Dave Kurlan

Recent Posts

"Spirited" Has So Much in Common with Most Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 29, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

Watch new trailer for holiday comedy 'Spirited,' starring Will Ferrell and  Ryan Reynolds - Good Morning America

Last week we watched Spirited, the new Apple TV Plus take on the old Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.  In this lighthearted film, Will Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Reynolds is the 2022 version of Scrooge.  This Scrooge is a funny, selfish, materialistic, song and dance man, who is irredeemable. Can Will Farrell's character redeem Ryan Reynolds' character?

As usual, the movie got me thinking about salespeople and Understanding the Sales Force.

Ryan Reynold's character, Clint Briggs, is a fabulous showman, salesperson, and marketing consultant rolled into one.  The problem is that he never considers anyone or anything other than himself and his personal success..

There is a correlation between Clint Briggs and salespeople, many of whom are also irredeemable, but for different reasons. 

Most salespeople - 87% - still sell like it's 1975 and fall into one of three buckets:

  1. They sell transactionally. In other words, they talk about their company, their products and services, themselves, their features and benefits, and try to leverage that for a sale.
  2. They rely on demos to generate interest and then try to close.
  3. They rely on having the lowest price and take orders.

Only 13% of all salespeople take a consultative approach to selling and almost none of them can be found in the bottom 50% - the group that fails to meet quota each year.  A coincidence? On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10% of all salespeople are 4300% more likely to have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength!

Are the 87% redeemable?  Can they make the transition from transactional sellers, demo-focused presenters, and price focused order takers to professional, consultative sellers?  Only an OMG (Objective Management Group) sales team evaluation (SEIA) can answer that questionDownload free samples of the sales team evaluation here.

Spirited does have three things in common with prior versions of A Christmas Story and those are the ghosts of Christmas' past, present and future.  That got me thinking about the articles I wrote in 2022, the articles you'll see in December, and what you can look forward to in 2023.

Our ghost of articles past reminds us that we began 2022 talking about whether buying has changed and if salespeople have adapted.  We followed that up with our 6th installment in the popular Bob Chronicles about salespeople who make things your problem.  Then came an article about the 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and how to break them.  

February began with an article on how hiring salespeople the right way yields 62% less turnover and 80% higher quotas.  We followed that up with the similarities between cyber thieves, hackers and most salespeople.  No kidding!  Then came this favorite, the 7th installment of the Bob Chronicles about salespeople who can't close closable business.  I love the Bob articles!  Then I provided 10 steps to crush your sales forecasts.  Finally, our last article in February was my review of a prospecting email with some elements that could actually work for salespeople.

March started with an article explaining how salespeople with a high tolerance for money are 4,000 percent better than those with a low tolerance for money.  That's a huge differentiator!  Next was the comparison between great baseball coaches and great sales coaches.  Then I began a new series of my most popular videos and rants.  It started with the top 10 but there are now nearly 2 dozen popular videos and rants to watch! 

April started with another baseball analogy - this one about how the philosophy of great pitching coaches can improve your sales team.  Then I explained how to identify the accurate reason for a salesperson who is not performing.  

May's first article had my 5 simple steps to grow sales by 33%.  Really!  May ended with an article about how to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession.

In June, I explained how salespeople like to go fast but good salespeople actually go slow and followed that up with an article on the benefits of competency-based assessments.   

In July, I wrote about why you can't afford to lose customers or salespeople right now.  Then I wrote about big company strategies that small and medium businesses can emulate.  The last article of July explained the differences in requirements for success in different selling roles

August began with one of my trademark takedowns of a junk-science article with 20 attributes of successful salespeople. Not. That was followed with an article about how to stop account churn.  Then I explained how my car's qualifying ability is a great example of how salespeople should qualify. Then came the article that explained how salespeople would be impacted by the 15% minimum corporate tax and how difficult it would be for the IRS to hire 80,000 agents.  Sorry if reporting on an actual news story offended some of you.  The post that should have gotten people upset but didn't was when I compared the sorry and pathetic Boston Red Sox to most sales teams.  Not a single complaint about that one!  My final article in August was another baseball analogy where I compared closing a tough sale to hitting a home run.

In September I found and shared an article with a doctor's testimonial about the importance of his salespeople.  Awesome!  Then I wrote about 10 attributes that do not differentiate top from bottom salespeople.  Next up was my tortured message to the masses wondering why more companies don't use OMG.  Then came another takedown of a Harvard Business Review article that appeared online.  The last article in September talked about how you can double your revenue in a recession.  

