Dave Kurlan

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A Properly Constructed Sales Process Can Help You Experience the Euphoria of a Walk-Off Win

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

Devers walk-off wins it for Sox – Sentinel and Enterprise

We attended last night's Red Sox Game.  Unlike most games at Fenway Park, this contest was a pitcher's duel and the Red Sox held a fragile 1-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the top of the 9th inning.  The Red Sox closer, Matt Barnes came in and quickly struck-out the first two batters and that brought up the best hitter in the major leagues, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  Barnes quickly got ahead in the count and was only one strike away from ending the game when Guerrero absolutely crushed a rolling curve ball, blasting it into the light towers in left field to tie the game. The mood in the park immediately changed from celebratory to morbid.  But the game wasn't over. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the first two hitters reached base for the Red Sox and then Raphael Devers smoked a long fly ball off the wall in left-center field to give the Red Sox a walk-off win.  From morbid back to celebratory and beyond to euphoric.  Such is the feeling of a walk-off win.

Regular readers know that right around this point in the article there should be a pivot to sales and I won't disappoint.  The walk-off win in baseball, the buzzer beater in basketball and the field goal with no time on the clock in football are all terrific metaphors for certain types of wins in sales.  Some deals are sure things from the get go and others stand no chance of going your way.  However, some huge opportunities are truly nail-biters and could go either way.  When those opportunities are finally decided and you win, they too are euphoric.

In today's article we'll use the walk-off win to show how a properly constructed sales process and scorecard will help you win the deals you are supposed to win, help you lose early on the deals you are guaranteed to lose, and give you a much better chance to win the nail biters that could go either way.

Coincidentally, today I will be working to improve a client's existing sales process. Their sales force evaluation results from Objective Management Group (OMG) pointed to three major reasons why they are losing business to their competition: 

  1. They aren't creating urgency,
  2. They are failing to reach decision makers
  3. Both crucial milestones are nowhere to be seen in their existing formal sales process.

Most companies don't have a formal sales process, so in that regard they are very much ahead of the game but let me be clear.  Having a sales process does not mean that the process is any good, was well thought-out, properly staged, or sequenced so that it builds upon itself.  Having a process does not necessarily mean that the process is predictive or effective.  With or without a process, it's very likely that your salespeople don't follow the process and your sales managers aren't coaching to the process.  In those cases your process has been neutered!  You must have an optimized sales process which is formalized, staged, milestone-centric, customer focused and properly sequenced. That sales process must also have within it a properly built and tested scorecard that will accurately predict wins and losses.  And, sales leadership must be diligent about four things:

  1. The process and related pipeline must be fully integrated into the CRM application
  2. This isn't optional.  Every kick-ass sales team has this in place.
  3. Every salesperson must follow it to the letter and keep it up-to-date in real time in CRM.
  4. Every sales manager must coach to the sales process and conduct opportunity reviews in the context of sales process and pipeline.

An optimized sales process will all but guarantee that your salespeople don't miss anything when it comes to winning all the opportunities that should be won.  An optimized/integrated sales process will sound the alarm to all but guarantee that your resources are not wasted on an opportunity that you have little chance of winning.  And finally, to experience the euphoria of a walk-off win, you must rely on that optimized sales process integrated into your CRM application - and we love Membrain for this - to help you win the nail biters because nothing feels as good as a walk-off win.

Image is copyright by the Sentinal Enterprise.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Sales, CRM Application, membrain, winning business

8-Year Old Houston Astros Fan Demonstrates a Huge Secret of Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 11, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

kid at baseball game

Walter and I attended a recent Boston Red Sox / Houston Astros game at Fenway Park.  It was my first visit to Fenway Park since 2019 and it was exciting to see most of the seats filled. It was exciting to hear all of the fan noise that has been missing for so long but there was one fan in particular that I heard louder than all of the others.  Starting in the fourth inning, Timmy, the eight-year-old Astros fan sitting next to me, didn't stop chatting with me for the remainder of the game. When Timmy said he hated the Red Sox I had to ask him why. His answer is the focus of this article on selling!  "Why do you hate the Red Sox so much Timmy?"  

He said, "Because their faces are ugly."  Wow.  I asked how they were ugly and he said "They have zits - and they pick them in the dugout."

That might not sound like the basis of an article on selling to you, but it certainly does to me! 

Timmy's grandfather flew him to Boston to watch his favorite team play the Red Sox in the absolute best ballpark to watch a game. He loves his Astros the way I loved my Red Sox when I was that age (OK, I love them at this age too) and as much as Ethan Bryan loves his Royals.  Ethan still wants to throw out the first pitch at a Royals game this year....

