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

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

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

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

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

The two-camera rear view would allow salespeople to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret to Account Churn is Not Dedicated Account Managers

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image copyright 123RF

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

Not The Top 20 Attributes of Successful Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 01, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

bad-science

Several OMG Partners reached out to ask if I had seen the email that was circulating with the Top 20 Attributes of Successful Salespeople.

"I have," was my response and, "Look for a blistering article on Monday."

The article was 100% junk science and to use the word science would be a disservice to the word junk. Below, you'll find five reasons why this article was so wrong, so bad, so misleading, so pitiful, and just plain stupid:

 

  1. The article listed the top 20 attributes of successful salespeople and the vast majority of those attributes might have something to do with success in general but have very little to do with sales success.  The email says that, "The results revealed the top five attributes are confidence (44%); ambition (33%); adaptability (25%) self-motivation (17%); and honesty (16%)."  None of those are sales-specific! Respondents didn't come up with these attributes on their own, but were given 30 to choose from.  They were asked to select their top 5 responses and the "report" listed the 20 most frequently chosen responses.  Unfortunately, most of these attributes have more to do with personality and behavior and are not even slightly related to OMG's widely accepted 21 Sales Core Competencies and related attributes.
  2. Only 207 people participated in the survey and it came from "conversational intelligence."  Whaaaat?  207 isn't a meaningful sample size and certainly not one to brag about.  Compare that to the more than 2.2 million salespeople that OMG has assessed and a sample size on which I base all of my articles.  And what the F is conversational intelligence?  I searched Google for Conversational Intelligence and found a book by that title.  The description said, "The key to success in life and business is to become a master at Conversational Intelligence. It's not about how smart you are, but how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success."  Maybe.  But what does that have to do with the topic of this article?  I searched some more and found CallTrackingMetrics.com.  They defined Conversational Intelligence as, "The ability to identify and react to signals in verbal communications."  In summary, someone who is smarter than me will have to explain how conversational intelligence can identify the attributes of successful salespeople.
  3. Jiminny, the company behind this survey, claimed to have researched millions of articles and couldn't find a single article that was not opinion based except for a 2011 article in Harvard Business Review.  Not a single one over eleven years?  Wow.  I have published more than 100 scientific articles on the attributes, competencies, and differences between successful salespeople and unsuccessful salespeople during that time period.  It's kind of difficult to miss 100 of them unless of course my articles don't support their narrative! 
  4. It was a survey!  That's not science. In the case of this survey, it was merely 207 opinions from a limited and skewed list of options.
  5. If the author (was there an author?) knew half of what I know about successful salespeople, they would know that the unsuccessful salespeople surveyed possess most of those same attributes.  They aren't differentiators!  And how do we know that unsuccessful salespeople weren't included in the survey?  Geez!

What are the actual top attributes of successful salespeople?  We should begin with the 21 Sales Core Competencies in which top salespeople score exponentially better than weak salespeople. Over the years, I have written many articles that articulate these differences but there have been a few which, from my perspective, stand-out .  If you're interested in how things have evolved over the past 11 years:

This article was from 2009.

This article was from 2015.

This article was from 2015.

These two articles were both written in 2016.   Also 2016 (HBR v OMG)

This article was written in 2018.

Junk science, limited data, tunnel vision, and in this case, a stupid-as-a-bowl-of-jelly analysis continue to appear although not as frequently as the fake news in politics.  But why do we continue to see them?

Today, it's easier than ever to write whatever you can imagine and that's where a lot of the fake news originates.  Someone writes or tweets something, somebody else shares it, an individual with a platform sees it and spreads it more widely and it eventually becomes a headline.

I've had enough - have you?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, sales core competencies, sales enablement, omg

The Many Different Selling Roles and How They Differ - Part 1

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 27, 2022 @ 12:07 PM

car-comparison

When you think about cars, you know there are coupes, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and sports cars.  You also know there are luxury cars, mid-range cars and economy cars.  You also know there are fast cars and slow cars, flashy cars and vanilla cars, big cars and little cars, white cars, black cars and every color in between.  But if you were to think about specific features that differentiate one car from another, you would have to really think about it, wouldn't you?  It used to be easy.  Air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, power windows, power seats, side mirrors and automatic transmissions were standard in the expensive cars but not available in the budget-priced cars.  Today, most cars, in most classes include all of those features as standard.

