Are Sales Managers Coaching More Frequently Now That Everyone is at Their Desks?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 @ 06:01 AM

coach

Nearly a year into the Pandemic, most salespeople have adapted to selling over video.  But how are sales managers doing at adapting to coaching their sales force over video?  Inquiring minds want to know.

We know how sales managers were doing before the pandemic.  It wasn't very good and I wrote about it here.  The data in that November article was for the last 10 years.  What do you think would be different if I filtered the data to show only the last six months of 2020, the time during which sales managers should have already made changes?  Do you think it got better, worse, or stayed the same?

Let's find out.

I won't even show you the data.  It remained the same.  But why?

The data doesn't answer the "why" question but observation can.  I still work with clients so I have some anecdotal observations I can share.  As recently as November, most sales managers were still making excuses for not coaching their salespeople more often despite coaching conditions being better than ever.

When salespeople were out in the field, sales leaders used that as an excuse as to why they didn't coach more frequently. "They are not in the office and I'm not in the field with them this week so it's really hard to coach them."  Last year that changed to, "They are making calls and having Zoom meetings so it's really hard to coach them."

How difficult is it to join a phone call or a Zoom meeting and then debrief it?  And with coaching platforms like Refract, calls can be made from the platform, recorded into the platform, and sales managers can coach to it later. With sales leaders at their desks too these conditions make it easier than ever to create coaching time! 

Clearly, the time and location excuse no longer works and was never the real issue.  So what is the real issue?

There is no actual data to back up what I'm going to say but I believe that the real issue is that sales managers are petrified of actual coaching.  Oh they'll have conversations about opportunities and suggest strategies but that isn't coaching.  Coaching is when they conduct opportunity reviews as described here.  Or when they role play as described here.  Both scenarios require sales leaders to challenge themselves and their salespeople and the combination of discomfort and ignorance around those two topics is daunting.

I can help.  My annual Sales Leadership Intensive will be held virtually on May 19-21, 2021- three five-hour days - and we focus on one major topic.  Coaching. How to do it correctly, how often, for how long, how to impact deals, how to coach up salespeople, how to role-play effectively, how to get salespeople wanting more, how to pre-call strategize, how to post-call debrief, how to use technology, and more.  Attendees LOVE this training - especially the time we spend listening and dissecting actual coaching conversations!  You can learn more here.  Register here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales coaching summit, sales managerment, sales management course

My Prediction - What's in Store for Sales Teams in 2021?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 08, 2021 @ 11:01 AM

prediction2021

When I made my predictions for 2020 I'm pretty sure I didn't predict a pandemic.  Making predictions isn't easy. 

In the US, sales teams are coming off three robust years of sales growth and while revenue was up during that time, the percentage of salespeople hitting quotas was not.  That means the top 20% were not only carrying the load, they carried more of the load.

That dynamic growth hit an iron barrier last spring when COVID became the unexpected economic disrupter, but the second half comeback was quite impressive.  What does 2021 have in store for those of us in the sales world?  In the US, how will Democrat control of all three branches of government affect sales and selling?  And how long before that kicks in?

Americans can't be certain that threats to pack the supreme court, make DC a state, and change the rules will come to fruition, but the incoming administration has been very clear about their intent to quickly increase taxes, especially on corporations and people with annual income of more than $400,000.  Given the ambitious progressive agenda they wish to implement and the enormous cost - trillions of dollars we don't have - it's likely that the tax increase will include the middle class too.  How will that affect our ability to sell stuff for at least the next two years?

Their progressive agenda, some anti-capitalist cabinet appointments, and Biden's history of coziness with China suggest that the next two years will not be very business-friendly.  Tax increases lead to reduced spending by corporations, small businesses, and consumers.  Lay-offs come next as companies scramble to do more with less.  Sound familiar?  That was the new normal from 2008-2016 so what's old is new again.

That said, we can be sure of three things thanks to the ripple effect of a China-friendly administration, a massive tax increase and lay-offs: 

  1. Imports from China will be on the rise and that means increased competition from low-cost competitors. 
  2. There will be increased pressure on sales teams to boost revenue and profit to compensate for the cost of the tax increases.
  3. Companies will be significantly more restrained about what they purchase from sellers.

See the challenge?  While sellers will be under tremendous pressure to generate additional revenue, the very companies on which they rely for revenue will be more resistant to buying and more price conscious than ever!  