Timmy was not able to provide talking points, data, facts, bullet points, or even anecdotal evidence of why his team, which cheated to win the 2017 and 2019 World Series, was the best and the Red Sox, who won the World Series in 2018, was not.  He has an unexplainable emotional connection to the Astros.  

Salespeople don't understand this phenomenon.

Customers often have unexplainable emotional connections to the salespeople, account managers and companies they do business with and it doesn't matter how much better your company is, how much more responsive you are, how much more capable your product is, how much lower your price is, or how much more motivated you are to win their business.  Their emotional connection to their account manager and company will determine the winner every single time.

Don't let that deter you!

If you know that this happens, it should be your number one goal, with each and every customer, to build that kind of an emotional connection so that your customer will refuse to even consider moving their business to anyone else.  This isn't easy, won't happen overnight, requires making every customer a much bigger priority than ever before, and is not for the salesperson who loves to hunt.  But you can do this!

It is also important to know that most of the salespeople working for your competitors aren't good enough for their customers to have these emotional connections.  Most salespeople can't and won't accomplish this.  The salespeople who do accomplish this aren't particularly good salespeople but they are fantastic at nurturing and developing relationships and have probably been working closely with those customers for over a decade.

Remember, whether it's zits or chits, unbreakable relationships can't be undone by better pricing or specifications.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, Relationship Selling, Baseball, account management, sales effectiveness

Will Salespeople Travel or Continue to Work Remotely in 2022?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 01, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

May 29 was the day that nearly all COVID restrictions were lifted here Massachusetts.  How liberating! Or so I thought...

I went to the grocery store and was stunned to discover that I was the only person in the store not wearing a mask.  Either everyone in the store was unvaccinated, didn't believe the vaccine would protect them, or they were afraid to go out in public without the mask.

I returned to the store on Sunday and was stunned again when nearly everyone in the store was maskless.  It seemed odd that the masked and maskless numbers flipped in twenty-four hours but I loved it.  We were much closer to normal.  But it did get me wondering what normal means for sales teams moving forward.

My first attempt to understand how 2022 might look was to survey Objective Management Group's Partners (sales development experts that provide OMG's assessments to their clients).  Among other topics, we asked them two questions about travel and in-person training and here is what they had to say:

As you can see, roughly 30% are chomping at the bit to travel to an in-person event, but 20% are pretty sure they will be staying home.  While another 20% could be persuaded to attend, a huge group - nearly 30% - are undecided and would probably lean towards staying home.  So right now it looks split down the middle and these beliefs also reflect whether they would be comfortable leading in-person sales training events for their clients.

We also asked what kind of in-person event they would travel to attend and there was more clarity there, with longer, multi-day conferences having more appeal than shorter, one-day events.

Will salespeople be traveling in their territories, to their big customers, or to sales calls?

The answer appears to be, "It depends."

The decisions have a lot to do with what their companies are requiring them to do, what their customers need and are comfortable with, and salespeople finally being more comfortable selling virtually over video.  For a lot of old-school territory salespeople the transition to virtual was like pulling teeth and many of them can't wait to get back out there.  But will their customers allow them back on the premises?

Again, the answer is split with some customers saying, "Come on down!" and others saying, "No visitors."  In the US, a lot of it depends on geography with customers and sellers in red states much more comfortable with the old normal and customers and sellers in the blue states much more comfortable with the new normal.  In Europe, APAC, LatAm, and EMEA, the factors influencing a return to normal have more to do with containment of the virus with outbreaks continuing in many countries.

One of the big factors in all of this is school and daycare.  With many schools still closed, and some teacher's unions resisting orders to reopen in the fall, some parents are still forced to stay home and that trumps all of the other factors.

In conclusion, we are making progress, but we are still a hybrid mess with two parts fear, one-part comfort and three parts of the unknown all mixed together.  That means for the foreseeable future, there will still be a lot of virtual selling, servicing, training and coaching taking place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment, remote selling, selling virtually, sales travel

How Gas Grills, Gardening, Masks, and Baseball Mimic Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 03, 2021 @ 13:05 PM

gasgrill

Some random thoughts from the weekend and its impact on sales teams...

We have a twenty-year old gas grill built-in to a stone wall on our back patio and this year I decided to replace all of the components.  New burners, new heat plates, new briquettes, new grates, new ignitor, and new wiring.  All told, it took three-hours of work, much of it with the ignitor and the wiring.  When I got it all reassembled, everything worked except the ignitor despite the fact that I smartly tested it prior to reassembly.  I opened it back up and discovered that the battery had become disconnected.  A tweak later, it was reassembled, the ignitor was sending sparks, but it was still failing to ignite the gas.  After all that work, and despite all the new components, I still must use a hand lighter to light the grill and will have to call a gas grill expert to get the sparks to ignite the gas.