The same kind of thinking is required when thinking about the various roles of salespeople.  We can name them: Account Executive, Territory Manager, Business Development Rep, Sales Development Rep, Account Manager, Key Account Manager, National Account Manager, Channel Manager, Application Engineer, Sales Consultant, Inside Sales, Outside Sales, and more.

To further complicate things, in some companies and industries, Sales Managers function as salespeople and Sales VPs function as Sales Managers.

While the above roles have selling as a primary responsibility, there are as many differences to selling roles as there are differences to the class or style of cars.  Today, we'll explore the difference between an Account Executive and a Business Development Rep.

I collaborated with Joe DiDonato, Chief of Staff at Baker Communications, and together we produced the following comparison.

Role Comparison for 21 Sales Competencies

While both roles overlapped in 10 key competencies, the capabilities in the remaining 11 competencies were very different. 

A successful AE needs to excel at 18 of 21 competencies that OMG assesses, while a successful BDR needs to excel at 13 of the 21 competencies. BDRs perform lead follow-up, send emails and connection requests, and conduct cold-calling. The reality is that most individuals in that role aren’t very good at it, based on the data we've collected. There is a prevailing misconception that those 3 tasks don’t require much selling ability because it’s “all top of the funnel,” but success in the role requires proficiency in 11 different sales competencies.

It’s the nature of each role’s responsibilities - and the prospect’s point of entry into the sales process and funnel - that requires different strengths. A BDR is focused on closing the prospect on initial sales and proof of concept steps at the top of the sales funnel. They’re going to be faced with 9 out of 10 callers rejecting them – if not more - and must be able to shrug that off without taking the rejection personally. As a result, the BDR must be “rejection proof” in addition to having strong hunting and closing capabilities. 

In contrast, the AE role relies on relationship building to move the opportunity down the sales funnel and through the formal sales process. Included in that effort is a strong consultative selling ability, as well as the knowledge of how to convincingly sell value to the prospect – both essential skills in moving the opportunity forward. 

Next comes strong presentation skills as the proposed solution has to be presented to multiple stakeholders, as well as a keen understanding and respect of the formal sales process that successfully moves the opportunity forward. Rounding out the AE's portfolio of skills is that the AE must have a considerably stronger comfort level around discussing money. 

So many opportunities are squandered as a result of an AE's failure to verify that the money is there, it can be spent, they are willing to pay more, and the value of more has been established. AEs who are comfortable having that conversation will outsell those who don’t. When they skip, avoid, or vaguely cover finances, proposals are generated for prospects who either won’t buy or won’t pay the price resulting in price objections, delays, business lost to competitors, or prospects choosing to do nothing. 

One of the most significant differentiators between the most successful AEs and their less successful counterparts can be found in the sales competency called Supportive Buy Cycle (shown in the table above). The attributes in the Buy Cycle competency correlate to how salespeople go about the process of making a major purchase for themselves and salespeople tend to sell in a way that is consistent with how they buy. The best salespeople determine what they want to purchase and simply buy it - without much consideration of price, alternate sources, having to think it over, and more. 

Conversely, the weakest salespeople tend to conduct research, comparison shop, look for the lowest price, think things over, and some of them even hate salespeople and "being sold" something. As you might imagine, the weakest salespeople understand it when their prospects want to buy the same way that they do, while the strongest salespeople don’t understand that buying behavior, push back, and ask questions. 

Strong salespeople have the ability to eliminate competition, shorten the sales cycle, and help prospects buy on value instead of price. It’s difficult for some salespeople to grasp the concept and consequences of this competency. But when salespeople change the way they buy so that it supports ideal sales outcomes, their revenue increases by 50%.

As you can see from the analysis, the skill sets are very different. Many companies treat the BDR role as an entry-level position in preparation for the more demanding AE role at some future date. But as closely aligned as these two roles are in objectives, they require different skills to be successful. As a result, the movement between roles is not as easily accomplished as most sales managers hope.

