The Cold Email I Read Through to the End - Is  There Hope for Salespeople and Marketers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 22, 2022 @ 15:02 PM

email-1

I bought my first cell phone in 1985.  The enormous device was hard wired to the car, connected to a heavy metal box, and cost $2,000 to install.  All calls in and out were billed by the minute and my bill averaged around $1,500 per month. The coverage was so spotty that most calls were dropped several times per conversation.  The only practical way to use the "car phone" was to find a coverage area, find a place to park in that area, and then have a conversation.  It took a good 15 years for the technology to catch up with the concept!

The same thing has happened with email prospecting.  I had my first email account in the early 90's.  My email address at the time was sales guru at prodigy dot net. Since then, marketers and BDRs have been sending dreadful emails to drum up interest and I believe it has been an utter failure. Over the past few years, they added artificial intelligence (AI) to their efforts and despite the time it saved, it was far worse.  Emails generated using AI were absolutely dreadful.  Until now. Sunday I received a cold email, generated using AI that was actually personalized.  Not with just my name, but it included information about my company, where I attended college and more.  While I still have no interest or need for the service being pitched, I actually read it instead of deleting it.  Here's what it said:

 

Hi Dave — We hope you're well, and having a great start to the new year and the Q1. I'm inviting CEOs with similar backgrounds to an exclusive session below.

I love that Objective Management Group continues to pioneer the sales assessment industry by providing crucial insights to maximize sales performance in companies of all sizes and industries. It's clear why you do it. I have been researching the importance of creating "perfect pitches" for consistent conversions when selling candidates quarters!

I'm [his name], [his title] at [his company] We recently invited a number of companies similar to yours, please accept our intro session for Objective Management Group (attached deck here) to learn more about how we've helped them.

I've noticed that you graduated from Assumption College, hope it was a great experience! Have a wonderful rest of your week!

I'm not saying this is good because it's not even close to good.  It's just better than what I usually get.  The second paragraph is copied from OMG's website and the college information was probably taken from LinkedIn. Every sentence has grammatical and style errors and it has a terrible call to action but it is SO much better than the dozens of emails that you and I receive each day. Those are so, so awful and without any good reason ask for us to hop on a call this afternoon for a discussion.   

Worse, their workflow was overly aggressive.  Without indicating that I was open to a meeting, I received a calendar invite for a random time.  I declined the invite and then received a meeting confirmation.  The potential is there but the execution, from writing to workflows was still horrible.  It makes me wonder.  Companies and marketers invest the money for these AI applications but don't invest in copyrighting, messaging and getting the workflows right.  Why bother?

And in case you got the wrong idea, I'm not suggesting that you run out, get an AI application and begin sending better automated messages.  I'm suggesting that if you are going to bypass the phone and resort to prospecting by email (I'm not a fan), then invest the time to manually target, do your own research, invest in better messaging, take the time to plan your follow up and don't follow the email I shared.  That's your only chance if you actually want and expect anyone to read a cold email.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, selling via email, email prospecting, cold emails

When Salespeople Can't Close Closable Business - The Bob Chronicles Part 7

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 14, 2022 @ 13:02 PM

ready

I heard from Bob last week and whenever I hear from him it usually means he got himself into a jam with another sales opportunity.  Regular readers are familiar with Bob, one of the worst salespeople on the planet.  New readers might want to catch up on the six prior articles about Bob.

Part 1 
Part 2 
Part 3 
Part 4 
Part 5 
Part 6 

So what did Bob get himself into this time?

It's a huge opportunity that Bob has been nurturing for years and several months ago his prospect, a top executive that has the influence and authority to make a decision, confided that he would like to find a way to do business and not only that, have this be part of his legacy. 

Good salespeople would discuss the scope of work next but Bob sent samples, conducted demos and walk-throughs, and another two months passed.  Then Bob's prospect said he is retiring and would introduce Bob to his replacement.

Bob's strategy was to keep the opportunity alive until the replacement is in the role.  Is that what you would do?