October began with my personal life comparison of Jeeps and Infinities and how that analogy holds up when interpreting an OMG sales candidate assessment for hiring salespeople.  My 8th installment of the Bob Chronicles looked at the difference between selling skills and effectiveness.  Then I compared alleged criminals who are released under cashless bail to underperforming salespeople who are released back into the field.   My final October article explored the correlation between motivation and sales compensation.

In November I wondered if salespeople will sell more effectively when sales managers sell and coach and if new sales managers can be difference makers.  Then I wrote a take-down of a Wall Street Journal article about selling to millennials.  My most recent article compared my failing wiper blades to why executives fail to take action when they have underperforming sales teams.

Which of these articles will make the list of the top 10 articles of the year?  Stay tuned for the December reveal as well as my annual Nutcracker post.  In 2023 I'll be focusing even more on how you can use OMG's data to improve sales performance.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, sales performance, sales tips, sales effectiveness, sales assessments, sales team

5 Reasons Sales Teams Underperform Like My Old Wiper Blades

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

The 6 Best Windshield Wipers and Glass Treatments for Your Car of 2022 |  Reviews by Wirecutter

My windshield wipers were no longer getting the job done.  They were underperforming (leaving streaks and smudges), not clearing water from the windshield (failing to meet expectations) and I couldn't see the road properly when it was raining.  It presented a threat to our safety and an upgrade was required.  

I ordered Bosch Icon replacement blades, rated #1 by the NY Times, and after 30 minutes of unintentionally trying to put them on backwards, I finally got them installed. They were freaking awesome.  They exceeded my expectations in the rain, and last night they over performed in the snow.

The wiper blade adventure got me thinking about a few things. My car has 37,000 miles on it but the blades should have been replaced 17,000 miles ago so why did I wait so long? How is this similar to what companies go through when their sales team is underperforming?

I speak with a lot of CEOs and Sales Leaders from companies whose sales teams are underperforming.  One thing they seem to have in common is the mileage problem.  When I ask how long the sales team has been underperforming, it is usually the equivalent of 60,000 miles.  It's not a new problem, the signs have been there for YEARS but something recently changed to the extent that they couldn't tolerate it any longer.  The sales team's performance was finally presenting a threat (safety) whereby one or more of revenue, earnings, sustainability, personal income, stock prices, turnover, market share, morale and more were at risk.

What causes executives to wait so long?  Here are five potential reasons:

Hope - They hope this is the month or quarter that turns things around.  As everyone has heard by now, hope is not a strategy.

Misinformation - Their sales managers/sales leaders provide an overly optimistic narrative about how things are going.  "We have a great pipeline."  "We have some great opportunities." "Our salespeople are having some great meetings."  The keyword is great.  What makes the pipeline, opportunities, and meetings great compared to past months or quarters?

Fear - Sales are not very good right now, but what if we ask for outside help and we swing and miss?  Won't that be even worse?

Patience - They don't want to be guilty of a knee-jerk reaction so they wait a little longer.  After all, cash flow is still positive, so what's the harm in waiting?  Just another day.  Sure, another week.  Maybe another month.  Could we kick it down the road for another year?

Ego - They mistakenly believe that if they ask for help they will appear weak.  Executives don't think twice or worry about bruised egos when they need the advice of attorneys, accountants, bankers, commercial insurance agents, property managers, asset managers, wealth managers, etc.  Why does their ego start trouble when it comes to sales experts and their advice?

For every CEO and Sales Leader that do reach out, a third of them will remain in wait-and-see mode, failing to take action  commensurate with their underperforming sales team. They think that one big sale will solve their problem, but the reality is that one big sale will only further mask the problem.

A Sales Team evaluation helps executives - those who are ready and those who are hesitant - to understand why their teams are underperforming and what can be done about it.  You can learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales performance, evaluation, sales enablement, sales assessments, sales team, OMG Assessment

The Wall Street Journal Shares News About What it Takes to Succeed in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 14, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

wallstjournal

Brad Bolino emailed me a link from a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, "Millennials are Changing What it Means to be Successful in Sales."  