There's more.

With Democrats in control, fear about the new strain of COVID, and the vaccine still months away for most people, it's likely that many more states besides California will be back in a lockdown.  If the new lockdown is anything like the last year's lockdown, the shit show known as 2020 will be back for an encore performance.

You can't endure lockdowns, tax increases, lay-offs and Chinese imports and expect selling to resemble anything routine or easy.

Salespeople will fail.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 2,050,385 salespeople shows that the bottom 50% lack the selling skills to handle resistance, competition, and price sensitivity.  This screen shot represents the percentage of salespeople who have these ten tactical selling competencies as strengths.  See all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

Mastery of these 10 selling competencies is required for times like these but as mentioned above, fewer than half of all salespeople have them as strengths.  We know that the top 20% of all salespeople generate 80% of the revenue so if the bottom 50% are going to fail, that will either reduce revenue by 20%, or place even more pressure on top producers to compensate for the shortfall.  Neither option is a winning strategy.

That leaves two viable strategies:

  1. Evaluate and train the ever living crap out of them.  OMG's sales force evaluation will identify the areas in which each salesperson needs help in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and then training and coaching can be targeted.  Typically, around 65% will improve but it may take 8-16 months! 
  2. Replace them with top performers. OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments will help you identify and select those who will succeed in your roles but it won't eliminate the need for on-boarding and you still have to allow for ramp-up time (the length of your learning curve plus the length of your sales cycle plus 30 days).

There is always one more option.  Hide under your desk, hope that things work themselves out, and that you won't have to do anything different.  We already know from last year how that option worked out!  Companies that asked for help during March, April and May of 2020 had absolutely rocking, kick-ass fourth quarters.  By the time the US began reopening during the middle of the year, those who didn't ask for help earlier were so far behind the 8-ball, they were no longer in a position to even pay for the help they so desperately needed.

What will you do to make sure that 2021 is a growth year?

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales evaluation, sales predictions, 2021, democrats in control

2021 Challenge:  Put a Little Beatles Into Your Selling!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 04, 2021 @ 16:01 PM

beatles2

Although it's been more than 50 years since Paul McCartney announced the break up of The Beatles, I am fairly certain that regardless of your age and geographic location, you know who The Beatles were and have heard at least one of their songs, even if the one you listened to was recorded by another artist.  Most of you probably know dozens of Beatles tunes!

During the holiday break I was listening to the Beatles channel (18) on SiriusXM radio and it helped me to realize just how similar the Beatles are to selling!

Their songs were timeless. In the last decade alone, Beatles songs were covered by 186 artists!

Their song-writing system was repeatable as they focused on their titles, beats per minute (BPM), choruses, rhythms and rhymes.

They were memorable.  Everyone knows John, Paul, George and Ringo - in that order.  And most people knew the words to their favorite Beatles songs.

They were incredibly likable!

You only needed to hear a song once to love it, like, "She Loves You."

Their songs told stories, like, "In My Life."

Their songs had calls-to-action, like, "Get Back."

Their songs asked questions, like, "Do you want to know a secret?"

The only thing that would make the Beatles different today is technology.  The sound quality would be SO much better.  It wouldn't change their songs but the songs would sound better.  It wouldn't eliminate the work they did to write the songs but they would get the songs transcribed and notated more quickly.  They would still have to record their music but the recording would be digital which would make mixing much easier.

Isn't this all pretty much the same as sales?  Let's take a run-through.

People have been selling for centuries - it's timeless.

Only since the time of the Beatles have more formal selling approaches, systems and processes been developed.

The best sales processes are repeatable and deliver repeatable results.  See Baseline Selling.

The best salespeople are memorable.

The best salespeople are very likable.

The best salespeople are great story-tellers.

The best salespeople have calls-to-action.

The best salespeople ask great questions.

And that brings us to technology.  All that technology that the best salespeople use, like video, CRM, document signing, calendar applications, email, social selling, and more make salespeople more efficient.  The technology doesn't do the selling or make anyone a better salesperson, but it does replace the rolodex, index cards, printed agreements, paper calendars and literature.

As I completed writing this article I was overcome with a feeling of Deja Vu.  Sure enough, I have tackled the Beatles before!  I'm embarrassed to say that my search revealed that I wrote a very comprehensive article on how The Beatles taught us to sell as recently as August of 2019!  Back in 2010 I included The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones in an article about differentiation as a way to close big deals.

