaps it is a byproduct of Information overload and confusion.  People don't always find the accurate list on their first try.

The same thing happens when you search for sales candidate assessments.  Pages and pages of assessments all claiming to be the one that will prevent you from making a sales hiring mistake.  Most of them are not even sales assessments.  Instead they are personality assessments being marketed as sales assessments.  Again, why use an imposter when the real, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment is right there, among the choices?  There are simply too many opinions and too much misinformation, as I wrote about earlier this week.   

When it comes to sales process the choices are even worse.  Consider this article about how most sales processes are so old. Yet there they are, being positioned as the solution for selling in the modern era.  More surprising, companies are using them but despite that, there are solid sales processes and useful CRM applications that work in perfect harmony, although you do need experts you can trust to point you in the right direction.

Once upon a time I would have been tempted to use a phrase like, "follow the science" but thanks to years of internet misinformation, it is difficult to know who to trust, who are the true experts and which science is real science. Unfortunately, we must default to skepticism, not trust, the subject of Malcom Gladwell's book, Talking to Strangers which I wrote about last week.

I'll tell you what I think but I'm biased too.  I believe in what I've developed over the past 37 years but maybe that's all you need to know.  37 years of time-tested, proven, reliable, accurate and predictive results backed by science.

There is no sales assessment more accurate and predictive than Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment. Period.. 

Not coincidentally, OMG measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies in detail, providing more than 200 data points on each sales candidate along with our recommendation as to whether the candidate will succeed in the role under consideration.  See the competencies, average scores, and sort by industry or company for free.  You can even see how your salespeople compare here.

When it comes to sales process, it's hard to top Baseline Selling, a staged, customizable, milestone-centric, customer focused sales process based on sales best practices.  Baseline Selling is at its best when integrated into Membrain's easily customized, intelligent, process-based CRM application.

Finding the truth is only difficult when you place too much importance on opinions, surveys and writers.

Image copyright CNN

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales core competencies, sales assessments

Top Recommended Personality Assessments for Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 09, 2023 @ 12:01 PM

My Chrome home page often displays articles that Google thinks I might be interested in. Red Sox, Patriots, politics, software applications, gadgets, and for the first time, sales assessments!  I thought, "Is this for real?"

The first article was the 7 Best Personality Assessments for Your Sales Team.  Regular readers already know that personality assessments are not predictive of sales success because they measure personality traits, not sales core competencies.  That said, they included and mis-categorized Objective Management Group (OMG) as a personality assessment.  Oh well.  At least they knew to include it.  Interestingly, I previously published articles about some of the assessments they listed comparing them to OMG:

Compared to DISC

Compared to Caliper

Compared to Myers-Briggs

The second article was How to Pass a Sales Personality Test.

Again, OMG is not a personality test so it's not surprising that it didn't appear on the list.

The first assessment they named was Caliper which they incorrectly stated shows how personality traits correlate to on-the-job performance.  That would be predictive validity - when findings correlate to on-the-job performance. It's worth noting that OMG is the only sales assessment that uses predictive validity.  Most assessments use construct validity which states that findings are consistent with what they say they are measuring.  Personality assessments have never been and are not now predictive of sales success.

Listing the OPQ as a sales assessment is pretty funny.  They don't even suggest that it is appropriate for sales use!

Hogan is a personality assessment that has been adapted for sales but as with all personality assessments you can be sure of one thing.  They are measuring personality traits, not sales core competencies and as such, they are making assumptions about selling.

Myers-Briggs and DISC round out this list.

To get a better sense of how assessment companies adapt (market) personality tests for sales, the best article that informs on this topic is Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, caliper, 16PF, sales assessments, personality assessment, DISC, OMG Assessment, myers-briggs

Can Malcom Gladwell Explain the Sales Hiring Problem?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 04, 2023 @ 09:01 AM

Amazon.com: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We  Don't Know (Audible Audio Edition): Malcolm Gladwell, Malcolm Gladwell,  Hachette Audio: Audible Books & Originals

CEOs, Sales Leaders, Sales Managers and HR Directors are under water when it comes to sales selection.  They get it right about 50% of the time and that includes salespeople who stay but underperform.  After reading Malcom Gladwell's book, Talking to Strangers, I can finally explain why the success rate is so low.  

The book begins and ends with a traffic stop that escalates into a questionable arrest and subsequent jail suicide and uses its nearly 400 pages to make sense of what happens when people talk to and judge people they don't know, or strangers. 