I read the article three times to make sure I wasn't rushing to judgement, didn't experience an inappropriate knee-jerk reaction, and that I correctly interpreted what the article implied:  The journal relied on anecdotal evidence from a handful of millennial salespeople and buyers to suggest that millennials are transforming the sales profession. 

I agreed with only one sentence in the article and it was the opening sentence which said, "Drop the hard sell." That's certainly not new as the hard sell was never a welcome component of professional selling!

I'm not anti-Wall Street Journal - at least I wasn't.  I haven't written about their articles before. After all, they aren't known for writing the kind of crap that the Harvard Business Review  writes with regard to sales and selling.   

While reviewing the article, I identified two themes - how much harder it is to sell today versus years ago and how millennials have adapted to changing times.

There is no doubt that selling has changed - a lot - but while selling in general has not become more difficult, it is very difficult for those who suck at it, as well as those who must find new business because they don't get repeat and/or residual business from existing accounts.  

While it is more difficult to reach decision makers today (it takes 10-15 attempts and most salespeople give up after 4 attempts) than ten years ago, there are multiple tools and methods for reaching out that were not available to past generations of salespeople.

If the recession deepens in 2023 it will be harder for prospects to get funding but this isn't new either.  It was true during the Covid lockdowns of 2020, the financial crisis of 2008-2010, the aftermath of 9/11, the dot com bust that occurred earlier in 2001, the recessions of the early 90's and 80's and the oil shortage of 1973-1974.  Recessions are not only cyclical, you could argue that we are in a recession every 10 years or so!

There are more decision makers involved in the buying process at larger companies but there have always been multiple decision makers in larger companies. 

Those interviewed for the article said that sales cycles are longer too.  Boo hoo. Getting business closed at the largest companies has always required a very long sales cycle. Millennials have adapted by using texting to communicate with their millennial prospects and customers.  Texts instead of emails. Remember when emails replaced the phone?  Email is a great tool for exchanging information but up until now there was nothing worse than email for having actual conversations.  If email was bad for conversations, can you imagine how much worse text messages are for having conversations?  Of course sales cycles will take longer if you're running sales cycles via text!

Reverting back to the article, I had several problems with it:

  • The sample size was minuscule - it was not representative of anything except a handful of opinions. For example, let's pretend that a reporter talks with five female millennials in Florida and reports that "Female millennials love Ron DeSantis."  However, the data shows that as a general rule, female millennials align with Democrats.
  • The salespeople interviewed claimed to be successful but there were no standards on which they were measured or compared.  Successful compared to who?  Compared to what?  Selling what? Selling to who?  At what price points?  Against which competitors? For example, let's pretend a resume states that the sales candidate was consistently the #1 salesperson in the company for 2 of the last 3 years.  We ask how many salespeople there were and find out there were only two and the other one was brand new.
  • The salespeople in the article are clearly facilitating sales cycles, not leading them; And they weren't facilitating because today's millennial prospects demand it, they were adapting and waiting out long sales cycles as a consequence of facilitating.  They're basically admitting that they aren't following a sales process, they're following a buying process.  They don't push back and ask the right questions, they play Simon Says and - sorry millennials from the article - you aren't Simon!
  • The salespeople interviewed were selling only to large companies which is not representative of selling to small, medium and mid-sized companies.
  • One sales leader said the profile of what it takes to be successful in sales has changed.  Not true. Her perception may have changed now that she is more experienced and wiser.  While the criteria required for success differs by selling role, it is still based on 21 Sales Core Competencies.
  • The millennials they interviewed on the buyer side were in procurement.  There isn't a single professional sales development expert or trainer that instructs salespeople to call on procurement!

In summary, this article was no better than the dozens upon dozens of articles from non-sales experts sharing their anecdotal knowledge about the traits required for sales success.  They are almost always personality based, are not predictive of anything, are not backed by science, and are pure click-bait.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, keys to sales success, sales cycle length, reaching decision makers, millennials

Can a New Sales Manager Be a Difference Maker?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 09, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

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For the longest time, my local Panera in Westboro Massachusetts was awful.  Like phone company awful. And cable company awful.

The problem was chronic.  The half and half was always empty.  The supplies of cup insulators and trays were nowhere to be found. The wait at the drive-through was intolerable.  Online orders were never ready at or even close to the time they provided for pickup.  Online orders were routinely screwed up.  

And then Panera wasn't a problem anymore.

Over the course of a few weeks in the summer of 2022, everything changed and they became remarkably reliable. What happened? 