Before we conclude the article, it's important to note that for each of these 21 Sales Core Competencies, OMG includes 8-10 attributes (64 on one of them) for a total of around 275 specific sales findings and scores.  We have a site that shows the following data for each competency:

  • Average score for all salespeople
  • Average score for the top 10%
  • Average score for the bottom 10%
  • Average score in your industry
  • Average score for your company (you'll need some of your salespeople to take the evaluation to populate this bar on the graph - it's free for them to take it and populate the bar graph with your aggregate scores but you'll have to pay for the 30-page reports if you want them)

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, relationship building, prospecting, sales core competencies, sales CRM, top of the funnel

Big Company Strategies That SMB Sales Teams Can Emulate

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

apple-logo

On a recent Saturday I was running errands which took me through 3 local towns and a nearby city.  Even though I have traveled this route more than 5,000 times, it was the first time I noticed the difference in the various business signs along the road.

All of the national brands, chains, franchises, and well known businesses had professionally designed and recognizable logos.  All of the local, single-location, small businesses had signs that were crappy.  It would be a stretch to say their business signs displayed their logos because their signs, and probably their advertisements, just used different combinations of fonts that you have on your computer.  They were not professionally designed and they were definitely not attractive.  There was one exception.  The new BBQ/wings shop opening their second location has a very professional logo that makes them look like a national chain.  Not only does it draw ones eye to the store, it gives them instant credibility.  After all, isn't that one of the attractions of a franchise?  Even though you may operate a single location, you get to ride the coattails of their logo and reputation and instantly become a national or international business!

I know. The previous paragraph was about branding and marketing; not sales.  But there is a correlation to my theory that a slick, professionally designed logo, makes you look bigger and more successful. Give me a moment to explain how that applies to sales.

If a professionally designed logo makes you look bigger, more successful, and provides credibility, wouldn't the same theory apply to a professionally trained sales team?

Think about the last dozen or so B2B salespeople that have called on you.  From the cold emails, to the cold phone calls, to the demo where they read their own slides, to the unqualified proposal or quote and the agreement they want you to sign before you ever indicated you were interested in buying, 8 out of 10 salespeople suck at this.  These salespeople are basically throwing as much glue up in the air and just trying to see what sticks.  They close a deal here and there because of perfect timing and/or luck but missing from their arsenal are sales process, sales methodology and sales capabilities.

Data from Objective Management Group (OMG) backs this up.

The top 5% of all salespeople have elite selling skills.
The next 15% are very strong.
The next 30% are serviceable - at best. 
The bottom 50% are pretty crappy.

When a crappy salesperson calls on you and makes you wonder why you gave this salesperson any of your valuable time, isn't that the same as the boring font that doesn't stand out, isn't attractive, and screams unsuccessful? 

While I was composing this post, I received a voicemail from a crappy, bottom 50%er that was cold calling me.  I can't play the message but this is a word-for-word transcription:

Hi, this is Mary. I'm calling from [withheld] for [withheld] on a recorded line. I'm calling in today to show you a percent my business proposal in line with your phone system and for you to know more about our promotion, please contact me at [withheld] at extension [withheld]. Thank you. Have a great day. Bye.

Isn't that the same as the sign that suggests you might do better going elsewhere?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of small business and over the past 50 years started four of my own.  But just as logos make a huge difference, professionally trained salespeople make a huge difference as well.

Big companies have an advantage.  They not only have the branding and marketing to create awareness, they also have the power to buy their customers through discounts, deals and incentives.  How can a small or medium business compete with that? 

Through better selling.  To show they are a better choice.  To prove that they are a better fit. By taking a consultative approach and selling value.  By building stronger relationships.  By taking the time to listen and empathize.  By qualifying.

Suppose you wanted custom built-in cabinets and you have some basic handyman skills allowing you to measure, cut, glue, hammer and paint.  You can probably build a functional cabinet.  But if you hire a professional cabinet maker, it will be more than functional.  It will also look amazing with exact miter joints, beautiful molding, perfect-fitting drawers and doors, and a silky smooth finish.  Hiring a professional matters if you care how it will look.  Professionally training your sales team matters if you care about win rates, efficiency, accurate forecasts, consistency, and landing the most profitable and leverage accounts.

In the fall of 2020, when our son was moving onto a college campus that would be 55% female after attending an all boys High School I said, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."  The same advice applies to CEOs and Sales Leaders who have some selling experience.  Just because you can sell doesn't mean you should be the one to create the sales process and train your salespeople.  There is way too much at stake to rely on a DIY sales approach.

