Sales Assessments, More Like Guitar Manufacturers or Ripped-Off Products?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 12:10 PM

Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen is dead at 65 - ABC News

This is gonna be fun!

In 2005, GM produced four mini-vans known as the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet UplanderPontiac Montana SV6 and Saturn Relay.  These four cars were exactly the same, with the brand logos being the only differentiators.

Today, some Luxury car companies dress up the cars from their primary brands as Toyota is known to do with its Lexuses, Nissan with its Infinities, Honda with its Acuras, and Ford with its Lincolns.  But we all know this. 

What about something you might not know?  With Eddie Van Halen's passing yesterday, I was thinking about great guitarists and that led me to who actually manufactured your well-known Japanese guitar brand?

And then there are the cheap Chinese rip-offs of quality American products.

When it comes to sales assessments, things are also not what they appear to be.  For example, take the FinXS Extended DiSC which, at first glance, appears to have much in common with Objective Management Group's (OMG) Salesperson Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  But are they the same, similar, or is it more like the Chinese rip-off?

Let's take a look under the hoods of both assessments and then you can decide.  We'll begin with a comparison of the two respective dashboards.

 

                                                       FinsX Extended Disc                                                                             Objective Management Group Salesperson Evaluation

While they don't look the same, the FinsX Extended Disc has copied 8 of the 21 Sales Competencies that OMG measures, as well as 5 of the underlying attributes from other competencies.  So on the surface it appears to measure 13 of the competencies that OMG measures.  But does it really?  Let's dig deeper.

The FinsX Extended DiSC is really DiSC without the adapted style.  DiSC has four dimensions, one for each letter in its name.  For those who aren't familiar, they include Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.  While there are some variations to the questions and formats of the various DiSC tests, what they all have in common is that the questions are asked in a social context.  You can see some DiSC questions here.

OMG's questions are asked in the context of selling; what you do, how you do it, when you do it, what causes you to do it, how you think about it, what you believe, etc. None of the questions are in a social context because people act and behave differently in social settings than they do in business settings.

From 30,000 feet, the first question that must be asked is how in the world does the FinsX Extended DiSC arrive at findings like Prospecting, Qualifying, Handling Objections or Sales Process from the social questions asked in a DiSC that has only the four dimensions? 

The quick answer is that they can't!  If you dig deeper into the FinsX Extended DiSC report, they actually measure something quite different from what their summary says.

For example, look at this description of the prospecting finding:

See it?  Whether one scores low or high, it's about a mindset, not a sales capability or competency.  So what does FinsX Extended DiSC mean when they refer to a prospecting mindset?  Let's dig further!  This is their description of the Hunter mindset.

Huh?  It's instant gratification!  I'm not kidding!  It gets worse.  Let's dig further!  This is their description of what the Prospecting score actually measures:

That's right - it has nothing at all to do with prospecting.  They are lying to you in their dashboard summary! 

For comparison, look at what OMG measures for the Prospecting or, as OMG calls it, the Hunting competency:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It should be obvious that OMG's prospecting competency is all about hunting for new business, right?  So you might be thinking I picked Prospecting because that's the FinsX Extended DiSC score that's easiest for me to debunk. Think again.

What if we repeat this process with Qualifying?  This is the Qualifying score in the FinsX Extended DiSC:

Whether the salesperson has a high or low score, they are telling you that it's about uncovering whether the prospect is a good fit through questioning and listening.

They are talking about a mindset again - this time it's about finding the truth:

Okay.  So in a social setting, perhaps that's asking a question like, "Where are you?"  "Who are you with?"  "When will you be home?" Is that really the same as Qualifying an opportunity?  And what are they actually measuring?

Once again, what they can actually measure has nothing to do with qualifying a sales opportunity. And the best part is that they are reusing Hunter! Remember? Instant gratification! You can't make this stuff up!

And what does OMG measure and report on for the Qualifying competency?

Does that look like finding the truth?  It looks exactly like what a salesperson must do when qualifying an opportunity.