They got a new manager! I'm guessing (I did not interview her) the new manager prioritized KPI's and accountability, hiring people who had attention to detail, who were committed to customer satisfaction, and who took personal responsibility.

Could companies that wanted to experience a similar uptick in sales performance achieve that by replacing their sales managers?

Maybe.

it would depend on with whom they replaced the sales manager.

I speak with so many sales leaders who tell me about the four sales managers they went through in the last two years.  I speak with CEOs who tell me about the three sales VPs they went through in the last eighteen months.

There is tremendous pressure to fill these roles because your team's performance will suffer without someone at the helm.  Or is that misinformation?  How much worse could a team perform than how they perform under a sucky sales manager?

Well thought-out role requirements, patience, and being uncompromising are important ingredients to landing the ideal sales leader and/or sales manager.  When companies try to quickly fill an opening and as they often do, make a mistake, they have essentially doubled the amount of time that it takes to put a competent leader in the role.  Had they adhered to the requirements, been patient enough to continue recruiting and interviewing until a candidate met the requirements, and committed to not compromising, it could take an extra month or two, but it will be well worth it.

The problem is that most companies don't really know how to properly set requirements for these two roles, don't have an effective way to ascertain that the sales management and/or sales leadership candidate has the required skills to meet the requirements, and aren't disciplined enough to invest the time to get it right.

I write about Objective Management Group (OMG) a lot, and especially OMG's role-specific, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.  I rarely, if ever write about OMG's Sales Management Candidate Assessments or its Sales Leadership Candidate Assessments.  As I mentioned in this article, sales managers must spend the appropriate amount of time and be effective at coaching up salespeople.  How would anyone interviewing a candidate know the candidate was capable of this without the power of OMG's accurate insights?  Request a sample of the sales and/or sales leadership candidate assessments.

Other than actual experience, there are three primary differences between sales managers and sales leaders:

  1. Sales Managers are tactical (sleeves rolled up) and should focus on coaching while Sales Leaders are strategic and should focus on leadership (sleeves rolled down).  
  2. Sales Managers have salespeople reporting to them while Sales Leaders have Sales Managers reporting to them.   
  3. Sales Managers tend to earn in the $125,000 to $175,000 range while Sales Leaders tend to earn in the $250,000 to $350,000 range (US Dollars).

There are a lot of people carrying a Sales VP title who are actually performing the role of Sales Manager.  There are also some over-qualified Sales Managers who compensate for under-qualified and overwhelmed Sales VPs.  If companies could get these two roles right we would see an historic uptick in sales performance.

As part of OMG's Sales Team Evaluations, we conduct role analyses and can show you if you have the right people in the right roles and, if not, which roles they should be in.

OMG also conducts a pipeline analysis, a sales process analysis, a growth opportunity analysis, a sales cycle length analysis, a selling capabilities analysis a motivational analysis, a Sales DNA analysis and so much more.  Request a sample of the SEIA.

OMG has the greatest suite of tools for sales selection and development since sliced Panera Bread.  Would it help you to use OMG?  Contact us here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales leaders, sales pipeline, sales managers, omg, OMG Assessment, panera, sales team evaluation

New Data: Will Salespeople Hit Quota When Sales Managers Coach and Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 07, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

Astros win 2022 World Series: Houston clinches second title as Yordan  Alvarez's Game 6 homer ousts Phillies - CBSSports.com

I was reviewing stats from the 2022 World Series between the World-Champion Houston Astros and the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies might have had a two-man wrecking crew in Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper but it wasn't nearly enough. Over the entire 6-game series, the Astros' batting average was 43% higher (good), their pitchers' ERA (earned runs allowed per 9 Innings Pitched) was 26% lower (good), WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was 19% lower (good), they scored 22% more runs (good) and that led to their winning twice as many games and on Saturday, a world-series victory.  There was a clear correlation between 4 baseball KPI's and the outcome of the World Series.  

Pivoting to sales, and staying with correlations and KPI's, could there be one between how sales managers spend their time and why so few salespeople hit quota?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has data on approximately 250,000 sales managers from tens of thousands of sales team evaluations.  Sales managers are expected to spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople but the data proves that it is nowhere close to that!  The average percentage of time actually spent coaching salespeople is less than 18% or, during a 40-hour week, just 7.2 hours.  Most of what sales managers consider coaching does not really qualify as coaching and you can read about that here.  How are salespeople supposed to improve and hit quota when sales managers continue to treat coaching with the same disdain they have for taking out the trash and visiting the dentist?