One thing that mediocre salespeople seem so unwilling to do is practice.  Malcom Gladwell, in his book, Outliers, wrote that The Beatles had performed for 10,000 hours prior to becoming an overnight sensation.  As a result, The Beatles gave one the sense that performing their songs was effortless.  Great salespeople have seemingly effortless yet consequential conversations with their prospects but that ease and comfort also come from more than 10,000 hours of practice as they attempt to fine tune and improve their performance.

A challenge for 2021?  Put a little Beatles into your selling!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, selling tips, Malcom Gladwell, the beatles

Key to Successfully Hiring Salespeople: Getting it Right Versus Getting it Over With

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 @ 08:12 AM

8 Ways You May Be Washing Your Hair Wrong | Shape

I'll get to the content related to the title, but first, some context.

In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and slammed my big toe into a door.  I destroyed the nail. Not wanting to lose it I superglued it back in place and several months after it turned black, it fell off, revealing an emerging new nail that had grown half way to the tip of my toe.  It took 8 months for a new nail to fully replace the old nail but my replacement nail was perfect and clearly an upgrade over my tired, old, destroyed nail.  

Let's discuss what that has to do with hiring salespeople.

There are typically two approaches to hiring salespeople: choosing between getting it over with, or getting it right. 

Getting it over with involves a lot of short cuts, and in more than 50% of the cases, disappointment and frustration because you got it wrong.  If you got it wrong there are two more options: living with it or taking the shampoo approach: rinse and repeat.

It's a vicious cycle of hiring the wrong way, making the wrong decisions, needing to start over, and repeating the process again and again and again. Groundhog day.  It can take months or even years before you get the right salesperson into that role.

On the other hand, what would happen if you took the broken nail approach?  Sure, it might take longer, but instead of just getting it over with and dealing with the consequences of your choice, you choose getting it right and being done for the long term.

What does getting it right involve?

  • A well thought-out repeatable sales recruiting process
  • Role Specific criteria for success
  • Well-worded job posting on the right job sites using the right parameters (like Indeed)
  • Applicant Tracking system (like RecruiterBox for hiring  up to a few or the BigGuys for bigger projects)
  • Accurate and Predictive sales-specific assessment that is customized to your criteria (like OMG)
  • Scoring system (for objectivity)
  • Great interviewing skills (to challenge every claim on their resume)
  • Patience (waiting for the ideal candidate rather than the first one you like enough to hire)
  • Discipline (no skipping steps)
  • Thorough onboarding (a formal 90-day onboarding program)

A sales manager at an OMG client told a candidate they were going to move forward subject to the results of the OMG assessment.  The sales manager's approach was a huge mistake.  He interviewed prior to assessing when he should have assessed first. He fell in love with a candidate, but still had to assess because it was company policy. That suggested to the candidate that the assessment was the defining criteria when in reality, the assessment is one of around a dozen additional data points that all matter, including, but not limited to cover letters, resumes, experience, expertise, fit, phone presence, interviews, references, intelligence, professionalism, respect, employment tenure, and background checks.  The sales manager raised the candidate's expectations only to destroy those expectations and get upset when the assessment did not recommend the candidate.  You must know that BEFORE you waste everyone's time interviewing and getting emotional!  

Recruiting salespeople doesn't need to be difficult or complicated, but it is a process and needs to be completed thoroughly and correctly.  Ask yourself this question: eighteen months from now, would you prefer to have spent five months to get it right and have a productive new salesperson, or three months getting it over with, only to have to do it again four months later, and again four months after that.  Choose getting it right over getting it over with.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales leadership, hiring salespeople, sales assessements

My Dog Has Better Listening Skills Than Most Salespeople and I'll Prove It

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 10, 2020 @ 06:12 AM

listening2

Short article today.  Prospects don't pay a lot of attention so the less you say the better.  It helps them listen and comprehend more of what you share with them when you use fewer words.  But prospects aren't the only ones who don't listen.  Salespeople don't listen very well either.  As a matter of fact, my dog has better listening skills than most salespeople because my dog knows what to listen for. Don't believe me?  I'll prove it in the video below.