I can do this for all 18 of their supposed sales scores but all you need to know is this.  As with ALL personality and behavioral assessments passing themselves off as sales assessments so as to compete with OMG, they lie.  They have no ability to measure a sales competency.  You can't report on what you can't measure and you can't measure sales capability by asking social questions. And for any form of DiSC, they only have those four dimensions.

The assessment business has much in common with both the Chinese rip-off model as well as the Japanese guitar manufacturing model.  The FinsX Extended DiSC is like the Chinese rip-off because it appears to be measuring the same things, but upon closer inspection it measures little of what it purports to measure.  Other assessments fall under the Japanese model. For example, 16PF is an assessment that most people haven't heard of yet they produce more assessments than anyone else, but under different brand names!  Consultants can design an assessment and use the underlying 16PF, choose which of their findings to include, and then call those findings whatever they choose!  The lie!

If you want to evaluate your sales force and learn why they aren't performing as well as you need them to, or assess your sales candidates to identify those who will succeed in your business, stop messing around with imposters and get the real deal.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has been named the Top Sales Assessment in the world for nine straight years.  It's hard to argue with that. It's even harder to argue with the science.  It's the only sales assessment that has been validated using predictive validity.  That means that OMG's findings have been correlated to on the job performance.  Try doing that with a personality or behavioral styles assessment!

Knowledge is power.  Now you have the knowledge to choose the proper tool to evaluate your current sales team for development purposes, and to assess sales candidates for selection purposes.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, sales evaluation, improving your sales team, personality test, DISC, sales selelction

Top 10 Reasons Not to Test Your Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 06:10 AM

testing

Testing.  Testing 1234.  Testing.  Check, check, check. How do I sound?  Testing 12345.  

Anyone who has conducted or listened to a sound check should be familiar with those words.  More testing = better audio.

If you're feeling ill, get tested.  That's the mantra for COVID-19.  But lots of people are getting tested.  In the USA, 345 out of every 1,000 people have been tested as of the end of September.  Compare that with Mexico where only 12 out of every 1,000 people have been tested.  That could explain the difference in positive test rates in these two countries with the US rate being less than 5% and Mexico's rate close to 50%.  More tests = well, something.

Those aren't the only two examples of testing being an obvious no-brainer.  Doctors test our vital signs - temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood and for some, EKG, and prostrate.  More thorough testing = more healthy.

Testing is not only normal, it's expected.

So why in the world is it so difficult to get Sales Leaders and HR professionals to test sales candidates?

We hear everything, including this week's top 10 reasons for not assessing:

  • "I hire using my gut feel"
  • "HR is not comfortable using assessments"
  • "We don't want to be bound by the recommendation"
  • "We don't want to spend the money"
  • "We don't want to change our hiring process" 
  • "We don't want to inconvenience our recruiters"
  • "What if I get a false positive?"
  • "Legal won't go for it".  
  • "Turnover is baked into our process". Consider this internal note from today: "[He] has a potential client who hires 150 reps/week with 300% turnover! Wanted to know how to price that 7,000 hire license. I suggested we take a different approach and determine the real cause of the turnover problem and then look at how many they really need to hire."  Anytime I read that turnover is greater than 100%, that's an example of baked-in turnover.
  • We don't believe in assessments". Consider this email I received today: "Nice to e-meet you.  [He] sings [OMG's] praises, but up front you should know that I have always been somewhat skeptical of Myers Briggs or personality profiling type exercises, so I'm the one you have to convince."  Bad experiences with assessments that weren't designed for sales creates biases.

These excuses are total BS.  Consider the following 4 facts:

  • Average sales turnover is now 34% and in some industries and companies it is much higher.  source
  • The average cost of sales turnover is 1.5 times compensation.  If average sales compensation is $95,000 that's a cost of $142,000.  source.
  • Fewer than 50% of salespeople will hit quota this year.  Do you think that's because of the pandemic?  Think again.  It's been that way for years!  source
  • Average ramp-up time is 5 months.  This varies wildly across industries but here's a formula to calculate what yours should be:  Length of Learning Curve + Length of Sales Cycle + 30 Days to transition.  If you have a six month sales cycle and it takes 3 months before a salesperson can have an intelligent conversation with a prospect, the ramp-up time - the time it takes for business to begin closing - is 10 months!