While Gladwell used dozens of dramatic and real examples, the one that most closely correlates with today's topic is the study of NYC judges.  Around 550,000 cases were analyzed and the judges' bail decisions - whether to set bail and for how much - were compared with the decisions of a software program.  The judges released 400,000 of those people and the computer had to choose which 400,000 to release.  The computer had the exact same information as the judges had in their case files, specifically age and criminal record.  The only difference - and it was a big one - the judges had the advantage of being able to look the defendants in the eyes, talk with them and ask questions to make a more informed decision.  The criteria for this comparison test was whether the defendants that were allowed out on bail while awaiting trial committed another crime. The computer outperformed the judges by 25%.

Gladwell wrote, "Orchestras made much smarter recruiting decisions once they had prospective hires audition behind a screen.  Taking information away from the hiring committee made for better judgments.  But that was because the information gleaned from watching someone play is largely irrelevant.  If you're judging whether someone is a good violin player, viewing whether that person is big or small, handsome or homely, white or black isn't going to help.  In fact, it will probably only introduce biases that will make your job even harder."

I wrote about bias in sales hiring in these two articles:

https://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/the-case-for-eliminating-bias-in-hiring-salespeople

https://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/can-preventing-hiring-bias-benefit-the-sales-hiring-process

Those two examples are nearly identical to what happens when salespeople are interviewed.  The hiring manager has the candidate's resume (rap sheet) but unlike a criminal record, resumes are not always grounded in fact.  While it's likely they worked for the companies listed and for the time frames given, claims about success are usually out of context or outright fiction.  During the interview, the hiring manager is consistently forming judgments based on their interactions with the candidate. 

I learned from the book that people are pretty good at identifying honest people who act honestly, but not honest people who act like liars.  Similarly, people are pretty accurate when identifying liars who act like liars but not liars who act honestly.  Experts like judges, the CIA, prosecutors, criminal justice experts, psychologists and other experts are right only half the time so it should come as no surprise that managers hiring salespeople experience similar results.

For the sales leaders who claim they trust their gut, this book and its many examples demonstrates that there is no such thing as accurate gut instinct.  Like a coin flip, you'll be right half the time.  So what can companies do to improve on these odds?  Assessments.

Consider these statistics from several sources:

--Companies that don't use assessments experience 18% attrition and their salespeople achieve quota at a rate of 49%. While typical, this is clearly the approach of the stubborn and misguided.

--Companies that use assessments experience 14% attrition (29% better) and their salespeople achieve quota at a rate of 61% (24% better). While better, it's like choosing a 20-year-old car over a bicycle to journey 100 miles.

--Companies that use Objective Management Group (OMG) sales candidate assessments experience 8% attrition (125% better) and 88% of those salespeople achieve quota (80% better). This is the approach that yields the best and most consistent results, like choosing a jet aircraft over a car to journey 3,000 miles.  More science from OMG users:  When clients go against the recommendation and hire sales candidates that were not recommended for the role, 75% of those new hires fail within 6 months.  When they pursue a candidate that was recommended for the role, 92% of those candidates rise to the top half of the sales team within 12 months.

If you hire salespeople, using your gut will yield results similar to that of judges making bail decisions.  If you use OMG, it will be like using the software that outperformed the judges by 25% - only better.

People don't outperform science.

Free and Paid Resources:

White Paper on Sales Selection 
Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator 
Sales Ghosts Calculator 
Sales Recruiting Process Grader 
Free Samples
Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial (1 complimentary sales candidate assessment)
Learn More (an expert will follow up)
Get started on your own (self-serve subscription plan)
Get started with expert help (full service plan) 
Explore the opportunity to Partner with OMG (for HR and/or sales consultants, trainers and coaches)

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Malcom Gladwell, sales hiring tools, sales assessments, talking to strangers

The Latest Perspective on My Most Popular Article on Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 20, 2022 @ 07:12 AM

3-nutcrackers.jpg

The lessons from my annual Nutcracker post have not changed at all in 12 years but my perspective changes. This year three new thoughts come to mind.

For example, each year the music in the Nutcracker suite becomes more and more familiar to me, but just think how familiar it is to the musicians in the orchestra who perform it day after day, and twice daily on weekends.  Like the dancers, they put us much effort, enthusiasm and emotion into the performance as they did the first time they performed.  Do salespeople have the same excitement about their products and services as they did their first year with their company or does it become mundane?

