Combo Article Friday - Finding New Business and Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

on the phone sellingI wrote an article for the Sales Blog over at Hubspot on how Inbound Marketing has really been around, like, forever.  

Mark Roberge, the Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot, wrote an article there this week that has elicted one of the best discussions I've seen in the Sales Blogoshere - and not a single attack on any of the contributors (as of the last time I checked).  The article was about who should be your first sales hire.  I wrote my own article on the topic 3 years ago called Startups and the Dilemma of the First Sales Hire.  The inbound audience loves to engage in discussions, but not so much the CEO's, Presidents and Sales VP's who read these articles.  Chime in!

The February Issue of Top Sales Magazine was published yesterday and it includes an article with my latest thinking about using the phone for prospecting.  You can download the issue here This issue also announces a Top Sales Contest for Salespeople.  If there is a salesperson who you would like to nominate, instructions and guidelines are here.  

My article Tips for Great Keynotes and Better Sales Presentations was named a Top 10 Sales Article for the week over at TopSalesWorld.com.

I'll be speaking near you over the next two months:

WEBINAR: Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 1
Wednesday, February 5, 11 AM ET
Register: http://hub.am/1jLizo2 

The latest thinking about growing, developing, tweaking and managing the ideal sales force.  Part 1 will address:
  • Sales Process - Optimizing Conversions
  • Sales Methodology – Why It Matters
  • Sales Messaging - How to Get It Right
  • 3 Critical Conversations
  • Executing in a Changing Economy
  • Sales Model – Making It Scalable
  • Channels - Optimizing Your Traction
  • Sales Training - Critical Components for Maximum Impact 
WEBINAR SERIES - Baseline Selling Open Enrollment
Begins February 20 for 12 Weeks
More Information: http://hub.am/1fhbMvv 
WEBINAR - How to Get the Most from OMG's Sales Candidate Analyzer Tool
February 26, 11 AM ET
Register 
SALES 2.0 CONFERENCE IN PHILADELPHIA - What to Ask To Determine If You Need to Implement Sales Force Transformation
March 10 
Register
ECSELL SALES COACHING SUMMIT IN CHARLOTTE NC - What Does Commitment to Sales Success Mean?
April 15
Register
EO AUSTIN TX - How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle and Close More Sales
April 23
Email me 
Image credit: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, EcSELL Institute, Top Sales World, Sales 2.0 Conference, EO, Top Sales Article, Hubspot Sales Blog, Mark Roberge

This is How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 06:03 AM

HallOfFameLast week I posted an article that linked to two additional articles I wrote for EcSELL Institute and Top Sales World.  [Speaking of Top Sales World, they just published a page showing all of the greats (I'm honored to be included) that have been inducted into their Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in the past 3 years.]  Apparently there were issues with those links from last week because I got dozens of emails letting me know that you couldn't get to those two articles.  I will share the article I wrote for EcSell below.  Sales Management must spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople like this: 

An enormous part of developing salespeople these days is helping them to differentiate themselves from your competitors.  Effectively applying a consultative sales process helps to accomplish this.  Executed correctly, the salesperson has a conversation with a decision maker that is unlike any conversation the competition has had.  It uncovers the compelling reasons for spending money, changing vendors, buying a product or service and, as important, buying it from you.  That creates urgency, and an incentive for a prospect to self-qualify.  The end-result should be a prospect that is willing to spend more to do business with you, and a sales cycle that is not based on winning the price war.

A salesperson told me he met with a customer that had taken their business to a competitor because of price.  It sounded like they were getting what they were paying for: 

    • Paying more for freight,
    • Finding variations in the product,
    • Stocking more inventory than necessary because of availability problems

The salesperson accomplished enough to uncover some issues and while these aren’t compelling reasons, additional questions would lead us there.  To keep the story short and get to my point, let’s assume that the salesperson did enough correctly to continue moving the opportunity forward.   

The Salesperson Comes to You Having Said This to the Former Customer 

“If you had access to local delivery, through a distributor, and the price was competitive, would you consider looking into this?” 

Step 1 – Can you identify what’s wrong with his outdated trial close?

Step 2 – Can you articulate why it’s wrong?

Step 3-  Can you explain the root cause of why it happened?

Step 4 – Can you role play the solution?

Step 5 – Can you get to lessons learned? 

Coaching – Step 1

Forget for a minute that the call to action was horrible; “Look into this” instead of “Pay a little more for my help solving this problem”.  

That wasn’t the worst of it.  

The horror of the salesperson’s question was that he introduced an unnecessary criterion - competitive pricing - for doing business with him.  

Coaching Step 2 - What’s wrong with that? 

Two things: 

    1. Even if you wanted to be the low priced seller, and you don’t, after that question, if you don’t come back with a competitive price you don’t get the business!
    2. He didn’t need to offer competitive pricing because he sold value!  He identified the problem and has a solution for the problem.  That is the value someone will pay for and he undermined it by bringing the customer’s attention back to price! 

Coaching Step 3 – What’s the Root Cause? 

