How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 13:05 PM

boomer-v-millennial.jpg

I hate this article already - the last thing we need is another article to help us to understand Millennials.  Except for one thing.  Most of you reading this are Millennials and you probably need to better understand boomers.

We've all heard many of the distinctions of Millennials - how they like to work, where they like to work, when they like to work, how little they like to work, how entitled they are, how money isn't that important, how they want to change the world and be a part of something bigger than themselves.  So I'm not going to write about any of that in this article.  Instead, I'm going to talk about several tendencies that differentiate these two generations of salespeople.

We can begin with Motivation.  Boomer salespeople are generally extrinsically motivated - motivated by money and things - while Millennials are typically intrinsically motivated.  They would prefer to love what they do and strive for mastery.  Here is more on the difference between these two types of motivation in sales.

We can talk about New Business Development too.  Boomers are much more likely to pick up the phone and make a call - even a cold call - to initiate contact and follow up and they prefer to meet face-to-face.  Millennials are more likely to use their social networks - LinkedIn, Twitter, Text and Facebook - to initiate contact - and email to follow-up and they tend to prefer selling by phone.  The two newest selling roles - SDR's and BDR's - are both top-of-the-funnel roles where the reps simply schedule meetings and calls for account executives.  These roles are filled almost exclusively by Millennials.  I hear you.  "But they are on the phone and you said they don't like using the phone!"  Exactly.  And that explains why they are so bad at it. The latest statistics from ConnectAndSell tell us that these reps book, on average, 1.5 meetings per week.  If that is the only thing they are required to do, shouldn't the number be more like 2-3 meetings per day?

And speaking of Selling Skills, Boomers are far more likely to have professional selling skills while Millennials are more likely to frame selling in the context of demos, proposals and follow-up.  It might not be their fault, as most of them are in the aforementioned top-of-the-funnel roles, while Boomers are almost always found in outside territory, major account, vertical or account management roles.

One of the new things that Objective Management Group (OMG) introduced last month is industry statistics where the results of a company's sales force evaluation are compared against other companies in their industry.  Here's an image from a slide that looks at the average scores for salespeople in 6 major strands of Sales DNA and how this sales force (burgundy) compares to similar companies (blue) as well as all companies (green).

industry-comparison.png 

Regular readers know that OMG has evaluated salespeople from companies.  I am hoping that in the coming months, we can filter our data by generation and share the differences in the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, inside sales, selling skills, top of the funnel

Can Free Sales Content Send You Down a Dangerous Path?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 02, 2016 @ 05:05 AM

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Did you ever drive down a street and see a "free stuff" sign?  Maybe it was a free sofa, chair, or table.  Maybe it was a free lawnmower or bicycle. It even could have been free kid's stuff.  Nearly all of the free stuff you find on the side of the road, available to the first taker, is somebody else's junk.  Instead of throwing it out, and rather than taking the time to donate it (if an organization would have it), they are simply giving it away.  

On the Web, there are three kinds of free sales content available.  

There are free articles - like this one - where you could be inspired, might have to think a bit, might learn of an approach you weren't aware of, or might be privy to some statistics or science you hadn't read about.  

There are free White Papers, which could be anything from a scientific report on Sales Selection, Longevity,Trust, or The Challenger Sale (the topics of my White Papers), to a marketing piece made to look like a scientific report.  

And there are Free Downloads offering a great value in exchange for your name and email address.  I downloaded one such free value this weekend - a Sales Process Cheat Sheet - which promised a standardized playbook and a simple, easy-to-follow sales methodology to help managers coach their inside sales reps into following a proven, standardized process from discovery to close.  Was there value?  It was a joint promotion from Hubspot and InsideSales.com. - maybe you received the same offer in your inbox.  Was it any good?  Was it a process?  Was it a playbook?  Was it a methodology?

