The Crucial Step Missing from Most Sales Training Programs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

Most companies don't understand that crappy customer service is really a sales issue.  When a company's customer service is thoughtful, helpful, kind and thorough, that great customer service actually serves the sales organization.  It becomes easier for salespeople to renew accounts, cross-sell, up-sell and succeed.  When a company's customer service sucks, it has the opposite effect, creating objections, resistance, disdain and animosity.

As an example, I had such an experience with Safelite, whose website claims that they are the #1 auto glass specialist in the country.

I had a ding in my windshield and scheduled Safelite to come to my office to repair the windshield.  Easy!  In the middle of the repair, the technician called to let me know that the windshield had cracked to the bottom and that this happens sometimes with repair attempts.  Frustrating but Okay, so I needed to know, if my repair payment would be applied to a new windshield and how soon I can have that completed.  The technician was vague but he said not to worry - it would be taken care of.  I should have known from his vague response that he knew transitioning from a failed repair to a windshield replacement was not one of Safelite's strengths!

Over the next 24 hours, I didn't hear from Safelite so I reached out to customer service.  I left a voicemail, sent an email, and sent a text.  Nothing!  Frustrated, I looked at the other options for windshield replacement but there weren't any - Safelite had bought up all of the competitors!  I had no choice but to schedule the windshield replacement through Safelite so I did. 

By now the crack created by Safelite (that's one way of up-selling from a repair to a replacement) was quickly expanding in three directions. Time was of the essence but the first available slot was two weeks away but beggars can't be choosers so I booked it.  A week later, customer service finally responded to my email but their response had little to do with what I asked them.  I began receiving reminder emails and texts telling me to be on time at two weeks ahead, 1 week ahead, 2 days ahead, 1 day ahead, 12 hours ahead and 30 minutes ahead.  I pulled into their shop at the scheduled time, having blocked out the morning to get the repair completed.

I was greeted by a man who looked at the car (Lincoln Navigator) and then asked, "Are you the Lincoln Navigator?" 

Wow, that was an intelligent question but I digress.  "Yes."  

"We have a problem."

"What's that?"

"We don't have the windshield for your car."

I said, "You've been texting me non-stop to make sure I was here at 8am.  If you didn't have the glass, couldn't you have let me know last night?"

He replied defensively, "First, I haven't been texting you - that's done from Ohio.  I have nothing to do with that.  Second, the glass is delivered overnight so we wouldn't have known last night and yours wasn't delivered. I'm trying to find it now"

Did you notice how well he diffused the situation and lowered my resistance?  Not.  He basically said, "Hey, it's not my fault!"  How about, "I am so sorry."  Or,  "Wow, we really screwed up."  Or,  "You must be really upset."  Or, "I feel terrible - this was totally unfair to you."

I'll save you from the rest of his ugly conversation with me and fast forward to the call I received later that day.  Brooke was calling to reschedule and she offered me a date two weeks out.  I reminded her that I had scheduled this two weeks earlier - with her - and I didn't understand why they would need another two weeks to get my windshield, especially in light of what had happened earlier that day.  She said, "You probably didn't schedule it with me."

I said, "Yes, it was you, Brooke."

She said, "Well, that doesn't matter."

I was thinking that this arrogant, defensive, ass-covering attitude was part of the culture at Safelite.  I said, "I'm not going to schedule a date two weeks out and have this happen again.  Call me when you have the glass in your possession and then I'll schedule it."

I don't think Safelite has a sales organization or has to worry about up-selling or renewals.  They are the only game in town over much of the country.  Can you imagine what would happen if they actually had competition or had a sales organization worrying about how much business they would lose to those competitors with customer service as bad as theirs?  No wonder they gobbled up their competitors! 

There is a lesson here for those of us in the sales development space.  When we train, coach and develop salespeople, we must demand that customer service get the training and coaching required so as to not sabotage the great work we do with sales organizations.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, sales effectiveness, safelite

Masks and Sales Assessments - You Lose a Little Freedom and Control for Safety and Confidence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 @ 13:09 PM

mask-in-public

A short end-of-the-week post.

Earlier this week I wrote this article about correlation versus causation.  I compared analyzing restaurant dining and positive Covid-19 tests, and assessment findings and results.  This article will depart from correlation and causation but we'll still use the Pandemic as a metaphor for certain sales assessment experiences.  

I wear a mask whenever I leave the house or the car.  As someone in the vulnerable age group for Covid-19, a mask makes me feel much safer and more confident when I encounter other people.  When I wear my mask, I lack some of the freedom I previously had and I lose some control because I can't see where my feet are when I'm walking down a flight of stairs!  Of course that's only problematic if I miss a stair and knock on wood, that hasn't happened in the first 6 months of the Pandemic.

You lose a little freedom and control but you feel a lot safer and more confident when going out in public.