Instead of spending their time on coaching, sales managers are spending too much of their time on personal sales.  Sales managers with fewer than 5 salespeople may be required to carry a quota but generally speaking, sales managers are expected to spend no more than 5% of their time selling. OMG's data shows that the percentage of time that sales managers sell is closer to 13%.

Why do they sell instead of having more coaching conversations?  There are several reasons:

  • Compensation - Sales Managers are typically paid more on their personal sales than team sales so there's need and greed.
  • Quota - When Sales Managers worry about hitting quota and lack confidence that their salespeople will hit quota, the one thing they believe they can control is their own ability to sell their way to quota. 
  • Coaching - The reality is that Sales Managers don't enjoy coaching because most of them are not very good at it.  Most of them were promoted to Sales Managers because they were such good salespeople so they gravitate towards what they know and what they are good at.

The time spent coaching and selling adds up to only 31% so it's important to know that most sales managers waste their time on strategy, organizational issues, crises, keeping salespeople motivated, and holding salespeople accountable.  It's clear that when sales managers spend 13% of their time selling and only 18% coaching, most salespeople fail to hit quota most of the time.

Baseball has a manager AND coaches so the roles are well defined.  The manager manages the game while the coaches coach up the players on their baseball skills and the coaching occurs before games, during games, and after games.  In sales, managers take their manager titles too literally. As a solution, I recommend that companies hire sales coaches who understand from the outset that their only role is to coach before calls/meetings, during calls/meetings, and after calls/meetings.

The problem will be one of expertise.  A change in roles or not, the data shows that 82% of all sales managers are not well-suited for sales management and fewer than 10% are not good at coaching salespeople.  While newly hired sales coaches will be more likely to do the coaching, the actual coaching will still suck.

It may be time to train an entire new generation of sales coaches!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales managers, omg, objective management group, sales management role, how sales managers spend their time

New Data: Is Sales Compensation Aligned With Changing Motivational Needs?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 @ 06:10 AM

compensation

My MacBook Pro is running Monterey version 12.6 and it has been charging to only 80%.  This was driving me crazy so I did some digging and found that the default battery setting is "Optimized" where it says the following:  "To reduce battery aging, your Mac learns from your daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use it on battery."

I'm not the smartest person when it comes to topics other than sales or baseball, but my take is that when plugged in, it will remain 80% charged until I need it to run on battery, at which time it will obviously begin draining - to less than 80%.  This suggests that it will never charge to 100%!  It's not intuitive and takes some decoding.

When interviewing sales and sales leadership candidates, similar counter-intuitive discussions occur. Many candidates claim that money isn't that important because they love sales - until they claim that the base salary isn't high enough.  For others, even though they may not disclose it, the base salary is completely irrelevant as long as the company won't cap the salesperson's total earnings. We need to decode the topic of compensation so that we can be sure that both the base salary and the total on-plan earnings are acceptable to candidates.

It is very important to make sense of the hidden and unpredictable compensation responses because many salespeople leave the company after a short time because they don't believe earnings are equivalent to the compensation that was promised.

It is crucial to understand that salespeople are motivated primarily by one of two motivational styles and unless you wish to hire only one type of salesperson, there must be two compensation plans that should be tailored accordingly.  Let's discuss this.

Salespeople that are motivated by money are extrinsically motivated.  Salespeople who are motivated by something other than money are intrinsically motivated.  While neither is better or worse, the largest percentage of extrinsically motivated salespeople are in the top 5% of all salespeople.  A small percentage of salespeople are altruistically motivated and simply want to be of service. Generally speaking, that is the department they belong in - the Customer Service department.  The largest percentage of altruistically motivated salespeople are found in the bottom 10% of all salespeople.

The majority of both extrinsic and intrinsic salespeople are motivated and you can continue to motivate them, but compensation plans for each group should be appropriately tailored.  Intrinsically motivated salespeople don't want less money, they want more security from their base salary.  Extrinsically motivated salespeople don't need a larger base salary, they want the ability to maximize their earnings without a cap.

The most recent data from Objective Management Group (OMG) shows that only 23% of all salespeople are extrinsically motivated, down from 25% in 2017 and from 59% in 2005. Ironically, while most compensation plans are geared towards this group, the largest percentage of salespeople are intrinsic!