If he keeps the opportunity alive, what would that actually involve?  Staying in touch with the guy who is retiring?  The guy who no longer has a need to do this because he's leaving and won't be around to see it through?  And then what?  Start from scratch?  Make a cold call to the new person?  Assume that his replacement will be equally interested?  Assume that his replacement won't have his own established relationships who he could work with?  What an awful strategy!

The proper strategy would be to help his current prospect get the initiative started so that his replacement can see it through.  Helping his prospect get this started will help his prospect make this part of his legacy.  There are only two months before his prospect retires so there is urgency that wasn't there before.  Bob should leverage the urgency to get his prospect to pull the trigger - now - so that everything is in place before he leaves.

But Bob isn't comfortable with this strategy.  Why?

Sales DNA.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated 2,181,567 salespeople and has lots of data about the four Sales DNA issues below. While Bob's Sales DNA is sabotaging him, let's not forget that Bob is among the weakest salespeople in the world and he represents the bottom 50%.

  • Low Money Tolerance - as I mentioned, this is a huge opportunity -  for Bob.  It will easily reach six figures  and for Bob, that's a lot of money.  Even though it will be pocket change for this international conglomerate, Bob believes that it's a huge expense that requires many meetings and discussions to approve.  Bob's apprehension over the money is responsible for why he hasn't closed anything in this account - EVER.  The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Low Money Tolerance and Bob is in the weakest 1-25% where 92% of them have this weakness.
  • Need to be Liked - Bob is a nice guy and people find him very likable.  But Bob needs people to like him and in the case of the top executive from this enterprise company, Bob very much needs to be liked and won't say or do anything that he thinks would get his prospect upset and undermine the opportunity.  The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Needing to be Liked and Bob is in the weakest 1-25% where 82% of them have this weakness.
  • Unable to Stay in the Moment - Because Bob is uncomfortable with the potential deal size and is worried about not being liked if he introduces the topic of price, he is unable to stay in the moment and respond appropriately.  Instead, he is worrying about next steps, what might go wrong, is reacting emotionally and is not in control of his thoughts or actions. The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Unable to Stay in the Moment and Bob is in the weakest 1-50% where 89% of them have this weakness.


  • Lack of Sales Urgency - Bob's prospect has enough urgency to get this project started but that is not matched by Bob's urgency.  You can read more about that in part 4 above as this is not the first time that Bob's urgency has not been properly aligned with his prospect's.  In the table below, note that the results are reported differently.  The prior tables showed the percentage of salespeople that had the weakness.  This table shows the percentage of salespeople that have the strength.  The top row is the percentage of all salespeople with sales urgency.  The remaining rows are in reverse order, with elite at the top and weak at the bottom. Bob is in the Weak group where 66% (34% strong) have the weakness.

Bob isn't very good but let's not forget that Bob is like 50% of salespeople in world who desperately require a tremendous amount of sales training and coaching, something their sales managers are not very adept at providing.

If you would like to see more OMG data, all 21 Sales Core Competencies can be viewed, and filtered by industry here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, assessments, Sales Coaching, Sales DNA, Closing Sales, sales data

The Difference Between CyberThieves, Hackers and Most Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 10, 2022 @ 07:02 AM

cyber

I found it challenging to write this article.

The company that provides us with cyber-insurance required that our entire team watch a series of 21 training videos to make us more aware of how hackers operate, how easy it is to be hacked, and what we must do differently in order to protect our data, privacy and accounts.  Imagine my surprise when the first video described hacking operations as businesses with outbound prospecting operations whose goal is to convert their emails, texts and calls into paying customers.  They described very aggressive and efficient sales and marketing operations staffed by people who operated without feelings or empathy, felt no rejection or remorse, and didn't care about the prospects that didn't respond, but were all in on those who took the bait.

Wow.

Salespeople have never had GREAT reputations, and from among the tens of thousands of B2B salespeople I have met, worked with or evaluated during the past 35 years, if they were guilty of anything, it would be for trying to overcompensate for that undeserved reputation.

While I can't stop thinking about that video and the analogy they used, there are two strong thoughts pulling at me.

On the one hand, I am shocked and chagrinned that the insurance company would use salespeople as a reference point for hackers.  You could not possibly understand the degree to which It bothers me.  

