How Your Sales Team Can Double its Win Rate in a Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 26, 2022 @ 14:09 PM

double

Isn't it awesome when you learn about new tricks your computer, phone or software can do that you weren't previously aware of? I've been using a number of new widgets on the home screen of my iPhone 13 and I love how quickly I can get or enter information!

Isn't it fascinating when you thought you knew what a product was all about but you were wrong?  A client was having great success using OMG (Objective Management Group) to assess their sales candidates and they assumed the sales candidate assessment was the only thing OMG offered.  When they learned that our core offering is evaluating their existing sales team they became excited about what that would mean for addressing their two biggest selling challenges.  

One of their issues was their 20% win rate was much lower than they thought it should be and they believed their salespeople needed some refresher training on closing.  They also had a large number of opportunities stalled in the pipeline and they believed that training on more effective techniques to conduct follow up calls would help.

In this article, I thought it might help if I share a bit of what they learned about their sales team.

It turns out that they didn't have either a follow up or a closing problem.  The three biggest issues were that their salespeople were:

  1. Not reaching the individuals who actually made the decisions to buy their services.  They knew they had to reach that person and  reaching that high in the organization was a milestone in their sales process but only 7% of the sales team was having any success doing that.  We also learned that the salespeople who did get to the decision maker were 400% more likely to close the business than the others on the team.



  2. Somewhat ineffective at Discovery and as such, were not uncovering compelling reasons for their prospects to buy.  Without compelling reasons, there was a lack of urgency and without urgency, there was nothing compelling their initial contacts to get the decision makers involved or the money approved.  The salespeople were simply not getting their prospects beyond "nice to have."
  3. Not selling value. They were focused on selling value, but because they were not uncovering compelling reasons to buy, they were unable to communicate their value in terms that would resonate with their prospects.  As a result, by the time the opportunity was proposal-ready, 50% had reverted to price-based opportunities.

These three issues were not the only issues facing this company but to give you a sense for how crucial these three issues are, read the next sentence three times.  If they were to do nothing else, but they relentlessly trained, coached and role-played these three issues, they would double their win rate next near. DOUBLE THEIR WIN RATE!

Some companies learn that their issues lie within their pipelines because the opportunities are not well qualified or scored.  Other companies learn that their problem is the company's ineffective sales process.  Some companies discover that the problems have more to do with not having the right salespeople in the right sales roles, a selection problem.  At other companies, we learn the problem is ineffective sales management, due to ineffective coaching and/or accountability.  Motivation is the problem at some companies while the thing that looks and sounds like complacency is often a problem with lack of Commitment.

Some companies have sales teams that aren't very effective developing relationships while others have trouble leveraging the relationships to generate revenue.  I've seen some sales teams that weren't very effective at building trust and credibility while other companies had hired salespeople whose Sales DNA wasn't strong enough to differentiate their higher priced products or services in the C Suite.

The problems I mentioned above are a small sampling of the many issues OMG identifies and it might surprise you to learn that many sales teams have all of these problems and more.

You can't fix the sales problems you can't measure.

When you scientifically measure exactly what the sales problems are, who has the problems, to what extent those problems exist and what the complimentary problems might be, you can begin to determine exactly what kind of development, training, coaching, and even organizational changes are required.

Or, you can do what this company was about to do before they evaluated their sales team and hire a sales training company to train on the latest and greatest closing and follow up techniques. After reading the story, you will understand that what they thought they needed for sales training would have never helped - not even a little!

If you are interested in learning more about having your sales team evaluated, you can email me and I'll get your request to the right person. If you don't want to hear from anyone (an example of a non-supportive selling belief that lowers Sales DNA), you can head to this site where you can get started on your own for free.  Full disclosure, at some point you will still have to speak to someone and pony up to receive the deliverables.

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, recession, OMG evaluation, creating urgency, sales team evaluation, discovery

How Many Authors Does it Take to Screw in a LightBulb Highlighting Selling Skills?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 22, 2022 @ 15:09 PM

Indeed - Home | Facebook

A few years had passed since the last time I wrecked an hbr.com (Harvard Business Review online) article about sales.  If you haven't been reading the Blog for the last sixteen years you may have missed my previous fourteen take downs.

Why Do You Think Harvard Business Review Does This When it Comes to Sales?
The Challenge of the Challenger Sales Model - The Facts
Harvard Business Review Blog Off Target on Sales Greatness
Harvard Business Review Blog Post Gets Salespeople Wrong
Harvard Business Review Hit and Then Missed the Mark on Sales
How Wrong is the Harvard Business Review Article on How to Hire Salespeople?
Revealing Study of Salespeople Makes News at HBR
Another HBR Article on Sales Leaves Me with Mixed Feelings
Top 10 Questions for Salespeople to Ask and Stay Away From
What Customers Expect From Your Salespeople and More
HBR or OMG - Whose Criteria Really Differentiate the Top and Bottom 10% of Salespeople?
More Junk Sales Science in HBR Blog
Now That You Have a Sales Process, Never Mind
I
s SELLING an Afterthought in Today's Sales Model?  