It was designed for inside salespeople - BDR's and SDR's - whose role is to connect with prospects and book meetings for account executives or AE's.  In my opinion, it was not a Playbook because it did not show how to execute the call.  Playbooks are how-to's with scripts and action trees.  It was not a Methodology because it did not have a defined approach for moving from one milestone to the next.  Methodologies focus on the kind of conversation that is required to move from one step and stage to the next.  And it was not a Process because it was focused on tasks and outcomes, more than a series of milestones.  A sales process must have stages (typically 4-6) and within each stage, milestones that build on each other.  

Worse than not really being any of the things it was advertised to be, it was WAY TOO COMPLEX for sales reps whose job is to book meetings.  By comparison, the sales processes that Kurlan & Associates builds for companies are designed to be thorough, yet clear, concise and simple.  Simple does not imply that it is inadequate.  Simple means that it works without being overly complex or difficult to execute. Of course Kurlan charges for its work and the cheat sheet we have been talking about was free.  Does that mean it was as valuable as the old sofa, chair or table?

One of the many reader emails I received last week was from someone complaining that he used to get value from my articles, but no longer felt like he did.  I responded to him, apologized, and asked what I could write about that would be valuable for him.  He didn't respond.  No article can be all things to all people.  I'm sure that if you're a regular reader, you dismiss some as easily as you find some save-worthy.  Then there's the free part.  I always save the best stuff for the paying clients, for the consulting and training and coaching and evaluating and recruiting.  Unfortunately, and honestly, the material you get for free falls more into the tease category than the value category.   Even Amazon Prime does that.  There are certain movies that Prime members can watch for free, but you have to pay for the best stuff. 

There are some great thought leaders writing good articles in the sales space.  Just look at the list of the Top 50 Sales Bloggers and you will surely find some useful free content.  But as with my material, the others will save the best, most valuable, and most important information for their paying clients.

It's great that today you can get stuff for free.  Just don't confuse what you get for free with what others are paying for.

Speaking of paying - this is the final call for the last 2 available seats for my Sales Leadership Intensive, May 17-18 outside of Boston. [Update - Sold Out].

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales process, sales methodology, inside sales, top sales blog, insidesales.com, sales playbook

Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 01, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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Would you believe me if I told you that in a recent sales force evaluation, nearly 50% of the 300 inside salespeople were not in the right role?  Recently, we evaluated a large inside sales force and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the more unusual findings that were responsible for this sales team's inability to achieve the revenue goals that the company expected from them.It isn't uncommon to learn that salespeople are not in a role for which they are best suited, although it isn't as easy to determine in sales forces when there may be only one role - like territory sales.  On the other hand, when we evaluate a company with multiple selling roles, our analysis will identify the best role for each salesperson and, as I mentioned at the outset, most on this sales force were not in the right selling role!

This particular sales force was interesting in other ways too. 100% had strong Outlook (we never see that even in much smaller teams), 92% were Coachable and 82% had strong Desire.   As good as that sounds - and it is very good for a large sales force - 47% lacked Strong Commitment. I wrote an award-winning article about the difference between Desire and Commitment here.

Understanding the huge difference between their Desire and Commitment levels, it should not surprise you that the sales managers mirrored the salespeople with their Desire and Commitment scores.  You won't have any difficulty determining whose teams had most of the salespeople that lacked Commitment.

A big part of almost any inside sales role would require finding new customers and that was true with this company.  I'm going to share one of the most interesting findings from the evaluation. It is symptomatic of the Commitment problem and is one of the reasons as to why so few of their salespeople were in the right role.  In the image below, you'll see that there was a near-even distribution of the four groups into which we categorize salespeople when it comes to finding new business.  And in case you aren't sure, even distribution in this area is not good.

inside-sales-hunting.jpg

  • 21% will hunt for new business without being asked.
  • 30% would hunt for new business if their sales managers held them accountable.
  • 24% will follow up on a lead, but won't engage in proactive hunting.
  • 24% will not hunt, no matter what, ever.

Training and coaching will not change those percentages, but will improve the skills of the 51% that do or would hunt.  The percentages are reflective of their Sales DNA which, in this case, does not support hunting activities.  48% of them lack the Sales DNA which supports hunting for new business!  That explains a lot, doesn't it?  