On the other hand, you and I both know that if salespeople worked as methodically, consistently, aggressively, effectively, and efficiently as the hackers do, we would double our revenue.

Most B2B salespeople are ethical and trying their best to help their prospects, customers and clients.  They have feelings and consciences, try to be honest and that makes them good human beings.  Hackers lack those traits and while I'm not a psychologist, I'm pretty sure their lack of a conscience makes them psychopaths!  

Hackers perform the way we wish our salespeople would however they are psychopathic criminals.

Salespeople underperform because the human elements that make them normal and ethical - their fears, feelings, emotions, consciences and empathy, slow them down, get in the way, make them think too much and sabotage performance.

It's a double edged sword.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their data from the evaluations of 2,180,816 salespeople, the top 5% as well as many in the top 20%, are in fact human, ethical, and have consciences. This proves that high performing salespeople and ethics are not mutually exclusive.  We can have the best of both worlds.  To prove that, I looked through OMG's data and found that the top 5% of all salespeople actually score 45% higher than the weakest 50% in the attribute of high integrity selling.  Despite that, only 26% of all salespeople and only 39% of the top 5% are effective at building trust.  What does that mean?

Salespeople who are not high integrity sellers and who struggle to build trust have major credibility problems while salespeople who are high integrity sellers that also succeed at building trust establish tremendous credibility and consistently win business.

Warning:  The salespeople to beware of are those who are not high integrity sellers but despite that, manage to build trust.  Watch out for them!  That is the group that gives salespeople a bad name.

There's more!  One of the OMG Sales Core Competencies, "Stays in the Moment," encompasses  fears, feelings and emotions.  Great salespeople are able to stay in the moment and don't allow their fears, feelings and emotions get in the way.  OMG's data shows that while only 37% of all salespeople are able to stay in the moment, 65% of the top 5% of salespeople are able to stay in the moment and 19% of the weakest 50% are able to stay in the moment.  The top 5% are 42% more effective at staying in the moment and preventing their fears, feelings and emotions from getting in the way.

You can see more of OMG's data here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, selling tips, omg, phone sales, ethical selling, building trust

62% Less Turnover and 80% Higher Quota Attainment When You Hire Salespeople the Right Way

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 03, 2022 @ 07:02 AM

 

snowblower

Buying a snowblower?  Pick one, have it delivered, wait for a snowstorm and blow some snow.  What's the worst that can happen?

Planning to go out for dinner?  Choose a restaurant, make a reservation, show up and enjoy.  What's the worst that can happen?

Hiring salespeople? Spec the role(s), post your job descriptions, collect resumes, choose some candidates to interview and make some hires.  What's the worst that can happen?

If you have a sales cycle of several months or more, subsidize your salespeople until they are self-sufficient, and in early 2022 it takes 3 months to find a suitable candidate, you are screwed before you start!  Once you finally identify a decent candidate, you have hours, not days or weeks, to make a decision and pull the trigger and what's the worst that can happen?  Six months or more pass before you realize that salesperson won't make it and you not only wasted a half year's salary, you lost six months, have an empty territory or vertical, and have to start over from the beginning!

It doesn't have to be that way and here's why.

There are several keys to getting sales selection right and we can discuss them here:

  1. Compensation: Base salaries are in and while you would love to hire a salesperson who is willing to eat what they kill (straight commission), most salespeople are not well-suited for that kind of pressure.  Your on plan total compensation for the first year must be appealing or in today's market good salespeople will ignore you.
  2. Location: Many salespeople love working from home and leveraging video platforms to generate revenue.  They can be MUCH more effective and should be much more successful.  You'll need to offer a remote option to attract good salespeople.
  3. Job posting:  The job posting must stand out and describe your ideal candidate instead.  Don't post a job description, post a candidate description, don't make it about your company, and you'll have a better chance to attract the best candidates.
  4. Sales Candidate Assessment: In today's candidate market you MUST have a crystal ball to differentiate the duds from the studs and more importantly, identify the salespeople who are the best fit for the particular selling role you are hoping to fill.
  5. Confidence: If you get the first four things right, then you will have the confidence to pull the trigger before you lose a good candidate to another company.