Do you think there are large companies that don't professionally train their salespeople?  They all do it.  If you want to achieve large company results, do what large companies do.  Slick, professionally designed logos and professionally trained salespeople.

Image copyright ©viewapart/123RF.COM

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, accurate sales forecasts, win rates

You Can't Lose Customers or Salespeople - 2 Secrets to Their Retention

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 06, 2022 @ 11:07 AM

wading

As we wade deeper into recession, you will certainly agree that there are two things you must not lose:

  • Customers/Clients
  • Good/Great Salespeople

I conducted a Google search for "why salespeople quit their jobs" and was surprised to find more than 6 million results for that query!  The first page of results was filled with self-serving articles from companies like Gong (artificial intelligence for digital prospecting), Hubspot (marketing platform) and more urging you to leverage their platforms so that you don't have to rely on salespeople.

I also found a pattern that was similar to last month's search for "top sales blogs" as part of my research for the article, The Top 12 Sales Blogs of 2022 That Make You Think and Sell More.  There were lots of articles that had the top 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15 reasons why salespeople leave or quit their jobs.  Most of those lists were simply subsets of other lists and the reasons included things like compensation, morale, workload, changing quotas, culture, toxic management, the job was misrepresented, too much pressure and lack of growth opportunity. While there were no surprises to these lists of reasons, I think there is a more pervasive reason that is not represented on the lists created by marketers and recruiters:

Sales Selection. 

Companies are still routinely selecting the wrong salespeople and the wrong salespeople are the ones that often leave.  Period.  Sales and HR leaders still make hiring decisions by relying on resumes, how someone interviews and gut feel, and while all three of those criteria have their place, a customizable, sales-specific, accurate and predictive assessment that measures capabilities in all 21 Sales Core Competencies is the difference maker.  The right sales-specific assessment will weed out sales candidates who lack the required skill set for the role, and identify the best candidates to consider for the role.  When you hire salespeople that meet and exceed expectations and quotas, the previously mentioned factors generally cease to exist.  Hire salespeople and focus on fit for the role.

A recession makes it more difficult to sell new customers, new projects and new products and services so you can not lose customers right now.  Period.  Most people believe that salespeople are the differentiators that assure customer retention but the reality is that it's customer service that plays the biggest role.  Just think about the customer service you have personally received over the past 2-3 years and how horrible and unacceptable most of it has been.  When you have the rare good experience you not only don't want to leave that company, it has nothing to do with price. It has everything to do with how the company and their CSRs treat you and solve your problem.

Finally, some advice in advance of unfavorable selling conditions.  I've sold and/or consulted through recessions dating back to the 80's!  Most, especially the economic crisis of 2008/9, caught companies by surprise and nobody saw a pandemic coming.  Most companies did not fare very well during the various economic crises because they hunkered down and tried to wait it out.  That wasn't a very good strategy.  Some companies actually grew during the down-time!  They sought out help at the first sign, right-sized their sales teams, invested in sales process, training and coaching and were clearly the exceptions to the rule.  They thrived while most companies lost ground.

Hire salespeople when your instinct is to let people go.  Invest in CSRs and make sure they will go out of their way to make customers happy.  Be proactive and aggressive in getting your sales team the help they need to sell when prospects don't want to meet or spend money, yet have more choices from increased competition with most focusing on lowering prices to win the business.  If your sales team is well trained, none of that will matter and they will continue to sell at your desired margins.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, assessments, selling in the recession, selling value

Understanding Competency Based Assessments - What Ditch Diggers and Salespeople Have in Common!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2022 @ 13:06 PM

I use a tool called Zapier to create zaps that automate some of the tasks that I do.  Zapier's newsletter had an article on 11 tech tools you need during economic uncertainty or in other words, during a recession. I clicked on the article and the first tool recommendation was written by Linda Scorzo, CEO of Hiring Indicators on the topic of competency based assessment technology. She wrote the following:

"Using competency-based, job-specific assessment technology is an absolute must for anyone looking to up-level their hiring. Getting beyond the interview and into the heart and soul of your candidates can give you a truer gauge of can they do the job and thrive as a member of your team.
With a recession comes an increased need to hire and to protect every dollar by lessening the risk of turnover. Assessment technology...has shown time and time again how you can get in front of the eight-ball and hire qualified and dynamic candidates."