The same thing happens when clients use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  They lose a little freedom because they no longer arbitrarily interview salespeople who they feel like interviewing, and refrain from simply offering positions to people because they have a gut feeling about a candidate.   However, they lose some control because one half to two-thirds of the candidates will not be recommended when they aren't great fits for the particular sales role for which the company is hiring, or simply aren't very good salespeople - period.

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Companies that use OMG sales candidate assessments for sales selection are seeing huge improvements in applications, assessments completed (the candidate pool), and a sharp decrease in recommended (more lousy sales candidates and/or imperfect fits for the role) candidates, cost per assessment, days to hire and compensation.

quota-attrition

Companies that use OMG for sales selection have 80% higher quota attainment, and 238% lower attrition. 

You lose a little freedom and control to feel a lot safer and more confident when offering sales candidates a position.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment, sales selelction

How the Correlation Between Restaurants and Covid 19 Applies to Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

wearing masks

Do you hate meetings as much as I do?

They're the worst.  But I have one weekly meeting that's always uplifting and productive.

I'm talking about my weekly meeting with John Pattison, COO of Objective Management Group (OMG). He happened to mention a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pointing to the correlation between people who recently dined at a restaurant and later tested positive for Covid-19.  Of course the media was doing its best to spread misinformation as the article titles below suggest:

The report actually included facts they didn't share in their titles, like:

  • It was not known whether they dined inside or outside
  • It did not say that they contracted Covid-19 at the restaurant or because they ate at a restaurant

restaurants

John pointed out that this is a clear case of correlation, but not causation.  In other words, there is no proof that eating at restaurants caused anyone to contract the virus.  He said there could be many reasons why people eating at restaurants also have higher rates of infection.  For example, people who don’t like to wear masks might be more likely to eat at restaurants.  Assuming that is true, the cause is more likely to be a lack of mask wearing, not eating in the restaurant.  

But does it really matter whether this is causation?  Is there that big of a difference?  Is correlation enough?  It depends on what you are trying to show.  Let's take sales assessments for example.

All assessments produce a number of findings and scores, most in the context of personality or behavioral styles.  When used to assess salespeople, they can make a case that there is a correlation between a finding like drive, and sales success.  Correlation, not causation.   Why?  because drive does not cause sales success.  There are lots of people with drive who were epic failures at selling!

Personality and behavioral styles assessments are not sales specific, even when their publishers refer to them as sales assessments.  They were not built to measure sales competencies, but instead attempt to correlate personality and behavioral findings to sales.  None of the assessments in this category are sales specific, they don't measure actual sales competencies, and there is no causation. The information they provide is simply nice to know, but unfortunately, not predictive of sales success.  

OMG's sales assessment was built for sales, is used only for sales, measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies, has 280 sales-specific findings and is extremely predictive of sales success.  For an assessment to have predictive validity though, its findings must correlate to on the job performance.  There's that correlation word again.  Since there only needs to be correlation, does that mean that causation isn't important?  Correlation is not required, but it is vitally important.  

For example, one of the differences between sales producers and sales imposters is the difference between whether they can sell versus whether they will sell.  Can vs. Will. Who needs another salesperson whose best sales call is the one where they convince you to hire them?  You want salespeople who will find and close new business.  There is causation between Will to Sell and sales success.

Of course there are other examples.  A candidate who scores high in OMG's Consultative Seller competency and Value Seller competency will perform successfully in a complex sales environment.  There is causation. 

A candidate who scores high in the Hunter competency will succeed in a cold-calling sales environment.  Causation.

Here's another way of looking at correlation and causation.  Someone who scores well in a personality assessment will generally do quite well at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  It's a one-way correlation.  Why?  Because someone who is good at developing, building and maintaining relationships is not necessarily a good salesperson.  There is no causation.

Back to my meeting with John.  While we were meeting, Guy Kawasaki's twitter post appeared.

The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment is a really great cake but John and I agreed that despite a visual dashboard that tells the story of the candidate and effectively illustrates the scores for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, it has dog poop for frosting compared to the look we believe we can create.  We agreed to reimagine the dashboard and how we visually show each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies throughout the report so that we have the sweetest, most beautiful looking frosting ever spread on an assessment.  Stay tuned for an all-new look to the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment coming in early 2021.  In the meantime, it would be malpractice to hire salespeople without taking advantage of the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Images copyright 123RF and 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, Correlation, personality assessments, personality test, coronavirus, covid-19, causation

Most Companies Can Boost Sales From 30-100% in Just One to Two Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 @ 18:09 PM

maserati

Your teenage daughter, growing 4-6 inches per year, asks for two new pairs of sneakers.  She's already outgrowing 3 pairs each year and these two, which are completely unnecessary, would keep her in fashionable footwear for only a few months.  It would make total sense for you to say, "Let's wait a few months until you've stopped growing so fast."