Let's be conservative and say that for every ten salespeople, the average company turns over 3 per year at $142,000 each.  The $426,000 cost is nothing compared to these other three problems:

  1. The distraction of having to hire 3 more salespeople
  2. The disruption in the territory or vertical,
  3. The lost opportunity of having an under-performer representing you.

Consider 8 more facts:

  1. Companies that use Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments have average turnover rates of just 8%.  That's 425% better than average.
  2. Companies that use Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessments have quota attainment of 88%.  That's 205% better than average.
  3. When companies hire salespeople that were not recommended by OMG, 75% of them fail within 6 months.
  4. When companies hire (after doing their due diligence) salespeople that were recommended 92% rise to the top half of the company's sales force
  5. OMG has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 9 consecutive years
  6. OMG is customizable, incredibly accurate and predictive of sales success right down to the sales role for which you are hiring
  7. OMG has assessed 2,017,367 salespeople in - companies.
  8. OMG lowers recruiting costs and saves time - it's not expensive.  Depending on the number of hires and the size of the candidate pool, assessments could cost as little as $8 each!

You would think that these 8 facts would thoroughly and completely rule over the top 10 reasons for not assessing. But every minute of the day, seven days a week they don't.  People are stubborn. They don't know what they don't know while believing that that they know everything.

This is my call to action.   Grab a sampleTry it for freeRegister to begin using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, hiring, recruiting, assessment, omg, sales test, personality test

The New York Times' Misleading Article on Assessments and Their Use Cases

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 03, 2020 @ 13:03 PM

NYTimes

I'm not usually late but I'm really late on this topic!

Back in September The New York Times, which is often accused of publishing fake news, published an interesting article comparing personality tests to astrology.  The story included specific assessments like The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Hartman Personality Profile (Color Code), Plum, and DiSC.  Myers-Briggs reports on sixteen dimensions of personality, the Hartman Profile has four dimensions of personality, Plum uses AI to predict cultural awareness, teamwork and communications, and DiSC has four dimensions of behavioral styles.

I had so many reactions to this article and I have attempted to collect and assemble them into a coherent article that I believe will be worth your while.

THE EXAMPLES: To base an entire article on four assessments is like writing about the automobile industry and using a GMC pick-up truck, a Ford Focus, a Dodge Challenger and a Jeep SUV as examples without mentioning that there are 60 brands which include foreign and domestic, high-end cars, muscle cars, limos, low-end cars, electric cars, three sizes of SUV's, coupes and sedans, exotic cars, trucks and more. Four examples do not come close to helping you understand the choices or capabilities of assessments.

THE COMPARISON: To suggest that assessments are like astrology is like saying that small businesses are hobbies for those who own them.  Some of them are, but most are full-time, profitable ventures that provide their owners with a nice lifestyle.  Some of the 100 assessments are probably like astrology but not the mainstream assessments.

THE USE CASES: The article provides both good and bad examples of use cases but the theme of this article seems to be that assessments will help to maintain good cultural fit and matching up skills to jobs.  The problem is that personality and behavioral styles assessments don't identify skills - they identify traits and tendencies!  You can't match traits and tendency to specific jobs as they are job agnostic.

CULTURAL FIT: Cultural fit is important and some assessments can certainly help to achieve and maintain that but surely you want more than cultural fit for your salespeople.  When it comes to hiring salespeople, you want to know, before you hire them, that they will succeed in the intended role.  But those four assessments, and most of the 100 assessments on the market, cannot possibly make that prediction because they don't measure sales competencies.  Personality and behavioral styles assessments measure traits and tendencies and while some attempt to adapt those findings for sales, the conclusions are leaps of faith at best, and like playing pin the tail on the donkey at worst.

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS: The author used the term "psychometric" tests" 8 times without explaining what a psychometric test is.  According to Job Test Prep, a psychometric test, "is any activity or assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate a candidate's performance and includes, but is not limited to, skills, knowledge, abilities, personality traits, attitudes and job/academic potential.  There are many psychometric test styles and formats with 3 main areas....aptitude tests, behavioral tests and assessment centers."  In others words, all pre-employment assessments fall under the category of psychometric tests!  Eric Shapiro, who is quoted throughout the article, said, "If I was the United States czar of psychometric tests, there’d need to be some evidence base."