Dan Caramanico alerted me to this dubious September 19, hbr.com article that explains their 5 Skills Every Salesperson Needs to Succeed.  It took three consultants to screw in the lightbulb that illuminates their five stupid-as-shit skills so let's take a look:

The five skills they claim everyone should have are not sales skills at all.  In their defense, their title doesn't state they are sales skills, but instead, skills that salespeople need to have.  As you read these, ask yourself, does EVERY salesperson need these skills, do certain salespeople need these skills, or do any salespeople need these skills?

  1. Anticipating the Customer's Tomorrow
  2. Collaborating Inside and Out
  3. Leveraging Digital and Virtual Channels
  4. Ability to Get Power from Data
  5. Capacity to Adapt

The three authors looked at sales job postings on Indeed and extracted their five skills of choice by looking at some of the requirements listed by enterprise companies, like Apple, Grainger, Microsoft, Pfizer, Bank of America and 3M.

Enterprise companies are rarely representative of small, medium and mid-market companies.  If we study industries that are considered old-school, like industrial distribution or building materials, they wouldn't even consider skills like these being associated with sales.  They're just learning what CRM is!

Let's look more closely at #3, digital and virtual.  This requirement simply states that salespeople must be able to use the tools that all salespeople have learned to use, like Zoom, LinkedIn, MS Office, and CRM.  In this day and age, those requirements are no different than twenty years ago when it was a requirement for a salesperson to have typing skills!

If we look at the top five sales skills that every salesperson - EVERY SALESPERSON IN EVERY ROLE - needs to have in order to succeed, I would choose these (data courtesy of Objective Management Group (OMG):

  1. Reaches Decision Makers - you can have all five of the skills listed in the hbr.com article but if a salesperson can't reach and meet with the decision maker, the skills listed above and below cannot be leveraged.  Salespeople who reach decision makers are 341% more likely to close the business.
  2. Consultative Seller - Salespeople must uniquely differentiate themselves and provide the prospect with an ideal solution that is both cost and needs appropriate.  The best way to do that is with a consultative approach based on excellent listening and questioning skills, attributes of the Consultative Seller competency at which only 11% of all salespeople are strong
  3. Value Selling - The ability to sell at a profitable margin is very important to most companies.  Selling Value is the skill that drives profit but it requires a set of beliefs, strategies and tactics to support the effort.  Simply spouting off a company's value proposition will not get the job done.  Only 31% of all salespeople have Selling Value as a strength.
  4. Qualifying - The win rate is driven by a salesperson's ability to thoroughly qualify an opportunity and there is a direct correlation between unqualified and lost, and fully qualified and won.  Only 21% of all salespeople have the Qualifying Competency as a strength.
  5. Sales Process - A custom staged, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process will support and enhance a salesperson's ability to use a consultative approach, sell value and thoroughly qualify a decision maker's ability to buy.  Only 34% of all salespeople have Sales Process as a strength.

These five skills are Sales Core Competencies at which all salespeople must be good.  Compare these five competencies to the five skills in the hbr.com article and you will easily see that their five skills, without my five competencies, won't get a deal done.  On the flip side, I would argue that my five competencies, even without their five skills, will still get a deal done.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies with an average of 8 attributes per competency.  OMG measures all 21 of them and there is an online tool where you can see the data behind all 21 Sales Core Competencies and break it down by industry and Sales Percentile.  OMG has assessed 2,253,218 salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales CRM, reaching decision makers, selling value

Is 28 Years Long Enough for a Sales Assessment Trial ?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

long-time

The Sony PlayStation, Gorilla Glue, Aquafina, and The George Forman Grill were all introduced in 1994.  You've heard of those but have you heard of Vamp Nail Polish or KoronaPay?  They were also introduced in 1994.

Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment was also introduced in 1994 and while 35,000 or so companies are raving fans, that represents less than 1% of the potential B2B market.  As successful as OMG is, and as legendary as our sales candidate assessment is, the reality is that relative to the potential size of the market, hardly anyone uses it.

Isn't 28 years long enough for us to prove ourselves?  

Clearly OMG is not for everyone. Companies that sell at the lowest price, companies that are the brand leaders, and companies that have a transactional sale don't need to hire good salespeople because their salespeople are order-takers.  But what about everyone else?

After consistently proving its legendary predictive accuracy making it a no-brainer to use OMG, there are five possible reasons why companies didn't use OMG  to assess their sales candidates over the past 28 years:

  1. They perceive OMG to be an inferior assessment.  I have never heard anyone say that and none of our partners have ever heard anyone say that but maybe some people feel this way and keep their thoughts to themselves.  In this day and age?  Are you kidding me?

    Based on all of the awards OMG has earned, its raving fans, and strong renewal rate, I don't believe this is ever the reason.

  2. Sales Leaders and sometimes even HR Directors, believe their gut instinct, experience, skills and expertise can out-perform OMG.  While the science disproves this, it is a common reason as to why companies don't use OMG to hire salespeople.  Even worse, some Sales Leaders feel that if they have to rely on a tool to hire salespeople it will make them appear weak.  It's an ego problem. 