For an overwhelming majority of salespeople, I can't even use "listening" and "salespeople" in the same sentence. That's because they either:

  • don't listen because they are so busy talking
  • hear but aren't really listening
  • listen but aren't listening for the right things
  • listen for the right things but don't ask the appropriate follow up questions to leverage what was said

According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on the evaluation and assessment of 2,040,738 salespeople, only 27% of all salespeople listen effectively.  Looking at the top 5% of all salespeople, only 57% of that elite group listens effectively. Only 10% of the bottom half and 0% of the bottom 10% listen effectively.

Listening is the one selling skill that salespeople find most difficult to understand and improve.  If you can't actively listen, then how can you ask the appropriate follow up question?  If you can't ask follow up questions because you don't know which question to ask next, then you'll find yourself explaining, educating, presenting, and wasting time because most prospects simply aren't interested in having salespeople regurgitate what they can find online in a couple of clicks.  And if that's what salespeople end up doing on sales calls, it becomes a transactional, price-driven conversation instead of a value-based, consultative conversation.

Watch how well my dog listens in this enjoyable one-minute video.

In the spring of 2017, we brought Dinger home as a puppy and I wrote this article explaining why he is so much easier to train than most salespeople. 

I don't understand why companies and their salespeople still claim to have competitive pricing.  It's a race to the bottom because no matter what you tell me, in your industry, vertical, territory, area of expertise, and product category, there can be only a single company that will have the lowest price and it's not going to be you!  How do I know?  If you had the lowest price you wouldn't be reading articles on how to become more effective.  Instead, you would be quite content taking orders from the buyers who only buy from the company with the lowest price

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, listening skills, questioning skills, dog

How a Mug of Dunkin Can Help You More Effectively Sell Value

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

Amazon.com: In case of accident my blood type is dunkin donuts Cheap  lasunandsport Mug Coffee Mug Gift Coffee Mug 11OZ Coffee Mug: Kitchen &  Dining

I won't suggest that a cup of Dunkin coffee will make you more alert and more effective.  It's much more helpful than that.

This is another Bob story. Bob was on a sales call and the prospect told him that they were looking for the lowest price.  I hope you hate it when that happens.  It's a bad thing because while Bob was supposed to be selling value, a price-based conversation is transactional yet he's supposed to be taking a consultative approach to support the value he provides.  Would you like to guess what Bob did instead?  Yup, he got them his best price.  Ugh!

So what should Bob have done instead to turn this around and not waste everyone's time?

There are four things that Bob should have done and he must do them in the proper sequence:.

  • First, lower resistance - Bob needs to acknowledge that he heard them and say, "I understand."  Then he can leave it alone.  He has lowered their resistance and that was the goal.  He can come back to this topic later.
  • Uncover their compelling reason to buy - Bob can't sell value if he doesn't know their compelling reason to buy, buy now, and buy from him instead of his competitor.  This is the most important thing to focus on because if he doesn't uncover that reason and create urgency, he won't be able to provide and sell value, and neutralize their stated goal to buy at the lowest price.
  • Monetize their compelling reason - problems have consequences, including operational, functional, conceptual, emotional, economic, and perceived consequences.  These consequences must be monetized to include hard costs, cost of time lost, cost of not solving the problem, the gain from solving the problem, etc.  This is where value actually comes from! Bob must take the time to walk his prospect through what the problem really costs.
  • Sell Value - Bob must ask if, in order to solve the (cost that was calculated) problem the right way, they are willing to spend a little more with him.  If yes, he can ignore their lowest price comment because he successfully sold his value.  If not, he must learn whether they always buy this way or just this time.  For example, if they claim to always buy this way, he can find the weak link in that behavior.  Do they ever get coffee at Dunkin' Donuts? Really?  How often?  Why are they paying around $2 for a medium cup of coffee from Dunkin when It costs only 88 cents to make it using a DD K Cup in a Keurig machine, and only 30 cents to make a mug yourself using DD ground coffee that you buy for between $8-$10/pound.  They are paying as much as 650% more for the value of not having to make it themselves.  Now Bob has precedent that they don't always look for the lowest price.  He could also use a car analogy.  Most of the people you are selling to are not driving Kia's or low-end Fords, Chevy's and Chryslers.  They paid more for a better car! Analogies are great for changing perceptions.

Selling value has nothing to do with sharing value propositions, telling people why it's better to do business with you or trying to meet a competitors's price. Those approaches take away from value and make you sound just like everyone else.  Selling value is about being valuable to them!