My project corresponds so well with how many executives approach their sales teams. 

They do nothing for years, and then, after growing frustrated with complacency and inability to grow revenue, finally decide to make changes and rebuild their sales teams.  They quickly reassemble the team by terminating the obvious liabilities and hiring replacements.  Then, when the new salespeople don't perform to expectations, they make additional tweaks by adding hiring criteria, and try again.  Lacking a real sense of what good looks like, they continue to get it wrong and are back where they started, needing expert help to select the right salespeople to grow revenue.

We went to an outdoor garden center - outdoors means no masks if you're fully vaccinated so it should be an opportunity to shop mask free!  Not.  Everybody - young and old were masked up because we've learned that if you remove your mask people give you dirty looks and employees refuse to help you. So we must continue to mask up.  What does this have to do with selling?  

The discomfort with removing masks outdoors speaks directly to our discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  After 14 months you would think that people would be excited for the opportunity to go maskless but it's not close to happening in Massachusetts.  You would also think that salespeople would be quick to embrace strategies, tactics and sales processes that will help them dramatically improve their effectiveness, and help them differentiate and close more business. That has great appeal, but most salespeople are typically slow to adapt for the very same reasons.  Discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  It takes time.

Like most spring weekends, we were watching our son play baseball (2 games each day) only this year spectators aren't allowed on college campuses so we were watching live streams.  We wondered how we would handle not being present and cheering for him and his team, how disconnected we might feel watching him on a computer screen, and how much we would miss it.  It was especially difficult this year since it is his freshman, or as they now say, "first year" season.  We adapted.  We had to adapt. The seating and food were both exponentially better at home, we didn't have six hour round trips to campus and back, and the bathrooms were sparkling!  That said, we still missed being there for him and can't wait until we can return to watch him play in person.

This aligns with how sales teams pivoted to virtual selling in the spring of 2020.  It worked, but many of the same differences were in play.  The seating, food and bathrooms were better, but we missed being with our colleagues and customers.  We adapted, although in the case of virtual selling, we didn't adapt as well.  I am still very frustrated with the sales teams I personally train, who week after week, have failed to upgrade their physical appearance, wardrobe, and backgrounds.  I don't want to see bedrooms, closets, kitchens, dens, basements or bathrooms!  The lighting sucks!  You've had 14 months to upgrade how you present yourselves, so read my article on upgrading your virtual presence and get with the program.  Many of you will be selling this way, from home and/or office, for the foreseeable future.

It was a great weekend for gardening and when the baseball games weren't streaming we were in the gardens.  Pulling weeds, grooming the beds replacing perennial flowers and cutting down scrawny, ugly or dead trees were on the list.  It's what we do in May.

This is a great time for weeding out your under-performers and negative, whiny liabilities, upgrading your sales teams, and replacing them with better salespeople who are better fits for the role.  It's what we should do, not only in May but year-round.  A sales force evaluation should come first so that you know who is part of your future, how to develop them, and how much more revenue they can generate. You must also know who is part of your past and whether or not to move on from them.  You must understand why you get the results you get and what needs to change.  You should also use an accurate and predictive, customizable, sales-specific candidate assessment to help select your new salespeople. Ask your sales consultant about Objective Management Group (OMG) for help with both issues.  If you don't have a reliable, magical sales expert you can call, we can recommend one for you.  If you have one, but they don't offer OMG, insist that they either become OMG certified or find one who does offer OMG.  Just email me and I'll get you hooked up with someone who can help in a big way.

Image Copyright: arinahabich

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Salesforce, sales effectiveness, sales hiring tools, objective management group, sales team

Crappy Salespeople and Lack of Urgency Alignment  - The Bob Chronicles Part 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 27, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

urgency2

We shouldn't discuss that time you were in a meeting when, without warning, you had about 10 seconds to get yourself to the nearest restroom or you would need to drive home for a wardrobe change.  Fortunately, you were able to gracefully excuse yourself and run down the hall as fast as you possibly could.  THAT is urgency!

This is the fourth installment in the Bob Chronicles.  Bob is the weak salesperson who represents the bottom 50% of all salespeople. You can read previous installments about Bob below:

The $225,000 Mistake That Most Salespeople Make

Data - The Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople 

Good Bob, Bad Bob, The Stockdale Paradox and Sales Success

You're probably wondering, what did Bob screw up this time?  He screwed up urgency.  You might be asking how a salesperson could possibly screw up urgency but Bob and the rest of the weak salespeople screw up just about everything else so why not urgency too?