Do you have any idea how many assessments are actually job specific?

The assessments that companies most commonly use are personality and behavioral styles assessments and as such, are not job specific.  Cue Objective Management Group (OMG).  Its assessments are not only specific to sales but also role specific, as in outside roles like account executive, account manager, and channel manager, as well as inside roles like BDR, SDR, and account manager.

OMG's sales assessments measure candidates against 21 Sales Core Competencies (and several additional sales competencies) and compares candidates to the more than 2.2 million other sales candidates that OMG has assessed. This measurement standard is "normative" while personality and behavioral styles assessments tend to be "ipsative."  Ipsative scores provide a comparison within an individual and are NOT recommended to be used for recruitment and selection purposes because they don’t make a comparison between individuals.

Each OMG Sales Core Competency has an average of 8 attributes for a total of approximately 200 sales specific findings, customized to the specific role for which the candidate is being considered.  OMG adjusts the requirements for a positive recommendation based on the difficulty of a specific sales job and role.  Various industries, businesses, sales roles, complexities, sales cycles, price points, territories, markets, audiences and decision makers are not remotely similar so a sales assessment is only useful if those factors are considered in the scoring criteria and subsequent recommendation.

As an example, let's say you were seeking to hire a ditch digger.  While you must identify someone who is strong, can use tools and dig holes, the width and depth of the hole, as well as the difficulty of the digging is more important.  Will this individual dig in sand, screened loom, compacted soil, clay, gravel, or rock?  If an assessment, even one that was specific to ditch-digging, only looked at the tools they had available and their ability to dig in general, it would not necessarily identify someone who could dig monumentally huge holes in soil with large rocks.

It's the same with a sales assessment.  A sales assessment that scored a territory salesperson who takes orders from plant managers for industrial supplies equally with a salesperson who sells multi-million dollar capital equipment to the C Suite of the Fortune 500 enterprises, is of limited value.  When the assessment can be configured to specify the requirements for those two sales roles and distinguish between the candidates applying for those two sales roles, we have perfection.

Let's return to part of the the quote at the beginning of this article where Linda writes, "Getting beyond the interview and into the heart and soul of your candidates can give you a truer gauge of can they do the job and thrive as a member of your team."  You do need a gauge, but the gauge should not be if they can do the job, but whether they will do the job.  OMG effectively distinguishes between can sell (you've met those ghosts - candidates you hired who are no longer with you but they still haunt you!) versus will sell (they are your top performers).  The other part of that quote which needs to be modified is where she says "getting beyond the interview."  You shouldn't be wasting time interviewing those candidates who can sell when you can focus only on those candidates who will sell in the specific role for which they are being considered.  Use the assessment early in the sales recruiting process to identify and disqualify the candidates that are not recommended.

OMG's sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments are legendary for how accurate and predictive they are.  Want to learn more?

Download a sample.

Sign up for a free trial (you must be a CEO, President, VP, GM, HR Director, Sales Leader or Sales Manager)

Start using OMG with Help! (An OMG Expert will contact you to walk you through the customization process and pricing options)

Start using OMG Right Now on Self-Serve (limited customization, limits on quantity, no portal access, no complimentary upgrades)

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, zapier

Selling and the Need for Speed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 08, 2022 @ 08:06 AM

speed-limit

We had Chinese for dinner and my fortune said, "Speed is not as important as accuracy."

When you think of speed what are the first things that come to mind?

Fighter Jets? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to Mach 6.70 (5,140 MPH)

Racing Cars? The 6 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 304 MPH.

Motorcycles? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 273 MPH.

Power Boats?  The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 317 MPH.

Light travels at 186,270 miles per second!

And salespeople.  What?  That's right, salespeople speed.  Let me explain.

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to close - before an opportunity is even closable.  

