How to Become More Successful One Day at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End quote. Pivoting back to Dave Kurlan now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

virtual-conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image copyright 123RF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

call-center

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

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

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

But why?  Whose brilliant idea was this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Image copyright 123RF

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

Startups Almost Always Get The Sales Thing Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 18, 2021 @ 20:03 PM

startup

It's short article Friday.

According to NetShopISP, there are about 305 million total startups created globally each year and around 1.35 million of those startups are tech related.

Did you have any idea the number was that huge?

Typically, founders of start ups put it all on the line - everything - their house, savings, loans from friends and family and perhaps bank loans, angel investments and more.  As brilliant as they are, in most cases, sales is not one of their strengths and it's not until the business has a logo and a website when they realize that success won't come until somebody sells something.  Oh-oh, now what?

It doesn't take long for the founder to realize that they can't be the salesperson, especially when their experience is financial, marketing, operational, technical or mechanical.  When it comes to making their first sales hires, entrepreneurs and startup founders tend to be confused by their options and often make the wrong decisions.

"We want to hire our first salesperson" means different things to different people and most of the time, the founders don't have a clue what it really means.  They are often under the impression that their first sales hire will go out and sell their tail off, then become the sales manager, make a few more sales hires, and become the Sales VP. Then that individual would be expected to build structure, systems and processes, scale and grow enough revenue to flip the company.  

Nice work if you can get it but they couldn't be more wrong.

The person who wants to be the first sales manager is not the person who will go out and hunt for 18 months.  And neither of them - not the hunter and not the sales manager - is the person to lead the strategic growth of the company while building systems and processes.  Nine of ten founders fail to understand that we are talking about three different people, not one person that will quickly transition through three completely different roles!

If the founders get it, and adjust their thinking to embrace the three people concept, they must make a decision about the next challenge.  Since they don't have the finances or the revenue to hire all three of those people, they need to choose one.  Which one?

Invariably, they miss the boat and vote to hire the VP of Sales.  Bzzzzz.  While that hire makes them feel good - the sales VP joins the tiny executive team - that simply cannot be the first sales hire.  Somebody has to sell something and it won't be that person. The Sales VP will be in the office writing plans and creating strategy but there won't be anyone to execute the plan and the company will burn through too much money before they figure out that they may not survive to hire a hunter!  According to Investopedia.com, 90% of those startups fail!

At this point, even if the founder is still on board with the hunter as the first hire, there is another challenge to overcome; they must hire a hunter who will succeed, otherwise they are right back here at the starting line again in 90 days.  How can they assure sales hiring success?  Objective Management Group (OMG). OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments take the worry out of sales selection by identifying candidates who will succeed in the role.  And they are guaranteed!  

Of course there are post hire challenges too, like who is going to onboard them, who is going to manage and coach them, and how long will it take them to figure out how to sell this stuff?  But that's for another day.  Rejoice in knowing that you just hired your first salesperson!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, hiring salespeople, sales assessements, first sales hire

My Simple COVID Relief Plan Actually Provides Relief

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 01, 2021 @ 19:03 PM

Some families could get more than $14,000 in new Covid relief - WRCBtv.com  | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

[Updated March 7, 2021]

We are going off topic because this article has nothing to do with selling although it is related because some of the businesses that were hurt by the pandemic and the government's reprehensible shut downs have sales organizations.

In the US, the COVID relief bill has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and we learned that only 9% of the $1.9 trillion in the plan goes to actual COVID relief.  The 9% includes $1,400 for individuals earning less than $50,000 and several hundred billion dollars for small business relief although it's unclear how the small business money will directly help the specific small businesses that were hurt the most.  It seems clear that this is another bill that won't do what is needed but will certainly lead to a tax increase. Joe Biden said this could increase GDP by $1 trillion.  Imagine that.  Spend $1.9 trillion for a $1 trillion return.  Where I come from that's a pretty bad investment so in response to their bloated, stupid bill, I present my simple plan and explain how it will help everyone involved.