Mine is not the only family to make The Nutcracker or any other holiday event a tradition.  Year after year we return.  Are salespeople both familiar enough, special enough, and entertaining enough for their customers to renew each year?

They know that people like us return each year so to keep it interesting for us, they have updated the set a few times over the past 12 years, changed the dancers who play each character and embrace new, young dancers each year to play the parts of children.  Do companies keep their products, features and policies fresh enough with enough updates to their websites, user interfaces, and the way they do business to keep their customers interested?

And now, my famous Nutcracker article:

It's a family tradition that each December we attend the Boston Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker.  It's truly a magical show and even though the primary dancers change from year to year, the execution of the show's script and musical score is flawless.

Several years ago, during one of the performances, it dawned on me that the orchestra's role in the show correlated very nicely to an effective sales presentation.  There were 3 fantastic lessons that I presented then and as I have done each year since, will present again here.

If you attend a Nutcracker performance or simply listen to some of the orchestral suite during the holiday season, one of the selections you'll hear is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy".  Perhaps you can't match the music to the title, but I'm sure if you listen to the first 30 seconds of this version, you'll recognize the melody regardless of your religion or ethnicity.

Even though you've surely heard it before, can you identify the four primary musical instruments at the beginning of the selection?

In this version, you're hearing the glass harmonica, while most orchestral versions and performances feature the celesta, oboe, bassoon and flutes.  Can you hear them?

Just as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" sounds familiar to you, your salespeople find familiarity in the sounds, questions, comments and discussions on their sales calls.  As much as you may not be able to distinguish the specific instruments creating those sounds in "Dance...", your salespeople may not be able to differentiate the credible comments and questions from the noise on their sales calls.

During a first sales call, suppose your salespeople hear one prospect say, "This has been a very interesting and productive conversation and we might have some interest in this."  And imagine another prospect at the same meeting says, "We'll get back to you next month and let you know what kind of progress we've made."  And still a third might say, "In the meantime, please send us a proposal with references and timeline."

Lesson #1 (based on Objective Management Group's data) - Of every 100 salespeople:

  • 70 rush back to the office to begin work on the proposal and tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising because all 3 prospects in the meeting were very interested;
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and they'll do both eventually;
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking more questions.

Lesson #2:

  • Prospects' voices are like musical instruments.  Each instrument in "Dance..." has a specific role in the performance.  If the wrong instrument or notes are played or they're played at the wrong time, the entire selection is ruined.  Prospects' comments in the scenario above have different meanings depending on their business titles and their roles in the buying process.
  • If "please send us a proposal", "we're interested" or "very productive" are spoken from an Executive - the CEO, President or VP of something - it has a far different meaning than if the comment were to come from a buyer in Procurement.
  • When any of those 3 comments are spoken by a user - an engineer for example - rather than a buyer or an Executive, the comments may be far more genuine, but carry much less authority.

Lesson #3:

  • Sometimes it's more fun to listen to a song, symphony or simple melody and to figure out how and why the composer or arranger selected the particular instruments to play the particular parts of the selection.
  • Your salespeople must apply that wonder and analysis to their sales calls.  The prospect may be the composer (started the initiative), arranger (selected the vendors to talk with), director (charged with the initiative and conducting the process) or musician (following directions of the conductor).  It's the salesperson's job to figure out who they're dealing with, what role they play, what influence they'll have and how to get the various players aligned on the compelling reasons to buy and your ideal solution.

Homework Assignment - Return to Lesson #1 and answer 2 questions:

  1. Which of the 3 sales outcomes do your salespeople typically find themselves doing?
  2. Which additional questions do those 11 salespeople stay to ask?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales lessons, sales tips, Nutcracker

The Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2022

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 12, 2022 @ 07:12 AM

Top 10 of 2022

Each week we can read multiple lists of the top new movies and TV shows to stream at home.  Lists of the Top SUV's, Sedans, and Coupes are also prevalent right now.  And of course, as we move ever closer to the holidays, there are lists aplenty on the Top Gadgets, Luxury Items, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him and Gifts for Kids to peruse.  But it's also the time of year when I publish my list of the Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of the year.

Criteria: Popularity (views) is nice but quality of content is nicer.  Likes are cool but engagement is cooler. Entertainment value counts and my opinion matters because I'm judging the articles.  In the end, I'm applying popularity, quality of the content, likes, entertainment, comments, engagement and my opinion to create this list of the top 10 articles.