While the motivational style represents how salespeople are motivated, the motivational score tells us the degree to which salespeople are motivated.  The score varies slightly around the world as it is 93% in Latin America, 82% in Europe, 89% is Asia, 83% in Oceana, 95% in Africa, and 88% in the United States.

The score also varies by years of sales experience where, for the most part, years of sales experience correlates to age demographics.  For example, those with fewer than 3 years of sales experience are also those we expect to be younger salespeople where 84% of that group is motivated.  Surprisingly, that jumps to 89% for salespeople with more than 5 years of sales experience and holds steady through 30 years of sales experience. 

One other Competency score that changes based on experience/age is Commitment to sales success.  Only 56% of the salespeople with fewer than 3 years of experience are committed, but that jumps to 64% for those with 5-10 years of experience, 67% for those with 10-20 years of experience and up to 69% for those with 20-30 years of experience.

Why are the oldest and most experienced salespeople more committed?  If you have hired younger salespeople, you already know how unlikely they are to stick around for more than 1-2 years and how few of them succeed!

If you look at Commitment and Motivation by sales proficiency or percentile, Commitment and Motivation become even clearer.  100% of the top 10% of all salespeople are both committed and motivated.  Compare that to the bottom 10% where only 13% are committed and only 20% are motivated.  The top 10% are 606% more committed and motivated than the bottom 10%!  When we look at the weakest 50%, we learn that only 39% are committed and 76% are motivated.  As you can probably guess, motivation won't get the job done when a salesperson is not committed to sales success.

Understanding how a salesperson is motivated is the key to aligning your compensation plan, but knowing a salesperson's level of Commitment is one of the key competencies to predict sales performance and success.

Motivation and Commitment are two of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG so when you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments these two important findings are no longer a hidden secret. 

You can see the average scores for all salespeople, the top 10% and the bottom 10% and you can also see the scores for your industry and even your company's sales team.

Free sample.

Free trial.

Contact Us to Get Started with our Help.

Get Started on your Own.

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Motivation, sales commitment, sales compensation, OMG Assessment

The Similarity Between Cashless Bail and Free Passes for Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 21, 2022 @ 08:10 AM

criminal

If you aren't aware of the crime taking place in most of America's big cities, you have either been living in a cave or experiencing willful ignorance. Most of the alleged criminals are repeat offenders and those who are arrested are usually back on the street committing additional crimes later that day due to cashless bail and the presumption of innocence.  

If you think about it, and you don't have to think very long or hard, cashless bail mirrors how companies deal with under-performing salespeople who are also repeat offenders.  Let me explain.

A typical US sales team consists of 15 people, including a Sales VP, 2 Regional Sales Managers, and 12 salespeople.  Of course, there are exponentially larger and smaller sales teams, but this is the version that we most frequently encounter.  This team will have no more than 3 performing salespeople, another 3 who sometimes hit their numbers, and 6 who chronically under-perform.

Let's assume that the salespeople who are ranked 10-12 are not just under-performers, but pathetically ineffective salespeople.  At the end of the year, they receive their annual review - the equivalent of an arrest and release - and are back on the street to underperform for another year, making the company both both the victim and the enabler.  This is insanity!

While some could argue that this is happening because it is so difficult to find sales candidates and harder still to find good ones.  The argument doesn't hold up because while the current labor market is consistent with the lack of quality sales candidates, the practice of rewarding sucky salespeople with continued employment has been around as long as I have!

Three contributing factors to this practice are relationships, ego and hope.

Most sales leaders aren't comfortable terminating salespeople with whom they have developed a strong relationship.  Their ego doesn't allow them to terminate ineffective salespeople because it would be an admission of a hiring mistake and ineffective coaching.  And they hope that this will be a breakout year for these salespeople.

OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Team Evaluation provides leaders with science-backed data to know which under-performers can be trained and coached up, how much better they can become, what kind of help they will need to achieve those improvements, and how long it will take.  Isn't that better than hope?

While it helps to train and coach up those who can improve and identify those who can't, the other way to address this issue is to fix the sales hiring problem.  It's time to stop using gut instinct, personality assessments that weren't designed for sales, faulty sales recruiting processes, and resumes as a basis for hiring salespeople.  These practices are at best hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, and examples of ego getting in the way of methodically making good sales hiring decisions.  OMG's legendary sales candidate assessments are customizable, accurate and most importantly, predictive of sales success in the specific sales role for which the company is hiring.