As usual, Bob was unaware that Mary, his prospect, was also talking with three other companies.  Mary asked for a proposal and Bob obliged, coming in well over the agreed upon budget and upsetting her in the process.  Mary reminded Bob that the proposal was nearly 25% higher than the budget they had all agreed to.  She asked Bob to stay within the budget and send a revised proposal.  Did Bob follow up appropriately?  No!

A couple of months had passed when Mary notified Bob that they were going with another company.  Bob was crazed and in a panic.  He reached out to Mary and requested a call.  She said she was sorry but had already made her decision.  Bob requested a call again and was told that she had signed a contract with another company.  In the middle of an acute panic attack, Bob decided to send a revised proposal and discounted the original offer by 35%.  Once again, Mary said, "This is too late - we already signed with another company."  Bob said, "But I offered you a 35% discount - that's even better than what you budgeted for!"  Mary disconnected the phone.

This is all about urgency.

Mary had a lot more urgency than Bob was aware of because Bob didn't ask the most important questions, like, "How big is the problem?" and "What is it costing?" and "How soon do you need it solved?" and "What happens if you don't have it solved by then?" and "Who else have you asked about this?"

Bob had a ton of urgency, but not until he realized he had lost the business.  If he had exhibited half the urgency earlier in the process, while uncovering Mary's urgency, their urgency would have been aligned.  Urgency alignment is crucial.  

If the salesperson has urgency but the prospect does not, the perception is that of a pushy salesperson.  If the prospect has urgency but the salesperson does not, the perception is that of an unresponsive salesperson.  When both the salesperson and the prospect have urgency, they will easily work collaboratively to solve a problem.  

Early in the process, Bob was perceived as being unresponsive.  Late in the process, Bob was perceived as being tone deaf and pushy.  However, when salespeople strike that perfect balance, magic happens.  Salespeople who are effective creating urgency AND having urgency are 35% more effective than salespeople who fail to get their prospects to "must have" and lack urgency themselves.

Finally, why did this happen?

Early in the process, Bob didn't listen, didn't ask enough questions and didn't push back on the budget.  By failing to push back, Mary believed that Bob would deliver a needs and cost appropriate solution. Then, when Mary pushed back, Bob was unresponsive.  These two events suggest that Bob wasn't controlling his Emotions and Needed to be Liked.  Those two weaknesses combine to make it difficult to listen, and too uncomfortable for him to push back and ask questions.  As you can see from the table below, the bottom 50% of all salespeople tend to be especially weak in both of these Sales DNA competencies.

When things spiraled out of control, Bob's emotions caused him to panic.  His non-supportive beliefs about pricing kicked in Bob always looks for the lowest price when he buys things for himself. Despite being too late to influence the decision, Bob believed that if he came back with an attractive offer, it would change the outcome.  As you can see in the table below, 26% of weak salespeople need to shop for the lowest price and they mistakenly believe that their prospects behave similarly.

There is so much more that goes into selling than following your sales process and having sales strategies and techniques.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies and salespeople must be strong in all of them, not just some of them.  You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here and while you're there, view, filter and sort the data on nearly a third of the 2,091,766 salespeople that have been evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). If you want an easy-to-use, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to select and hire your new salespeople, check out OMG's award-winning sales candidate assessments here.

Rocky LaGrone added THE BEST COMMENT ever to this post on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright: Scott Betts

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales assessements, sales effectiveness, creating urgency, lost deals

31 Conditions That Predict Your Sales Opportunity is in Trouble

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 16, 2021 @ 14:04 PM

Photo Gallery: 2021 Genesis GV80 Luxury SUV - » AutoNXT

Long article for the weekend.

In December I took delivery on my all-time favorite new car and I've been driving my Genesis GV80 for four months now.  You probably saw video of the GV80 that Tiger Woods' destroyed and there wasn't a thing the car could have done to prevent him from crashing it because he had probably disabled the driver assist features and he may have been "disabled" when he got behind the wheel.

Last week, a crazy driver pulled out right in front of me and despite the fact that I anticipated his stupidity and would have been able to stop before smashing into this moron, my car wasn't as certain as I was.  My Genesis took matters into its own hands and went into all out protection mode - making sure nothing happened to it or me.

As advertised, it took over the braking and steering to protect itself, sounded all the alarms to alert me to its strategy and then did two things that really surprised me.  All at once, the seat enveloped me in a cocoon and the seat belt tightened around my shoulders so that there was no chance that I was leaving that seat.  Going through the windshield?  Not a chance unless the whole seat was coming with me!