Dunkin has made it into my Blog a lot, having written about them four previous times:

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, sales tips, selling value, dunkin, lowering resistance

The $225,000 Selling Mistake Most Salespeople Make

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 07, 2020 @ 07:12 AM

big-mistake

I'm going to share the story of a real salesperson and his current, real opportunity, but change the names of everyone involved.  I hear stories like this every day but this particular one happens way too often.

2 months ago, Bob agreed to a $25,000 pilot for an enterprise size company generating billions in revenue.  At the time, he was told a successful pilot would lead to much more business in 2021.  Last week he excitedly shared that the company was very happy with the results of their pilot to date, and they asked Bob to prepare a business case for exponentially increasing the size and scope of their spend.  The future purchase would be north of $250,000.

While colleagues and supervisors shared their enthusiasm for this exciting moment, my first reaction was, "And why do you think this is good news?" 

"Dave, you're so negative."

I was asked to explain why I felt that way because Bob and his team believed that this was clearly a positive development.  I pointed out that the request to prepare a business case was nothing more than a request for (another) proposal and Bob would once again need to prove and convince the company that doing business with them would provide value, create ROI, and justify the tenfold increase in spend.

The response from Bob's team?  "Good point."

This IS the customer moving forward, but only moving forward to resume their discussions as to whether to or not to move forward with an increase in spend.  One more time. The only thing moving forward is a resumption of the discussion about moving forward.  I did not hear anything about decisions, commitments, intent, budgets, terms, agreements, contracts, PO's, timelines, or closing dates.  The only thing certain, is that Bob can open the opportunity in his CRM application and place a checkmark to indicate that the pilot was successfully completed.  Check! The opportunity did not advance in any other measurable or meaningful way because he is right back where he was in October when he proposed the same solution only to settle for 10% of the business in the form of this pilot.  They weren't convinced then, and apparently, still aren't convinced. 

There are a few issues here:

  • The pilot was not sold correctly - When Bob agreed to the mini-pilot, there should have been a very clear understanding of what exactly would constitute success; and if he met the criteria for a successful pilot, what exactly would happen next.  If the "next" step is anything other than easily and automatically transitioning to the larger order, then Bob should not have begun the pilot.
  • The salesperson had happy ears - When the customer asked Bob to prepare another business case for 2021, Bob should not have been so eager to facilitate.  Instead, he should have asked why they were asking for another business case since he did that prior to the pilot.  Bob should have also asked what they were looking for in the business case, who would be reviewing it, and what would happen after it was reviewed.  If Bob hears anything other than "we'll be signing an agreement" it's a no-go on the new business case/proposal.
  • The sales manager did not push back - Given the poorly executed expectations and next steps prior to the pilot, and the new request for a proposal, the sales manager should have pushed back hard and not allowed either the pilot or the business case to move forward without a better understanding of timelines, next steps and commitments.

This story is not unusual in any way.  Scenarios like this occur at an alarming rate throughout each day at companies across the spectrum of more than 200 industries.  Even good salespeople make mistakes like these and ineffective sales managers allow them to happen time and time again.  Great salespeople, who make up the top 5% of the sales population, never allow scenarios like this to take place.  Weak salespeople, who make up the bottom 50%, always allow scenarios like this to occur.

The story I shared here is just one example of the ripple effect from lack of quality sales training and coaching, and lack of effective sales management.  Much of this could be solved with improved sales selection - hiring the right sales managers and salespeople to begin with.  The rest can be solved with a sales force evaluation to identify the core issues and gaps, and then the right training to better prepare the sales team to execute when they find themselves in scenarios like these.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, closing, selling tips, sales managerment, sales milestones, terms, pilot

There is More Than One Type of Bias in Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 04, 2020 @ 10:12 AM

bias

Biases drive decision making.  You have them.  I have them.  We all have them.  Most of the time those biases are fine but when it comes to hiring, and specifically sales hiring, bias can get you in a heap of trouble.

While some biases simply cause bad hiring decisions, others have led to the growth of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) role in companies. This article attempts to explain and make sense of the various biases, how they affect selection, and how that correlates to sales success.