WHAT THEY WROTE ABOUT VERSUS REALITY: There is only one assessment that:

  • Was built for sales
  • Was created by a sales expert
  • Measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies each with approximately 10 attributes
  • Is backed by Science
  • Has been externally validated three times in the last eight years
  • Has been internally validated 210 times in the last five years
  • Uses predictive validity (findings correlate to on-the-job performance)
  • Has been used to assess and/or evaluate salespeople
  • Will accurately predict how a salesperson will perform in the specific role
  • Has a sliding scale where the criteria for a recommendation becomes more difficult to achieve as the difficulty of the role increases
  • Is customizable for the industry/business/selling role
  • Has an optional second layer of customization based on a top/bottom comparison/analysis of your existing salespeople
  • Has 88% of recommended/hired sales candidates attain quota
  • Has an attrition rate of only 8% from recommended/hired candidates

I am describing Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment

It is not a horoscope.

It does not measure cultural fit.

It is not a personality assessment.

It is not a behavioral styles assessment.

It does not use colors.

It does not measure cognitive ability.

It does not measure anything other than sales capabilities.

Below is a sample dashboard from page 2 of a 21 page sales candidate assessment.

dashboard

Using OMG is a no brainer!  Watch this 2-minute video to see how easy it is to get started assessing your sales candidates!

 

 

Comments?  Type them on the LinkedIn discussion thread for this article.

Image Copyright  iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales selection

The Science Behind One Company's Top Sales Performers and Why They're So Much Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 08:01 AM

apples-to-oranges

There are comparisons of apples to oranges, red or green, black or white, stop and go, and the most relevant and current of all, liberals to conservatives.

In today's article, I'll share a hot/cold comparison of my own, but this one is about sales candidates.  Back on January 9, my article about why 3 good salespeople failed and 3 so-so candidates succeeded, used the results of a top/bottom analysis to identify the reasons why.  

Those results were unusual because many of  the differentiators came from outside the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  What does it look like when the differentiators come from within the 21 Sales Core Competencies?  Take a look at this top/bottom analysis and you'll quickly see the difference!

The screen shot below shows that we identified 21 major differentiators.

Jan14TailoredFit

Their three tops are far better and stronger salespeople than the tops in the previous analysis.  Even their bottoms are stronger than the tops and bottoms of the previous analysis.  But the differentiations are very clear.  Consider:

  • Desire for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >87.  The normal cutoff is 60 so even the three bottoms scored well in Desire but the tops had even more Desire.
  • Motivation for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >74.  The normal cutoff is 50 so as with Desire, even the bottoms had good scores.
  • Sales Percentile is the overall score.  Greater than 79 means that their tops are stronger than 79% of the sales population.  And if that's what it takes to succeed in this particular role at this particular company, then the sales candidates that OMG will recommend to them must be in the top 20%.
  • Figure-it-Out-Factor or FIOF is a roll-up of 10 findings that predict whether or not a salesperson will ramp-up more quickly than a typical candidate.  Those who are succeeding at this company have FIOF scores of greater than 66.
  • The Sales DNA Competencies are the overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  These are the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics and sales methodology.  The tops have tremendous Sales DNA Scores of >81 while the bottoms have Sales DNA more consistent with weak salespeople.
  • Supportive Sales Beliefs (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >86. You could say that everything begins with beliefs!  Their top salespeople have scores for beliefs that are only a few points better than their bottoms so a score of 86 or better is an important differentiator.
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >70.   There is  a huge difference in how the tops score compared with the bottoms for this competency!
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >82. 
  • Handles Rejection (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >77. 
  • Hunting (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >92.  These are really good  scores so it  should come as no surprise that their tops are filling the pipeline!
  • Consultative Seller (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >49.  This is the second lowest cutoff score of all  the  differentiators we identified. The company overall is still selling transactionally and this is an area for improvement.
  • Qualifying (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >59.  This is another significant differentiator between  their  tops and bottoms.
  • Presentation Approach (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >81.
  • Closing (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >33.  Did you see the scores for the bottoms?
  • Sales Process (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >77. Another  huge differentiation.  It's included twice in this analysis to give it twice the weight because it's that important.
  • Compatibility with their Selling  Environment >71
  • Maintains Full Pipeline (part of the Hunter competency)
  • Self-Starter
  • Decision Maker (part of the Buy Cycle Competency)