The salesperson was afraid to ask the customer to pay more so there are 4 potential weaknesses at play, as well as the possibility that he hadn’t remembered the correct way to ask the question.

    • Discomfort talking about money prevented him from addressing it
    • Understanding of Price Sensitivity because that’s the way he buys
    • Need for Approval caused him to believe the customer may not like him anymore if he asks a tough question.
    • Self-Limiting Belief that he needs a competitive price in order to get the business 

Coaching Step 4 – Can You Role Play the Solution? 

Salesperson: “How important is it to have continued availability of quality, local inventory?”

Customer: “Extremely important”. 

Salesperson: “Tell me how that would affect your business. 

Customer: “I’ll have control over costs and availability.” 

Salesperson: “Peace of Mind?” 

Customer: “Exactly.” 

Salesperson:  “And, in order to solve this problem, get local, as needed, quality inventory, eliminate your enormous freight costs, and restore peace of mind, are you willing to pay a little more for my help and solve this problem once and for all?” 

Coaching  Step 5 – Lessons Learned

I hear an awful lot of salespeople complaining that they can’t sell in their business unless they have the best price.  The reality is that there are only four reasons why price becomes an issue:

    • The salesperson made it an issue (experience)
    • The salesperson accepted that it was an issue (non-supportive beliefs)
    • The salesperson didn’t know how to prevent it from being an issue (tactics)
    • The salesperson was foolishly calling on purchasing instead of an actual decision maker who owned a problem or an opportunity. (strategy)

What did you learn?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales skills, sales management, Sales Coaching, EcSELL Institute, sales weaknesses, sales enablement, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World

Does Your Sales Force Look Like This?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 @ 14:04 PM

Yesterday, I spoke to an energetic group of sales leaders attending the EcSELL Institute Sales Coaching Summit in Austin, Texas.  EcSELL is different in that they won't place speakers on their event faculties unless their work can be substantiated by research and science.  As a result, their audience is a sponge for any and all best practices that are time-tested, proven and have confirming empirical data.

I shared just a few of the charts, graphs and tables, which we include in a sales force evaluation when we are answering common, but difficult, business questions such as:

  • Are the salespeople, whom you have today, the right people and are they in the right roles to help you reach your stretch goal?  If not, why and what must be done?
  • Which of your non-performers and underachievers can be saved (developed into strong B's and A's) and, if so, what will it take, how long will it take and what is the expected improvement?
  • Can the existing sales force execute your changing strategies?
  • What impact is sales management having on the sales team in the areas of coaching, motivating, recruiting, accountability and developing them for growth?
  • Which of your existing salespeople can make the important transition from transactional selling (hunt, present, propose or quote and close) to the more effective, but more difficult, consultative selling (asking many good, tough, timely questions to uncover compelling reasons to buy, and identifying an appropriate solution.)
In a post earlier this month, I shared some of the graphics from a pipeline analysis, one of the many data points we use to determine if the sales force can execute the strategies.  Here is another graph that we use to answer some of the questions above:
sales capabilities

 

In this graph, you can see that the three teams, making up this sales force, have some ability to hunt down new opportunities and they are most capable at presenting.  Unfortunately, like most sales forces, they have very little capability in the areas of selling consultatively, qualifying and closing.

 


I will be working with sales leaders in Boston on May 10th and 11th to help them develop the mastery to overcome problems like this.  Please join us for the premier sales leadership event of the year.  If you are interested in attending, notify me by email and I'll get you a preferred rate!

sales leadership event 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales force evaluation, EcSELL Institute, sales management training, sales leadership training, pipeline analysis, sales management seminar

Sales Education - New Events, Articles and Books

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 @ 12:02 PM

Insightful SellingToday's article has a collection of links to help you, your sales managers and your salespeople become more effective.

A new book by Adon Rigg, Insightful Selling, launched today.  It's a nice collection of important reminders, tips and insights for all things sales.  There are a few things that I especially appreciated about his book and you might too.  There is a tremendous emphasis on using the Internet and especially LinkedIn.  For those who aren't up to speed on how to incorporate these tools into their day-to-day selling, this is invaluable.  Adon says that cold-calling is dead, and while it has become more challenging, I don't agree that it is quite dead yet.  See this important article for more on the truth about cold-calling.  The book provides some much needed assistance on how salespeople can more easily understand business finance!  In my opinion, this is a no compromise skill that salespeople must possess if they wish to sell more consultatively and become partners and trusted advisors.  Order the book today and receive dozens of free bonus gifts.

Seth Godin recently posted two articles that you should find helpful.  Read this one about misunderstandings and this one about how prospects check you out.

EcSell Institute is hosting it's spring Sales Coaching Summit on April 10-12 in Austin, TX.  This is a terrific event, I've spoken at it, and we like it so much that Objective Management Group is sponsoring it this year.  I'll be speaking on April 11 and my topic is "Sales Force Intelligence - The 5 Most Important Answers".  For more information and to register, click here.