This company had a well-known value proposition - you've undoubtedly heard it - but they recently changed it.  The image below shows that their salespeople  were generally not using either the old or the new value proposition in their selling!

inside-sales-value-prop.jpgI know we haven't mentioned a single sales competency or selling skill, but suffice to say that this sales force was extremely weak in the area of skills.  So weak, it isn't even worth sharing the scores for competencies like Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Posturing, Account Management, Sales Process, Relationship Building, CRM Savvy, Social Selling, etc.  Instead, let's look at one of the findings that explains why this group was not improving.  In the image below, you'll see that Excuse Makers outnumbered those who take responsibility and the sales managers were even worse than the salespeople.  I'm sure you can guess whose teams most of the excuse makers were on...

inside-excuses.jpg

Here is a link to a very short article and video where I explain the huge impact of excuse making.

I'll share one more of the many interesting findings from this evaluation.  Notice from the image below that despite the fact that this company positions itself as providing value, most of the salespeople are not comfortable with their pricing.  The majority believe that they must have the lowest prices in order to succeed.  The sales force is out of alignment with the company's value proposition!!  Here is a great article that describes how quoting prices undermines selling value.inside-pricing.jpg

These examples are just 5 out of dozens of interesting findings that we shared with their executives.  Without learning about these issues, they would have continued going down the wrong path and expanded the sales team's general ineffectiveness.  Read about the impact of scaling sucky sales.  

What about your sales force?  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles?  Are your salespeople actually capable of executing your plan?  Can they provide the growth that you need them to achieve?  There are two ways to find out.  The first is to wait 12 more months and measure results against expectations. How has that worked out in the past?

The second way is to evaluate your sales force and learn how their capabilities align with your goals, expectations and timeline to discover what, if anything, needs to change.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Force, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, new business, OMG Assessment

The Secret to Coaching Salespeople and Why It's So Scary 

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 05:09 AM

If you have time to read only a single one of my articles this year, read this one on the great business disconnect that was published on LinkedIn.  You won't be sorry.  And if you want to see just how awful Microsoft's latest Office 2016 for Mac is, read this off-topic post here

I was speaking at the AA-ISP event in Boston earlier this month when I learned something very interesting about how sales leaders feel about coaching salespeople.  

I was leading a session on how to coach Inside Salespeople.  The session had the same components as I would normally include for showing sales leaders how to coach salespeople.  We discussed Shaping the Sales Environment, The Different types of Sales Coaching Conversations, the Importance of Role-Playing and then we listened to an actual coaching call.  Under normal circumstances, each of those topics would get at least an hour before reviewing actual calls.  Under the best of circumstances, like during my Sales Leadership Intensive, we spend the better part of two days.  At this event I had just 30 minutes...

So what is the surprising lesson I learned at this event?

I learned that the way in which sales leaders react to the exact same material differs exponentially in accordance with the time we have to discuss it.

After two days, testimonials suggest that my Sales Leadership Intensive is simply the best sales leadership training on the planet and that we cover the topic differently and more effectively than anyone, anywhere.

However, when we have only two hours, sales leaders like what we are sharing with them, but that's it.  They only like it.

And when we had only 30 minutes, sales leaders simply hated the exact same material.

I'm interested in what you think about that.  What do you make of it?

Of course, I have my own opinion.

The difference may be very similar to this ocean analogy:  In our two-day scenario, we slowly wade into the icy cold water, give our bodies plenty of time to acclimate, and gradually move deeper before going for a swim.  

In the 30-minute scenario, we are on a fast-moving motor boat when we are dropped into the icy cold, deep, dark sea without a life preserver or wet suit.

When getting "dropped in", sales coaching seemed difficult, scary and confrontational to the 30-minute gang.  When wading in and slowly acclimating, the two-day groups understand that while sales coaching may certainly be challenging, there is ample time for them to recognize how powerful it is and despite how different it may be from how they have coached in the past, there is plenty of time for them to get comfortable.

