These 6 Keys and New Data Help Your Sales Team Outperform The Rest

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 16, 2023 @ 07:02 AM

5 Keys Image

Four weeks ago, Marc Wayshak, Founder of Sales Insight Labs, an Allego company, emailed me a very insightful infographic. Returning from two weeks vacation, I was buried in work and filed the email until I had time to review it.  Today, a client was nice enough to postpone their training to next week and that provided me with two hours to dig into both the infographic and data from Objective Management Group (OMG) that might correlate to what he sent me.

Infographic URLYou can view the infographic at its original size here.

Their statistics are from nearly 24,000 recorded sales conversations and focus on levels of engagement.  They found that top performers make 54% more switches - the back and forth in conversations - than everyone else and 78% more in their presentations.  The presentations made by top sales performers are not monologues!

OMG's statistics are derived from more than 2.3 million evaluations of salespeople.  OMG's doesn't measure switches - how could it - but it does measure whether salespeople emphasize listening over talking, the skill required for switches. The top 10% of salespeople are 200% stronger at emphasizing listening over talking.  But OMG's difference is 375% larger than Sales Insights Labs.  What could account for that difference?

The 200% represents the skill gap between top and bottom salespeople but skill alone does not translate into action.  Salespeople must also have strong Sales DNA. There are two Sales DNA competencies that are required here.  The sales competency that supports listening is "Stays in the Moment." Salespeople must be present - right here and right now - in order to effectively listen and determine what the next question should be.  The competency that supports asking questions is "Doesn't Need to be Liked." Salespeople who do need to be liked are afraid to ask questions, push back or challenge conventional thinking because they worry their prospects will become upset. When we integrate those two competencies into the mix - salespeople who have both the skill and strengths to support the skill, the modified finding is that top salespeople are 52% stronger, which is within 2 points of the finding from Sales Insights Lab.

Their second insight is that the discovery calls of top performers are 76% longer and sales presentations are 55% longer than everyone else. The Consultative Seller is an OMG sales core competency that measures capabilities in the Discovery Call.  Top Salespeople are 300% stronger at the Consultative Seller competency than bottom salespeople. There are two attributes in the competency which would suggest a better quality conversation that would last longer.  They are "asks enough questions" and "asks great questions".  Salespeople who ask enough questions and ask great questions are 54% more effective than salespeople who don't.  Sales Insights Lab measures the number of questions that are asked and not surprisingly, top performers ask and get asked 30%-43% more questions than everyone else.

The infographic also included an insight about words per minute.  Sales Insights Lab and OMG data agree that top salespeople speak more slowly than everyone else but there is a difference with regards to how much more slowly.  Sales Insights Lab found top salespeople speaking at a rate of around 170 words per minute - 10 words/minute slower than everyone else. OMG's data shows top salespeople speaking at closer to 120 words per minute - much slower than everyone else.  Sales Insights Lab also has data on Pace, where top salespeople get their prospects to speak more slowly than prospects for other salespeople.

So what does all of this powerful data mean?  

Salespeople who take a consultative approach, and take the time to ask lots of good, tough, timely questions, have the difficult conversation that others won't have, and uncover compelling reasons to buy from them, accomplish several things that other salespeople don't accomplish. They:

  • More effectively differentiate themselves from other salespeople
  • Create urgency - the key to shortening the sales cycle and getting prospects to take action
  • Make it easier to fully qualify their prospects because prospects will self-qualify to move things along
  • Get their prospects to respect their expertise
  • Engage Decision Makers in the Conversation which differentiates and shortens the sales cycle
  • Sell the value of them - they become the value.

Evaluate your sales team and then train and coach your salespeople to slow down, stop presenting and start selling like top performers. You will significantly increase revenue.

Image copyright 123 RF 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, reaching decision makers, listening and questioning skills, OMG Assessment, sales data, discovery

Sales Pipeline - Reality vs. What Your Salespeople Know and Think

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 @ 09:11 AM

listeningThey are three separate things but not three distinct data points:

What your salespeople know - for certain - a data point. This is the information that prospects and customers provide - that proves to be valid - in response to your salespeople's questions.  For example, if one of your salespeople asks which competitors the prospect is speaking with, the answers could be as varied as:

  • learning you're the only one (could be true or false)
  • being told that they are not comfortable sharing that information  (you are not the odds on favorite to win!)
  • receiving the names of all of them (could be true or false)
  • being told not to worry - it's yours to lose (always false)
  • providing you with competitive pricing (keeping someone else honest or looking for a lower price)
To know for certain which competition you are up against as well as where you stand requires asking more than one question and in many cases, several to get to a known fact.  And it still might not be reality.

What your salespeople think or believe - not a data point.  In most cases, what your salespeople think or believe to be true is unsubstantiated.  More often than not, it's hoping, wishing or make believe.  The reason they think it, but don't know it, is because they failed to ask the right questions.  When Objective Management Group evaluates a sales force, one of the many data points we provide a client with is a pipeline analysis.  Each salesperson must answer approximately 20 questions about 4 proposal ready opportunities in their current pipeline.  On average, half of the questions that we ask and need answers to aren't being asked by your salespeople.  Half!

Reality - not a data point.  Why? Unfortunately, unless your salespeople are great at asking a lot of questions (only 6% are great while another 20% are OK, so 74% suck!), they won't know what reality is until someone - perhaps you - has been awarded the business.  It's a lagging data point, and not very useful in the context of building a predictive pipeline and forecast.

So if reality isn't available until later, we're left with the difference between what we know and what we believe.  Since relying on what we believe does not provide us with a data point and does not make our pipeline or forecast predictive, we are left with only one option.

You must help your salespeople become masters at listening and questioning.  Clearly, this helps us with the pipeline, but if they become more effective at listening and questioning, you will suddenly have a sales force that can also sell consultatively, a requirement in these modern times for converting leads to real opportunities.

Read these posts related to Listening and Questioning:

Beyond Listening & Questioning Skills

Get Your Veteran Salespeople to Take Baby Steps

10 Ways to Accelerate Your Sales Process

Top 20 Requirements - How to Close More Business




Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, Sales Coaching, listening and questioning skills, sales assessments

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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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