Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

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


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.


  • 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...


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

Why You Don't Have Enough New Opportunities in the Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 07:07 AM

More connections, meetings and potential new business are being scheduled now as a result of social media use.  Said another way, salespeople are getting better at using LinkedIn and email while companies are generating more interest from their websites, blogs and newsletters.  But be warned, the appeal of 10 times more leads and the simplicity of connecting with someone you want to do business with has its drawbacks too.  

All those new leads?  They are very different from the leads of yesteryear; bingo cards from magazines, call-ins, and brochure requests.  Today your brochures live on or as with websites, call-ins went the way of the typewriter.  And the closest thing to a bingo card are the inbound leads requesting samples, white papers and free trials.  It's so easy to become somebody else's lead today because it's so easy to click for instant gratification.  More leads = smaller percentage of good leads.

And the extremely easy ability to connect with your targets?  Just because they have accepted your invitation to become part of each other's network does not mean they want to talk with you, meet with you or buy from you.  There's a false sense of security there.

And most of all, just like being part of a referral group where you have zero control over whether or not a member ever makes a valuable introduction to you, similarly, you have no control over whether your LinkedIn network will ever produce fruit.

The lesson here is that these new sources of potential business are simply that - sources of potential business - that you can't control.  That's one of the primary reasons that so many companies are complaining that there aren't enough new business opportunities in the pipeline.  Salespeople can't control these sources and at the same time, many have stopped making calls!

When salespeople do make calls, they quickly learn that prospects no longer answer or return calls from salespeople.  Salespeople give up on prospects without realizing that today it requires as many as 10-15 attempts to either reach or get a call back from a prospect.  Then, when they finally do reach a prospect, their messaging, scripts, approach, sound and calls-to-action are so bad, they convert very few calls to meetings.  That's why people say that cold calls don't work.  It's not that cold calls don't work; it's that salespeople truly suck at making cold calls!

Finally, what can you learn from commercial real estate firms and business machine companies?  Don't you still get calls from them?  How about insurance and investment professionals?  They still call, don't they?  They may all be lousy at getting through to you, getting your attention, and compelling you to talk or meet with them again, but they are calling.  Don't let your salespeople off the hook.  If you need them to bring in more new business and it's not working, you'll need to do at least two of the following:

  • Hire a firm like Kurlan & Associates to get them trained on how to be really effective at getting call-backs, attention, engagement and commitments;
  • Require more phone activity;
  • Hire a firm like ConnectLeader to help your salespeople be more productive on the phone;
  • Hire a firm like Objective Management Group to help you identify and select true hunters.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calls, new business, more sales appointments, better prospecting

Salespeople Should be More Like Children

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 27, 2009 @ 22:05 PM

Our son wrote a book today.  He illlustrated it too.  No big deal? He just turned 7.

He loves to read and apparently, he must have felt that there weren't enough new books arriving in his room so he decided to create a Pokeman book to read instead.

I can't wait until he's old enough to sell something because this behavior translates!  When there aren't enough new leads coming in he will simply create his own.

Don't you wish all of your salespeople made it that simple?  

Don't you wish all of your salespeople understood the urgency of new opportunities?

Don't you wish all of your salespeople would simply generate their own without giving it a second thought?

Don't you wish they would do that without you having to set expectations for them, without having to tell them how many, show them how, remind them, remind them again, tell them you're not happy, remind them again, show them how again, reset expectations, make calls with them, coach them, remind them again, reprimand them, etc.?

Wouldn't it be nice if all of your salespeople simply made it their number one priority to find the opportunities required to keep their pipeline stuffed with quality opportunities?

If they had a stuffed pipeline, would the deals that have been put on hold due to spending freezes be such a huge disappointment?  No way.  Those delayed deals are only big disappointments when there aren't enough opportunities in the pipeline to make up for them.

It really is simple. It's like the 70's again. Just roll your own.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, leads, Children, new business, salespeople

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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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