Several White Papers on these topics are available as a free download here.

You can request samples here.

You can see the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures here.  Each core competency has an average of 10 attributes for a total of around 200 scores/findings per salesperson.

You can request more information here.

After an OMG evaluation of his sales team, one of the regional sales managers pushed back and said the OMG evaluations were wrong. The scores were not very good for his top salesperson despite the fact that he sold the company's biggest deal last year and just made president's club.  I asked some questions and learned that this salesperson's big deal was his only decent sale in 6 years and his sales manager actually closed the heavily discounted deal.  I asked the sales manager which was more indicative of who his salesperson really was - the 6 years of under-performance or the one deal that his salesperson received the credit for?  After a minute of hemming and hawing, he admitted it was the 6 years.  Then I asked which was a more accurate evaluation of that salesperson - the OMG evaluation or his own evaluation.  After another round of hems and haws and he admitted it was the OMG evaluation. 

The best investment you can make to improve sales performance is to use OMG's suite of sales team evaluations and candidate assessments.  They are the Gold Standard.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales performance, sales excellence, sales enablement, underachieving, sales assessments, sales success

The Bob Chronicles - The Difference Between Selling Skills and Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 12, 2022 @ 07:10 AM

chiropractor

Back in the 90's, after years of Chiropractic, I learned to crack my own back and neck.  You never know when you will need to relieve stiffness and/or pain.  Actually you do know.  If you drove more than two hours today or slept in a hotel bed last night I'm certain you'll need to crack your back and neck...

In the spring of 2020, I sprained my ankle and it never improved.  I'd step out of the car and the pain was so bad I would limp for the first twenty steps until it loosened up.  Imagine my surprise when two years later I heard a familiar crack - not in my ankle - but in my foot and then my knee.  When I stiffened my leg below the knee and purposely created the necessary torque, I heard four separate cracks and then bam! I was pain free!  Now, each time I stand up, I crack my knee and foot and I can walk without pain.  The most important thing was that my symptom screamed ankle but the root cause was my leg and foot.

it's the same with sales teams.  I receive calls and emails that begin with things like "My salespeople are complacent" or "My salespeople need some training on closing" or "My salespeople aren't bringing in enough new business" or "My salespeople need help with negotiating" or "Our team has a lot of stalled opportunities."  Just like my ankle, the real problem is RARELY any of these things.  It's usually something else or, in many cases, a number of something else's.

Today a client asked me to explain the difference between skills and effectiveness. You won't find the answer by doing a Google search as that search turns up exactly nothing on the subject.  This article will discuss the similarity between symptoms/causes and skills/effectiveness. Do you remember Bob, the subject of many articles and my favorite weak salesperson to write about?

Bob strikes again!

I've written 10 articles about Bob and everyone says that the Bob series is their favorite.

I was reviewing Bob's OMG (Objective Management Group) Sales Assessment and realized it is a great example of a salesperson who has skills, but is not effective.  For example, he scored 90 in the Hunting Competency but was not effective at scheduling new meetings because he was sabotaged by his huge need to be liked as evidenced by his score of only 50 on the Doesn't Need Approval Competency.

His need to be liked made him worry that prospects would be angry with him if he got through and interrupted their day. His need to be liked also prevented him from asking good, tough, timely, questions for fear that prospects would dislike him.  Bob has relatively good scores for both the Selling Value and Qualifying Competencies but he has another weakness that limits his effectiveness.

Supportive Buy-Cycle is a Competency in which Bob scored only 29 - an incredibly low score. 

His process for making major purchases does not support ideal sales outcomes and absolutely crushes his ability to sell value and thoroughly qualify.  One of the articles I wrote about Bob dealt with his Non-Supportive Buy-Cycle in great detail.

Let's look at Bob through the lens of his symptoms because up until now we have been discussing the root causes for his lack of effectiveness.  The best way to do this is to ask management.  When they discuss Bob, what do they talk about?

Bob hunts but doesn't land many appointments.  The opportunities that do enter the pipeline end up being about price. Opportunities stall and he can't get them moving again. He drives his sales manager crazy.  He has the skills (knows what to do) but lacks effectiveness (isn't able to execute).  Fortunately, OMG is able to differentiate between those who can sell (know what to do) and those who will sell (will execute) so clients using OMG to assess candidates don't have to deal with these problems. When clients use OMG to evaluate their current sales teams, these are but a few of the challenges they discover.