    One Sales Leader had turned over 50% of his sales team and the other 50% were underperforming.  He had failed to hit forecast for 4 consecutive quarters but instead of blaming it on sales selection and/or training and coaching, he was blaming the company's pricing model and didn't believe salespeople could succeed with the current pricing.  While the right salespeople would perform fine with their pricing model, he didn't know how to identify the right salespeople and wasn't willing to spend money on an assessment that would effectively do that.

  3. "Legal" doesn't allow for the use of assessments.  Legal as a reason (LaaR) only occurs in large companies, and because the market is flooded with personality assessments that are not role specific or predictive.  Disgruntled candidates, who are not selected, could potentially blame their failure to land a job on a personality assessment, leaving companies potentially vulnerable to a law suit.  On the other hand, a role-specific assessment, like OMG, creates no such liability for a company so this line of thinking is very difficult to understand.  It's worth noting that Legal doesn't even get involved until either the CEO, HR Director and/or Sales Leader decides to utilize OMG. 

    One company was having trouble hiring 300 salespeople.  They had already hired 500 salespeople but 350 had quickly turned over and only 150 were actually selling for them.  They had a huge problem getting sales selection right so they gave OMG the verbal go-ahead but Legal put the kibosh on it.  The ill-conceived fear of a law suit outweighed the fact that their revenue generating car had its gears in reverse.  I think the weak CEO should have been fired for allowing legal to override his decision-making.

  4. HR is married to another assessment and feels it would be too difficult to learn a new assessment.  As Dave Mantel pointed out, HR is measured on their cost per hire and time to hire; not on sales performance. Unfortunately, these HR professionals believe selecting the most accurate and predictive sales assessment is not as important as their level of comfort, even if it will make their job easier.

    Why use a personality assessment to determine if they have the sales capabilities required to succeed in a particular sales role at the company?  As Aaron Prickel of Lushin & Associates put it, "You wouldn't give your son a pregnancy test to determine if he's using drugs!"   

  5. A Sales Candidate Assessment is not in the budget.  So?

    One company was paying their two worst salespeople a $60,000 base salary and those two salespeople were at 50% of quota.  In addition to the $120,000 the company was throwing out the window on two losers, they were failing to generate $1 million in revenue!  They needed to hire salespeople this year and only had to spend $7,500 with OMG to hire 6 ideal salespeople.  Somehow, they didn't have $7,500 to spend, but were OK throwing $120,000 out the window and accepting a $1 million short-fall.  Math does not seem to be a strong suit at this company.

Circling back to how the article began, isn't 28 years of helping companies improve their sales selection effectiveness a long enough trial to prove to the masses that OMG is a game changer for sales?  Consider these statistics:

Do you see it?  44% more salespeople achieve quota at companies that use OMG compared to companies that use another assessment, and 80% better than companies that don't use an assessment.  And sales attrition is 75% lower at companies that use OMG compared with companies that use another assessment and 237% lower than companies that don't use an assessment.  So much for gut instinct, experience, expertise and skills.

And this?  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG doesn't recommend, 75% of those salespeople fail within 90 days.  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG does recommend, 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales teams within 12 months.  So much for legal, ego, budgets, and comfort level.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies, each with an average of 8 attributes, and OMG measures every single one of them.  Depending on the role, some attributes and competencies are more important than others.

Put science to work and rely on it to hire your next group of salespeople.

Request a sample Sales Candidate Assessment.  
Download free White Paper on Sales Selection.   
Begin a Free Trial

Let us know you want to Get Started. 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales hiring test, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

10 Sales Attributes That Don't Differentiate Top Salespeople from Bottom Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 12, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

personality

Here in the US, this Sunday marked the first Sunday of NFL Football.  It's the same (as always) but different (new games).  In their season debut, my New England Patriots did their best impression of my Boston Red Sox and lost 20-7.  Close game.

I've written several articles (same as always) about OMG (Objective Management Group) Tailored Fits/Proofs of Concept where I analyze the differences between a company's top producers and bottom producers to identify the findings/scores that differentiate their tops from their bottoms.  That is the science of sales performance and sales selection and the last time I wrote about it was in this article from February of 2022.  For comparison, the most recent example of a blowhard writing junk science without being scientific about what top salespeople do differently can be found in this article from August of 2022.

Today's article (new article) will go in the opposite direction and discuss strengths and skills that don't differentiate tops from bottoms.  

There are two types of findings we'll discuss here:

1) Findings that don't differentiate tops from bottoms within the same company because the tops and bottoms are equally ineffective (see urgency below);

2) Findings that rarely differentiate tops from bottoms across most companies and salespeople (see social selling below).

Personality:  We'll get personality out of the way right from the beginning.  OMG's data conclusively shows that personality is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople.  It might help some salespeople secure meetings but it does not help them win the business.  We've all seen salespeople with great personalities who consistently fail to meet and exceed their quotas, as well as salespeople who aren't nearly as personable but crush their numbers each month, quarter and year.  Personality is not predictive of sales success.  Never has been.  Never will be.