That was cool. 

And it got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool if salespeople had a sales version of an early warning system/driver assist like my car has?

The car uses cameras and sensors to factor in conditions that would require emergency tactics.  Salespeople have eyes and ears as well as wisdom that can all be used for emergency tactics.  Let's start with the ears.

Prospects say things that are tell-tale signs that something is amiss.  Anytime a salesperson hears any of these comments they could be swaying out of their lane or their opportunity might be about to crash.  They include but aren't limited to:

  • Send me a proposal or get me a quote; both are bad if it happens earlier in the sales process than it should
  • We still have to meet with others
  • I've been tasked to gather information
  • We don't have a budget for this
  • We'll have to find the money
  • We're going with the best price
  • I need to bring this to [the decision maker] for approval
  • This is a future project
  • We're happy with who we're using
  • You don't need to know that
  • I need to get consensus
  • We don't have any real urgency on this
  • Our contract/agreement doesn't expire until [date]

There are things you don't hear but wisdom (experience plus lessons learned) communicates them through your inner voice:

  • They don't seem to have a compelling reason to do anything
  • They are withholding information 
  • You think they're lying about something
  • It seems that this is only "nice to have" but you haven't gotten them to "must have"
  • The decision maker is not engaged
  • They are hesitant about spending the necessary money
  • You don't seem to have their ear because they aren't talking in terms working together
  • They have transitioned to a pricing conversation which suggests you haven't cemented your value
  • They see you a vendor or supplier; not a partner or trusted advisor
  • They have an existing relationship that they don't seem willing to blow up
  • They are not allowing you to follow your sales process
  • They are not allowing you to ask questions and you find yourself in show and tell mode

Then, there are the things you observe:

  • They aren't making eye contact
  • They are distracted
  • They are giving you short answers and not explaining themselves
  • They are in a hurry
  • They're looking at their watch
  • Their RFI/RFQ/RFP reads like it was written by a competitor

Some of the examples listed above are chronic - they occur most of the time to most of the salespeople.  Half of them may not know any better - shame on the training and coaching they are or should be getting!  But the other half have weaknesses in their Sales DNA which cause these things to keep happening to them.  A Sales Force Evaluation can smoke out gaps in their sales competencies and Sales DNA.  OMG measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies plus an additional 11, each with an average of 8 attributes.  That's close to 250 sales specific findings for each salesperson! 

Finally, your sales process which is integrated into your CRM application provides warnings, yellow flags, alerts, incomplete milestones, incomplete stages, time in stage too long, stuck opportunities...You do get those, don't you?  Check out the Baseline Selling instance of Membrain.

Pivoting back to my car which takes matters into its own hands.  The partial listing above is set to "alert-only" without evasive or protective measures.  How can we get salespeople to perform evasive and protective measures?  Evaluate/Train/Coach/Reevaluate.  

The evaluation tells us what they're allowing to happen and why.  Training provides them with the strategy and tactics to use evasive action and protect the opportunity.  Coaching helps them master the strategies and tactics.

Improving sales effectiveness does not happen in isolation, automatically over time, or by magic.  Improved sales effectiveness and the resulting increase in revenue requires proactive, purposeful intervention as described above. 

By the fourth quarter of 2021, we will encounter some of the most difficult selling conditions since November of 2008 when, without warning, the revenue spigot was turned completely off.  It remained partially closed through 2016 but from 2017 until the pandemic hit we were in full open fire hydrant mode.  Business was booming and for most companies, quickly returned to booming by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Now we are faced with some huge impending corporate income tax and payroll tax increases and they will be larger than what has been stated on the news.  Those large tax increases do one thing - they cause layoffs.  After the layoffs, consumer spending and confidence drop.  Then we see buying freezes and their related ripple effect where the companies that sell to those big companies experience cash reserve issues, initiate  buying freezes of their own, which work their way down to businesses of all sizes.  

This time around you've been warned.  You have no more than eight months to prepare your sales team for some of the toughest selling ever and most salespeople have never experienced selling as difficult as what we will see in 2022.  On top of that, you'll have more, not fewer competitors because when everyone is selling virtually, every competitor is just as close or just as far away as the next.  And if you're not in the USA, don't think you won't be affected.  What happens here affects you wherever you are.

