Most Companies Can Boost Sales From 30-100% in Just One to Two Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 @ 18:09 PM


Your teenage daughter, growing 4-6 inches per year, asks for two new pairs of sneakers.  She's already outgrowing 3 pairs each year and these two, which are completely unnecessary, would keep her in fashionable footwear for only a few months.  It would make total sense for you to say, "Let's wait a few months until you've stopped growing so fast."

An employee asks for a new car, believing that an SUV crossover (not the Maserati in the picture!) would be more practical than a mid-size sedan.  There are 8 months left on the lease so it would be completely reasonable for you to say, "Sounds good.  Let's make that change when the lease comes to an end in 8 months."

In both 2012 and 2016, companies everywhere were telling salespeople, "We're going to wait until after the election."  There was tremendous uncertainty surrounding those two elections and companies didn't want to commit to anything until they were sure who the next President of the USA would be.

Surprisingly, in the year of the pandemic, salespeople are not hearing the dreaded, "We're going to wait until after the election."   Despite the polling, pandemic, and incredible divisiveness, companies are not pushing the pause button.  But why?

It's not because salespeople have become so strong that they have obliterated that put-off!  89% of all salespeople accept stalls and put-offs and that's changed by only a quarter of a percent since before the start of the pandemic.  That's right.  There has barely been a change in salespeople's ability to overcome stalls and put-offs since before the pandemic.  Ugh.

Biden has promised to raise both the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax if he gets elected so it can't be fear of that.  

It's not because there's a vaccine on the way which will help stop the spread of the virus because when it comes to Covid-19, nothing is certain.

So what is it?

Many companies already experienced at least 3 to 6 months of uncertainty and they can not withstand even 2 more months of that.   As a result, companies are investing, streamlining, expanding, hiring and going all in to save their 2020s, and position their companies for historical growth in 2021.

As I review what our clients are hearing, what OMG's partners are sharing, and adding my own anecdotal experience, there has never been a better time to sell!

But seller beware. Favorable conditions do not equate to easy selling.  There is tremendous pressure on margins, competition is fierce, and the selling challenges are more difficult than ever before.

Current conditions require resistance proof sellers however only 54% of all salespeople fit that description and that's improved by only 1% since the start of the Pandemic.  Current conditions require salespeople to take a much more consultative approach and sell value.  Unfortunately, only 12% of all salespeople have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength and only 30% have the Value Seller competency as a strength.  Among the weakest of all salespeople - that's half the sales population - the percentages drop to 2% and 7% respectively.  As we begin to purge the virus, how can companies surge when half of their salespeople suck at selling?

Companies don't really look as I just described them.  We don't see many companies where half the people in the sales organization suck.  In many of the companies whose sales organizations we evaluate, most of the salespeople suck!

You don't think that applies to your company but you aren't really sure whether a quarter, a third, half, or all of your sales force sucks because some of your people sell more than others.  Don't be misled by distribution of revenue.  Keep in mind that distribution of revenue usually has more to do with quality of the territory, number of established accounts, size of the established accounts, length of time in the industry, repeat business and call-in business than sales capabilities.  There are only two ways to compare the relative sales capabilities of your salespeople:

  1. Have every salesperson look for new customers under the exact same conditions (calling on the same size accounts in the same vertical against the same competition in the same territory)
  2. Have us evaluate your sales force and from the more than 180 findings and 21 Sales Core Competencies, compare Sales Percentile scores.

The ability to compare the sales percentile scores of your salespeople is not the ideal reason to evaluate your sales force.  But identifying where your challenges lie and learning what it will take to significantly increase sales is. Large and small companies alike that evaluate their sales teams learn that with targeted training and coaching in the areas identified, sales increases of between 30-50% within one to two years are very achievable. Some companies are able to double sales in the same period of time.

This is not the time to purposefully do nothing, wait and see, or worse, hope for the best.  Improving sales effectiveness has a greater impact on your top and bottom lines than any other thing you can do, including cost-cutting, operational efficiencies and lay-offs.

When it comes to sales transformation, you don't say, "let's wait until things get better" because sales transformation is the very thing that makes things better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, objections, sales statistics, election, selling value

Objections - 10th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies that are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 27, 2009 @ 07:10 AM

This is the 10th in my series of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That Are Key to Building a Sales Culture.


There is nothing worse than when salespeople handle objections.  Not only does it cause them to rack up reverse progress, they are usually not even handling the real problem.

Here are the things you need to know about objection handling that should cause you to stop handling them forever:

  • if you handle one you'll get another one
  • they object when you get too close (to closing time) for comfort
  • handling objection increases their resistance
  • the objection is not usually the real problem
  • objection handling, by nature, is a correction and people don't like being corrected
  • how often have you handled an objection, only to have the prospect say, "then let's do it!"?  Right.

So if you can't handle objections what should you do instead?

First, it's even more important to stop getting objections all together.  Sounds good, doesn't it? Just the simple act of identifying an objection will cause trouble for you.  Every time your prospect says something and you say to yourself, "@#$%, a !@#$% objection", you'll tend to become emotionally involved, and then go into some kind of presentation mode (bad), and while causing an increase in your prospect's resistance, attempt to solve the wrong problem.