Reaching Decision Makers: OMG's science shows that salespeople who reach actual decision makers are 341% more likely to close the business, yet just 15% of the bottom half of all salespeople do this effectively.  As important as this Sales Core Competency is, for most companies it fails to differentiate tops from bottoms because neither the tops nor the bottoms consistently get themselves in front of decision makers.

Closing: OMG's science shows that  most salespeople, across the board, suck at closing so in most companies, the closing competency is unable to differentiate top from bottoms.  And as I've written before, closing is overrated.  If a salesperson effectively executes all of the stages and milestones required prior to closing, the business will close.

Friendly:  One of the attributes that OMG measures in the Relationship Building Core Competency, is the Likable attribute which never seems to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople. My friends, employees, clients, partners and coworkers would all testify that my weakest Sales Core Competency by far is Relationship Building but somehow, I am likable.  Despite being likable, I have never closed a deal because I was so likable.

Urgency:  Other than winning the business, the most important outcome in the sales process is the establishment of urgency.  Urgency is a by-product of uncovering a compelling reason to buy from you, quantifying the compelling reason and learning about its impact on your prospect.  The best salespeople are 329% more likely to get prospects beyond "nice to have," establishing urgency, than weak salespeople.  Since only 1% of the bottom half of salespeople are effective at the Consultative Seller Competency, urgency is rarely a differentiator of tops from bottoms within any given company.

Presenting: Most salespeople achieve their highest scores in the Sales Core Competency called Presentation Approach so there isn't much difference between the tops and bottoms in this competency at most companies.  Surprisingly, the bottom salespeople are often better than the top salespeople at Presentation Approach because they rely upon and hone their presentation rather than using a Consultative approach.

Extroverted: The science shows that across the board, extroverted salespeople perform no better than introverted salespeople although introverted salespeople tend to have an edge when it comes to listening and asking questions. I have always liked the definitions of introverted and extroverted which suggest that extroverted salespeople are energized from their social interactions while introverts must use their energy for social interactions.  I'm introverted and I'm always exhausted from my rare socializing.

Integrity: Integrity is important - just ask @Larry Levine! But it is not one of the findings that tends to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.  Unfortunately, there are occurrences of OMG seeing high integrity sellers who struggle to build trust and low integrity sellers who are able to build trust.  What do prospects see?  Salespeople they trust and salespeople they don't trust.

Video Proficiency: In 2020 and 2021 we worked very hard to help salespeople discover, become comfortable with, use and leverage the ability to sell remotely over video, yet this skill does not differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.

Social Selling: Despite the emphasis that has been placed on Social Selling (and in this context we are primarily talking about LinkedIn), this competency is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople.  While salespeople who are visible and active on LinkedIn may get the occasional meeting, they aren't more effective at closing that business.

At the core of all its services, OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as part of both its Sales Team Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  Check them out and see how your salespeople compare with nearly 2.5 million salespeople in and out of your industry.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales personaility, top sales performers, sales attributes

Found: A Great Article About How Important Salespeople Are

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 07, 2022 @ 06:09 AM

linkedin

Yesterday, although I wasn't looking for it, I found my laptop charger that I misplaced a few weeks ago.  Today, I found a shirt I wasn't looking for. It was purchased in May, but I had forgotten about it.  Later today, a post appeared in my LinkedIn feed and although I wasn't looking for an article by a physician, I read it and am so glad I did.

Would you like to know what I loved about that article?  I'll share, but first, consider that...

...Salespeople have a bad reputation.

Half of all salespeople are incredibly ineffective and provide very little value to their prospects and as such, they deserve the bad reputation they have.  Not because they are dishonest, sleazy or greedy - most of them aren't - but because they add no value.

On the other side of the coin, the top 30% of salespeople generally do add value and their prospects appreciate them, favor them and buy from them.

The LinkedIn post pays tribute to medical device salespeople.  They may not be in the top 30%, they may not be adding tremendous value, but this physician, speaking on behalf of most physicians, tells us just how valuable they are to the surgeons who perform in the operating room, and points out how unfairly these salespeople are being treated.

Hooray for Dr. Scott Sigman MD.

Hooray for his bravery.  We heard from a small number of brave doctors during Covid who were brave enough to push back and tell us the truth about the virus how to treat it, the vaccines and the real dangers, and how masks and lockdowns didn't stop the virus.  Dr. Sigman has gone out on a limb and rallied to the defense of salespeople.

Whether or not you are in sales or sales leadership, you probably work in a company whose revenue is generated by salespeople.  That means your salary is made possible by the efforts of salespeople.  You must read the short LinkedIn post and then come to your own conclusion.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top salespeople, value added selling, medical devices

How Closing a Tough Sale is Nearly Identical to Hitting a Home Run

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 25, 2022 @ 18:08 PM

home run

While you don't need to know a single thing about Baseball to read this, it is another article with a baseball analogy. If you don't enjoy reading my baseball analogies, you can ignore this but I must warn you that today's analogy will reveal the two underlying causes for sales opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline and not reaching a close.  If you don't care about that then bye-bye until the next article.