An employee asks for a new car, believing that an SUV crossover (not the Maserati in the picture!) would be more practical than a mid-size sedan.  There are 8 months left on the lease so it would be completely reasonable for you to say, "Sounds good.  Let's make that change when the lease comes to an end in 8 months."

In both 2012 and 2016, companies everywhere were telling salespeople, "We're going to wait until after the election."  There was tremendous uncertainty surrounding those two elections and companies didn't want to commit to anything until they were sure who the next President of the USA would be.

Surprisingly, in the year of the pandemic, salespeople are not hearing the dreaded, "We're going to wait until after the election."   Despite the polling, pandemic, and incredible divisiveness, companies are not pushing the pause button.  But why?

It's not because salespeople have become so strong that they have obliterated that put-off!  89% of all salespeople accept stalls and put-offs and that's changed by only a quarter of a percent since before the start of the pandemic.  That's right.  There has barely been a change in salespeople's ability to overcome stalls and put-offs since before the pandemic.  Ugh.

Biden has promised to raise both the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax if he gets elected so it can't be fear of that.  

It's not because there's a vaccine on the way which will help stop the spread of the virus because when it comes to Covid-19, nothing is certain.

So what is it?

Many companies already experienced at least 3 to 6 months of uncertainty and they can not withstand even 2 more months of that.   As a result, companies are investing, streamlining, expanding, hiring and going all in to save their 2020s, and position their companies for historical growth in 2021.

As I review what our clients are hearing, what OMG's partners are sharing, and adding my own anecdotal experience, there has never been a better time to sell!

But seller beware. Favorable conditions do not equate to easy selling.  There is tremendous pressure on margins, competition is fierce, and the selling challenges are more difficult than ever before.

Current conditions require resistance proof sellers however only 54% of all salespeople fit that description and that's improved by only 1% since the start of the Pandemic.  Current conditions require salespeople to take a much more consultative approach and sell value.  Unfortunately, only 12% of all salespeople have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength and only 30% have the Value Seller competency as a strength.  Among the weakest of all salespeople - that's half the sales population - the percentages drop to 2% and 7% respectively.  As we begin to purge the virus, how can companies surge when half of their salespeople suck at selling?

Companies don't really look as I just described them.  We don't see many companies where half the people in the sales organization suck.  In many of the companies whose sales organizations we evaluate, most of the salespeople suck!

You don't think that applies to your company but you aren't really sure whether a quarter, a third, half, or all of your sales force sucks because some of your people sell more than others.  Don't be misled by distribution of revenue.  Keep in mind that distribution of revenue usually has more to do with quality of the territory, number of established accounts, size of the established accounts, length of time in the industry, repeat business and call-in business than sales capabilities.  There are only two ways to compare the relative sales capabilities of your salespeople:

  1. Have every salesperson look for new customers under the exact same conditions (calling on the same size accounts in the same vertical against the same competition in the same territory)
  2. Have us evaluate your sales force and from the more than 180 findings and 21 Sales Core Competencies, compare Sales Percentile scores.

The ability to compare the sales percentile scores of your salespeople is not the ideal reason to evaluate your sales force.  But identifying where your challenges lie and learning what it will take to significantly increase sales is. Large and small companies alike that evaluate their sales teams learn that with targeted training and coaching in the areas identified, sales increases of between 30-50% within one to two years are very achievable. Some companies are able to double sales in the same period of time.

This is not the time to purposefully do nothing, wait and see, or worse, hope for the best.  Improving sales effectiveness has a greater impact on your top and bottom lines than any other thing you can do, including cost-cutting, operational efficiencies and lay-offs.

When it comes to sales transformation, you don't say, "let's wait until things get better" because sales transformation is the very thing that makes things better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, objections, sales statistics, election, selling value

3 Selling Characteristics for the Age of Covid, Politics and Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 08, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

poliltics

This is a longer article than usual and includes many links to related articles so grab a snack and a beverage, settle in, and stay with me.  It will be worth it because I know I'm going to get you fired up.

In the first 1,825 of articles from my fourteen years of Blogging, only 21, or less than 1%, mentioned politics.  When I do use political examples I refrain from lecturing, don't take sides, and use what is taking place as a metaphor for sales.  I found that by remaining objective and using current political events as examples of effective and ineffective selling, I receive minimal negative feedback and most come in the form of emails taking a side and lecturing me about what they think are my political views.  They are usually wrong but they won't be wrong after this article!

These are the articles I have written which mentioned politics and/or politicians:

Articles from Before and Inclusive of the 2012 Election

Two Fantastic Examples of Handling Objections  (Links to the next 5 articles also appear in that article so you can skip them here or there)

Sales Force Lessons from Gates, Crowley and Obama  

Obama and McCain - Competing Salespeople Fighting for the Big Sale 

Obama and Friends on Stage - Implications for the Sales Force 

Did President Obama Do More Damage to the Image of Salespeople? 