Like I always say, these are different for every role at every company selling into every market.  No two analyses are the same and these analyses become the second layer of customization for our sales candidate assessments.  That's what makes them so accurate and predictive.

For brand new users, our top/bottom analyses also serve as proof of concept.  We're able to prove that we can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms to give them confidence that our award-winning sales candidate assessments will work for them.

Where can you get your hands on our sales candidate assessments?  Click here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales performance, assessment, omg

Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

first-impression

Most salespeople don't take first impressions seriously enough. If they did, their first impressions would be much more favorable.

I can still remember my first (unintentional) lesson about first impressions.  My family was gathered at my grandfather's house to watch the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.  It was February 9, 1964 and at 8 years old, I was one of seventy-three million people watching the show that night.  I was as excited about this show as I would be later that same year when I attended my first Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.  That is pretty excited! 

Sitting on the carpet, I was completely focused on seeing and hearing The Beatles play five of their hit songs, but my mother was doing color commentary from the plastic covered sofa behind me.

She said, "He's cleaner than the other 3", referring to Paul McCartney, who had straighter teeth, and a face more suitable for the mop top hair style shared by the four of them.

There it was, my first lesson in judging people by how they looked, and more specifically, what "clean" did and did not look like.

We were all exposed to unintentional lessons like that when we were young and those lessons stay with us today.  My father was an optometrist and around a quarter of his patients were on welfare.  While they were entitled to the same eye examination as everyone else, they were not allowed to choose from the same selection of eye glasses  and were not allowed to wear contact lenses - unless they could pay the difference.  Therefore, I assumed that anyone I saw wearing "those glasses" must be on welfare.

15 years later, when I was in the music business, a man who looked like he spent the night sleeping on the side of the road, bought the most expensive guitar I had in stock.  He paid cash.

Enough for the trip down memory lane.

When you are in sales, your first impression has been made the moment a prospect sets eyes on you, and based on how that prospect reacts, you, in turn, create a first impression of them.

Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated or assessed 1,869,505 salespeople, has a finding I haven't written much about called Sales Posturing.  In a nutshell, Posturing measures first impressions, how memorable you are, and how effectively you differentiate yourself from the competition. In the table below, you'll see scores for Posturing,  as well as Relationship Building which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies. 

posturing-relationships

While there is a correlation between both sets of scores and the overall effectiveness level of salespeople, the difference in scores is minuscule in comparison to creating urgency, The 21 Sales Core Competencies, Closing, and 5 Scores Related to Money.  This proves my point that most salespeople, even the great ones, do not pay enough attention to the quality of their first impressions.

How much focus have you given to how you make your first impression?  Here are 10 things you can control to assure that you make a great first impression.  For a lot of these, Goldilocks and  the Three Bears will be a good guide.  Not too much, not too little, but just right:

  1. Your smile
  2. Your handshake
  3. Your confidence
  4. Your outfit
  5. Your hair
  6. Your first words
  7. Your tonality
  8. Your trustworthiness
  9. Your approach
  10. Your authenticity

Thirty-three years ago, when I was far less experienced in the sales development space, my first impressions were not very good and it was represented by the quality of my clients at the time.  Fortunately, thirty-three years provides a nice, long runway for improvement!

Selling, and especially consultative selling, is difficult enough without having to dig out of the hole created by first impressions gone wrong.  You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so remember, every encounter provides you with your last chance to make a good first impression.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, relationship building, assessment, omg, the beatles, objective management group, Ed Sullivan

When Sales Leaders Don't Lead With Their Strengths

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 05, 2012 @ 14:11 PM

Today I received a request for all of my articles to date which reference Objective Management Group's Sales VP/Director Assessment.  I conducted a quick search and found - what?  None!  Out of nearly 1,000 articles, I hadn't referenced OMG's Sales VP/Director Assessment even once!  I'll fix that right now.