You're watching a baseball game on television and the announcer says, "And here's the pitch and there's a long drive hit deep to left field and it's deep, it's up, it's way back and GONE!!!!!  Home Run Dave Kurlan!"  OK, the announcer never said the Dave Kurlan part. Not even close. I was a singles hitter.  And I never played at a level that had announcers.  So there's that.  For entertainment sake, watch this classic 2-minute clip of Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs hitting the magical home run at the end of the movie, The Natural, one of my all-time favorite baseball movies right up there with The Sandlot and Field of Dreams.

Back to the home run.  A home run is the outcome of a perfect swing but what led to that swing being so perfect?  If we conduct a backwards looking analysis, an upper cut connected with the baseball and drove it at a speed of 110 MPH with a 30 degree launch angle.  The swing was perfectly timed.  The batter waited and exploded, getting every bit of torque into his rotation while using the full power of his legs.  He stayed back and had a nice, short, swing. Those moving parts working to perfection were important to the outcome but the most important thing was that he recognized the pitch, saw the ball and hit it.  All of the mechanics I just described were the result of practice.  He recognized the pitch, made the split-second decision to swing, his mechanics fired up on-demand, and he crushed the ball.

Pivot to selling.  If salespeople had announcers - and that would be so cool - the announcer would say, "And here's the pitch, it's a good one, it's both needs and cost appropriate, and the prospect had already agreed in principal to the price. It's been emailed and reviewed, the prospect liked it, it's signed it and it's SOLD!!! Half a Million dollar sale for Dave Kurlan!"  Like I said, I never had a play-by-play announcer but there is always one talking in my head...

Back to the sale.  The sale was the outcome of that particular opportunity but what led to that opportunity closing so easily?  Deconstructing the sale, we recognized that there was a real opportunity there, quickly built a relationship, uncovered a compelling reason for them to buy from us, developed credibility, created urgency, fully qualified the opportunity and developed a needs and cost appropriate solution.  As with baseball, those were the mechanics of the sales process but the key was creating urgency.

Urgency is the torque that moves an opportunity from nice-to-have to must-have and finally to taking action.  But urgency is also an outcome.  It requires advanced listening and questioning skills, something most salespeople struggle to develop.  But even listening and questioning skills require 2 supporting Sales DNA competencies.

1) You must be able to Stay in the Moment in order to truly listen and formulate the next question.  Staying in the moment or being fully present requires that we do not become emotional.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 2,244,094 assessments of salespeople, only 37% of all salespeople have "Able to Stay in the Moment" as a strength and only 19% of the bottom half of all salespeople are able to do this. 

Last week, Dan Millman, author of more than a dozen spiritual self-help books and novels and best known for his book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, wrote this message in his latest newsletter:

"In this brief newsletter we return to a core life skill — how we perceive and process our emotions. Having previously explored how small changes in the words we use can change our attitudes,  let’s now observe a nearly universal tendency to identify with our emotions when we say (or think or feel) “I’m angry;I’m sad; I’m afraid…”
Instead, given the reality that emotions arise and pass like the weather, and that we have no more control over arising emotions than we do over passing weather, what if we replaced the “I am” with the observation, “Angry weather, sad weather, fearful weather passing through…” 
Noting our changing emotional weather patterns (as we might in meditation) enables us to observe them from a distance. We can acknowledge, even accept and embrace emotional weather without clinging to it.
This emotional skill — this wording and thinking change — is simple but not easy. Old habits die hard until we replace them with new habits as this practice becomes natural. Try it and see."

2) If staying in the moment is crucial for listening, then equally critical for asking questions is  not NEEDING to be liked.  It's OK and even desirable to be likable, but you shouldn't NEED people to like you.  When you need to be liked it will make you uncomfortable or even fearful of asking a lot of questions, asking tough question, or having the difficult conversation with your prospect that nobody else has had with them.  According to OMG, only 40% of all salespeople have "Doesn't Need Approval" and only 15% of the bottom half have this as a strength.

Staying in the Moment and Not Needing to be Liked are 2 out of the 21 Sales Core Competencies required for Sales Success.  If we look at the data differently, and filter on just the top 5% of all salespeople,  the results are quite different. The best salespeople (the top 5%) don't usually have nearly this much difficulty as 65% of them are able to stay in the moment making the top salespeople 342% better at this than the bottom half!  And when it comes to not needing to be liked, 79% of the best salespeople have this as a strength making the top salespeople 527% better at this than the bottom half.

Do you want to hit more home runs and close more sales?  Work to overcome your need to be liked and become more effective staying in the moment.  The Sales DNA Modifier is an inexpensive online course that uses powerful affirmations to help you make dramatic changes and overcome a sales weakness in just 3 weeks. Start with the lesson on Need to be Liked, spend 5-minutes with it twice per day for 3 weeks and then move on to the other weaknesses as needed.