Enjoy!

10. The Bob Chronicles Part 7 - Salespeople Who Can't Close Closable Business 

9. Why You Can't Lose Customers or Salespeople Right Now

8. How to Use This Jeep Versus Infiniti Analogy to Hire the Right Salespeople

7. How You Can Double Your Revenue in a Recession (most comments)

6. Hiring Salespeople the Right Way Yields 62% Less Turnover and 80% Higher Quotas

5. The 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and Tips for How to Break Them

4. How to Identify the Real Reason When a Salesperson is Under Performing (best content)

3.  The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4,000 Percent Better at This Than the Bottom 10%

2. How to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession

1. The Irony of Free Passes for Under Performing Salespeople   (most engagement)

Top Article - Dave Kurlan's Top Videos and Rants (most views, comments and engagement)

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, human resources, Sales Coaching, closing, effective sales leadership, sales enablement, top sales articles, tips for hiring salespeople, sales management effectiveness, Top 10 Sales Tips

The Connection Between Road Signs, Sales Data, Consultative Selling and Sales Recruiting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 06, 2022 @ 07:12 AM

Clearview' Road Sign Font to Slowly Disappear from U.S. Highways

You're driving down the highway and you approach a road sign which says Chicago (South), Green Bay (North). Smart people know that taking the appropriate exit puts you on the road TO one of those cities and that you are NOT IN one of those cities.  Morons think they have arrived.

The sales version of that occurrence is the single most common challenge we observe when watching salespeople "sell." It doesn't matter whether it's a live phone call, virtual meeting, face-to-face meeting, or recorded sales call.  Salespeople who are learning to take a consultative approach to selling hear a stated issue - the consultative selling version of a road sign - but think they have arrived at their destination - the compelling reason to buy.

This is supported by the data.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has data on 2,280,260 salespeople that have been assessed from more than 30,000 companies.  The findings are horrific:

As you can see, even the top 5% don't excel at taking a consultative approach to selling with an average score of 66.  That's not bad, but these elite salespeople score at or near 100 on most of the other 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Only 13% percent of all salespeople are strong at taking a consultative approach while almost nobody in the bottom 50% is strong at this competency.  Signs, whether on the road or on a sales call, point to a path or direction. They do not announce your arrival.

Speaking of signs and data, I would like to share some sales candidate assessment data from six clients.  I'm sharing these because the data provides signs that point to certain paths or, in this case, reasons for the data.

The first column represents the number of candidates assessed in the past 12 months.  As you can see, the client who assessed 417 candidates was much more effective attracting candidates into the pool than the client who assessed 19 candidates.

The second column represents the percentage of candidates that met the specific criteria for success in their specific selling role(s), at their companies, selling to their audience, against their competition, and at their price points.  As you can see, the recommendation rate varied wildly because the criteria for a recommendation is dependent on the specific criteria for success in the role, as well as the difficulty of the role. Additionally, the quality of the candidates varies based on the appeal of the job posting and more specifically, total compensation.

The fourth column represents the percentage of candidates who were not recommended for each company. It's important to note that a candidate who is not recommended is not by default a bad salesperson.  Not recommended means that the salesperson didn't meet either OMG's criteria for the difficulty level and/or the client's criteria for success in the role.  It's possible that good salespeople may not be good fits and you shouldn't have to ask why.  How many salespeople have you hired, confident that they were good, only to see them fail?  Maybe they weren't good, or maybe they weren't good fits.  You could have known in advance had you used OMG.

The third column represents sales candidates that were worthy of consideration.  Worthies are on the cusp. They fall within a few percentage points of the cutoff separating those who were recommended from those who were not. The companies with 119 and 417 candidates with recommendation rates of 27% and 21%, didn't need to consider sales candidates who were worthy because they had plenty of recommended candidates to choose from.  However, the clients with 20, 19 and 74 candidates only had 11 recommended candidates between them so they needed to consider the additional 40 combined worthy sales candidates.

The client in the sixth row ran a job posting that attracted candidates, but not the right candidates. It wasn't tied closely enough to the criteria required for success in the role.  Compare that with the clients in the first and fifth rows who attracted only 39 candidates combined.  Their ads and/or their compensation likely sucked because most candidates were not moved to apply.

The data always takes the form of a road sign and tells you where to go to reach your intended destination.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales assessments, sales data

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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