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to present - before an opportunity is even qualified.  Most salespeople are in such a hurry that they completely skip things like qualifying and discovery.  And when salespeople do perform discovery they accept the very first indicator they hear and rush to explain how their product or service addresses that indicator,

Example. You tell the doctor about a stomach ache and the doc says, "No problem - I can help" and calls in a prescription for an antacid.  And while that example actually happens, a good, thorough doctor would ask questions like, "Where does it hurt?"  "Does it hurt to the touch?"  "Is it always sore or does it come and go?"  "Is it more frequent after a meal or when you're moving around?" "How long have you been experiencing this discomfort?"  "Can you show me the exact area of the pain?" "Have you been overly stressed or anxious?"  "Have you made any changes to your diet?" 

[I'd make a good doctor!] 

Then the doctor would say, "I want to make sure we aren't missing anything.  I would like to get you scheduled for X-Rays, and an MRI so that we can rule out a few things."

He's still in discovery.  A good doctor has no need for speed.

Back to salespeople who do have a need for speed.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and how a company, team or individual salesperson scores on those competencies tells a story about how they sell, what they encounter, and how effectively they can turn those encounters into business.  Several competencies overlap with Discovery, the two most obvious being Consultative Seller and Value Seller.  However, those two competencies are much easier to complete when we include the competencies Reaches Decision Makers and Relationship Builder.  The numbers in the 3 images below show the percentage of 2.2 million salespeople who are strong in these four competencies.  All salespeople are on the left, the top 10% are in the middle and the bottom 50% are on the right.

Do you see the problem?  Even some of the top 10% struggle with the Consultative approach but they excel at Reaching Decision Makers and Selling Value.  Why do even the best salespeople struggle?  Because among the 10 or so attributes found in the Consultative Seller competency, the 2 most crucial are listens and asks great questions.  Most salespeople struggle mightily with listening and when one doesn't listen effectively, the next question isn't that obvious.

To execute the 4 competencies above, a certain amount of Sales DNA is required.  When strong, Sales DNA supports the execution of sales process and methodology.  When weak, Sales DNA sabotages those efforts.

Only 22% of all salespeople have strong Sales DNA.  Here are the average Sales DNA Scores for salespeople.

  • All salespeople have an average score of 65.
  • The top 10% have an average score of 81. 
  • The bottom 50% have an average score of 56.

More challenging selling roles require higher Sales DNA scores while less challenging selling roles require lower Sales DNA scores.  Here are three examples:

  • A salesperson who sells industrial batteries (for golf carts, truck fleets, wheelchairs) in a territory can get by with Sales DNA of 64.
  • A salesperson who sells payroll software to HR departments in a territory can succeed with Sales DNA of 72.
  • A salesperson who sells 7 to 8 figure capital equipment to the C Suite of the Fortune 500 against formidable competition in an 18 month sales cycle requires Sales DNA of over 82.

The salesperson the first example and those in similar roles to that salesperson have a need for speed.  It's a transactional sale.  They can move the sale and the relationship from transactional to consultative by S-L-O-W-I-N-G down.

The salesperson who is successful in the second example has slowed down.  Their biggest challenge is competition.  It's not a question of if the company will buy and use payroll software, the only question is whose software they will use and who they will purchase it from.  Slowing down even more will help to differentiate.

The salespeople in the third example have learned that if they are to have any success in this role, they must crawl through their sales process.  Slow is the name of the game.  I don't mean slow as in extend the sales cycle. I mean slow as in thorough.

[Update: One reader suggested that the crucial piece is having a variable speed where you move as fast or as slow as your customer.  I agree that you need variable speeds but many times the client wants to move fast and you need the ability to slow down the client or it will become a transactional sale.  So variable is OK but only when it provides an advantage to you.

They say speed kills and other than driving, nowhere is this more true than in sales.

Evaluate your Sales Team.

See scores for your industry in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Talk with an expert.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, selling value

The Recession is Here - How to Take Advantage and Prepare Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 31, 2022 @ 07:05 AM

crash-landing

You boarded your plane, got seated, the plane pulled away from the gate and you fell asleep.  Later, a hard landing woke you and you wondered, "Are we already there?"  Yes you are and you slept through the entire flight.

The same thing is happening with the economy.  While you were sleeping, distracted by Russia invading Ukraine, baby formula shortages, off-the-chart gas prices, a migrant surge across the southern border, mass shootings, supply-chain shortages, and runaway inflation, the recession crash-landed and it's here.   