Today, I conducted a tailored fit for a company that will use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and highly predictive sales candidate assessments.  The tailored fit adds an additional layer of customization - in this case 30 additional criteria - to help identify the right salespeople.  We also use tailored fits as a proof of concept, to show skeptical potential clients that our sales candidate assessment accurately differentiates their top producers from their worst under performers.  Check this out:

So what are we looking at here?

We start with 185 or so findings inside 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Then we identify the findings and scores that differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  In the example above, eight of the differentiators we identified are actually selection criteria that the company wasn't aware of and was badly messing up. Four of the differentiators are related to motivation which is ironic because most executives believe they have a tremendous ability to identify and hire motivated salespeople.  Two of the findings are related to Sales DNA, weaknesses that sabotage performance.  Seven differentiators reside with traditional sales core competencies.  Two identify salespeople's suitability for working remotely and their ability to self-start.  And six of the differentiators represent specific selling skills.

Explained another way, the top producers prospect consistently, are extroverts and score high in the Hunting competency.  They reach decision makers, take a consultative approach and uncover compelling reasons to buy, sell value and leverage sales technology.  They can work remotely, and have experience calling on business users, asking for up to $25,000, selling conceptual services that are not top of the line, in a hunting role with high pressure to perform while working at a major corporation and a turbulent and ever changing culture.  The bottom under performers do not. 

This company was not using OMG's assessment and managed to hire some very ineffective salespeople.  As long as they follow OMG's recommendations, they will never make mistakes like this again!  The salespeople that OMG recommends move to the top half of the sales team within 12 months while 75% of the salespeople that are hired although they were not recommended by OMG, fail within 6 months.  Read that again to make sure you read it right.

The 33,000 companies that have used this tool to assess more than 2.2 million salespeople, have hired nearly 100,000 salespeople.  They have 62% less turnover, shorter paths to productivity, and 80% higher quota attainment.

You can be consistently successful hiring salespeople if you follow my 5 tips and use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Need to see a sample?  Request one here.  Choose Sales Candidate Assessment.

Need to try it out?  Request a free trial here.

Ready to save time and money, hire with confidence and start using OMG?  Have an OMG expert help you get started

George Kriza sat down and interviewed me about the challenges of finding and hiring salespeople in the current economy.  Watch it now!

Image copyright 123RF.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, Personality Tests, sales candidate assessment, sales assessments, sales test

10 Prospect Rules That Salespeople Must Learn to Break

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 24, 2022 @ 07:01 AM

restaurant-masks

This is not an article about COVID but I will begin by asking which COVID policy you believe is the most stupid.

My vote is for the mask requirement in restaurants because the premise is so moronic.  While you're alone with your group at the front door and until you reach your table you must wear your mask.  Then, when you're seated at your table, among all the other diners, you can remove your mask.  The most literal conclusion is that the virus isn't contagious while you are sitting and eating your food, only when standing and walking.  The same can be extended to the airlines where the virus won't spread if you are unmasked with your mouth open to eat or drink, but will most certainly spread if you are sitting with your mouth closed without a mask.  

Like I said, this is not a COVID article because if it was, I could write a book about the data, science, policies and hypocrisies.  However, there is a sales equivalent to the stupid restaurant masking requirement and that is what we will discuss in today's article.

Have you or your salespeople ever been told by a prospect that they can't:

  • Share who the decision maker is
  • Allow you to speak with the decision maker
  • Allow you to meet the decision maker
  • Share the actual budget
  • Divulge who you are competing with
  • Provide feedback about how you compare with the competition
  • Answer your questions because they don't know the answers
  • Explain the problem your product/service will solve because they were simply tasked to gather information
  • Meet because they only need a quote or proposal
  • Share the criteria for what constitutes a winning partner/proposal/quote etc.

There are two interesting takeaways from this list of 10 prospect rules.

  1. Most salespeople aren't even asking most of these questions or alternate questions.  I teach salespeople to ask alternate questions because let's face it - these questions suck like a vacuum cleaner.
  2. The salespeople who do manage to ask questions like these and don't get them answered wouldn't dare push back and/or try again to get the questions answered

There are two reasons for salespeople not being able to push back.