Now is the time to install early warning systems, sales force evaluations, targeted training and coaching, and more.  Prepare your sales teams now or pay the price in 2022!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, sales objections, sales assessements, sales effectiveness, sales team, tax increase

How to Become More Successful One Day at a Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 @ 07:04 AM

You can find inspiration anywhere.  Even in a book called, A Year of Playing Catch.  Tom Schaff was nice enough to send me a copy of this book and there was the inspiration, right there on page 128.  Why would someone from the world of sales care about a page out of a baseball book?  I'll give you fourteen really good reasons.  You see, the book is much less about baseball and much more about the following fourteen integral competencies of sales success:

  1. Relationships 
  2. Goal setting, planning and execution 
  3. Story Telling
  4. Commitment
  5. Rejection
  6. Persistence
  7. Listening and Asking Questions
  8. Being of Value
  9. Presentation Skills
  10. Outlook
  11. Controlling Emotions
  12. Messaging and Posturing
  13. Being Coachable
  14. Developing Supportive Beliefs

With that said, this is what author Ethan D. Bryan wrote on page 128 and I quote:

It is hard to admit that I am not good enough, that my sheer passion for the game doesn't translate to on-field ability and seven-figure success.  That's the fear anyone faces when they try out for a team, when they take a test, when they apply for a job--that they will be judged and deemed not good enough.  Life is filled with "not good enough" moments.

Unrequited affection.
Seeking a promotion.
Implementing new diet and exercise routines.

"Baseball is life," Mary said.  "Anything you learn from or about baseball can be applied to your daily life, to any relationship you have.  When I observe ballplayers, those who succeed are the ones who absorb the lessons in front of them instead of getting angry.  Anger prevents them from being successful.  That's the difference.  It's not about talent, really, but harnessing the energy and not allowing their emotions to master them.  They know how to make their emotions work for them, so the result is what they want."

How are you supposed to reply to being told you're not good enough?

You don't throw hard enough to play varsity.
Your grades aren't good enough for the scholarship.
There are better applicants for the position.

Those moments I have sat with my not-good-enoughness are initially met with a melancholic disappointment.  I console myself with the simple, honest truth:  At least I tried.  I held nothing back and gave it my best effort. I poured my heart into it and have no regrets.  Those words, often accompanied by a Dr. Pepper and a donut, are usually sufficient encouragement to short-circuit my pity party and keep me dreaming. 

How are you supposed to reply when you know you're good enough but life prevents you from getting a chance?

End quote. Pivoting back to Dave Kurlan now.

Ethan set out on a quest to play catch with someone different every day for a year.  He wrote about every one of those 365 days in his blog here.

Each time a salesperson fails to schedule a meeting, reach the decision maker, uncover a compelling reason to buy, create urgency, qualify the opportunity and win the business, the reality is that in that moment, on that day, during that sales cycle, with that prospect, against their competition, for whatever reason, they were not good enough.  Accepting not good enough is taking responsibility.  Accepting not good enough means there is room for improvement.  Accepting not good enough suggests there is an opportunity for growth.  Accepting not good enough opens the door for coaching.

If Ethan could play a game of catch with somebody every single day of the year, can't you take the same amount of time to improve your sales, sales management or sales leadership skills every day of the year?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, Baseball, storytelling, sales success, sales inspiration, ethan bryan

How to Get Your Audience to Fall in Love With Your Virtual Event

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 09, 2021 @ 07:04 AM

virtual-conference

Do you remember April 1, 2020?  The entire world was in lockdown and at Objective Management Group (OMG) we had just ten days to figure out how to convert our annual four-day international conference for sales experts to a three-day virtual event over Zoom. The 200 in attendance loved it and right after the conference I posted this article with 15 lessons we learned about the transition from a face-to-face conference to a virtual conference.  

By late last summer, we knew full well that our 2021 conference would also be virtual.  The difference was that we would have 7 months to prepare and we wanted to optimize the conference specifically for a virtual event.  How was it different from what we accomplished a year earlier?  Let me share some of the things we did that worked so well.

Shorter Days - Last year we crammed four days into three days and with nobody having anywhere else they needed to be, we presented for 8-9 hours each day!  We knew that was an awfully long time for everyone to stay engaged so this year we planned two four-hour days.  Much better!

Shorter Presentations - In prior years, including last year, conference presentations were typically 45-90 minutes each.  This year our average presentation ran just 8 minutes!  That allowed us to present on 50 topics instead of 18!

Chat Q& A - At traditional conferences, questions come up throughout the duration of most presentations and the presenter must stop to answer both the good questions and the stupid questions, those that have already been asked as well as those that should have never been asked.  Inevitably there is a person who wants to pound their chest and brag for a while.  The questions and the posturing disturbs the natural flow of presentations and makes them unnecessarily long.  This year we handled questions as they arose, in real-time, via chat and Q&A tools within Zoom.  When there was a question that required a longer answer we answered it live at the end of each presentation.  Result?  Fast-paced, uninterrupted sessions that kept everyone engaged.