Why is sales coaching so difficult and for some, so scary?

In a word, Role-Playing.

You must be able to do what we do.  You must be handle any scenario, in any stage of the sales process, with any set of challenges, with the toughest prospect imaginable, and demonstrate through role-play how it would have sounded had your salesperson executed properly.  You must also be able to demonstrate how to solve any selling scenario that your salespeople find themselves in.  This isn't telling them what to do.  This isn't providing them with a strategy.  This is being able to conduct the sales side of the conversation and ask the right questions to get a desirable outcome.  It's hard.  We do it all day - every day - in 200 industries.  Sales Leaders must do this all day - every day - with each of their salespeople.

We can teach you how to do this.  If you would like to become really effective at coaching salespeople, I am hosting an overflow Sales Leadership Intensive for those who were unable to make the August dates work.  This will be a much smaller group, with more one-on-one attention.  The dates are October 13-14 outside of Boston. You can learn more here and register here.

My new eBook is also available.  63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.  Free Download here.

Have I learned my lesson?  Not really.  On October 7, I'll be conducting a 45-minute Webinar on Sales Coaching that is sponsored and hosted by Handshake.  Stay tuned for more details.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, inside sales, sales management coaching, aa-isp

Driving, Asking Questions, Inside Sales, and Sales Process with a Twist

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

Here's a quote from an article I wrote that appears now on the SellingPower Blog.  It's an analogy to help you understand why asking questions is so difficult for most salespeople.

"You’ve been driving a car since you were a teenager, but your cars have always had an automatic transmission and you’ve always driven on standard roads. Now we will ask you to drive a much larger car, drive it at faster speeds, on an obstacle course, with people in your way. Oh, and one more thing – for the first time, you’ll be driving a six-speed manual transmission. You might be afraid to take your foot off the clutch and put the car into first gear because, if you’re not careful, you might kill those people standing in front of your car!

"That’s how salespeople sometimes feel when they need to be liked and are expected to ask their prospects some really difficult questions. Salespeople think someone will be killed – and they worry that it might be them!"

Read more of the SellingPower article here.

And this is a quote from an article I wrote that appears on the Membrain Sales blog.

"We would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers. We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.  This is scientific sales selection. It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force."

Read more of the Membrain article here.

This is a quote from an article on how to increase your sales by 20% by getting your sales process right, published right here on my Blog while most people were finishing up their summer vacation.

"There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to sales process.  It's a lot like electrical work.  Everyone needs it, but they think that because they know how to change a light bulb they don't need to call an electrician.  Getting your sales process right is a lot more like needing electricity in the middle of a stone wall with no nearby source to tap into.  For you?  Impossible. For an electrician?  It's all in a day's work."

Read more of the article on sales process here.

This is a quote from another article on how to increase your sales by adding a twist to your sales approach.

"Regular readers know that I often champion the cause for a consultative approach to help differentiate and sell value in modern times.  But like I said at the outset, everything old is new again and this sales hack brings some presentation skills back to the early stage of the sales process."

Read more of the article on how to use this "everything old is new again" twist here.

This week's Top Sales Magazine features an article that I wrote 8 years ago!  It explains what integrated sales force development is and this morning, when I saw it in the magazine and reread it I felt that it was ahead of its time in 2007 and extremely applicable in 2015.  You can read that article here.

Finally, I'll be speaking on coaching salespeople at Inside Sales-Boston this Thursday, September 10.  If you're already planning to attend I'll see you there.  Otherwise, if you're in the Boston area, change your plans and catch the terrific lineup of speakers!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales force development, asking questions, inside sales, sales increase, selling power magazine, top sales magazine

Sales Hacks and How to Improve Your Lead Follow Up Conversions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 @ 15:08 PM

I just returned to the office to find around 900 emails waiting for me  While purging my inbox, I found some interesting and useful items that I am sure you would want to know about.