Individuals are an easy demographic to help.  The IRS has income tax returns on file for both 2019 and by April 15, for 2020.  It's easy to determine to what degree people earning under $50,000 were hurt by the pandemic.  Subtract their 2020 income from their 2019 income, add back unemployment benefits and stimulus money received, and you have the exact amount of their suffering.  Send them a check for that exact amount.  People who weren't hurt won't get any money and people who have been out of work for months get their 2019 earnings less what they collected in unemployment benefits in 2020.  The IRS has the numbers. It costs what it costs.  No applications needed.  Done. Period. Over. Everyone becomes whole. 

Small businesses are almost as easy.  The IRS has corporate income tax returns on file for both 2019 and by April 15, for 2020.  In my experience there are several numbers that should be considered.  Rent, leases, insurance and utilities have to be paid regardless of whether a business was open.  Most small businesses are S corporations so the owner's income is often the same as the business' profit.  If the owner isn't covered by the individual plan, we can take their 2019 net profit less the 2020 net profit and add rent, leases, insurance and utilities.  As with individuals, the IRS has the numbers, it costs what it costs, no applications or proof will be needed and small businesses and their landlords become whole.

There are businesses that don't qualify as small businesses but still need help, like tourism and entertainment.  A similar plan can be offered to them except instead of matching profit, we simply get them back to break-even.

With this plan, we don't need to pay off student debt, bail out states (they will be fine when both individuals and small businesses pay taxes on their replacement income), or spend any other taxpayer money on anything else except getting people back to where they were.

I'm sure my plan has flaws but it targets the people and businesses who need the help and doesn't make the aid arbitrary.  While I have no idea how much this plan will actually cost (I'm a sales expert not an economics expert) I'd bet my business that it's less than $1.9 trillion.

Schools don't need money to reopen; they simply need to open the doors while the teachers need to live up to the contract under which they are being paid - or be terminated.  If everyone else has to show up for work, teachers should too.

What do you think?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, covid-19, small business, relief plan

How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 26, 2021 @ 06:02 AM

It's short article Friday.  Less is more.

My Twitter feed had the funniest 1-minute baseball video I have ever seen.  It was pitcher fielding practice (PFP) and the coach was miked up. It illustrated just how bad most professional major league pitchers are at fielding their position and how a coach can keep it light - even make it funny - when the pitchers are struggling so badly.

Watch the video here.  It's only 1-minute and you don't have to like or even understand baseball to enjoy this.  Even cricket fans from across the pond, soccer enthusiasts from around the world and hockey nuts from up north of the border will understand and love this video.

When professional salespeople are asked to role-play the salesperson's part of a sales conversation they sound every bit as awful as these pitchers look when attempting to field their position.  Role-playing is the sales equivalent of fielding practice in baseball. 

When salespeople role play they skip ahead, think only of the next question they want to ask; miss openings to ask questions because they aren't actively listening; talk only about what's on their own agenda; make it all about themselves; and they rush in an attempt to get it over with.  PFP provides a sneak preview of how a pitcher is likely to field a ball hit to him (yes, HIM is the correct reference) during a game, and role-playing provides a preview of how a salesperson is likely to perform on an actual face-to-face or virtual sales call.

Here's an example of a salesperson being coached (by me) in a 26-minute role-play.  Yes, it's 26 minutes but it's worth it because you'll learn SO MUCH!

It's OK when salespeople are not good when they role-play.  They will improve but only if they continue to role-play.  Pitchers don't stop taking batted balls in practice; they take more and they do it again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  Salespeople can't stop role-playing either!  They must role-play again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  But the other thing that is so important is that their sales managers must keep it light.  It is so easy for constructive criticism to be taken personally when sales managers aren't careful to make sure that their salespeople are OK throughout the process.  It's OK to offer lots of constructive criticism but when it's all over they must be sure to put their salespeople back together again.

Don't avoid role-playing.  Seek it out!

Tom Schaff, a big baseball guy who is also a sales expert, shared this about the pitchers in the video: "A big point of this exercise is no matter how good you are, there's a need to work on your fundamentals. When you look closer, the guys in the clip aren't just ordinary pitchers who fell off a truck. #50, the second guy in the video, is Adam Wainwright, a TWO TIME Golden Glove pitcher, 3x All Star and multiple time top 3 Cy Young Finalist, #22 is Jack Flaherty, and finally, 2x All Star and AL Reliever of the Year, #21 Andrew Miller, not to be confused with OMG's Andy Miller. If that's what happens with All Stars, imagine what it would be like for average major league roster pitchers, college pitchers or high school pitchers!"

