How to Find More Sales Opportunities (without Cold Calling)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 @ 05:06 AM

The two biggest problems for most companies right now, in this economy, are delayed closings and not enough new opportunities.  I've tackled delayed closings, so today, with a little help from my friends, I'll tackle not enough new opportunities.  I mentioned in my last post that (most of) you need three times more opportunities than ever before to make up for the late stage opportunities that aren't closing right now.

Rick Roberge, The Rainmaker Maker (did you ever click the link up top to read the Rainmaker Maker Blog?) was my guest on the most recent episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  Rick has had quite the sales career and your salespeople will find this show quite helpful.

Here are some of the highlights from my interview:

Rick talked at length about several additional ways to find new opportunities but stressed that they are all supplements - not replacements - for cold calling. Among them he included:

* Blog
* Hang out where they hang out
* From people who will say nice things about you or your company
* Someone else's customers
* Orphan accounts
* Centers of Influence
* Networking


Speaking of Networking, Rick's shared his Secrets to Successful Networking. He said the biggest mistake salespeople make is that they do not follow up!  He said it is not part of their plan and he gave this formula for Networking Success - 2x2x48.  Listen to the show to hear what that means!

Rick discussed the lessons he learned about rejection from his early days in sales.  You see, the biggest obstacle he had to overcome was his shyness and since he still battles that problem to this day, he not only knows how to get around it, he shared it on the show.

Rick's view of successful selling boils down to this point: "It's not ever about you, your company, or the owner.  It's what your prospect needs.  Until salespeople make it all about the customer, nothing happens."

Rick also shared his Rule of Low Hanging Fruit, his Magic Sales Lesson and his concept of Clique Selling, which he learned about in B2C sales but he says still applies to B2B sales.

So while a major emphasis in sales development is to make salespeople more effective on the phone, there are other things you can have your salespeople doing to find more opportuntities today.

On the next edition of Meet the Sales Experts my guest will be Sales Development Expert Casey Coffman, CEO of The Coffman Group. Listen in on Thursday, June 25, at 1 PM ET. Click LISTEN LIVE. If you can't make it, check back after June 27th and click this link.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan



Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales lessons, improve sales, sales tips, Rick Roberge, Rainmaker, Rainmakermaker, networking

Rules of Sales Engagement for the Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 @ 13:06 PM

On the June 16 episode of Meet the Sales Experts, I answered listener questions - live.  There were some fantastic questions and I provided some fair answers.

Listen to the show to learn how you can shorten your sales cycle by taking advantage of the window of opportunity...

Listen to hear about sales coaching - how often, what kind, with whom, and how...

Listen to discover the single biggest mistake salespeople make...

Listen to some opportunity specific advice.

We also discussed the economy - of course - and right now, there are some new rules of engagement.  You simply have to work three times harder, three times smarter, find three times more opportunities and be three times more effective just to sell what you used to sell.  That's it?  No.  In order to be three times more effective you must refine your strategies and expand upon your tactics.  You must be more creative, quicker on your feet, more resourceful and more persuasive.  You must ask better questions and more of them.  You must be more powerful than ever before.  Do that and you will survive.  Do that consistently and you will thrive when the economy turns around and money loosens up.  In the mean time, no short cuts!

(c) 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Sales Tactics, improve sales, sales mistakes, sales tips, sales cycle, Sales Experts, sales strategy

Put on Your Helmet - 3 Great Tips for Selling in This Economy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 @ 22:06 PM

What a great interview I had with Bill Murray, Founder and CEO of Winning Incorporated, Friday on my Meet the Sales Experts Radio Show!  He was awesome.

Here are some of the highlights from my conversation with Bill:

His mission is to abolish mediocrity. He tells us how in the interview...

He revealed a success story where the client, a bank, achieved a 400% increase in their asset baseListen to hear what Bill did with the bank tellers!

Bill recalled his early days in sales which included getting a Jaguar for free - listen to hear how - and four transferable lessons from his very first job in sales.

He revealed the biggest obstacle he had to overcome in order to succeed - hear what it was like going from a leadership position with 2 personal assistants to a startup with zero income and....5 kids!