Last week I wrote an article about OMG not being about any one single score.  Like today's discussion of Bob, that article provided a great example where the sum of the parts, instead of a single score, will always predict exactly what will happen on the phone, over video, or in the field.

Take a crack at OMG and see what happens!  Whether evaluating your current sales team for development purposes or to assess sales candidates for open sales positions, OMG has the science-backed accuracy you can trust.  You can reach us here.

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, prospecting, omg, qualifying, selling value

How to Hire the Right Salespeople Using This Jeep vs. Infinity Analogy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 07, 2022 @ 07:10 AM

Before I purchased my first Jaguar, my dream car was the Infinity Q45.  In the early 90's, I couldn't wait to get that car and when winter came, I couldn't wait to get rid of it.  It didn't matter what kind of tires I put on that expensive-but-useless-piece-of-crap-for-all-of-winter car, it wouldn't go in the snow and ice.  I had to drive up a steep, mile-long hill to get home at the end of the day, and the hill wasn't well salted or sanded because it ran alongside a lake.  The parts of the Q45 became more important than the appeal of the car.

My brother-in-law had an old jeep.  It wasn't expensive and it didn't look great but it drove so well in the snow and ice that he rescued me when my Q45 wouldn't make it up that long hill.  The parts of the Jeep were more important than the lack of appeal of the Jeep.

That brings us to OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Candidate Assessment.  Usually, the overall score, relative strength of a candidate's capabilities, and recommendation are more important than any specific scores.  Usually.  But with the assessment of Mary, it was an entirely different story.  

Let's review the scores and findings from Mary's OMG Sales Candidate Assessment. She had really good scores.  Really good. Her Sales Percentile was 82 so she was stronger than 82% of the salespeople in the world. So was OMG wrong?  Why did the company hire her?  Why did she fail?

OMG wasn't wrong and as usual, OMG nailed it.  She wasn't a good fit for a new business development role and OMG did not recommend Mary for that role. But the company didn't want to pass on a sales candidate who was an 82 so they invited her in for an interview.  You know what happened next.  She sold herself, they thought her experience was a fit, and they hired her.

It didn't take long for the failing to begin.  While Mary scored well in 16 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, four of the five competencies in which she scored very poorly were crucial to success in the role she was hired for.

 

  • Doesn't Need to be Liked - 62.  A score over 79 is preferred for this role.
  • Reaches Decision Makers - 35. A score over 66 is preferred for this role.
  • Relationship Building - 17.  A score of over 59 is preferred for this role.
  • Responsibility - 0. A score of over 74 is preferred for all selling roles.
  • Closing - 24.  24 would have been fine if she could do everything well that must take place prior to closing.

Mary couldn't get past gatekeepers!

Mary would call, the gatekeeper would answer and attempt to get rid of her, and because Mary needed to be liked, she couldn't push back and overcome the initial wave of resistance.  Failing to reach the decision maker, she settled for someone without authority, failed to build a relationship, and did not impress mid-level managers enough to reach the decision maker.  She blamed the selling model, the gatekeepers, the training, the coaching, her manager, the company and anything and everyone other than the source of the problem:  Mary.

Do you remember my opening analogy about cars and their capabilities in the snow and ice?  Mary's overall score of 82 is the Infinity Q45 and her four weaknesses are the four tires.  It didn't matter how good her assessment looked, none of that mattered if she couldn't get the sales cycle started.

The warnings were right there in green, gold, red and white.  Good for OMG.

The client ignored the obvious and focused on a single number.  Bad for the client.

The salesperson failed in exactly the way that was predicted.  Another case of the salesperson simply being the salesperson.

There is nothing more accurate and predictive for hiring salespeople than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and OMG has assessed 2,258,422 of them!

If you are one of the 35,000 companies using OMG to assess your sales candidates, thank you!

If you want a sample click here and place a checkmark next to Sales Candidate Assessment.

If you want to take it for a test drive click here for a free trial.

If you're ready to get started click here and an expert will help you customize the tool for the sales role(s) you are filling.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales recruiting, relationship building, reaching decision makers, sales hiring assessment, sales assessments

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

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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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