Two Keys to Selling Success from Ann Romney and Chris Christie 

Articles from Before and Inclusive of the 2016 Election

Best Non-Sales Video Ever on Handling Objections  

A Great Way to Handle Objections, Challenges and Push Back   

Latest Debate Had Some Great Sales Leadership Examples   

A Sales Expert's Take on Who is the Most Deplorable  

The Benefits of Completely Bashing Your Competition  

The Rise of Trump   (article appeared on LinkedIn)

Articles Leading up to the 2020 Election

What Sales Organizations Must Learn from the Impeachment Hearings

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility With Their Prospects   

Managing and Overcoming Resistance is a Key to Sales Success   

It's OK For Salespeople to Lie When This Happens   

Perhaps Hope is a Selling Strategy After All   

How Sales Coaching Utilizes a Quid Pro Quo     

Sales is Like Baseball and Baseball Can Save Law and Order, Capitalism and Liberty  (I took a side!)

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews  

5 Keys to Get Your Prospects to Trust You and Then Buy From You  

Thanks to the non-stop political news cycle, I went from averaging just over one article that mentioned politics per year to two!

This article will be different.  For the first time in fourteen years of blogging, I am going to share what I think, uncensored, and despite some concern for what you think, not quite enough concern to stop me from writing about it.  There will still be a sales tie-in so stay with me as I build the case for 3 powerful sales characteristics.

I didn't pay much attention to politics prior to the 2016 election cycle. I'm a registered Independent and never voted based on party.  For example, I voted for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012.  Now Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans all have reasons to hate me!

I have clients all over the world but most of them are in the United States of America. 80% of the partners who represent Objective Management Group (OMG) are also in the USA.  Despite warnings to stay away from Politics, I'm curious as to which side of the political spectrum people are on.  When I think it's safe, I'll sometimes ask a sports question like, Indians or Reds if they're in Ohio, Yankees or Mets in if they're in New York, or Dodgers or Angels in Los Angeles.  Then I might say something like, "Are you in Trump country or Biden country?"  Depending on whether they answer enthusiastically or disappointingly, I can tell which side of center they are on.  When I tell them that I share their sentiments we can talk about it - especially about how the next election will affect our businesses and lives as we know it.

My clients are mostly CEO's, COO's Presidents and Sr. Sales Leaders and they are representative of most of the leaders of the four million B2B companies in the US.   While the personal feelings of the leaders of B2C companies could be similar, they must first and foremost protect their brands from being cancelled by the mob.

One paragraph on where I stand.

I'm for the safety and security that results from law and order, not rioting, looting, violence and shooting.  I'm for democracy, the flag and freedom of speech, not the cancel culture.  I'm for low taxes, limited government and limited regulations, not economy killing tax increases, regulations and a government that controls everything but can't get anything right.  And you and I need a robust economy.  I'm for all that way more than I'm for a particular candidate or politician. 

One paragraph on Trump.

Like him or not, embrace him or puke, however you may feel about his tweets, believe most of what he says or call him a liar, think he's hilarious or a clown, think he's fighting for Americans or his own personal glory, think he's a narcissist or self-proclaimed King, he fights for the issues that I care about and as a result, Trump will get my vote despite his many character flaws.  

One paragraph on Biden.

I like Joe Biden. He's more likable than Trump, but thanks to his alignment with socialists like Bernie and AOC, he stands on the opposite side of these issues or on both sides depending on when he last stated his position.  If you're on that side of the issues, it's fine with me, I respect you for it, and won't try to change your position and certainly won't attack you.  I believe that it is critical to hear both sides of every issue whereas the cancel culture will aggressively act to cancel me if they don't agree with me.

Now let's get to selling and for that, let's use 3 of Trump's characteristics.

Trump does have three desirable selling characteristics but before I share them, keep in mind that I am singling out these three characteristics, isolated, from his more undesirable characteristics.  I apologize for having to state this 5 times but I do.  Remember, isolated, without the undesirable characteristics which, as some insist in their comments, would come along with Trump as salesperson.  Yes, they would come along with Trump, but we don't want Trump on our sales force, only the 3 characteristics described below.  Just the 3, OK?  No more, "But Trump this" and "Trump that" comments.  Just these 3 characteristics.

Trump is a fighter.  Whether or not you agree with his position on an issue or like him, you have to agree that he is a fighter.  If he is attacked he fights back, even if the attack is justified.  If he wants something he fights for it.  He may piss off some people along the way but that's unavoidable today.  I wish more salespeople could fight for what they want the way that Trump does.