I have previously written about how important it is to quickly and consistently follow up on inbound leads. This article from September of 2013 included two great infographics that demonstrate lead conversion statistics. However, Russ, from FindAccountingSoftware.com, emailed me a link to this case study on 63,256 outbound calls that has much more specific, useful information.  

Check out the article by Adam Bluemner!

Chad Burmeister, VP Sales at ConnectAndSell.com, emailed to let me know that Sales Hack, the book he co-wrote with ConnectAndSell's CEO, Chris Beall, is now available at Amazon.com. The cool thing about this book is that Chad asked a small group of sales experts to contribute their best sales hacks to the book. In addition to my contribution, there are contributions from other well-known experts like Gerhart Gschwandtner, Lori Richardson, Trish Bertuzzi, Dan McDade, Tibor Shanto, Kurt Shaver, Matt Heinz and others.

Speaking of sales hacks, earlier this month, I hosted a different group of 20 sales experts and we came up with some sales hacks of our own! I'll be writing about them later this week, so keep your eyes open for our Sales Hacks.

Last week, I hosted about 30 sales leaders from around North America and we spent the better part of two days on the art and science of coaching salespeople. Wouldn't you know that there were some cool sales hacks that came from those two days as well. I'll share those with you next week!

You might also find some use for Hubspot's Guide to writing follow up emails.  It includes a bunch of useful email templates that your salespeople might be able to incorporate and that could be useful for controlling your message, and upholding their professionalism, spelling and grammar.

Finally, check out these 11 articles that you might have missed while you were on summer vacation:

Why Inbound and Inside Sales Experts Think Sales Process is Dead Too

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

How the Right Questions Can Make up for Lack of Sales Experience

Trust and Integrity in Selling May Not Be What You Think

The Two Sides of Likable Salespeople

Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

The Conversation Sales Leaders Must Have with Salespeople

An Ode to the Evolution of the Pipeline

Why I Was Kicked Out of a LinkedIn Sales Group

Keys to Selecting a Sales Training Company

12 Proven Sales Hacks to Increase Sales

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leads, conversion ratios, inside sales, inbound sales, sales hacks

Why Inbound and Inside Sales Experts Think Sales Process is Dead Too

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 16:08 PM

Sales Process isn't even the only thing that inbound marketers say is dead. They'll have you believing that salespeople are no longer needed, selling is dead, and a consultative approach is dead too. They are basically ready to proclaim that anything selling-related, that they don't really understand or find it necessary to do, is not needed and dead.  

Let's start with my recent Google search for "Sales Process is Dead."  That search turned up these articles on the first page of results:

So who wrote all of these articles?  

One article was written by a sales expert discussing the concept of following the buyer's purchasing process. OK, that's still a sales process and it has some validity if you have weak salespeople that sell to large companies where you can't impact or change anything relative to how they buy.

One article was published in Harvard Business Review and was really about Solution Selling being dead. It isn't dead, but the authors are making a lot of money by saying that and pushing the Challenger Sale!

And the rest were written by marketers who might sell a lot more of their services if they can convince you that sales process is dead. 

The second page of the Google search results was even worse, including proclamations that B2B selling is dead and that field sales is dead. Don't get me wrong. I love and use some of their tools and services and recommend them to clients too. But the key word here is tools. They support and enhance selling. Tools don't replace selling.

There's very little question that everything we know about selling has changed dramatically in the past 5-8 years. I've written about these changes on 5 occasions and even my viewpoint has changed during this time! See:

There is some truth to what inbound marketing experts and inside sales experts are saying relative to the context of who they work with. Certainly, those who work inbound leads only need to follow up and either schedule a call or get the lead to click a button and subscribe. There isn't any complicated selling or sales process to navigate in order for that to work! Many inside salespeople only need to concern themselves with the top of the funnel where scheduling an appointment is their ultimate success.  