I teach sales leaders to coach their salespeople using role-plays like this as well as when they must role-play the sales part.  My next Sales Leadership Intensive is virtual so you can participate on May 19-21.  Learn more here.  It's $1,495 to attend but as a regular reader you can save $100 when you register using this special link.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, role play, Baseball

How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 @ 07:02 AM

buckets

When it rains it pours, especially when it's coming down in buckets!

Buckets are important, especially when you're attempting to coach up a salesperson or even improve your own sales performance.  If you don't have the OMG evaluation at your fingertips and can't lookup the scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies, or see which attributes need to be improved, you'll need to think in terms of buckets.

When salespeople are struggling, there are five primary buckets to consider:

  1. Pipeline - Their pipeline sucks
  2. Urgency - they haven't been successful uncovering compelling reasons to buy so that urgency can be created
  3. Qualifying - they haven't been able to get their good prospects fully qualified
  4. Closing - they aren't converting their qualified opportunities
  5. Attitude - they lack a positive outlook.

All other issues you might identify should appear in one of those five buckets.

Now let's place the three traditional groups of salespeople into buckets:

  1. A players:  They are the best salespeople in your company and exceed quota and/or expectations, but outside of your company and industry they might not be A or even B players.  Everything is relative.
  2. B players: They're not as good as your A players but they do meet quota and/or expectations.
  3. C players: They are chronic under achievers who fail to meet quota.

Next, let's integrate the buckets of salespeople with the buckets of challenges.

Salesperson to Coach Up Likely Issue(s)
A Player Urgency
B Player Urgency and Qualifying
C Player Pipeline

Let's pretend we're dealing with a C player who has an inadequate pipeline.  We have five more buckets to explore:

  1. Effort - they aren't making enough calls or attempts
  2. Engagement - they aren't getting their contacts engaged in the conversation
  3. Messaging - they aren't using proven, time-tested, positioning statements to get contacts engaged
  4. Delivery - they don't sound very good delivering the message
  5. Conversions - they aren't converting their calls to meetings

In this scenario, you may not be able to identify a single bucket to blame but you have to start somewhere.  If effort is an issue and you don't fix the effort, the other four buckets don't matter. If effort is lacking due to discouragement from past ineffectiveness, you may need to work on the other four buckets before you can return to effort.

It can be overwhelming to identify exactly what you need to work on to improve sales performance.  If you can learn to think in terms of buckets, you'll have a better chance of working on the right end of the problem.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, coaching, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales excellence

The Baseball Experience That Continues to Generate a 28% Increases in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 09, 2021 @ 19:02 PM

32 years ago, back in the winter of 1989, I experienced one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  I attended Red Sox Fantasy Camp where campers like me, all greater than 30 years old and most a LOT older than that, were treated to an incredible baseball experience. The way we were treated, what we experienced, the uniforms we wore, the schedules we kept, the baseball games we played, the coaching, the practicing, the work, the game against the former Red Sox players, and the off hours camaraderie were all supposed to mirror the life of a professional ballplayer.  The fact that we were not professional baseball players, and some weren't baseball players at all, made it even more enjoyable. Relationships were forged, unforgettable memories were made, and the week was a source for endless, hilarious stories!  And this was fifteen years before I wrote the best-selling book Baseline Selling!

My regular readers are probably thinking, "Huh - a baseball post about Dave instead of Dave's son!"

I brought up the Fantasy Camp experience because it's not all that different from what participants experience when they attend my Sales Leadership Intensive (SLI).  For example, last week I led a private SLI for a company with around a dozen sales leaders.  In their follow-up comments they used words like, "enjoyable," "challenging," "informative," "great sessions," "looking forward to more," "enjoyed tremendously," "lot to absorb," "great content," "good investment," "great examples," "great techniques to adopt," and "very valuable."  Those comments were extracted from their very first sentences and they all had trouble limiting their takeaways to just the ten I requested.