Trump is persistent.  To fight for your beliefs is one thing, but if you aren't persistent you won't win too many of your fights.  I wish salespeople were more persistent.  Not annoying, but persistent.  There is a huge difference between annoying and persistent.  While many find Trump's tweets annoying, he is persistent.

Trump is entertaining.  He engages people with humor and shock, and by getting them riled up or angry with him. Whether positive or negative, people get emotional when it comes to Trump.  I wish salespeople were more entertaining and could get their prospects and customers more emotional.

Objective Management Group (OMG) does not measure fighter, persistency or entertaining.  Perhaps we should.  Or perhaps they would be a distraction from the 21 Sales Core Competencies which, by the way, will be the recipient of an update this month.

We are introducing a new Sales Technology Competency which will include Video/Virtual Selling, CRM and Social Selling. Reaches Decision Makers, already a full blown competency, gets promoted to one of the 21 Core Competencies, and Remote Seller, an important finding for the last 10 years, will be more prominently featured.

Should we add these three selling characteristics?  Let me know!

Do you agree with my political position?  Let me know. I understand that just because I showed you mine you might not be comfortable showing me yours.  I won't have a problem with it but I know there are others who will.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales competenices, Obama, romney, Donald Trump, joe biden

FDR and Sir Isaac Newton on Why Salespeople Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 @ 07:08 AM

fire

There we were, in the dark, in the middle of a hotel parking lot, at 3:45 AM.  Why?  The hotel fire alarm went off and we didn't want to ignore the warning that was so loud my wife and I couldn't hear each other speak.  Why was every other guest in the hotel parking lot with us?  Well, what if the hotel was on fire?  What if our lives were truly in danger?  

Unlike the made up fears that prevent salespeople from asking tough questions, qualifying more thoroughly, or picking up the phone and making a cold call, the fear of burning alive in a hotel fire seemed like a pretty justifiable one.

What are salespeople so fearful of?  Rejection?  Not being liked?  Not getting a meeting?  Not closing a sale?  Oh yes, incredibly scary.  If I had those fears I might not want to leave the house.  Oh wait, most salespeople aren't leaving their houses.  Is it because they're afraid of the virus?  No.  It's more likely that they're home because their companies have asked them to work remotely.  But make no mistake.  Even if they won't admit to it they are afraid of the things I wrote a few sentences back. And today, more than ever, they are loving their convenient excuses for hiding behind their laptop screens, churning out emails instead of making phone calls, and hoping that as Ray Kinsella's daughter, from Field of Dreams said, "People will come."

Why are these imagined fears so debilitating? 

Because we allow them to be.

I'm guilty of having debilitating, imagined fears.  When my son got his driver's license, my wife and I worried endlessly. Where is he? Do you think he's OK? Could he have gotten in an accident? Do you think he is paying attention? I hope he's not playing his music too loud. Could his friends be distracting him? Why isn't he home yet?  Did I ask, "Where is he?"

Turning back to salespeople, suppose the things they worry about were to actually happen?  Who would care?  How would life change?  The only ramification would be their inadequate pipelines.  The only ripple effect would be in the size of their commission checks. Their inaction is the only thing that can hurt them.  Remaining in their comfort zone hurts them.  Failing to change hurts them. 

In his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself." 

Sir Isaac Newton's third law of Physics states that for every action there is an opposite reaction.  What would the opposite reaction be to the action of not taking action? 

NOT taking action, and that includes not asking the tough question, IS an action against your pipeline, your income and your success. 

NOT taking action due to fear IS an action against your self-worth. 

NOT taking action, whether due to laziness or complacency, IS an action against what your company and your customer expect and deserve from you.

I'm sounding the alarm.  This is why salespeople fail.

Image Copyright 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, closing, prospecting, sales fears, fear of rejection

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 @ 13:08 PM

cnn-fox-news_list

I don't really care whether or not you like, approve of, tolerate, or agree with President Trump and/or the issues he stands for.  Doesn't matter to me.  And you shouldn't care what I think of him or which side of that invisible center line I am on.  Shouldn't matter to you.  While this is an article about coaching salespeople, I am going to use the current divisiveness as an analogy to help you better understand how sales leaders can have a huge impact on your salespeople.

If you're on the side that hates the President and can't wait for him to leave office when Biden gets elected, you might be watching CNN.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for attack.  They will rarely, if ever, share any of his accomplishments, wins or achievements and even lie to make sure he is constantly vilified.  What fun for his critics!

If you're on the side that loves, likes or tolerates the President and you prefer that he be reelected instead of Biden, you might be watching FOX.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for praise.  They will rarely, if ever, share his disappointments, defeats or mistakes and even lie to make sure he is praised (except on their hard news shows which do tend to go right down the middle).  What fun for his fans!