The disconnect occurs when salespeople, sales managers, sales leaders, marketing executives and CEOs read the propaganda from the inbound/inside experts and mistakenly believe that it applies to them! There are 10 scenarios where that message does not and will not ever apply to you:

  1. If you don't sell inexpensive subscriptions,
  2. If you aren't the lowest price in your category,
  3. If you don't have a short sales cycle,
  4. If you aren't the brand leader,
  5. If you have a story to tell,
  6. If your product requires design/build or customization,
  7. If what you sell is a lot of money,
  8. If you have a new company, new product or new technology,
  9. If you need to get to the C Suite, and/or
  10. If you are the underdog.

Today, there are a significant number of inside salespeople who are responsible for the entire sales cycle and they carry a quota too. Don't even suggest that they don't need a sales process and don't need to sell. Today, if you want even a chance of selling value, differentiating your company and winning business, you must take a consultative approach and use a milestone-centric sales process. You can include buyer-side milestones in that process if you like, but if you include only buyer-side milestones and don't focus on sales-side milestones too, you will get beat by competitors who have a true sales process.

This is important.  

Selling has become more difficult than ever before. Consistent success requires a consultative approach that most salespeople have difficulty executing. They haven't been properly trained or coached in its application, don't practice, and aren't confident enough to use it. It's much easier to give in to the marketers, abandon the sales process, abandon the consultative approach, abandon value selling, and abandon best practices despite how relevant and effective they still are. You'll have a longer sales process and a lower win-rate, but failing could never be easier!

Or, you can take the path less traveled, use the more difficult consultative approach in a more challenging milestone-centric sales process. It will be harder, but your sales cycle will be shorter and you'll have a higher win rate.

Easy gets you lousy results. Difficult helps you achieve consistent success.

I've seen this first-hand with golf and tennis. Accept the difficult job of learning to play either game the right way, learn the correct way to stroke the ball, learn the right strategies, practice your butt off and you'll win a lot more than you'll lose and feel much better about yourself too. Or, continue to play like a hack and you'll lose a lot more than you'll win and constantly have a feeling of frustration and discouragement.

In the end, it's always up to you. There are plenty of us who are always more than willing to help if you want to take the journey to mastery.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Inbound Marketing, sales process, solution selling, sales funnel, cold calling, inside sales, SPIN Selling, selling is dead

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, we would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers.  We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.

This is scientific sales selection.  It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

Why This Salesperson Failed to Close the Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

Have you ever played golf?  Did you ever play a hole where you drove it perfectly off the tee, hit a great shot from the fairway, and still couldn’t get it on the green in regulation?

Of course you did.  Me too.  Almost always.

This is a true story about a salesperson who experienced the same thing – only different – because he didn’t get it on the green in his sales cycle.

Our story begins when I received a marketing email from a software company. Their email worked perfectly, as they succeeded in getting me to click on the link to take their 3-question survey.  Once there, I found that I was unable to answer the questions because my true answers weren’t among the available selections.  The choices only allowed for me to have a problem that I didn’t have.  Oops.  I aborted the survey.  But they knew I had clicked on the survey and apparently didn’t care whether or not I finished.  Despite the fact that Joe Kindergarten designed the survey, their email marketing had worked flawlessly – at least on me.

Moments later, the inside salesperson (we’ll call him Phil) left me a voicemail and followed up with an email about two minutes later.  Apparently, the inside sales team, and specifically Phil, were well aware of these statistics touting the importance of calling in the first hour and for even better results, in the first five minutes:

Connects-1ResponseTimes-1Infographic provided by salesforce.com and CrystalNorth

So the email marketing worked, and Phil immediately followed up on his new lead.

Of course, there’s the issue of whether or not I was actually a lead.  Had I become a lead because I began to take a survey or was I simply a contact?  Did I become a lead when and if Phil reached me and turned me over to a salesperson or was Phil responsible for taking me through their sales cycle?

This was the topic of a very lively discussion between Koka Sexton and me on Dan McDade’s excellent video-conference last week.  You can watch the 30-minute show by clicking here.

Back to Phil.  We may never know if he was in an Inbound marketing role, an inside sales role, or a traditional sales role but from inside.  Why?  Let’s discuss what happened next.

Nothing happened next!