  1. They don't know how to push back because they haven't been trained and coached to push through these challenges.
  2. They need to be liked.  According to the data from Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments of more than 2,177,025 salespeople, 59% have Need for Approval or the need to be liked.  Salespeople who need to be liked are uncomfortable asking questions, more uncomfortable asking lots of questions, and find it impossible to ask good, tough timely questions.  There is no chance they would ever have the difficult conversation that would differentiate them from their competition.

It's a powerful weakness found in the area of Sales DNA.  It is so powerful that when salespeople finally overcome the weakness, using OMG's Sales DNA Modifier, that their sales increase by 35%! 

Not needing to be liked is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG.  You can see all 21 here and if you're up to it, sort by industry and even by company.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, omg, sales objections, sales tips, sales assessements, sales evaluations

Bob Chronicles Part 6 - When Salespeople Suddenly Make Things Your Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 @ 07:01 AM

airplane

Both AT&T and Verizon have delayed activating their 5G networks near airports because it might cause interference with airplane guidance systems on certain planes, like Boeing 777s.

Forgive my cynicism, but how long have the airlines known about that?

They have probably had years to prepare for this deployment and update their own technology but didn't and now, at the eleventh hour, they sounded the alarm and tried to make it the carriers' problem.  

Can you think of any selling scenarios for which this would be a good analogy?  I can!

Scenario 1:  Your salespeople were scheduled to begin using new technology or even to take an OMG Evaluation and the night before the deadline you start hearing all the reasons why they haven't been able to set it up, enter their data, get online, complete the project, turn it in, upload, download, unload, or do it correctly and all of a sudden it has become your problem.

Scenario 2: Bob was informed 2 weeks ago that an important customer proposal would be due by the end of business today. At 4pm, Bob was in a panic, screaming that he needed pricing in the next 10 minutes or you'll lose the business.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 3: Recently, an opportunity became closable and yesterday was the day to get it closed. Yesterday, for the first time, Bob learned there was another competitor who proposed an alternate solution that the customer liked and at a lower price. Bob must respond to this situation today and needs you to be on the call.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 4: A decent sized opportunity has been stuck in the pipeline for weeks and Bob has assured you that despite the lack of movement it is still good to go. Your Spidy-sense suggests that it's anything but good to go and you urge Bob to follow up and you share your strategy with him.  Bob, who always knows the best way to proceed, resists and you know that if this opportunity sits another day it's as good as gone so if anyone is going to follow up it isn't going to be Bob.  His resistance to following up has made this your problem.

Scenario 5: Bob tells you that he has a huge opportunity but needs references before they will meet with him.  He doesn't have any good references of his own and wants to use your references so now this has become your problem.  Watch this 2-minute video rant to see how I feel about premature requests for references.

We know Bob is a weak salesperson and he isn't alone as half of the entire population of salespeople are very Bob-like in their behavior.  I'm sure you can think of a dozen more examples and I hope you will add them to the comments below.  I've written about Bob before and you can "catch up" here:

Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

Over the nearly 2,000 articles on this Blog we have discussed evaluations, assessments, sales performance data, consultative selling strategies, examples, closing, prospecting, qualifying, advanced selling tactics, coaching, recruiting, accountability, pipeline, sales process and more.  However, we have rarely, if ever, talked about the importance of being organized, proactive, detailed, prepared, and ahead of schedule to avoid the problems that sabotage so many salespeople.

I mentioned that Bob is among the weakest 50% of all salespeople.  You can see the data here.

You can avoid hiring salespeople like Bob by using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on planet earth.  You can check that out here.

You can evaluate your existing sales team to learn whether you have a team full of Bobs or only some Bobs.  You can learn more about that here.

Finally, if you want to see samples of our sales, sales management, sales leadership insight reports, sales team evaluations, or sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments, click here.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, sales tips, sales calls, closing deals, time management, sales assessments, pipeline management, sales team, organizational skills

Has Buying Changed and Has B2B Selling Adapted?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 05, 2022 @ 10:01 AM

b2b

My articles begin with analogies so we'll start by asking, has baseball changed?  