OK, so that should have been detached and objective enough to prevent anyone getting upset with me so far.  Hooray for me because that isn't easy these days.  But you ask, what does all this have to do with coaching salespeople through an opportunity review?

There are two sides to every story.  Trump is rarely as horrific as CNN makes him out to be and rarely as awesome as FOX makes him out to be.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The same holds true for your salespeople when you ask them to tell you about a current opportunity and why it might be in a stage of the pipeline that it's been stalled in for weeks or months.

Your salesperson might explain what a great opportunity this is, how well they have connected with their contact, the good feedback they have received from their conversations, why they expect movement in a week or two, how this is just the tip of the iceberg because there's more where this came from, and they are extremely confident.  Like FOX talking about Trump.

You look in your CRM application and observe that critical milestones have not been met, it's been stuck in stage 2 for 60 days, the salesperson still has not met with the decision maker, doesn't know the compelling reason why they would switch to your company, and noted that their company has been buying from the same incumbent for 8 years yet the salesperson hasn't uncovered a single negative issue about that incumbent.  You begin to think that this is about getting a lower price from you to keep the incumbent honest.  You conclude that this is a terrible opportunity.  Like CNN talking about Trump.

As with the coverage of Trump, an opportunity review with a salesperson is often two tales about the same prospect.  The salesperson's version compared with yours.  FOX compared with CNN.

This is very important!  If you begin to review an opportunity without that difference in mind, without looking for holes, without looking to challenge them, without looking to invalidate or dismiss their optimism, it will be a wasted review.  Your job is to help your salespeople to better understand their own next steps to either move the opportunity forward, justify leaving it where it is, or abort the opportunity altogether.  Often times, your salespeople are way too close to the opportunity to see it clearly and objectively.  This will be especially true when your salespeople don't have enough opportunities in their pipeline, causing them to be even more attached to and hopeful for the few opportunities they do have.

Your salespeople don't know what they don't know and can't do what they can't do.  That's why you're there!

Politics is the business of where different parties stand on various issues.  It's supposed to be about healthy debate.  It's not supposed to be as divisive and nasty as it has become.  Similarly, a solid, thoughtful, helpful opportunity review should be a healthy debate about the opportunity.  The salesperson should not be attacked or made to feel bad.  All criticism should be constructive.

Are you conducting productive and effective opportunity reviews with every salesperson every day?  If not, then today is a great day to start!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, crm, sales opportunities, fox

15 Things Salespeople Must Do to Make up for a Lackluster 2nd Quarter

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 12, 2020 @ 09:08 AM

risk

Last week we moved our son into his dorm to begin his freshman year of college. The college President's opening remarks were virtual, so we joined the Zoom stream from our hotel room and listened in.  He had some really useful things to share with the new freshmen and while his thoughts were targeted to the students, they apply quite equally to salespeople.

Among the points he made, these seemed to be just as applicable to salespeople:

  • Show up
  • Do the Work
  • Try approaches that you haven't previously attempted
  • You will be uncomfortable but do it anyway
  • Ask for help
  • Ask lots of questions
  • The effort is even more important than the results
  • You will be pushed
  • Push yourself
  • Take responsibility
  • Show tolerance of people whose beliefs and opinions are different than yours
  • Wear your mask and socially distance

Translating his hopes and expectations to sales, here are 15 things salespeople could do that they may not have been doing, comfortable with or effective:

  • Proactively prospect - push yourself - 34% of salespeople do not prospect consistently
  • Live in CRM - be considerate of those in management who need to see what's in there in real time - 90% of salespeople do not live in their CRM applications
  • Fill the pipeline - the more that's in there the more will close - only 35% of salespeople maintain a full pipeline
  • Follow the sales process - it's there for a reason - only 30% of salespeople have and follow a sales process
  • Be more consultative, listen more and ask more good, tough, timely, effective questions - this is how you differentiate - - only 27% of salespeople listen and only 25% ask enough questions
  • Thoroughly qualify - stop wasting your time - only 30% of all salespeople do this
  • Work harder to build solid relationships - get past rapport and be authentic - Only 52% of salespeople succeed at this
  • Learn your video platform inside and out - stop being so ignorant - only 30% have done this
  • Attempt to schedule all of your sales calls virtually over video - what are you waiting for?  Only 49% prefer video to phones
  • Have a more tidy and professional background or use a non-distracting virtual background for virtual selling - get with the program - 40% are using virtual backgrounds
  • Take an interest and show that you care - don't be so transactional 
  • Be a problem solver - not a presenter
  • Stop focusing on price and sell value - it's time - Only 40% are strong at selling value
  • Stop giving yourself a pass because you aren't comfortable - suck it up.

Baseball, basketball and hockey recently restarted  - with changes.  The changes affect the players, coaches and fans but that's the way it is right now.

We must adapt! 