Unlike our sales and sales management assessments, which are usually performed as part of a sales force evaluation at the request of an executive, most VP assessments are requested by the VP's themselves.  There are some pretty interesting components to it, so I'll discuss some of the more intriguing ones here.

Compared with a sales management assessment, where the sales manager must be tactical, the VP must be more strategic, so we have a Strategic Thinking dimension.  Our VP assessment also integrates a component of our Leadership Assessment, the Key Management Dynamics, where we can determine how well the VP has developed the Strategy Style, one of the nine Leadership Styles which we measure.

We also measure and identify the sales VP's tendency to default to any of eight competencies over the others when they need to grow revenue.  It becomes interesting when a VP scores high in one competency but defaults instead to a different competency (one where they scored lower) to drive revenue.  And isn't it powerful to finally be aware of that, learn why, and change?  When sales leaders default to a competency that isn't their best, they can become frustrated when the desired changes and revenue do not occur.  Not only that, when they aren't aware of a skill gap in the competency they chose, it can alienate sales managers and salespeople.  For instance, when a sales leader scores high in Coaching and low in Motivation and chooses to fire up the sales team to grow sales, it will not work as effectively as if coaching had been chosen.

When VP's request this assessment, they can use it as a self-coaching tool or as a coaching road map by an outside sales leader.  But more than a self-development tool, it explains the strengths which are supporting sales leadership excellence, points out the weaknesses which may be responsible for not driving sales and growing salespeople (at their current or prior companies) to achieve their fullest potential.

If you are interested in getting yourself evaluated as a Sales VP or Director, just send me an email and I'll make sure that one of my experts contacts you ASAP.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales leaders, assessment, people problems, sales issues

How Soon Should You Make Changes to Your Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

The First 90 DaysThis month's newsletter from IDC's Sales Advisory Group lists 5 things which a new Sales VP should do.  Some of them are good, but others not so much.  Among their points were some that have nothing to do with being new, plus one with which I am in complete disagreement.  Consider 4 of their 5 bullet points below:

  1. They said: Tap into your organization's resources to get up the learning curve, fast.
    I say: You should tap into your resources whether you are new or not!  There is more to learn than your own business.  You should be learning about your competition, your customers, new verticals into which you can sell, and your team's capabilities.
  2. They said: Upgrade your sales operations team ASAP and lean on them to develop and drive the strategic agenda to improve sales productivity and effectiveness.  
    I say: If you don't have a large company, then you don't have a sales operations team.  You must go outside for that help.  But wherever you turn, you should follow this point whether you are new or not.  Sales operations includes systems and processes and most companies aren't even aware of the systems and processes which they should have, never mind the companies whose systems and processes are completely ineffective and don't support the sales force.
  3. They said: Leverage your strategy, operations and finance teams to quantify and assess your sales investment levels, resource allocations and future areas for investment to drive productivity improvements.
    I say: Once again, if you aren't in a large company, these teams don't exist and you must go outside for this help, but you don't have to be new to do this.
  4. They said: Assess your team and rapidly make changes.
    I say: You should absolutely assess your team, new or not.  But here is where I strongly disagree with IDC's suggestion.  If you are new, you should not change anything during the first 90 days.  The fastest way to alienate your entire team is to make changes too quickly.  In the first 90 days, you must build relationships, gain their trust, establish your credibility, lower their resistance and work on your strategy and sales plan.  Then, with the intelligence and action items, which come as a result of  the sales force evaluation, you can begin making the recommended changes based on science and data, not knee-jerk reactions or worse, historical numbers from spreadsheets and reports.  The goal is to determine who should be part of the sales force going forward, not who has performed in the past.  Watch this video about why you should evaluate your sales team.
Why You Should Evaluate Your Sales Force

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sales competency, assessment, IDC, new sales manager, new sales vp, Sales Advisory Group

The Sales Force with Over Achievers That Don't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

Huh?