The enthusiasm for the training was not unusual because I used my own Fantasy Camp experience as the model for content creation.  I wondered, "Why can't sales and sales leadership training be just as enjoyable, stimulating, challenging and memorable as my camp experience was?"

The comments I shared were their post-training comments.  The challenge isn't whether or not they'll enjoy and benefit greatly from the training.  The challenge is getting sales leaders to attend the training!  There's a little matter of ego.  Most successful sales leaders have fairly large egos and while their egos helped spur them on to their current roles, now that they're in their current roles, their egos sometimes obstruct their ability to improve, ask for help, and bring professional training into their companies.  The voice in their head whispers thoughts like:

  • "They hired me to do this"
  • "I should be able to do this myself"
  • "I'll look weak if I bring in help"

Many sales leaders also possess a false sense of knowledge. They mistakenly believe they are already doing everything correctly, know everything there is to know about how to optimize their sales process, get salespeople to change, motivate and coach up their salespeople, hold their salespeople accountable, and grow revenue. 

Sales leaders don't always have the proper sense for how much effective training should cost, often worrying that it might be too expensive while often discounting the benefits. Those who attend our Sales Leadership Intensives report an average increase in sales of 28% after applying the strategies and tactics they learn.

As one attendee from last week wrote, "TOP 10 (11) TAKE-AWAYS (other than coaching, then more coaching, then coaching again…):"

I can't promise that you'll enjoy a Fantasy Camp experience as much as I did 32 years ago, but I can promise that if you can overcome your skepticism, ego and fear, you'll love my Sales Leadership Intensive.  I offer one public SLI each year and the next one is a three-day virtual coaching extravaganza on May 19-21.  You can learn more here and register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales leadership, sales management training, sales leadership training, coaching salespeople, Baseball, fantasy camp

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 02, 2021 @ 09:02 AM

Navy Legend Vice Adm. Stockdale Led POW Resistance | The Sextant

I read that Admiral James Stockdale, a Vietnam War veteran and former POW at the Hanoi Hilton, said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

His combination of faith and brutal reality was the difference between surviving long enough to be released from captivity, and being one of those unfortunate souls who died in captivity.  In Jim Collins' best-selling business book, Good to Great, he refers to that quote as the Stockdale Paradox.  

It's also consistent with what Jack Reacher, the lead character in the Lee Child series by the same name, would say.  In 2015, I wrote this article about Jack Reacher and I have always taught that "you must be eternally optimistic about your outcomes but completely skeptical about everything you hear along the way."

Why is that important?

Happy Ears is a Big Problem for most salespeople.  When it's a strength, Objective Management Group (OMG) calls it Healthy Skepticism.  The challenge is that Healthy Skepticism is unlike the other selling strengths and weaknesses measured by OMG, where great salespeople have them as strengths and weak salespeople have them as weaknesses.  With Healthy Skepticism there is little differentiation between strong and weak salespeople.

While the strongest 5% are 35% less likely to have Happy Ears than the weakest salespeople, Happy Ears affect all salespeople, even the best ones.  For example, this article tells the story of a very talented salesperson (good Bob) who was thrown off his game because of Happy Ears.  Read the story about bad Bob and his $225,000 selling mistake.  Bad Bob has happy ears. 

This short article points out how Happy Ears plays a part in weak/empty pipelines.  And this article explains how to coach your salespeople beyond Happy Ears.

This famous clip from Dumb and Dumber demonstrates Happy Ears better than anything I can write.

Whether it's a good salesperson being thrown off his game, a weak salesperson always having happy ears, James Stockdale, Jack Reacher or the rest of us.  It's important to be optimistic about your outcomes, but you must confront the brutal reality of your situation.  Listen closely to what you're hearing.  Challenge and push back by asking questions, even if you're uncomfortable doing so.  Especially if you're uncomfortable doing so!

OMG has assessed 2,059,200 salespeople and you can see that data and compare by industry here.

Image from US Navy archive

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, happy ears, james stockdale, stockdale paradox

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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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