You might feel that there is risk associated with doing something you haven't done before.  None of these things will get you killed or even hurt, so unless you believe there is risk in having better quality sales conversations with your prospects, there isn't any risk.

There should be a greater urgency to get our products and services sold to make up for the lackluster second quarter that many companies experienced.  There should be even more urgency to make up for the personal dip in commissions from the same time period.  And if you took your foot off the gas during March through May because you were uncomfortable asking people to buy and pay then you have only 4 months to make up for your self-inflicted second quarter disaster.

Take responsibility.  

Show the world what you are capable of, stretch, do the one thing you've never done before in sales, and start right now!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, Relationship Selling, selling value

Sales is Like Baseball and Baseball Can Save Capitalism and Liberty

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sat, Jul 18, 2020 @ 09:07 AM

capitalism Unless you've been living in a cave, not paying attention to the news, or watching stations that are glorifying what is taking place in major US cities, we are in trouble - again. Cities continue to be overrun by rioters and looters, police have not been able to stop the epidemic of assaults, robberies and murders, some police departments have been defunded and there are plans to dismantle others.  If it becomes unsafe to drive into cities like New York, Atlanta, Chicago, LA, Portland, Seattle, Detroit, and others, the supply chain will be disrupted.  Truckers will choose not to drive into those cities, retailers will close - for good, restaurants will lose even more business, and tourism will continue to suffer as it did during the shutdown months of March, April and May.

There may not be much we can do except to vote responsibly in November, and make sure that socialism and mob rule do not replace law and order, liberty and capitalism. It's not about the candidates themselves as much it's about which side of the issues they are on. Of course there are other issues, and they are important too, but they will have to take a back seat to the three issues that could drastically change our country, kill our economy, ruin our way of life, and devalue our homes and businesses.

I'm sure my opening two paragraphs will ruffle the feathers of those who don't agree with me and I apologize for that.  If you're upset, stop reading my sales and business articles and unsubscribe from notifications.

Pivot.

We're at a baseball tournament outside of Richmond Virginia.  It's a last hoorah for our 18-year-old son, playing in his last major tournament prior to heading to college in early August.  Like my home state of Massachusetts, Virginia is in phase 3 of reopening and there are many restrictions in place.  But unlike central Massachusetts, where everyone wears a mask when going inside a store or public place, mask wearing is not taken nearly as seriously here - even though the rules require it.  The lack of mask-wearing scares me!

With my son continuing his baseball career at college, this month marks the official end to his youth baseball era.  I've been around youth baseball for 11 years, the first 5 as a coach and the last 6 as a dad.  One of the cool things that I observed, and if you've been around baseball at all, you'll probably agree that every team had the same 8 kids:

  • The twin. The 9-year old all-star team I coached a decade ago had 5 sets of twins.  That's 10 twins between them and 4 of the twins were on the roster!
  • The fat kid playing first base.  That kid could pitch or catch but he always played first base.
  • The little kid playing second base.  And most of them had a chip on their shoulders that was far bigger than their physical size.
  • The kid with the hair.  There always seems to be one with what my son would call a nice flow.
  • The Jokester - There is always one kid who is hysterical.
  • The tall left-handed pitcher.  Always.
  • The kid with the annoying voice.  I've never seen a team that didn't have that kid who rooted his team on from the dugout with the loud, annoying, raspy, cheer-leading voice
  • The skinny kid - This is the kid who doesn't get wet when it rains.

Unless something changes - and it could - opening day for Major League Baseball happens this week!  I miss baseball. 

Pivot.

Before you think that this applies only to youth baseball teams, I want to be clear.  Sales teams are like this too.  In the past 35 years I have personally trained hundreds of sales teams and tens of thousands of salespeople and sales teams always have the same 8 salespeople:

  • The know-it-all
  • The crusty veteran
  • The one who is resistant to change
  • The puppy dog - who will do whatever you tell them to do
  • The role player - the one who you have to role play with to demonstrate how it should sound
  • The attention seeking missile - who wants the focus to always be on them
  • The dummy - who just can't seem to get it
  • The early adopter - who leads the way on application and execution

I started this article with the threat to our economy and way of life, transitioned to baseball, and then to sales teams.  Now I have to tie this rambling multi-topic article together with a brilliant summary.  It's not very brilliant.

Rarely are there any surprises, we usually know what we are getting, and the options are usually quite clear.  I usually know what a baseball team will look like, as much as I know what every sales team will look like.  The same premise applies to the actual selling.

You know where you need to end up, you just have to help your prospect admit to the problem you believe they have and help them articulate how it impacts them.  The conversation isn't dramatically different from one prospect to the next, you just have to ask the right questions, get them talking, and get out of the way.  There are usually no more than 8 possible issues to begin with, and not more than 1 or 2 that are critical to any specific prospect. While you can usually predict where you will end up, you have to pay attention, listen well, and respond with great questions.