That's right. Today I heard about a CEO who told one of my colleagues that all of his salespeople over achieve.  In the same phone conversation he mentioned that sales are down 20%.  Can you imagine where sales would be if his salespeople under achieved?  

I think that many CEO's are in a time warp.

Despite the struggles of their sales force in this economy, they still view the sales force as they remember them when times were good. 

The problem with this is that even the good times did not accurately define these salespeople.  Salespeople who succeed when times are good but struggle when times get tough are not over achievers.  They are mediocre salespeople who simply don't get in their own way.  Over achievers find ways to succeed in all conditions, good and bad.

I think that many CEO's are in denial.

Despite the struggles of their sales force, they continue to look at the pipeline and say to themselves, we'll be okay as soon as these deals close.  But the deals aren't closing and with each passing day companies are less okay then they were the day before.

I think that many CEO's are scared shitless (the only truly accurate word I could type there).

Because of the struggles of their sales force, they look at the numbers, down 90%, down 75%, down 50%, down 25% and wonder how they can turn it around.  It can be turned around but they have to be proactive, not reactive.  They have to be aggressive, not passive.  They have to work on the right end of the problem - revenue - not just costs.

Truth is, our data shows that only 6% of all salespeople over achieve.  And another 20% can become over achievers.  Who do you want on your sales force and what are you willing to do to develop them or recruit them?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, assessments, selling, Management, Sales Force, leadership, over achievement, declining sales, improve sales, assessment, sales candidates, over achieve, Under achievers, hiring salespeople, mediocrity, overachievers, sales increase, Performance, Economy, sales assessments, declining revenue

The Secret - The Ancient Scrolls and its Impact on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:03 PM

Al Turrisi was kind enough to give me a book called the Power of the Kabbalah.  Its ancient scrolls originated around 4,000 years ago, inspired The Secret and predates Moses and the Bible!  Since this book is not the Kabbalah itself, rather a Cliff Notes version, it tends to read more like a self-help book. It is far more powerful than a self-help book though as it points to a number of rules that will cause a transformation in one's life.

Seven of the desired behaviors are consistent with the philosophies in Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball as well as Objective Management Group's Sales Assessments:

The importance of Desire. Read the Top 10 Factors for Salespeople to Overachieve.

It's not about you.  Over the past several months I have found myself telling an awful lot of salespeople and sales managers that it's not about them.  It's even become a finding in Objective Management Group's Sales Manager's Evaluation - The It's All About Me finding.

Need for Approval or what happens when you need people to like you.  This is the second most powerful weakness in all of selling. Here's an article about that.

Becoming Emotionally Involvedor reacting instead of proacting.This is the third most powerful weakness in all of selling. I wrote an article about this.

Resistance or the great challenge that presents itself rather than an obstacle.  I wrote a an article about this earlier this month and another one a couple of years ago.

Certainty or having faith that what you say, ask, or do will get the desired outcome.

Doing What's Uncomfortable.  I wrote an article about this a while back too.

Many of the articles I linked to were Baseline Selling Tips.  Speaking of Baseline Selling, this is the third anniversary of the publish date of the book, a good reason to reread or order it.

So in summary, simply by having your salespeople overcome their sales weaknesses, doing the very things they are uncomfortable doing, having faith in their abilities and having a strong desire for success will cause those very same people to experience life changing experiences.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Baseline Selling, assessments, sales skills, Salesforce, Sales Force, Changing_Behavior, over achievement, sales weaknesses, Motivation, sales core competencies, assessment, sales evaluation, over achieve, improve sales performance, sales winners, overachievers, sales assessment test, Baseline_Selling, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

10 Steps for your Sales Force to Survive and Thrive in The Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jan 04, 2009 @ 21:01 PM

Like many of you, I'm back from a much needed vacation where I met a guy who could have been one of the sorry CEO's I have met over the past several months.

I was in the pool, playing catch with our six-year old son, when Henry began a "dialog" with me. He said, "You can't play catch in the pool.  It's against the rules."

I was stunned, but apologized, said I wasn't aware of that rule and removed the football from the pool.