The two biggest tell-tale signs are new home sales were 100,000 or so units below expectations for April, and the first of many interest rate hikes have been enacted. And the biggest sign is that government officials continue to tell us that there is nothing to see here, the economy is booming and there will be a soft landing from inflation.  Sure.

While I'm citing events in the United States, there is no doubt that this will be a global recession.

So what must you do to prepare your sales team and how can you leverage the effects of a recession?

You'll know the recession is real when in the next 90 days, sometime between now and the end of August 2022, the first domino falls and a major corporation announces they will layoff thousands of workers.  Others are sure to follow.  Then come the spending freezes.  This trickles down to mid-size and small businesses and while this is taking place, consumer confidence plunges, people stop buying things, which reinforces the decision to stop corporate spending and vindicates them for the layoffs.  We're gonna get clobbered!

You can leverage all of this by hiring salespeople.  That's right.  Resist the urge to layoff salespeople and instead, take advantage of what will finally be a surplus of good to great salespeople.  They have been in very short supply for several years and this will be one positive consequence of a recession.  Gobble them up, upgrade and smart-size your team and use OMG's Smart-Sizing tool as part of a sales team evaluation. Use OMG's sales candidate assessments to distinguish the sales winners from the imposters because past success is NOT a good predictor of future success in sales. You should already know that from experience otherwise your track record would be better and all of your salespeople would be meeting or exceeding quotas.

You must prepare your salespeople so they can convince people who are on a spending freeze to spend money despite the freeze.  This REQUIRES that they be effective at calling on, reaching and engaging actual decision makers as they are the only people who can override the spending freeze.  In addition to developing their skills at engaging decision makers, they must be equally effective at using a consultative approach, selling value and using a sales process optimized for a value-based, consultative approach.  Why consultative?  Selling value doesn't work well outside of a consultative approach.  Not only that, but salespeople struggle to achieve differentiation outside of a consultative approach.

What could go wrong?

OMG has evaluated and assessed more than 2.2 million salespeople and the data shows that taking a consultative approach is where salespeople are LEAST effective.

As you can see, only 11% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 28% have reaching decision makers as a strength and only 31% have selling value as a strength.  But it's worse than that.  Weak salespeople make up 50% of the sales population.  Weak salespeople don't sell this way!  The next graphic isolates weak salespeople - the bottom 50% - only.

Only 1% of weak salespeople (half of your sales team!) have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 10% have reaching decision makers as a strength, and only 4% have selling value as a strength.

This is why half of your salespeople don't hit quota!  But over the past several years they have gotten by because they have been in order-taking mode.  With demand dropping like a rock and order-taking going away what will you do?  These are the five steps you should take.

1) Evaluate Your Sales Team  to determine who will be part of your future and who was part of your past.  Determine the exact competencies in which they will require training and coaching.  Better understand where the bottlenecks are and what it will take to increase your win rate. 

2) Assess Sales Candidates as you hire better salespeople.

or Request Information

3) Customize and Optimize your Sales Process for a Consultative Approach

4) Get your sales managers trained and coached to be effective and consistent at coaching up their salespeople

5) Get your sales team trained to hunt decision makers, take a consultative approach, and sell value.

The economy might make a crash landing but there is no reason you or your sales team need to do the same.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, selling in the recession, sales candidate assessment, selling value, sales team evaluation

Top 12 Sales Blogs of 2022 That Make You Think and Sell More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 20, 2022 @ 12:05 PM

reading-blog

I conducted a Google search for the Top Sales Blogs and it showed 616,000 results.  I can work with that!  Not.  I started browsing page by page and I found approximately 50 different lists of top sales blogs on the first 6 pages.  My Blog was named on many of those lists but it got me wondering, why so many lists, why are so many different Blogs listed, what are the criteria, and which Blogs should you really be following for the best sales advice?

I chose to start with criteria required to be named on the lists. 

The most common criteria is personal choice as in "These are my favorite Sales Blogs!"  And that's OK as long as readers know they are your favorites and as such, won't necessarily have the best content.

Some of the lists use Blogs that are named on other lists and simply cull them down from a top 50 list to a top 25 list. 

Others use traffic as a criteria as in the Blogs that get the most visitors must be the best blogs.  Not really.  They're the Blogs that are most heavily promoted and get the most traffic.  Similarly, others use the number of Facebook or Twitter followers as their criteria for which are the best.