Assumptions - In the hiring process, when we make broad, sweeping assumptions about groups of people, including their gender, religion, ethnicity, age, or disabilities, those assumptions violate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines.  The EEOC states that employers may not discriminate against any protected minorities whose members include:

  • anyone who isn't male
  • anyone who isn't white
  • anyone who is over 40

When it comes to hiring decisions, women, people of color, and people over 40 are protected minorities.  That's basically everyone except white men under 40!  These guidelines were originally intended to prevent hiring bias against these groups but as you probably know, these guidelines haven't changed for decades and we have progressed to the point where the protected groups are a huge part of our workforce. I believe that today, candidates in the protected group would be hired regardless of whether or not these guidelines remained in place.

Some companies proactively seek to hire specifically for diversity and inclusion.  Reaching beyond the protected group, they seek out those who are different as they attempt to create a wonderfully diverse culture. Our company, Objective Management Group (OMG), has a history of hiring a very diverse workforce.   

Biases in Sales Hiring - Is diversity and inclusion a good strategy when hiring salespeople?  It's complicated because it depends on who the diverse group of salespeople will be selling to as much as it depends on how they will be selling.  For example, if your salespeople will be selling face-to-face, including virtually via video, to the C Suite of corporations, your salespeople must be able to present themselves and your brand as professionally as possible, without allowing their personal preferences (their own bias) to sabotage their success.  And even though our biases may have been removed, it doesn't mean that the executives they'll be selling to in the C-Suite are without biases towards the diverse group of salespeople. In other words, it's risky to make "more diverse" more important than the larger mission to grow revenue.

If your same diverse group of salespeople were to sell only by phone and target business users or middle managers they would likely have far greater success.  You must put all salespeople in a position (a selling role), that provides them with the greatest chance of success.  You should not confuse hiring bias with a thoughtful understanding of what it takes to succeed in a specific selling role and which salespeople would best fit that selling role.

Types of Personal Biases in Sales Hiring - Sales managers regularly commit two types of hiring bias. They sometimes fall in love with the idea of a particular candidate from experiences listed on resumes.  Sales managers sometimes fall in love with candidates after a particularly wonderful interview where the candidate said all the right things, was very likable, and the sales manager's gut instinct was saying, "perfect!"  In feeling this way, sales leaders develop bias for certain candidates and this bias is what leads to so many sales hiring mistakes.  Sales managers get it wrong at least half of the time!

An example of bias against a sales candidate occurs when sales leaders refuse to hire salespeople from outside their industry.  They might have a valid reason, they might have had a succession of failures, and the bias might seem important for this particular sales leader.  That said, a negative experience from a very limited sample size does not make it fact.  Pedigree, or college degrees, are another example of bias where certain diplomas are preferred to others.

The New York Times recent article about choosing Talent over Pedigree shows how we can raise the standard of living for many people who lack the prestigious college degree or college at all, but have the talent.  While the Times article isn't sales specific, it's not a stretch to apply it to sales. 

In 2017, I wrote an article on hiring biases where I said that some sales hiring biases are good.  Has that stood the test of time?

Eliminating Biases from Sales Hiring - As much as a company might attempt to eliminate biases from their hiring practices, the reality is that it is extremely difficult unless you use the right assessments.  For example, personality assessments, like Caliper, and behavioral styles assessments, like DiSC, are not role specific and have been challenged in court.  Personality assessments that claim to assess sales traits are not only inaccurate and not predictive, they too can be challenged in court.  The one sales assessment that is not personality based measures every sales candidate equally across 21 Sales Core Competencies.  OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment is customizable for each selling role, extremely accurate and distinguished by meeting the requirements for predictive validity.  It also meets the requirements for having no adverse impact on protected minorities. By utilizing the OMG assessment early in the sales process, it completely eliminates bias, recommends only those candidates who have the selling capabilities required for the role while rejecting those who do not.  In essence, it helps you to become blind and deaf while creating a candidate pool of extremely qualified candidates, regardless of what they look like or sound like, where they come from, or their status in life.

In summary, when it comes to hiring salespeople there are four types of bias in play:

  1. Biases in favor of certain candidates 
  2. Biases against certain candidates 
  3. Biases that your salespeople have against their prospects and customers
  4. Biases that your prospects and customers have against your salespeople.

Eliminating bias from hiring is a game changer but helping your new sales hires succeed takes more than getting unbiased sales selection right.  Comprehensive on boarding is just as important and after that, regular, consistent and effective guidance, direction, coaching and accountability are the components that will lead to sales success.