There was another guy in the pool and he mentioned to me that the pool rules did not include an exclusion about playing catch.  I mentioned that to Henry and he became irate because he owns one of the resort's units, wrote the rules himself, and said, "It better be on that sign!"

So what's wrong with this picture?

  • Doesn't "resort" make you think fun, water and sun?
  • He and his friends were at the water's very edge but didn't want to get wet, so he didn't want any splashing which leads to no playing catch.
  • He and his friends were at the pool but in the shade.
  • It was 80 degrees but he was dressed for winter.
  • He was at a resort but wanted the quiet of a senior community. 

How is Henry any different from Bernie?

Bernie is the President of a company that had experienced flat sales for the three strong economic years leading up to the recession. He had been looking for a VP of sales for two years but hadn't found the right candidate or failed to pull the trigger.

He attended an event where he heard me speak and asked me to contact him. He asked for my advice and I recommended that if he was serious about finding the ideal VP, then he should:

  • Evaluate his sales force to better understand its real capabilities and identify the challenges a new VP would have to deal with;
  • Identify the changes that the sales force needed to make to be more effective;
  • Save the new VP at least a year by providing him with a comprehensive understanding of each salesperson's strengths,  weaknesses and coaching requirements. 
  • Identifythe salespeople that could make the transition to being more aggressive at finding and closing new business;
  • Identify the salespeople that could not be developed and plan to replace the under performers;
  • Use this intelligence to find the ideal VP of Sales Candidate.

Once in a while, CEO's and Presidents don't take my advice and Bernie, who was comfortable (hired gun, not an owner), over confident (he thought he knew better), and not afraid of failure (sales were flat, not declining), promoted one of his existing salespeople to take the VP of Sales position.

Ordinarily, this is not a particularly smart move but in this case, it was really dumb. His new VP had never managed a sales force, had no experience selling in a recession, had never reversed a flat sales trend and had never assessed a sales force.  What made Bernie think he could do all this effectively without experience?  Six months later, how do you think he's doing?  Last I heard from Bernie, George was "trying some things."

Bernie and Henry could be the same guy.  Henry was probably an arrogant, over confident president who didn't fear failure just like Bernie. They both know better than everyone else.

Compare Bernie's story with Jack, president of another manufacturer with flat year over year sales at around the same time.  Jack already had a new VP in place, knew there was complacency, knew he needed change, and despite having the expertise to do it himself, knew that it had to come from outside, not within.

Just seven months after evaluating and training, Jack's sales force is accomplishing things today that they couldn't even imagine last spring.  They transitioned from account managers to hunters; they transitioned from making proposals and presentations to conducting quality sales calls where they do nothing except ask great questions; they've gone from selling on price to selling value; they've moved from believing they had to have the best price to selling at their price; and they're closing business at a much higher rate than at this time last year - despite the economic crisis.

Which type of leader are you - Bernie or Jack?

Here are ten steps that you can take to not only survive, but thrive in this recession:

  1. Size up your sales team - we have some free tools like the Sales Force Grader, the Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator and the Sales Achievement Grader; and fee based tools like our world-class Sales Force Evaluation
  2. Get the right people in the right sales/sales management roles.  Our Sales Force Evaluation will provide these insights.
  3. Talk honestly with your sales force about the tough times ahead. Tell them the truth!
  4. Gain their commitment and buy in to work harder, be tougher and do what it takes in these more difficult times.
  5. Perform a pipeline analysis and work the pipeline.  My sales development firm offers EPACS - Emergency Pipeline Analysis and Coaching Strategies where we properly stage, strategize and coach on every opportunity.
  6. Create the necessary infrastructure. This includes an appropriate sales process, recruiting process, sales management systems, and software.
  7. Develop Sales Management on accountability, coaching, recruiting, leadership and motivation.
  8. Develop the salespeople on process, skills and overcoming their weaknesses.
  9. Sales Execution - just do it.
  10. Sales Management Execution - make sure they do it and help them do it.

Ultimately, you must focus on the machine that generates revenue, not costs.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, coaching, sales management, selling, Salesforce, accountability, assessment, recession, objective management group

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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 eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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