More Video - Last year we learned just how much everyone loved our choice of videos.  So this year, we had PENTA Marketing produce a conference teaser, unique 5-minute openings for each day, two different versions of a 5-minute break video with product and company-specific trivia, and six segment-specific 10-second videos to introduce each session.  On top of that we carefully chose inspiring videos to play at the top of each hour as we brought the audience back from their five-minute breaks.  This is an example of a 10-second segment intro.

Better Video - Using video is one thing but getting video to play smoothly on the viewer's computer is quite another.  In the end, we settled on three hacks to make the video play beautifully:

  1. Zoom has a new video feature where you click share, then click the advanced tab, click video and select from your file folder the video you want to share.  The video opens and you click the play icon.  That's it. Regardless of the size of the window on your computer screen, it plays full screen for your audience.  But the frame rate may still be too low to eliminate the choppiness which brings us to hack #2.
  2. Zoom automatically places a checkmark in the "Optimize for Video" checkbox but OMG's COO, John Pattison, discovered that if you uncheck that box the video plays at a higher frame rate.
  3. John contributed one more hack when he discovered that if you lower your screen resolution so it's the same as the standard 720p resolution Zoom uses to stream, the frame rates are higher.

Better Backgrounds - Not everyone had a green screen, enhanced lighting, and a high-end camera so our virtual backgrounds needed to be dark enough to eliminate the swimming and bleeding that occurs when the lighting isn't good and a green screen isn't present.  In addition, we had PENTA create a common background for each presenter and they customized each background with the presenters's name, company and title as you can see below.

Better Slide Decks - To complete the professional, "optimized for virtual" look, each presenter was required to use the exact same professional slide templates that we asked PENTA to prepare for us.  Our slides rocked!

Of course, OMG introduced new features and enhancements to our already best-in-class sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments and that's one of the main reasons for us having an annual conference. 

Virtual events may be with us to stay as part of our new normal so we must step up our game and make virtual desirable, exciting and feature-rich instead of a compromise.  You may not be able to offer face-to-face networking and dinners, but you can offer your clients, customers, users and prospects an unforgettable experience.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales excellence, conference, sales assessments, zoom, virtual, event, virtual backgrounds, slide deck, video creation

MUST READ: Are Assessments as Evil as the Persona Movie Suggests?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 07, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

Personality Tests Examined in HBO Max Doc Persona - VitalThrills.com

Suppose you made a movie about cars and decided to feature the 1970's era Ford Pinto, arguably the most dangerous car ever made.  In your movie, you say that since the Ford Pinto is a car, it is therefore representative of all cars, and since the Pinto had a gas tank that could burst into flames from even a fender-bender, that all cars are equally dangerous.  Of course your movie doesn't mention safe cars like Volvo, full-size sedans, pick-up trucks, SUVs or specialty vehicles like sports cars, convertibles, or limousines.  Nope.  The Pinto is the poster child for cars.

That's the problem with the documentary Persona - The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests. The movie shines the spotlight on the well-known Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and swings between those that love knowing, being and relating to one of the sixteen personality types; versus those who are trying to change laws to prevent assessments like this from being used as a pre-employment test.

The film mocks those who embrace the Myers-Briggs while advocating for the elimination of pre-employment assessments.  The film focuses on people who believe they were harmed and branded as unemployable as a result of being rejected for work - supposedly because of their test results. Kyle Behm was one of those people and he committed suicide while the movie was being filmed.  The advocates against personality testing for employment issue the dire warning that everyone is or will be negatively impacted by personality assessments.

The film takes five huge leaps of faith and expects viewers to leap along with them:

  1. By using Myers Briggs as the poster child of personality assessments, they lead viewers to believe that all personality tests are essentially the same, measure the same traits and types, and function the same way. This is untrue.  While they all measure traits, they do not measure the same traits, do not function the same way, and they are not all suitable for use as pre-employment assessments. 
  2. By referencing only personality tests, they lead the audience to believe that all pre-employment assessments are personality assessments and vice-versaThey don't mention that there are alternate assessments that are not personality tests.  For example, Objective Management Group (OMG) produces a sales-specific assessment that measures 21 Sales Core Competencies.  The questions ask how salespeople sell, not how people see themselves socially, so OMG's sales-specific assessment truly measures fit for a particular selling role (talent), and not whether someone has the personality type that an employer desires (subjective).
  3. The film-makers attempted to make the case that because these assessments are written by middle-aged white guys, all personality tests are biased towards someone who has had the same experiences as middle-aged white guys.  Oh, and they are racist. This highlights the complete and utter hypocrisy of the film.  Merve Emre, the writer and narrator, claims that the creator of the Myers-Briggs, Isabelle Briggs-Meyers, was a racist and therefore her assessment is biased.  Three things were obvious.  a) Isabelle was not a middle-aged white guy; b) Unless you believe the human mind is created differently in people of color, Isabelle could not have had skin color or upbringing in mind when she created the 16 types; c) Merve Emre began this documentary project with a tremendous bias against personality assessments and especially Myers-Briggs.
  4. Algorithms in personality tests prevent certain people from ever landing any job of any kind.  It's possible that an algorithm could make it difficult for a certain applicant to get a certain type of job for which they may not be a good fit.  For example, an applicant is not very trust-worthy and the position calls for them to handle money. Or the applicant is an introvert and the position calls for them to spend most of their time talking with groups of people.  Assessments do not filter out certain types or groups of people for any and all jobs.  Does. Not. Happen.
  5. The film-makers imply that in order to apply for a job you must first take a personality assessment.  That's not true either.  Many companies do not use assessments and those that use them do not use them for every role in the company.

In my expert opinion, this documentary is fake news.  While they covered both sides of the story, neither side was objective. They didn't tell the entire story while they used a broad brush to position assessments as an ugly, biased, evil tool that exists only to help corporations increase revenue while discriminating against large segments of the population.

While personality assessments do uncover an individual's personality traits and tendencies, that information is simply nice to know.  While some personality assessments claim to predict fit for a specific role, personality assessments are not predictive because predictive validity requires a correlation between assessment findings and on-the-job performance. 

On the other hand, OMG's sales-specific assessment is validated using predictive validity. The 21 Sales Core Competencies actually correlate to on-the-job performance.

Don't allow a movie, this movie, to bully you into not using assessments.  Make a decision to use the correct assessment - the one that is most predictive of success in the particular sales role for which you are hiring.  Choose OMG, named the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the world for ten consecutive years by Top Sales World and named one of the Top 20 Assessment Companies in the World by Training Industry.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, Personality Tests, hiring assessments, pre-employment test, predictive sales test

Why I Believe We Should Blow up the Business Development Rep (BDR) Role in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 07:03 AM

call-center

Did you ever notice how most supermarkets place the least capable cashiers in the Express Lane?  Drives me nuts!  The Market's perspective:  Small orders will be easier for them to handle.  My perspective:  Let's go!!!  They call it Express for a reason!  

Did you ever notice that companies that utilize the Business Development Rep (BDR) role put their youngest, most inexperienced new hires in that role?  The company's perspective: The top of the funnel is easier to handle than a full-blown quota and responsibility for an entire sales cycle.  My perspective:  Why put newbies in the role that is the most difficult of all selling roles?

For decades it was normal practice for Copy Machine, Office Supply, Cell Phones, Life Insurance and Residential Real Estate companies to recruit and train (a little classroom) rookie salespeople and then have them spend years making Cold Calls.  Industries like those continue to suffer from the highest voluntary turnover rates you can imagine and the practice is not entirely different from what tech companies are doing with the BDR Role.  

But why?  Whose brilliant idea was this?

The most difficult companies to prospect your way into become the easiest companies to sell to because when the prospects are saying "no" to inexperienced cold callers there is very little competition for those who are talented and effective enough to book meetings.  But are those young rookies the ones booking those tough meetings?  No. Chance. In. Hell.

Only the best salespeople are capable of getting through to top-level decision makers, getting them engaged on a first call and booking a meeting with those decision makers.  The best our young BDRs can hope for is a meeting with someone who hardly matters in the context of influence, authority and decision-making. 

The originators of this idea had good intentions.  Why waste an account executive's (AE) time making cold calls when someone else could do that and the AE could just handle the actual meetings.  It makes sense on paper but in the real-world it contributes to the sense that we have too much role specialization in sales, horrible conversion ratios and pretty bad win rates too.

While only 46% of all salespeople reach who they believe are actual decision makers, and only 13% actually reach decision makers, only 1% of salespeople with less than one year of sales experience reach actual decision makers.

I think we should blow up the entire BDR concept.  There are other ways for AE's to generate enough quality meetings to fill their pipelines, meet, and exceed quota and in a future article, I will share all of those methods.  In the meantime, it seems to me that the cost and inefficiencies related to having a team of BDRs struggling to book 1.5 meetings per week no longer makes sense.

Dave Brock wrote a great article about what happens when we put our most experienced salespeople in the BDR role.

What do you think?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, inside sales, scheduling sales appointments, top of the funnel, BDR

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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