As I've written dozens of times in the past 15 years, sales is like baseball and baseball can save our country.  Baseball is a sport of traditions that we don't want to part with.  We should feel the same way about law and order, liberty, and capitalism.

Speaking of capitalism, check out this screen shot from Amazon where you can get Baseline Selling for Kindle for as little as $0, or where one reseller is offering my book for $902.81.  You can buy the paperback on Amazon for $17.95.

baseline-1

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Baseball, capitalism, law and order

Why it is so Difficult to Compare Sales Effectiveness from One Salesperson to Another

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 @ 20:07 PM

Tvariables

Today we'll discuss how to measure sales effectiveness of different salespeople despite there being so many variables to confuse the matter.  You can scroll directly to that topic or, if you don't mind, please read my 3 paragraphs of context.

In 1990, I founded Objective Management Group (OMG), and now, thirty years later, we are on the verge of evaluating our two millionth salesperson.  When my leadership team planned for 2020, we predicted that we would reach the two million mark sometime in June. But then the pandemic hit, companies weren't assessing many sales candidates for most of March, April and May, so our celebration will likely be delayed until early August.

Whether we measure our success in units, currency, rows of data, experiences, visibility, or reams of paper used (pre pandemic), achieving two million sales assessments is quite an accomplishment.  On the other hand, if we compare it to where we had hoped to be at this point, (the BHAG we set in 2007 was 14 million) it was a failure of epic proportions.

But there is a more important part to this story than the number of salespeople assessed or whether that number is an achievement or a failure. How can we measure sales success on sales teams, across companies and, most importantly, in sales candidates?

To answer those questions, it's helpful to  know that we built the finest, sales-specific assessment on planet earth.  Our sales force evaluations are amazing and our sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments are incredibly accurate and predictive.  I'm extremely proud of what we built and how we continue to improve it every single day.  That's more important to me than whether or not we hit our BHAG. And that brings us to the question of how to measure sales effectiveness.  It's like the 2 million versus 14 million comparison only different.  

Let's review a few examples:

Compensation varies wildly by industry.  A top industrial salesperson earns close to $100,000 but a mediocre technology salesperson earns $135,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A mediocre regional territory salesperson might inherit a territory generating $15 million per year and watch it contract to $14 million per year while a salesperson building a new local territory might generate $750,000 his first year.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A salesperson makes one huge sale for $1 million while in the same company, one of her colleagues closes 14 sales totaling $650,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable? 

An account manager manages 87 accounts that generate $4 million while in the same company, a sales development rep makes 56 dials a day, books 5 new appointments per week, builds a pipeline worth $2 million and closes 2 new accounts per month.   Who is better?  Who is more valuable?  

We see these contradictions all the time when we evaluate sales forces.  The company judges performance and effectiveness by the amount of revenue next to the salesperson's name but that's only a measure of who is responsible for the most revenue.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a measure of who is the better salesperson, who is contributing most to growing the company, or who is having the most impact.

Let's review some differences that become important when you are recruiting salespeople.  Suppose that all of your candidates claimed to have been the #1 salesperson in their prior companies.  Being #1 has different meanings depending on whether they sold:

  • Snacks - to convenience store managers, grocery chain buyers or Walmart
  • Nuts and bolts - to manufacturing engineers, auto repair shops technicians, or Granger
  • Janitorial supplies -  to small retailer owners, property managers, or Microsoft's facilities VP
  • Windows - to homeowners, builders, lumber dealers or Home Depot
  • Furniture - to consumers, furniture store owners or the Marriott
  • Generators - to power an RV, an entire house, a grocery store or Mass General Hospital
  • Engines - to lawn mower manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers or GMC
  • Software - to a doctor's office, a clinic, a hospital or the Federal Government
  • Audit services - to the owner of a small professional firm, the president of a medium size company or the CFO of Apple

I could go on and on with examples like these where even the same product becomes a very different sale depending on who it's being sold to.  

Fortunately, OMG has a Sales Percentile score which is based on the combined weighted scores of 21 Sales Core Competencies before being compared to those two million other salespeople.  It's the single factor that neutralizes the differences between industries, competition, territories, pricing, complex and simple sales cycles, difficult (cold-calling) and easy (account management) roles, and targeted decision makers.  Sales Percentile allows you  to compare and/or rank sales capabilities!

This is useful when you're trying to rank sales candidates who come from varying backgrounds because let's face it - you're just guessing!  Sales Percentile is your answer.  In the sample sales candidate assessment below, this salesperson's sales percentile score of 100 means that this salesperson is better than 100% of the salespeople in the world!  And even with a 100, he still has a weakness!

dashboard

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales cycle, sales effectiveness, #1 salesperson, sales percentile

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About Dave

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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