Read this article on how to get your new salespeople to take off like a rocket ship!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Personality Tests, sales assessements, sales selelction

Found! The Caliper vs OMG Comparison: Which Sales Candidate Assessment is More Predictive?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 01, 2020 @ 09:12 AM

lost-and-found

When are you most likely to find the item you lost or misplaced?  Immediately after you purchase its replacement, of course! 

I just found an article that I wrote in 2012 but forgot to click the publish button!  Almost nine years in the making, this article compares OMG with Caliper and I did update it so that the information on both assessments is current.

I compared two assessments for the same candidate: one from Objective Management Group (OMG) and one from Caliper.  Not being one to pass up opportunities like this, I conducted another comparison where OMG recommended this person for the role and Caliper did not. 

OMG's assessment is sales specific - built for sales.  Caliper is a personality assessment adapted for sales.  Caliper asks the same questions as in their traditional personality assessment, but modifies the findings based on the personality traits they believe are associated with sales.  Some of Herbert Greenberg's (Caliper founder) earliest research on salespeople appears in my classic white paper, The Science of Salesperson Selection.

It is not unusual for OMG's findings to contradict the findings of even the most reputable of all personality assessments because OMG measures different things than everyone else.  Most of the sales-specific competencies and attributes that OMG measures are not measured by personality assessments, including Caliper.  OMG measures 21 Sales specific Core Competencies that no personality assessment - even Caliper, can touch.

Additionally, personality tests are not able to provide insight into other important areas like:

  • Longevity - likelihood that the candidate will stick to produce 5x ROI,
  • Skill Gaps - the sales-specific skills that have not yet been developed,
  • How the Candidate Thinks about Selling - their specific beliefs that support or sabotage the sales process,
  • Ramp up - whether they will achieve success more quickly than other candidates,
  • Selling Skills - the specific skills they have learned and actually execute to fill their pipeline, close business, manage accounts, and sell to major accounts.
  • Will to Sell - the combination of sales-specific competencies that determine whether the salesperson has the grit to succeed.  This is the difference between can sell versus will sell.
  • Sales DNA - the combination of strengths that support sales process, sales strategy, sales methodology and sales tactics.
A large insurance company recently stopped using Caliper for pre-employment assessments because it failed to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful salespeople.  For comparison, 75% of the candidates that OMG does NOT recommend, but who are hired anyway, fail within 6 months; 92% of the candidates that OMG recommends, who are eventually hired, rise to the top half of their sales forces within 12 months.
 
These are some of the personality traits that Caliper measures and reports on.  How many of them sound sales-specific? How many of them have anything to do with sales success?
 
One could argue that assertiveness, empathy, gregariousness, level-headedness, skepticism, sociability, thoroughness and urgency are useful traits for a salesperson to have - and they are.  The problem is that they don't differentiate strong salespeople from weak salespeople.
 
By contrast, OMG reports on 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as an additional 8 sales competencies not considered to be core.  Each of the competencies have an average of 10 attributes that make it easy to see what is being measured, and what a competency is all about.  Notice the ten tactical selling competencies that are blocked in red below.  I'll share the attributes for two competencies so you can see that the attributes are selling attributes, not personality traits. 
 
 
In a previous article I compared OMG to Extended DiSC and showed the attributes in the Hunting and Qualifying competencies.  This time around, let's look at the attributes from the competencies, Selling Value and Reaching Decision Makers to show how different this is from what a personality assessment like Caliper measures.
.

As you can see, these attributes define and complete each competency.  You may have also noticed that we show the percentage of attributes as well as the weighted score as some attributes are more important to the competency than others. That made a huge difference for this candidate when it came to the Reaching Decision Makers competency where despite having 57% of the attributes, he was missing the most important attribute. When you compare sales-specific competencies that drive sales performance and success, to personality traits that are not specific to sales and which fail to differentiate strong from weak salespeople, it's clear that OMG is both miles and decades ahead of any and all other assessments.

So which assessment - OMG or Caliper - is more predictive?  That answer is so obvious that it doesn't even require me to answer it!