The Sales DNA Modifier is a home run for salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, Sales DNA, closing tips, objective management group

Which is Worse - The Boston Red Sox or Your Sales Team?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 23, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

fenway

I wrote the best-seller, Baseline Selling, so it should come as no surprise that I'm a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan.  I'll be at Fenway Park for a game this week and I had some thoughts about how the Red Sox compare to many of the sales teams that get evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).

The Red Sox are not very good. They have become difficult to watch, and have morphed from a 2018 World Series champion, to a 2021 playoff team, and now to a last place team because their roster was so poorly constructed.  In the off-season and at the trading deadline, the Red Sox waited until the other teams made their big moves and the dust had settled. Then, from among the players that were still available (nobody wanted them), he made some bargain basement signings or traded players who will be due for big contracts and got little in return (again).  The result is a bad team with only a handful of stars and a supporting cast of broken parts, guys playing out of position, and minor leaguers filling in for injured players.  Do you know how bad a team has to be to score ten runs and still lose by five?

Most sales teams that go through the OMG evaluation process have a couple of stars but most of the salespeople are not very good (bargain basement hirings), not in an ideal role (out of position), and aren't contributing to the growth of their companies.

The construction of the Red Sox roster is simply a Stupid as Shit Strategy or SaSS. Use of the word strategy means that it's intentional and is a disservice to the word stupid!

Sales team construction usually lacks formal strategy and that suggests something accidental is at play. We tend to see the "we already had these salespeople" and then "these are the new salespeople who were willing to work for us." New is a relative term as the newest 30% of the team continues to churn when and if they find candidates.

In both examples, we have teams that appear to be underperforming when in fact, they suck because of poor selection.  I'm not letting managers off the hook as they are responsible for coaching up the people on their teams but let's face it.  If the right people were acquired in the first place, they wouldn't require much coaching!  

It's common knowledge that for the past several years, only around 50% of all salespeople meet or exceed quota. Are they underperforming or performing as they should based on their own capabilities?  I mined some data from the 2,242,971 salespeople that OMG has assessed. What follows helps to explains why:

OMG measures the difference between salespeople who can sell versus those who will.  Only 55% of all salespeople will sell.

Only 22% have the necessary Sales DNA (combination of strengths that supports the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics) to succeed in their roles.

Only 41% have Hunting as a strength and only 34% prospect consistently so pipelines fall short of target.

Only 43% have Relationship Building as a strength and only 29% are able to leverage their relationships to win business.

Only 34% follow an effective Sales Process so most salespeople are winging it while believing they are terrific.

Only 28% Reach Decision Makers but only 11% reach the final decision makers and only 1% of new salespeople reach those decision makers

Only 11% have Consultative Selling as a strength and only 7% get past nice to have.

Only 31% have Selling Value as a strength and only 25% of salespeople make purchases in a manner that support successful sales outcomes.

Finally, 50% of all salespeople are weak!!  Is it any wonder that only 50% of all reps hit quota?

More importantly, CEOs and Sales Leaders don't know what their salespeople are truly capable of because they read only what appears in the CRM application, hear only what their salespeople tell them and see only the monthly, quarterly and annual revenue numbers.  At most companies, the salesperson responsible for the most revenue is often among the worst salespeople on the team.  They might have the biggest and/or best accounts, or the most lucrative territory, decades of tenure in the industry, but they aren't selling as much as they are serving in the role of account manager and order taker.  Don't confuse revenue with sales effectiveness.

A professional sales team evaluation shows what prevents your team from achieving a higher win rate, higher margins, more new business and a shorter sales cycle.  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles? How much better each can each salesperson become? What it will take to get them there and how long will it take?  Is your pipeline legit? Which of your salespeople can be trained or coached up to reach their potential?  Are your salespeople part of your future or part of your past?

You can guess or you can get the data.  Learn more about a sales team evaluation.  Request a sample.

This article began with poor sales team performance as a by-product of selection.  Start using OMG's sales candidate assessments - the most accurate and predictive sales selection tool in the world. Request a sample.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales assessments, objective management group, sales team evaluation

Must Read - How a 15% Corporate Minimum Tax Will Impact Companies and Sales Teams

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 10, 2022 @ 08:08 AM

You may have read that the latest legislation out of Washington DC provides $80 billion for the hiring, arming and training of close to 80,000 new IRS (Internal Revenue Service is the US Tax Agency) agents to nearly double the size of the agency.  Did you catch the part about arming IRS agents?  Wow. That makes the IRS larger than the State Department, Customs and Border Control, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the Pentagon (Military) combined.  Did I mention that 70,000 of them will be armed?  They also want to make sure that corporations pay their fair share so this legislation imposes a minimum 15% tax on corporations.

Why are they making these two moves and what does it have to do with selling?  Stay tuned and I'll try to answer both questions.

The primary point of today's article is to point out the irony of hiring 80,000 agents but you'll have to read a bit of background before I can point out the irony.

So why are they hiring 80,000 IRS agents?