Some lists are pay to play where for a fee they'll include the Blog on their list.  The list may not have the best sales Blogs but give them credit - the authors paid for you to read their content!

Some lists are created by authors who have their own sales Blog (like I'm doing here) and they include their friends from the community (which I am not doing).

Some lists include Marketing Blogs.  Why not read a Marketing Blog when you're looking for sales advice? Most of the sales advice from Marketing Blogs is to stop selling and start marketing.

Some lists include Blogs on Sales Enablement.  Again. Nothing wrong with that but you'll usually get an adult dose of "technology is your answer" along with an extra-large serving of self-promotion.

Is there is an objective list that isn't pay for play, that doesn't list friends, that doesn't have off-topic content, that you can rely on for honest-to-goodness, entertaining, funny, engaging, thought-provoking articles that ask great questions and provide good, practical, real-world, usable advice? 

Not that I could find.

So I have assembled a list of Sales Blogs that fit that description. It is my opinion, but I really tried to be as objective and unbiased as I could.  These are the sales experts whose work I read!  Some are on the other lists I found while some are not.  Some have large followings and some do not.  Some are well known and some are not.  They are all heavily focused on sales and or sales leadership.  They are not ranked as that is way too much work, it is unfair to the sales experts, and I am way too efficient to waste time and effort on ranking.

I apologize to the sales experts who are friends and acquaintances whose Blogs are not named here.  I assure you it isn't personal but I worked hard to make sure this was not an all-inclusive list but truly a list of the best material.

Understanding the Sales Force by Dave Kurlan - We'll get the shameless promotion over and done with early. My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, with its 2,000 articles and heavy emphasis on data and generous use of stories and analogies is on my list.  Most of the articles are entertaining, not too long, and include data to back up my conclusions.

The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino -  The Sales Blog is not to be missed as Iannarino is one of the best at sharing useful insights.  Visit Anthony's Blog for the best ideas in both sales and leadership.

Partners in Excellence Blog by Dave Brock   I love Dave Brock's blog because his thinking reminds me of me!  He has the ability to take complex sales concepts and make them simple and easy to read. Dave is another veteran of the sales consulting space who has seen it all and done it all and his wisdom and sense of humor comes shining through. 

Mike Weinberg's Blog  Mike Weinberg is a great story-teller who whose practical advice includes making sure you pick up the phone and use it for prospecting.  There aren't many sales experts who still believe in the phone as a tool but Mike does and he helps salespeople use it effectively.   

Selling from the Heart by Larry Levine Larry Levine is unique in that his advice comes from the perspective of being authentic, caring and honest and you can't go wrong if you follow that advice.

A Sales Guy by Keenan   Keenan is another original but he is not for the faint of heart.  He's passionate about being great at selling and the passion comes through from his not so occasional use of the f-bomb.  If you can get past that - and you should - his writing is entertaining and very helpful.

Rain Group Blog The Rain Group's blog is about sales effectiveness and it relies heavily on data and statistics.  Right up my alley!  The advice is great and you should include their Blog on your reading list.

Sales Pro Insider by Nancy Bleeke    Nancy is another longtime veteran of the sales expert space who is an entertaining writer providing sound, practical advice along with occasional reviews of books and tools in the sales space.

Cerebral Selling by David Premer    I recently came across David's blog and was impressed with how well it fits a niche in sales that isn't written about or discussed very frequently.  If you're a thinking person, this is the sales blog to read.

The Sales Hunter by Mark Hunter    Another veteran of the sales expert space, Mark Hunter talks about hunting - a lot!  So if you're in a role that requires prospecting for new business, you will definitely want to check out The Sales Hunter Blog.

Keith Rosen  Keith Rosen writes almost exclusively about sales management and sales leadership so if you're in one of those two roles then you must become a regular reader of Keith's Blog.

Membrain by George Bronten  George sometimes reposts content from other sales experts and sometimes promotes Membrain, but that aside, his material is great and you should include his Blog in your regular reading.

Image copyright 1232RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Keith Rosen, membrain, s. anthony iannarino, best sales blog, Dave Brock, george bronten, nancy bleeke, larry levine, mike weinberg, cerebral, keenan, mark hunter, best sales blogs

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

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