Sales Candidate Assessments are extremely important because they prevent hiring mistakes and remove bias from your hiring process.  However, if you don't choose the right assessment, configure it correctly for each role, use it at the right time in the process, or heed its advice, don't count on any assessment to make a meaningful difference!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, omg, caliper, sales assessment test, personality test, pre-employment test

2020's Ten Must Read Sales and Sales Leadership Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 @ 11:11 AM

TopTen

The year was 2020 and it was an unpredictable year.  There were surprises galore. For example, instead of only bank robbers and anarchists from ANTIFA wearing masks, we were all told to always wear masks.  Instead of forcing myself to be social among extroverts, I was given permission to be socially distant, a not so awful turn of events for an acute introvert like myself.  The stock market lost and gained more than 10,000 points in the same year.  Most companies pushed hard for the last six months attempting to generate enough revenue to offset their lackluster second quarter sales.  All because of the pandemic.  But there was one thing that didn't change.  I still managed to churn out around fifty articles and after 15 years of blogging and almost 1,900 articles to date, I feel like most of the articles from this year were among my best ever.  As has been the custom each December, today we name the top ten articles of 2020 and I hope you'll read every one of them.

The articles from 2020 fell mostly into three categories with some overlap to an obvious fourth category; the pandemic:

Category 1: Research, Data Mining and Assessments (19 articles including 6 that were pandemic-related)
Category 2: Sales and Selling (9 articles including 1 that was pandemic-related)
Category 3: Sales Leadership (17 articles including 8 that were pandemic-related)

There are many ways to vote the top ten articles including:

  • views
  • comments
  • likes
  • engagement
  • personal favorites
  • award nominations/wins
  • appearances on top-10 lists

It's difficult to assign weightings to the list because more views doesn't necessarily mean that people liked or engaged with it, engagement doesn't mean people liked it, lack of comments doesn't mean people didn't like it, awards and top-10 lists are dependent on the people making such designations actually seeing and considering an article, and my favorites won't necessarily be your favorites.  As this is partly scientific and partly subjective I introduce:

The Top 10 Articles of 2020

Best article on How to Conduct an Opportunity Review - This was a fun article to write because I was able to use the political divisiveness as a metaphor to demonstrate the correct and incorrect ways to conduct opportunity reviews.

Best Take-Down of a competitive assessment - Most competitive assessments don't stand a chance against OMG and I simply obliterated Extended Disc in this take-down!  This article was even more fun because you can't make this stuff up! 

Best article on the difficulty explaining the differences between salespeople - Most people can't explain or justify how one salesperson is better than another and are left to rely on revenue as the differentiator.  But revenue is actually the single worst way to compare or differentiate salespeople and sales capabilities.  This article explains why revenue comparisons don't work and presents a better way to make these comparisons.

Best article showing how sales effectiveness changed before, during and after the first recovery from the pandemic - Sales capabilities are sales capabilities, right?  Not when it comes to a Pandemic.  Some scores actually changed throughout the pandemic and into the summer recovery.  This article shows what changed, what stayed the same and why.

Best article on how to be your best selling virtually over video - 6 upgrades that you must make to your virtual/video sales efforts to improve prospects' impressions of you.

Best use of an analogy to explain sales team effectiveness - Regular readers know I love to use analogies and I can turn almost anything into a sales analogy. This was not only one of my best analogies, LinkedIn readers piled on with more examples from this analogy.

Best article on explaining how metrics are used and their importance to sales  - In yet another analogy article, I used pandemic metrics - many that aren't reported - to drive home the importance of having and identifying the correct sales metrics.

Best article showing correlation between a finding and sales success - There are dozens of OMG findings that correlate to Sales Percentile and ultimately, sales success, but the correlation to this finding hadn't been noticed prior to the publication of this article.

Best article on why sales managers are so bad at sales coaching - The data doesn't lie and this article is packed with data about what sales managers do and don't do, as well as how poorly they do it when it comes to coaching.

Best article on what you can do to have a great fourth quarter - While it's too late to impact the fourth quarter of 2020, this article has fifteen specific things you can do which, given the date on the calendar, will impact your first quarter of 2021.

Honorable Mention - these are some of my personal favorites

Most Controversial Article - Trump.

Best use of politics in an article - The first day of the Senate Confirmation Hearing on Amy Coney Barrett was chocked full of examples of how not to convince people to do what you want them to do.

Best article dealing with the Pandemic - How to lead your team in times of crisis.

Best article using historical figures - I wasn't much of a history buff but I did find a way to include FDR and Sir Isaac Newton in this article about fear.

Which article did you like the most?  Which article was most helpfuil?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, top sales articles, top sales blog, sales hiring assessment, sales effectiveness, Donald Trump, pandemic

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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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