Games take longer, there is role specialization, starting pitchers rarely complete games, hitters are stronger, pitchers routinely throw in the mid 90's and there is a trend towards either hitting a home run or striking out.  But it's still baseball.  It is still played the same way.  The changes are superficial.

And in the context of how it affects salespeople, has buying really changed?

If you believe what is so frequently written by digital marketing folks, then buying has changed dramatically.  But just because a digital marketing person wrote it, does that make it true?  

We must discuss buying in the context of buying from salespeople so we will begin by differentiating facts from claims. Let's begin with what we know for absolute certain.

B2B buying can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Point and Click Transactional Purchases (navigate to a website and buy it)
  • Talk and or Meet with an Expert (salespeople)

For transactional purchases, salespeople have been eliminated so to that extent, sales has changed dramatically!

For other B2B purchases, salespeople still have significant involvement - for now.  Prospects search Google, visit websites, learn about products and services, and even get a sense for pricing.  For their part, salespeople who regurgitate the same information that prospects can find online are simply redundant, fail to provide any value, and won't be around for long.  It is imperative that salespeople provide value by actually being the value and from that perspective, one of the salesperson's responsibilities has changed.

It is more difficult for salespeople to reach decision makers of larger organizations as they are better protected than before and tend to rely more on group decision making.

When the onset of the pandemic introduced virtual selling to the masses, more buying options than ever before became available because the business that is 3,000 miles away is suddenly no further away than the one down the street.

The way that buyers find salespeople has changed.  They may use the aforementioned Google search, but are just as likely to find a trusted source from an expert Blog, through LinkedIn, or Facebook.  While marketers will use that as proof that outbound selling is dead, that proclamation is propaganda, not fact.  Inbound marketers generate a lot of interest and leads on which to follow up but the quality of those leads is questionable and inconsistent and there are big problems when handing them off to salespeople.  Salespeople who still do their own prospecting by phone schedule plenty of quality meetings to keep their pipelines full.

So how buyers and sellers find each other has changed, decision makers are more effective insulating themselves, and there are more buying options.  What happens after that?

The digital marketing folks say that the buying journey is 57% complete when a buyer first reaches out to a salesperson.  Most ineffective and underperforming salespeople agree that prospects seem to know what they want and all they have to do is quote prices, prepare proposals and take orders.  Of course that's why they are ineffective and chronically underperform.

Today's buyers are self-educated and salespeople mistake that knowledge for readiness. Salespeople tend to take the path of least resistance and the knowledge they mistake for readiness lulls them into the quote, proposal and order taking mode.  As a result, they don't follow their company's sales process or worse, the company's sales process has been modified to reflect buyers being ready.  If the buyers were truly ready at this point they would actually buy but the additional options prolong instead of shorten the sales process.

The top 20% of all salespeople have not fallen victim to the false sense of security offered by poor quality inbound leads or the myth of the buyer journey being 57% complete.  They leverage new tools and technology to take a more consultative approach, follow their sales process, nicely challenge prospects who seem to be ready, uncover the reasons and consequences that led them to buy, get them to think differently and get prospects to see them as subject matter experts. They qualify more thoroughly than ever, talk with and/or meet decision makers, and close two to three times more business than their underperforming, order-taking colleagues.

Buying has changed to the extent that it's easier to start the process and reach out to potential vendors.  Selling has changed to the extent that most salespeople are less effective and top salespeople are closing a bigger percentage of the business than ever before.

This can all be fixed.  How?  

A Sales Team evaluation identifies the issues.

A Custom Sales Process helps salespeople to meet the correct milestones with the proper people at the optimal time for the right reasons.  Integration of the sales process into a CRM application that is designed for how you sell and who you sell to is crucial.

Sales Leadership Training and Coaching train your sales leaders to coach up their salespeople.

Sales Training that demonstrates a consultative approach, utilizes role-play and models what great selling looks and sounds like. 

An integrated approach to sales development changes everything.  Isn't it time?