It seems that Phil was unaware of the well-known statistics that reveal how many follow-up attempts are required to reach a contact or a lead.   It can take 10-15 attempts and Phil gave up after 2!

Should Phil have continued calling and emailing?  Should he have attempted to connect on LinkedIn or give up?

Phil couldn’t possibly know the answer to that unless he kept trying.

For example, it took 15 attempts before I was able to connect with the Worldwide VP Sales for a company that became one of our biggest and most important clients.  And this wasn’t a name and email address on a form after an internet download of a White Paper.  This was someone who was introduced to us by another executive in his company and had already indicated that he wanted to talk with us. Even under those ideal conditions it took 15 attempts.

Lessons: Don’t. Give. Up.

Don’t. Let. Your. Salespeople. Give. Up.

In my most recent White Paper, The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence, one of the findings showed that only a small percentage of companies doing inbound marketing/sales were converting more than 40% of their leads/contacts to conversations.  Download the White Paper to learn what they are doing differently from all of the other companies.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, inside sales, reaching prospects, prospecting tips

How Significant is the Migration to Inside Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 06:09 AM

Sales Leadership Intensive

Last week, I led our annual Sales Leadership intensive and hosted the best group of sales leaders to ever attend the event.  Chad Burmeister, who is well known throughout the inside sales community, was one of the attendees.  At one of the lunch breaks, he was talking about the customers his company, Connect and Sell, helps.  He commented that most of them are inside sales organizations.  Chad thought that we would have data to demonstrate the transition to inside sales over the past several years.

I began by reviewing my personal clients at Kurlan & Associates and compared them with clients from several years ago.  Sure enough, the numbers were amazing.

As recently as 5 years ago, only 20% of my personal clients were inside sales forces.  Today, that has increased by 150%.  Half of my own training, coaching and consulting clients are inside sales forces!  I investigated further and looked at the many other Kurlan clients who work with the rest of my team and learned that 73% of those clients are inside sales forces.  

Next, I reviewed around 250 of the newest Objective Management Group (OMG) accounts for sales candidate assessments and discovered that 42% of the open positions are for inside sales roles.  That number is quite different from the percentage I found with Kurlan clients and even though 42% is significantly greater than five years ago, I wanted to learn more about why there was such a disparity between the Kurlan versus OMG percentages.  

I dug deeper and learned that the likelihood of an account being for an outside sales role was in direct proportion to the number of years that our OMG Parter/Sales Expert has been with OMG.  That's code for how old the OMG partner is!  Sure enough, most of the older, longtime OMG Partners are still most comfortable doing business with, or positioning themselves with companies that have traditional outside sales forces.  When I looked at the recent accounts represented by newer and younger OMG Partners, 75% of them were for inside sales roles - much more consistent with what I found when I looked at the distribution of Kurlan clients. 

Who knew?

Chad knew.  Way to go, Chad!

What do these number mean for you?

Last year I wrote about the Great Migration to Inside Sales.  The article highlights eight scenarios that help you determine whether or not making that move is right for your company.

I wrote about the move to inside sales again in December and asked why the migration took so long to occur?  That article explains the various inside roles and makes a better case for migration winning out over the status quo.

SALES EFFECTIVENESS STUDY

OMG is working on a major sales effectiveness study that looks not only at traditional sales effectiveness, but also inside, inbound and social selling effectiveness.  The study must be inclusive and not just for huge companies and that's why I need your help.  I would be so appreciative if you would take 5 minutes from your busy day to provide your anonymous data.  No names, no emails, no follow-up.  Although it's an easy survey to take, it's crucial that we produce this unbiased study.  Won't you please help me?


The September, Week 4 Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available 
here.  And the brochure for the 2014-2015 Top Sales Academy is available here.  On October 8, I'll be leading the session on How to Master the Art of Coaching Salespeople

Salesforce.com's blog posted an article of mine that asks whether or not you can turn customer service reps into salespeople.  If you have CSR's, then you must read this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, Top Sales World, objective management group, salesforce.com, chad burmeister, connect and sell

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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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