They want the rich to pay their fair share and that sounds fair, but let's go beyond the headline and general talking point.  There are 724 billionaires in the US (of 2,775 worldwide) and it's not that hard to find a millionaire because there are 20 million of them in the US (50 million worldwide).  If they target billionaires it would work out to 110 new agents per billionaire.  Sounds like overkill.  They also want to make sure that corporations pay their fair share so this legislation imposes a minimum 15% tax on corporations. 

Let's focus on the 15% tax for a moment. I can think of only three ways for corporations to deal with that surcharge:

  1. Raise prices.  They've been raising prices throughout the supply chain crisis and the two years of inflation so additional price increases don't seem like they would be good business decisions.
  2. Lay-offs.  To illustrate how the math works, let's take a corporation generating $10 billion with pre-tax earnings of $1 billion.  A 15% tax would be $150 million.  They will probably layoff workers, not executives and the average  US worker earns just short of $52,000. That corporation would need to layoff 2,885 workers to pay that tax.  Or, if they need to purchase equipment they'll either delay the purchase  or layoff even more workers.  If they delay or even cancel the purchase, that will negatively impact salespeople and the companies that sell equipment to this corporation.
  3. Move operations out of the country.  In this scenario, everyone gets laid off, no taxes are paid by either the company or the laid off employees, and nothing gets sold to this company in the US. Salespeople and their companies lose here too.  When companies move operations off-shore, and with fewer customers for the companies serving them to sell to, they too must lay-off employees.

This impacts every one of the 56,000 companies generating $100 million and up. Do the math. If we were to be really, really conservative and pretend that all 56,000 companies generated only $100 million each, that would result in layoffs of only 1% of my earlier example, or less than 30 layoffs per company.  The math says that if you multiply 30 by 56,000 companies there would be nearly 2 million layoffs among the 56,000 companies, huge spending freezes, and delayed closings as the economy slows like gridlock at rush-hour.  Only it will be much worse.  Nearly 14,000 of those companies actually generate more than $500 million (2 million layoffs among the 14,000 companies) and 9,000 companies generate more than $1 billion (2.6 million layoffs among the 9,000 companies).  That's a total of 6.5 million lay-offs before we consider the ripple effect to the millions of SMB's.

Does anyone in Congress know even a little bit about economics and how business works?  Around 175 senators and congressmen have law degrees, so probably not!

Back to the IRS and then the irony of the policy.  80,000 new agents will run out of large companies to audit really quickly.  It's less than one company per new agent so who will they audit next? There aren't enough large corporations, billionaires and millionaires for such a huge army of agents so it's obvious that they will be targeting another group next.  It was reported that small businesses will be targeted because big companies can afford teams of lawyers and accountants to drag out the audit process but 17 million small businesses are much easier to audit and assess and then from which to collect additional taxes. Auditing small business owners is the path of least resistance!

Let's dig into the irony.

For the past 3-4 years, companies that have attempted to hire salespeople have found a limited number of candidates overall and even fewer quality, qualified candidates. When they hold out for the good candidates, instead of 30 days it is taking 3-6 months to get new salespeople hired and half the time, another company swoops in and hires the candidate before they can.  This is the experience companies are having today despite the existence of nearly 6 million professional salespeople to target in the US.   So how in the world will the IRS possibly hire 80,000 new agents when there are only around 1.4 million accountants in the USA and only 650,000 of them are CPAs?

Both parts of this legislation couldn't possibly make sense to anyone who can do math, who knows how business works, who knows anything about economics, or who knows what companies do with their earnings.  It is a stupid policy and stupid policy is probably an oxymoron.

If the 15% minimum tax policy becomes a super spreader for the recession it will impact salespeople and companies where it hurts the most by significantly depressing revenues and earnings. If that happens, the 15% tax won't be such a big deal because there won't be any earnings to tax.  So there's that.

To prepare for a more difficult selling environment, sales teams must learn how to grind it out to book difficult-to-schedule meetings, differentiate and sell value, overcome resistance, and reach the only person in the company who can make an exception to a spending freeze.

There are three steps to getting your team to this point:

  1. Evaluate the sales team to find out who can become proficient at these competencies, how big the gaps are, how much better the sales team can become, how much more revenue they can generate, what it will take to get them there in the area of sales process optimizations, methodology, training and coaching.
  2. Train and coach the ever-living hell out of your sales managers so that they can become great at coaching salespeople and holding them accountable.
  3. Train and coach the ever-living hell out of your salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, sales success, corporate taxes, IRS

Can My Car Uncover Sales Qualification Criteria Better Than Most Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 08, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

If your car was manufactured in the last few years, you probably have a rear camera that helps you see your surroundings when you need to back up, back into a parking space, or drive backwards on the interstate at 65 MPH.  Okay, maybe not the last one.  Somehow, my Genesis GV80 always knows to display its rear and overhead cameras when I'm pulling into the garage.  Not backing into the garage, but driving forward into the garage.  That is helpful because I can pull in just far enough to leave the maximum amount of room in front of the car, but still clear the garage threshold enough for the garage door to close without hitting the back of the car.  If the car could speak, it would be saying, "Dave doesn't know what he can't see back there but he needs to see it right now.  So I'm going to turn off the map display and instead, give him the two-camera intelligence he needs."  It's crazy!