He had 3 great tips for helping you succeed in sales in this economy - the #2 tip was Put on Your Helmet! He explained how he named his company, and he provided this great tip:  "Find something you're passionate about and attack it."

Bill also talked about applying a 50,000 foot strategy to the real world.

How would you like to get your own sales force issues answered live on Meet the Sales Experts?  You can. The next show is this Monday, June 15, at 12 Noon ET.  You don't even have to listen to the live show - you can listen to the archived show later to get your answer.

First, email me the details of your issue. It doesn't matter what it is. It can be about your salespeople, strategy, systems, processes, challenges, or approach or even your frustration over the economy. Just send the email and I'll read your question and provide the answer on this week's show.

Next, if you're able to listen live, simply click here at 12 Noon ET on 6/15/09 and click the link to Listen Live. If you're not able to listen live, you can check back here any time after Tuesday, 6/16/09 and click the link for the 6/15/09 show.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan



Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Salesforce, Sales Force, Overcoming Obstacles, winning, improve sales, sales tips, Sales Experts, bill murray, Success Stories, jaguar, Economy

The Sales Force with Over Achievers That Don't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 @ 22:03 PM


That's right. Today I heard about a CEO who told one of my colleagues that all of his salespeople over achieve.  In the same phone conversation he mentioned that sales are down 20%.  Can you imagine where sales would be if his salespeople under achieved?  

I think that many CEO's are in a time warp.

Despite the struggles of their sales force in this economy, they still view the sales force as they remember them when times were good. 

The problem with this is that even the good times did not accurately define these salespeople.  Salespeople who succeed when times are good but struggle when times get tough are not over achievers.  They are mediocre salespeople who simply don't get in their own way.  Over achievers find ways to succeed in all conditions, good and bad.

I think that many CEO's are in denial.

Despite the struggles of their sales force, they continue to look at the pipeline and say to themselves, we'll be okay as soon as these deals close.  But the deals aren't closing and with each passing day companies are less okay then they were the day before.

I think that many CEO's are scared shitless (the only truly accurate word I could type there).

Because of the struggles of their sales force, they look at the numbers, down 90%, down 75%, down 50%, down 25% and wonder how they can turn it around.  It can be turned around but they have to be proactive, not reactive.  They have to be aggressive, not passive.  They have to work on the right end of the problem - revenue - not just costs.

Truth is, our data shows that only 6% of all salespeople over achieve.  And another 20% can become over achievers.  Who do you want on your sales force and what are you willing to do to develop them or recruit them?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, assessments, selling, Management, Sales Force, leadership, over achievement, declining sales, improve sales, assessment, sales candidates, over achieve, Under achievers, hiring salespeople, mediocrity, overachievers, sales increase, Performance, Economy, sales assessments, declining revenue

Revising the Forbes Message of the Day for the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 @ 08:02 AM

The Forbes Success Calendar for 2/25/09 said, "Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of our living.  Out of our overconfidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope.  And out of hope, progress." - Bruce Barton

I think this quote requires a serious revision - for the sales force and for the company.

First, let's make it shorter.  

Action.  Today, any action is better than inaction. And don't react, just respond appropriately.  Reactions are emotional while responses are intentional.

Change is good but forget trial and error.  In this economy there is no margin for error.  Everything you do must be time-tested and proven

Hope is not a strategy but unwavering belief will lead to progress and in turn, confidence

My revision: If what you are doing today is not yielding the desired result, respond, take action, change, believe, progress, succeed.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, success, improve sales, economic crisis, sales results, Forbes

How to Turn Around Flat or Declining Sales Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 01, 2009 @ 21:02 PM

I am in the process of reading a New York Times bestseller called 90 Minutes in Heaven.  The first chapter, where Don Piper describes his 90 minutes in heaven, is by far the best part of the book.  Page after page of the rest of the book (so far), details his horrible ordeal, the accident, his years of pain and recovery and his depression.  This section of the book is not that enjoyable.  But today, I came to a passage of about 3 pages that made the drudgery worthwhile.