If you can't make EcSell's Sales Coaching Summit in April, Kurlan & Associates is hosting its annual Sales Leadership Symposium on May 10-11 in Boston, MA.  If you are interested in attending or sending a team to this event, please contact me by email.

sales leadership event 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, EcSELL Institute, sales management training, sales leadership training, Seth Godin, bill eckstrom, adon rigg

The Difference Between Good and Bad Sales Coaching Questions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 @ 21:02 PM


coachingWhen it comes to coaching salespeople, there are both good and bad questions that sales managers can ask to get the conversation started.  Here are some examples:

Bad: How did it go?
Better: How did the call end?

Bad: How was your week?
Better: How many new opportunities did you add to the pipeline?

Bad: What have you closed?
Better: What opportunities can I help you move forward?

Bad: What do you have going on?
Better: What can I help you with?

And then there's this from the salesperson you're coaching: "I'm all set - I'm good"
Bad: Great - talk with you later!
Better: Well, that's not consistent with what the numbers say...so if I could, what could I help you with?

The biggest difference between the bad and good questions is clarity.  Broad strokes are for painting.  Clear, concise, concrete questions are required to begin a sales coaching conversation.

By the way, I'll be conducting sessions on sales coaching at EcSell Institute's Sales Management Coaching Summit on April 7 in Scottsdale Arizona, where the Science and Art come together to help you become better at coaching.  I believe there are still some seats available.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, EcSELL Institute, sales coaching summit

The Science of Selling - Rules versus Data

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 @ 10:02 AM

Regular readers know that I like to talk about the science of selling.  I don't mean the science of the sales process, strategy and tactics, as much as the science of research, data and proof.  There is a science to selling but a more appropriate name for it would be the rules of selling.  In Baseball, the rules dictate what you do, when you do it and how it should be done.  In Selling, the rules accomplish the same thing. 

The true science in selling is the research and data that explain performance.  In Baseball, a good or bad year, by a team or player, is not explained so much by whether the rules were followed - they probably were - but by the statistics that explain why a good or bad year occurred. We have the same thing in sales and Objective Management Group may have the mother load of that data.  OMG has assessment data on nearly 500,000 salespeople and sales managers within nearly 8,500 companies. Whether we look at teams, industries or individuals, we can explain performance as well as what should change (people, systems, processes, strategies, skills sets, competencies, selection criteria, etc.) in order to change the relative performance. In other words, we've simplified the complex analysis required to find answers.  We're the sabermaticians of sales! Over the last few years I have written enough articles on the science, data and research of sales to put them into a series.  This information is also used to accurately predict whether a sales candidate will succeed in a specific role, at a particular company, in a given industry, and with the unique set of sales challenges they would face selling into their market at this point in time.

One guy who embraces the science of sales team performance as much, or maybe even more than me is Bill Eckstrom, founder of EcSell Institute. Bill was my guest on yesterday's edition of Meet the Sales Experts and we talked about science and whined for nearly an hour about sales managers who turn a blind eye to it!  Bill shared some great analogies, talked about the importance of improving leadership and coaching skills, and shared a great discovery.

He used a new application which increased outbound conversations at EcSell Institute from 5/hour to 22/hour!

Bill also shared that his members said their #1 most important issue was the ability to identify and acquire talent.

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Bill.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, Sales Force, EcSELL Institute, bill eckstrom, sales candidate assessment, sales assessments, science of selling

3 Powerful Excuses for Maintaining Mediocrity in Your Sales Hiring

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 @ 06:01 AM

Yesterday I participated in a Webinar sponsored and hosted by EcSell Institute where I presented my ideas for how not to screw up your 2010 sales hiring.  Most of the attendees had participated in a survey where they said that getting hiring right was extremely important, but only 8% felt they had the skills to do this effectively.

When I answered questions from the audience, the best one, in my opinion, was the most obvious. It went something like this:

"If your recruiting process works so effectively, and your assessments are so predictive, and they save so much time and money and consistently identify top performers, then why don't more companies use them?"

Isn't that just an awesome question?  Without question, it is the question I ask myself every single day.  Why are there only 8,000 companies using this great process and assessment when it could be 8 million companies?

I believe there are three reasons.

  1. Ego.  Most sales managers simply have a mindset that they should know how to do this without asking for help, relying on tools, or following someone else's process.  After all, they've done it before (badly if you measure it by the percentage of over achievers they hire - fewer than half of the last 10 people yesterday's group hired were achieving!).
  2. Money.  Every company pays their worst performer far more than it would cost to get the right process, tools and skills in place. Even though every hiring mistake costs as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars, some companies simply don't view those losses as line items. However, they do see the cost of assessments and consulting as line items and mistakenly believe they can't spend the money.
  3. Fear.  Fear of the unknown, of being wrong, of change, of losing control, of being criticized, and of a learning curve.

These are 3 powerful reasons for not going down this path.  Yet, they are 3 reasons over which executives should be embarrassed and apologize. 

Companies just plain suck at hiring the right salespeople.  How could they do any worse by implementing best practices?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, EcSELL Institute, recruiting process, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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