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, closing, crm, inbound, buyer journey, outbound

My Most Popular Sales Article of the Last Ten Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 13, 2021 @ 07:12 AM

nutcracker2019

This is my annual nutcracker post.  I first wrote the article in 2011 and people loved the analogy between the Nutcracker and a sales call.  I make minor modifications to the article each year as current trends, best practices, and recent data dictate.

Last year, The Boston Ballet cancelled their performance of the Nutcracker but we will be in attendance next week and look forward to continuing the tradition.

Please enjoy the article and share it.  It's not only popular, it's one of my all-time favorites as well!

The Top 3  Lessons  from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"

If you attend a performance of the Nutcracker or simply listen to some of the suite during the holiday season, one of the selections is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy".  Perhaps you can't match the music to the title, but I'm sure if you listen to the first 30 seconds of this version, you'll recognize the melody regardless of your religion or ethnicity.

Even though you've heard this song in advertisements and movies and television shows during  every Holiday season of your life, can you identify the four primary musical instruments being played at the beginning of the selection?

In this version, you hear the glass harmonica (most performances feature the celesta), oboe, bassoon and flutes.  Listen again.  Can you hear them?

As with the familiarity of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," salespeople find familiarity in the sounds, questions, comments and discussions during their sales conversations.  While you may not be able to distinguish the specific instruments creating those sounds in "Dance...," your salespeople might not have the ability to distinguish credible comments and questions from noise.

Suppose your salespeople hear one prospect say, "This has been a very interesting and productive conversation and we might have some interest in this."  And imagine another prospect at the same meeting says, "We'll get back to you next month and let you know what kind of progress we've made."  And still a third might say, "In the meantime, please send us a proposal with references and a timeline."

There are three important lessons that arise from this:

Lesson #1 (based on Objective Management Group's data of more than 2 million salespeople) - Out of every 100 salespeople:

  • 70 quickly begin working on a proposal and tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising because all 3 prospects in the meeting were very interested;
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and eventually, they'll do both;
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking a lot of additional good, tough, timely questions.

Lesson #2:

  • Prospects' voices are like musical instruments.  Each instrument in "Dance..." has a specific role in the performance.  If the wrong instrument or notes are played or played at the wrong time, the entire performance is ruined.  Prospects' comments also have different meanings depending on their business titles and their roles in the buying process.
  • If "please send us a proposal", "we're interested" or "very productive" are spoken from an Executive - the CEO, President or a VP - it has a far different meaning than if the comment were to come from a buyer in Procurement.
  • When any of those 3 comments are spoken by a user - an engineer for example - rather than a buyer or an Executive, the comments may be far more genuine, but carry much less authority.

Lesson #3:

  • Sometimes it's more fun to listen to a song, symphony or simple melody and to figure out how and why the composer or arranger selected the particular instruments to play the particular parts of the selection.
  • Your salespeople must apply that wonder and analysis to their sales calls.  The prospect may be the composer (started the initiative), arranger (selected the vendors to talk with), director (charged with the initiative and conducting the process) or musician (following directions of the conductor).  It's the salesperson's job to figure out who they're dealing with, what role they play, what influence they'll have and how to get the various players aligned on the compelling reasons to buy and your ideal solution.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, sales tips, Nutcracker

Sales Selection Tools: Do You Get What You Pay For?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 09, 2021 @ 09:12 AM

fraud

Perhaps you've heard the advertisement while listening to a SiriusXM radio station.  It's for Home Title Lock.  They scare you by mentioning that some bad people can commit fraud by going online, claiming your home's title, taking ownership of your home, and borrowing against your home's equity without you knowing it.  Home Title Lock prevents this from happening.  Maybe.  I don't know enough to say whether this fraud actually happens and whether their service works.  But I do know this.  I've been trying to cancel my business internet with Verizon for two months and I can't prove to them that it's my account.  If the legitimate account holder, with credentials (account numbers, invoices, names and address), is unable to cancel my own business internet account, how can someone casually take over your title and suddenly own your home?  It doesn't make sense to me!

Here's another thing that doesn't make sense. 

If you have used Indeed to hire salespeople, they will offer to have your candidates take a free sales assessment.  Doesn't that sound great?  It is great if the assessment is helpful but it happens to be a useless piece of crap.  Why would anyone think, for even a moment, that there is any value in their lame, assessment-in-name-only test?