Don Piper was recounting his days, weeks and months of self-pity, and his refusal to accept help from anyone.  His mentor, an eighty year-old minister, was visiting him one day, and let him have it but good.  I won't go through the trouble of including the word-for-word conversation here but he basically said, "get your act together."  He went on to say, "you must allow others to help you."  And he wouldn't leave until Don agreed.  As Don recalled this encounter, he called it the turning point of his recovery - a miracle!

As I read this section of the book it occurred to me that while none of you are twisted, mangled, broken versions of your former selves, many of you are at the helm of companies with broken sales forces and, like Don, refuse to accept or ask for help.  Your sales force may be no different than it was a year ago, except for the lack of revenue they are producing.  Ask for help.  Accept help.  They may be the same group of people you had at this time last year, except that they are struggling today.  Ask for help. Accept help. They may have the same accounts that they had last year, except that those accounts aren't buying as much. Ask for help.  Accept help. They may be prospecting like they did last year except that the deals in their pipeline have been stalled or delayed and last year's level of prospecting isn't enough to make up for it.  Ask for help.  Accept help.

When revenues are flat or declining, that isn't the time to let pride or ego get in the way. 

John Miller, author of QBQ! - The Question Behind the Question, gets it.   Last week he wrote that cutting training would be as ludicrous as the fire department not being able to respond to an emergency because they cut training and their department wasn't prepared.  He went on to say that for most companies, right now is an emergency!

I don't care how many years your people have been in sales.  They weren't trained to sell in an economic environment like the one we have today.  Retaining accounts is as important as ever, but right now, most companies need their salespeople to bring in new business.  Unfortunately, most of your salespeople weren't trained to hunt and close either, only to manage accounts. So it's a complex situation: 

  • You need your salespeople to hunt and close but they weren't trained to do that;
  • You need them to sell in the worst economy in their lifetimes but they weren't trained to overcome that either;
  • You aren't comfortable asking for help because you think you should be able to solve this problem yourself (these times are challenging even for top experts like me);
  • You don't want to spend any money because - oh yeah - sales are down;
  • If just a couple of those deals on hold would close you'll be OK (hope is not a strategy).
There are some very talented sales develolpment experts that know exactly how to quickly turn around your flat or declining revenue. Ask for help.  Accept help.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, declining sales, improve sales, sales success, sales development, flat revenue, declining revenue

Right Sales People in the Right Roles and the Right Seats

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jan 11, 2009 @ 22:01 PM

I was on site at a client's last week to kick-off their training.  At the end of the kick-off I asked each salesperson for their three biggest lessons learned.  One salesperson had difficulty coming up with anything of substance.  It turned out that he was new to sales and when we assessed him two months earlier, our assessment indicated that he was not trainable.  The client wanted him in the program anyway because he had a hunch it would work out.  "Not trainable" manifests in different ways but usually has the same outcome - salespeople don't improve.

There were a number of other salespeople who weren't included in the program because the assessment indicated they weren't trainable either.  After the kick-off the client revealed that those salespeople were, as I predicted to him, relieved not to be included except for one who did want to take part.  The one?  The assessment indicated that this particular salesperson is trainable but the client did not want to include him.

Trainable salespeople behave differently than salespeople who are not trainable.  This provides a nice little glimpse into how they are different.  You can develop trainable salespeople but it's very difficult to develop those who aren't.  Trainable salespeople usually offer very little resistance to training and coaching efforts, while those who aren't trainable either don't care enough to participate, or they offer so much resistance that they ruin it for everyone.

By now you've read Jim Collins' book Good to Great.  The concept everyone takes away from the book is having the right people in the right seats.  With our assessment we not only have the ability to put the right salespeople in the right roles, but to put the right ones in the right training seats too.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, improve sales, sales evaluation, Good to Great, Jim Collins, sales profile

Surprising Statistics from the Sales Force Grader

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 @ 09:12 AM

The actual results are even more surprising than the number of people (several hundred) that have already visited the FREE Sales Force Grader.

To date, the worst score is 0 - definitely a surprise.  While we would expect there to be some sales culturally challenged companies, we didn't expect any to be that bad....