Do you remember the singer formerly known as Prince, who before that and after that WAS Prince?  Do the same thing with objections, except skip the formally known as part.  When your prospect says something that you used to identify as an objection, simply hear it as their opinion.  You don't handle opinions, you engage in discussions.  So if your prospect has an opinion that is different from yours, you can ask any of the following questions:

  • why do you feel that way?
  • when did you start feeling that way?
  • what if that wasn't the case?
  • how does that manifest itself?

And you would use words like:

  • Of course
  • I agree
  • I understand
  • You're right

The other thing you can do to eliminate objections is to sell the right way!  See Sales Competency #4 - Get a Sales GPS.

Speaking of objections and #4, putting them in the same sentence causes me to object to just how quickly people can steal material these days.  Thanks to this platform and the fact that most people aren't creative enough to come up with their own content, they just borrow it from others.  Don't believe me?  You just reread #4 - Get a Sales GPS, which I posted on Sunday, October 18 and the title, "Get a Sales GPS" was listed in my original article for this series on October 5.  Now check out the this post to someone else's Blog, which was posted just one week later, on October 26. She claims to talk about this concept in her most recent book.  So I checked.  "GPS" is not in the book.  Neither is "Navigation".  She uses the word "navigate" four times in the entire book.  Coincidence?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, objections, sharon drew morgan

Happy Ears or an Empty Sales Pipeline?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 @ 20:09 PM

Very often, when an opportunity dies, salespeople will ask their managers or me for help.

After debriefing, when it's clear that the opportunity is hopeless, and the salesperson continues to ask for help, still wants to schedule another meeting, and still wants to reach out and get it moving again, there are usually three factors at play. The salesperson either:

  1. Has happy ears and believes he heard something to give him hope.
  2. Doesn't understand compelling reasons, qualifying, or both.
  3. Has very few opportunities in the pipeline to fall back on.

With new salespeople, my money is usually on #2.

With veteran salespeople, my money is usually on #3.

With all salespeople, #1 is usually a constant.

When you debrief a salesperson who has just experienced the death of an opportunity, it's important that you don't perpetuate their belief that something can be resurrected out of this disaster.  Instead, insist that the salesepeople find some new opportunities to work on and hold them accountable.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, objections

Good News About the Economy Positively Impacts the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

I often get to see things six to twelve months before they happen.  When manufacturing placed projects and orders on hold as they did last October, it's easy to predict that it will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months. 

The word from clients so far this week is that manufacturers are taking projects off of hold and releasing money - even in the automotive industry!  That too will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months.

Today I also heard from a client whose house sold in just one day.

Housing and automotive - positive signs from both camps - truly good news for everyone.

It makes your salespeople feel better, it gives them hope, and in turn it makes them work with more confidence.  When they are out there giving it their all, not letting the resistance get to them. following the sales process, using appropriate strategies and tactics, not accepting the first stall, put-off, objection or rejection that comes their way, you have a much better chance that your struggling sales force will generate some much needed revenue.

Haven't heard any good signs in your own industry yet?  Make some calls and talk with some people until you find even one example.  Then spread the good word to all of your salespeople and let them in on the win - even if it wasn't a win for your own company.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Management, Salesforce, Sales Force, declining sales, objections, increasing sales, economic crisis, sales calls, sales behaviors, recession, Economy, declining revenue

What Have Your Salespeople Been Listening To?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 @ 00:10 AM

In my position as a sales development thought leader and expert I get to hear what many salespeople in many industries are encountering for resistance. In the last few weeks I've heard way too much about deals getting suspended due to spending freezes.  Have your salespeople been hearing this?

I've also been hearing about deals that have been delayed, requests for lower prices, appointments cancelled because projects were being put on hold, and closed deals getting cancelled.  What have you been hearing?

The worst part of hearing a lot of this talk is that it doesn't take long for B and C players to believe it, become demoralized and expect to fail.  You can't allow that to happen.  All of the discussions with your salespeople must be positive, must be about what you can control, and must celebrate something.  Is the economy lousy?  Sure.  But business is still being conducted, and even in companies where there are spending freezes, they are still making purchases.  In reality, there is no such thing as a spending freeze except for being something that top management tells bottom management.

While some of the things your salespeople are listening to are conditions that can't be countered, most of the things your salespeople are hearing can be! How much of what they are hearing is convenient, easy excuses, something prospects hope your salespeople will understand and buy into?  How many of the prospects are simply bluffing?  How many of these stalls, put-offs and objections can be overcome with more effective sales processes, better strategies and more powerful tactics?  How many of your salespeople are actually equipped to sell in an economy as difficult as this one?

While it's easy to fall into the trap of telling your salespeople what you need them to do, most aren't capable of doing more than they've done before, against greater competition and resistance, without changing something.  So what would need to be changed?  You'll have to evaluate the sales force to find out but there isn't a better time to do that!

What is your opinion?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales, Baseline Selling, selling, Salesforce, objections, sales objections, Economy

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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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