In this article we'll explore how Indeed's sales assessment compares to the gold standard in sales candidate assessments from Objective Management Group (OMG).

Indeed offers several conclusions about each candidate:

  • Expert
  • Highly Proficient
  • Proficient
  • Familiar
  • Completed

By comparison, OMG offers three recommendations:

  • Recommended
  • Worthy of Consideration
  • Not Recommended

Indeed measures what candidates know about selling but doesn't tell us what it is that they actually know!  Indeed measures their general knowledge of selling.  

This statement by Indeed is very telling:  "Indeed makes no statement as to the skill level of a candidate."

So they administer a sales skills assessment, provide one of five scoring ranges, but don't back it up:  

 

OMG measures a candidate's capabilities in 21 Sales Core Competencies, each consisting of 6-12 attributes, and then calculates whether they have the necessary attributes and competencies required to succeed in the selling role for which they are being considered, in that company's marketplace(s), against their competition, at their price point and with the challenges which their company and salespeople face. OMG factors in the difficulty of the sales role and measures how closely the candidate's capabilities fit that sales role. This is OMG's dashboard, which is followed by around twenty pages of scoring and details about the attributes from each competency.  You might notice that under the recommendation, this company used OMG's multi-role assessment where candidates are  evaluated for fit to multiple selling roles at the company.  This candidate was recommended for an Account Executive role and a Specialty role, but only worthy of consideration for a Senior Account Executive role which is more difficult than the other two roles:

Do you see the subtle difference between the two assessments?  You get what you pay for which, in Indeed's case, is nothing.

If you aren't using the Gold Standard in sales candidate assessments, why are you attempting to outsmart the world's most accurate and predictive sales selection tool

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales selection, sales test, indeed

Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2021

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 07, 2021 @ 10:12 AM

top-10-articles

There are two articles that I post each and every December.  This is the first - the top articles of the year - and later this month I will post my annual Nutcracker edition which I have been doing since 2011.

There are several criteria for choosing the top articles of the year, including, but not limited to:

  • Views (Article)
  • Popularity (likes on LinkedIn and Twitter)
  • Engagement (comments to the article, via email, and on LinkedIn)
  • Personal (my favorites) 
  • Value (insights for the community)

Some of the criteria is subjective and some is measurable.  I believe value is most important, although it might not be reflected in views or likes, and then engagement.  I think views are less significant because people could read the article but not like it.  Popularity is a good barometer but not everyone sees what is posted on LinkedIn and Twitter and the time of day influences that.  So with all that said, here are the top 5 Sales Articles and the Top 5 Sales Leadership articles of the year.

Top 5 Sales Articles (in no particular order)

  1. 2 Questions That Will End Every Request for a Better Price
  2. Salespeople Will Close 50% More Business By Changing This One Thing They Do!
  3. Crappy Salespeople and Lack of Urgency Alignment  - The Bob Chronicles Part 4
  4. 31 Conditions That Predict Your Sales Opportunity is in Trouble  
  5. Data - Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople (Bob Chronicles - Part 3) 

Top 5 Sales Leadership Articles (in no particular order)

  1. How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching
  2. How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing 
  3. Startups Almost Always Get The Sales Thing Wrong 
  4. Why I Believe We Should Blow up the Business Development Rep (BDR) Role in Sales  
  5. MUST READ: Are Assessments as Evil as the Persona Movie Suggests? 

The Most Viewed and Commented article was "Salespeople will close 50% More..."

My personal selection was a tie between my favorite for pure fun - Pitchers Fielding Practice - and for insights - the article on Evil Assessments.

There you have it - the top ten articles from 2021.  Which one is your favorite?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales leadership, sales pipeline, sales tips, sales assessments, personality assessment, best sales management articles, best sales articles

Content not found
Subscribe via Email

View All 1,850 Articles

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

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards  

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

2020-07-20_14-45-52


 

2020-Bronze-BlogIndi

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

2020_Top20_Web_Large_assessment_eval

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader