Drivers and Your Salespeople Need to be Patient

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 @ 22:11 PM

slow driverI was driving to a meeting when I became frustrated with the car in front of me.  The driver was traveling much too slowly and, despite the fact that I had plenty of time to get to my meeting, I could feel the developing anxiety.  As I thought about the irony of not being late, yet feeling anxious anyway, my thoughts turned to selling.

In a sales call, no matter how slowly it may be going or how difficult a prospective client may be, I have the patience of a saint.  If I were to experience the same impatience because a meeting was moving too slowly, as I do with slow-moving traffic, I would rush to the end, leaving my potential client behind, and those meetings would end very poorly for me.  

In order to create urgency and accelerate the sales process, your salespeople actually must slow down their meetings.  Instead though, in much the same way that I rush to get to my next meeting, they rush to the presentation or demo.  To make matters worse, your prospects want your salespeople to present and conduct demos.  They want prices and proposals and your salespeople are too willing to oblige. 

When you and your salespeople begin to develop a better understanding of what consultative selling entails and the related business conversations that go with that approach, they often have the same urge to move the meeting along.  It's similar to when I'm trying to run to my next meeting.

The patience that's so elusive to me on the road (but so easy for me in a sales call, consultation, coaching call or training session) is exactly what your salespeople must develop to be effective in differentiating your company on every sales call.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Moneyball, listening skills, questioning skills, sales traction

Sales Traction - The Key to Measuring the #1 Sales Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 @ 06:11 AM

One of the KPI's I introduced in my Moneyball article two months ago was Traction, the ratio of suspects that become prospects.  Using the Baseline Selling process, that is also the ratio of opportunities that move from 1st base to 2nd base.  Translating that one more time, it is the number of 1st meetings that move to "we have a real opportunity here".

Many companies track some or all of the following KPI's for their salespeople:

  • leads to appointments
  • leads to closed
  • opportunities to closed
  • proposals to closed
  • demos to closed
  • quotes to closed
Traction brings a sales opportunity to life in much the same way that 3D on a big screen brings a movie to life.  While the other KPI's above are helpful, they are much more like watching a movie in black & white on a 19" TV.  You watched the movie, but you weren't part of the movie.  
So what does traction consist of?
Aside from the obvious, how effective salespeople  are when attempting to move opportunities from "some interest" to "solid prospects", Traction tells us how consistently a salesperson accomplishes that.  And by measuring their consistency and effectiveness with that single ratio, we get much better insight as to how well our salespeople are applying and executing the #1 sales competency, their consultative selling skills.
Traction will also provide meaningful insight as to exactly where in the sales process the opportunities are getting hung up (closing is not the cause, it's the effect) and why.  In most scenarios, if your salespeople aren't consistently developing traction, it will be for one of the following reasons:
  • Relationships aren't strong enough
  • They jumped from 1st Base (start of 1st meeting) to 3rd Base (conducted a demo or presented)
  • They didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy (see #1 sales competency)
  • They didn't distinguish or differentiate themselves because of one of the 3 reasons above
Track salespeople's traction daily.  If you conduct a daily huddle, add the number of 1st Base meetings that converted to 2nd base but make sure your salespeople completely understand the criteria for reaching 2nd Base or you'll have them believing they arrived at 2nd Base every time and that will defeat the purpose.  2nd Base Criteria:
  • They need what you sell
  • Compelling reasons to buy were identified
  • Compelling reasons to buy from you were identified
  • Strong Relationship was established
  • Differentiated your salesperson and company from the competition through effective questioning
  • Quantified the cost of the problem or opportunity
Try it today and tell me what happens!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Moneyball, listening skills, questioning skills, sales traction

Does Moneyball Work for the Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Sep 25, 2011 @ 23:09 PM

moneyball.coverThe movie was great - much more drama than the book - but the book contained many more insights about the revolutionary new way to see performance through statistics.  More on that in a minute...

Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics GM who was featured in Moneyball, shook up his team during its 2002 slump by turning off the music (with a baseball bat), putting a stop to the fun, knocking over some tables and saying, "THIS is what losing is supposed to sound like!"  Later the same day he traded and released players and put his manager on notice that he must play the team that was assembled for him.  That Oakland team then proceeded to set a major league record by winning their next 20 games.

Compare Billy Beane's managerial style with that of the Boston Red Sox' GM Theo Epstein, whose team has been mired in a month long slump that caused their 9-game lead shrink to as little as 1/2 a game [Update - the lead was eliminated on 9-27-11 when the Red Sox lost again and Tampa Bay tied them for the playoff spot]. This slump was much worse than the A's of nine years ago, who weren't expected to contend.  What did Theo do to shake up his team?  Nothing.  How did the team respond?  They continued to lose!

Back to Moneyball.

The basic concept of Moneyball was to find a way to win with undervalued players so that a small market team with a comparitively tiny payroll could compete with the enormous payrolls of the Yankees and Red Sox.  They identified how many wins were required to make the playoffs, how many runs they would have to score for the season, and what it really took to score runs.  They agreed that On Base Percentage (OBP) would be the primary criteria for the Oakland team and identified players who reached base often but were overlooked and/or underrated by other teams.

If we apply the concept of Moneyball to the Sales Force we must identify what constitutes a sales Win.  If your top salesperson sells $1.5 million to the same 8 accounts each year it is important revenue, but is that salesperson really delivering any wins?  If another salesperson brings in 8 new accounts worth $750,000, could that possibly constitute 8 wins?  

It's funny - the way those statisticians arrived at the new baseball statistics are similar to the old sales metrics we used where we calculated the number of attempts, conversations, first meetings, presentations, and proposals required to close 1 deal.  But those metrics are not enough anymore and attempts and conversations are no longer the default method for how sales opportunities come to be.

What if we included the following new KPI's as the Sales Force's version of Moneyball?

NFM - The percentage of first meetings that are new (new customers, new opportunities with existing customers, or a new group or division of an existing customer)
Traction - The percentage of first meetings that progress from Suspect to Prospect
Quality - The percentage of opportunities that progress from Prospect to Qualified
Effectiveness - The percentage of opportunities that progress from Qualified to Closable
Run Efficiency - The percentage of First Meetings (Suspects) that Close 
Wins - Closed Deals from New Opportunities
DAIM - Deals Closed at Ideal Margin or Better 

It would seem to me that salespeople who deliver more Wins, have a higher NFM, and a better DAIM would be far more valuable to have on your sales force.  What do you think?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Moneyball, KPI for the sales force, sales metrics

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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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