To date, the best score is 81 (out of 100) - a surprise there too since I would have expected at least a few companies to score closer to 100.  This tells me there is still work to be done to improve sales effectiveness at even the most effective companies.

To date, the typical score is only 30 -a surprise...while I know that most companies need a tremendous amount of help, I didn't realize that so many companies needed so much help - even the companies (maybe yours) who tell us that everything is OK...

In a related finding, we have also found similar statistics on the sister page, Free Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator.  The cost of a typical company's sales hiring mistakes is $1,367,250.00!  Yes, that's the typical company; the average company is even higher - $5,659,032.00 And the highest cost recorded so far? $32,583,450.00

What can you learn from all of this?

If your sales force scores below 80 and you need to positively impact 2009 sales, then passively waiting to see if things improve (hope) is not a strategy. While there are always some things you can do by yourself, most of the things that need to be done to make a sales force significantly more effective require outside help.  After all, you are already doing some of the things that need to be done - you simply aren't doing them effectively enough!

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales management, improve sales, sales excellence, salesforce grader, hiring mistake, salse candidate, sales effectiveness

Sales Coaching - The Big Differentiator

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 02, 2008 @ 02:12 AM

What's the difference between great sales coaching and good sales coaching?

Do you talk with your salespeople about strategy, goals, outcomes and potential obstacles?  Do you check with them to make sure they agree?  That's good sales coaching.

To achieve greatness in your sales coaching you must also address the "how" of the strategy. In other words, what will they say, what will they ask, and how will they respond to the potential challenges?  

When your salespeople either don't know what the "how" should sound like, or have a sense of it but it isn't on track, it's your job to help them come up with the appropriate "how".

This is where you need to be more effective than they are.  That's why the best sales coaches were great salespeople in a prior life. This is where you must be able to role play.

Are you a good sales coach or a great sales coach?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, improve sales, sales excellence

Is Your Selling Model Effective? Know your Salesforce's ABC's

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Nov 16, 2008 @ 20:11 PM

Every company, with or without a salesforce, has a selling model.  I know of one company whose model is "we don't believe in sales". It works for them, but it won't work for many others.

What happens when you force yourself into a model?  My wife did that with her company.  She is a very driven, gifted, caring, giving, talented, brilliant, effective, successful leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and marketer.  Because of that rare combination of attributes and talents, she is in demand as a speaker, board member, fund-raiser, volunteer, and champion.  In addition to being the CEO of her company, she is also the chair of the non-profit she founded, the incoming chair of a non-profit on whose board she sits and the vice-chair of the local chamber of commerce board.

She is a terrific wife and mom to our son, who is frequently mentioned in this Blog. When you add up all of those important responsibilities and learn that she is also the only salesperson for her company, how much time do you suppose that leaves for selling?  Exactly.  So her selling model is a combination of self-imposed time limitations, along with a strong need to be selective and effective.  When she meets with a potential client, there is business to be done!

What happens when you compare a model like Deborah's - if you're gonna go hunting you'd better come back with dinner - with a model that has its salespeople making 3 sales calls per day, or around 60 per month? Do you think those salespeople come back with 60 new customers or orders per month?  No chance! They probably sell 10.  That's why they're on so many calls. 

What would happen if you told those salespeople that you only wanted them to go on 30 calls per month, but you want them to be a lot more selective, and you expected them to close 50% instead of 10%?

I'll tell you what would happen, your A players would close 50% of them and your B's would probably get 33% (the original 10 deals with half the work and half the resources). Your C's?  Same as today - they'd still fail to get the 10 you needed.

You need to develop your B's and replace your C's.  The only problem is that you aren't really able to identify who your A's, B's and C's are.  You think you can but you're measuring them by the dollars they produce, the worst possible measurement of potential, because the dollars are not necessarily the result of their efforts today as much as the dollars may be the result of their previous efforts or the efforts of others over time.

If you want to learn how to truly learn your ABC's, engage me, send me an email or leave me a comment.  We'll talk.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales model, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, closing percentage, improve sales, sales evaluation, FLIC, sales personaility, PENTA

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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