Pivot to sales.  Wouldn't it be great if salespeople had the equivalent of two camera intelligence to see what they don't know they need to see?

Two-camera intelligence for salespeople is probably science fiction - a pipe dream - but it would have a bigger impact for sales success than how the view of the garage threshold assists with my parking!

The two-camera rear view would allow salespeople to:

  • Inspect whether the answers provided by prospects truly answered their questions
  • Learn whether there is truly enough budget available and whether the prospect will spend more to do business with them
  • Learn who the real decision-makers are, why they are hiding, and how to get them engaged
  • Uncover the prospect's most compelling reasons to buy from them
  • Learn which of their competitors the prospect is talking with and how they compare
  • Discover the criteria (reasons) on which the prospect will make their decision
  • Discover the process (steps) by which the prospect will come to a decision
  • Uncover the timeline for a decision
  • Determine the prospect's level of commitment to solving their problem and moving forward
  • Understand exactly how they can be a perfect fit for the prospect
  • Determine how to improve their relationship with the prospect
  • Connect the dots to create a perfect needs and cost appropriate solution

Two-camera intelligence for salespeople would provide visibility into the 12 most important qualification criteria.  Interestingly, the best salespeople already have this intelligence in their tool bag.  87% of the top 5% of all salespeople - the very best salespeople - have visibility into these criteria because their high-quality, value-added conversations easily uncover this information. By comparison, only 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have that visibility.  Just 1%.  The group in the 50th-80th percentile aren't much better as only 19% of them have the Qualifier competency as a strength. The Qualifier competency is just one of 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG's sales candidate assessments and sales team evaluations.  You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

All salespeople are told to qualify.  Some are trained to qualify.  Fewer are coached to qualify.  Most don't know how to properly qualify or they skip past it entirely because they fear that their opportunity won't qualify (they'll have to hunt for a new opportunity) or they fear that their prospect will become upset at them for asking the questions (their need to be liked).  If they plan to ask these questions like a survey, or like a game of 50 questions, then they should be afraid.  Qualifying doesn't work that way.  Salespeople must first build a case so that their prospects have an incentive to qualify themselves.  If the case hasn't been built, there isn't a prospect alive that would willingly subject themself to a dozen qualification questions.  The best salespeople know how to simply make this part of a wonderful two-way conversation that won't raise prospects' resistance.

Building a case is accomplished by taking a consultative approach to selling.  While weak salespeople are just as inept at consultative selling as they are at qualifying, only 49% of elite salespeople have mastered this competency.  Taking a consultative approach is clearly the achilles heal of the sales profession. 

Obviously, I won't send my car on my next sales call but most salespeople would fare better if they had my car's intelligence.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, comparison of top salespeople, sales core competencies, qualifying

The Secret to Account Churn is Not Dedicated Account Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 03, 2022 @ 12:08 PM

 

weedingI do my own weeding and that "hobby" takes up a lot of my free time.  Weeding is like playing the arcade game wack-a-mole where you pull the weed, use a weed wacker, or poison the weed on Monday and two more weeds appear in its place on Tuesday.

If you think about territory sales or sales into a specific vertical, reps should be calling on the same customers and prospects all the time.  The key similarity is that both groups of salespeople have a limited number of prospects, as defined by geography or need, and therefore must continue calling on those prospects until they are sold.  But then what?  If a rep is selling consumables and/or supplies of some kind, they'll continue calling on those customers who buy. But what if they aren't selling consumables?  What if the purchases are much more infrequent, as in many months or even years apart?

That's the problem I'm writing about today.

The salesperson finally closed that customer for an infrequent purchase and now they don't have to try so hard.  But the salesperson's competitors didn't close the sale so they are still calling on that prospect, your customer, trying to take away the business, or get the next sale, or be there when something goes wrong.  In this case, your competitors are just like my weeds in that they simply keep showing up no matter what we do!

So if this is your customer, and you stop trying so hard because you finally sold them, but your competitor continues calling, appearing, adding value, being there, developing a relationship, trying really hard and then something does go wrong, who will get the next order?  You?  I'm afraid not.  And exposes the challenge that role specialization is supposed to solve - but doesn't - and that's account churn.

Moving a new account to an account manager allows the salesperson to look for additional new customers and get them sold too.  That's Great! But as a group, account managers generally add little value, aren't strategic enough to fend off the competition, and aren't the ones getting the call when something goes wrong.  Those calls go to customer service and we all know what happens when you have to reach out to customer service these days.  Most customer service teams (unlike our team of CSR's at OMG who are awesome!) are unresponsive, don't listen, can't fix anything, and seem to hate their customers.  If your customer, who is already upset, reaches out to your customer service team, what will happen?  At the end of the call, will your customer fall in love with your company all over again, or despise your company?

The secret to churn prevention is fantastic customer service, not dedicated account managers!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, account management, account manager, territory sales, vertical sales, role specialization

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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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