How Closing a Tough Sale is Nearly Identical to Hitting a Home Run

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 25, 2022 @ 18:08 PM

home run

While you don't need to know a single thing about Baseball to read this, it is another article with a baseball analogy. If you don't enjoy reading my baseball analogies, you can ignore this but I must warn you that today's analogy will reveal the two underlying causes for sales opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline and not reaching a close.  If you don't care about that then bye-bye until the next article.

You're watching a baseball game on television and the announcer says, "And here's the pitch and there's a long drive hit deep to left field and it's deep, it's up, it's way back and GONE!!!!!  Home Run Dave Kurlan!"  OK, the announcer never said the Dave Kurlan part. Not even close. I was a singles hitter.  And I never played at a level that had announcers.  So there's that.  For entertainment sake, watch this classic 2-minute clip of Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs hitting the magical home run at the end of the movie, The Natural, one of my all-time favorite baseball movies right up there with The Sandlot and Field of Dreams.

Back to the home run.  A home run is the outcome of a perfect swing but what led to that swing being so perfect?  If we conduct a backwards looking analysis, an upper cut connected with the baseball and drove it at a speed of 110 MPH with a 30 degree launch angle.  The swing was perfectly timed.  The batter waited and exploded, getting every bit of torque into his rotation while using the full power of his legs.  He stayed back and had a nice, short, swing. Those moving parts working to perfection were important to the outcome but the most important thing was that he recognized the pitch, saw the ball and hit it.  All of the mechanics I just described were the result of practice.  He recognized the pitch, made the split-second decision to swing, his mechanics fired up on-demand, and he crushed the ball.

Pivot to selling.  If salespeople had announcers - and that would be so cool - the announcer would say, "And here's the pitch, it's a good one, it's both needs and cost appropriate, and the prospect had already agreed in principal to the price. It's been emailed and reviewed, the prospect liked it, it's signed it and it's SOLD!!! Half a Million dollar sale for Dave Kurlan!"  Like I said, I never had a play-by-play announcer but there is always one talking in my head...

Back to the sale.  The sale was the outcome of that particular opportunity but what led to that opportunity closing so easily?  Deconstructing the sale, we recognized that there was a real opportunity there, quickly built a relationship, uncovered a compelling reason for them to buy from us, developed credibility, created urgency, fully qualified the opportunity and developed a needs and cost appropriate solution.  As with baseball, those were the mechanics of the sales process but the key was creating urgency.

Urgency is the torque that moves an opportunity from nice-to-have to must-have and finally to taking action.  But urgency is also an outcome.  It requires advanced listening and questioning skills, something most salespeople struggle to develop.  But even listening and questioning skills require 2 supporting Sales DNA competencies.

1) You must be able to Stay in the Moment in order to truly listen and formulate the next question.  Staying in the moment or being fully present requires that we do not become emotional.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 2,244,094 assessments of salespeople, only 37% of all salespeople have "Able to Stay in the Moment" as a strength and only 19% of the bottom half of all salespeople are able to do this. 

Last week, Dan Millman, author of more than a dozen spiritual self-help books and novels and best known for his book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, wrote this message in his latest newsletter:

"In this brief newsletter we return to a core life skill — how we perceive and process our emotions. Having previously explored how small changes in the words we use can change our attitudes,  let’s now observe a nearly universal tendency to identify with our emotions when we say (or think or feel) “I’m angry;I’m sad; I’m afraid…”
Instead, given the reality that emotions arise and pass like the weather, and that we have no more control over arising emotions than we do over passing weather, what if we replaced the “I am” with the observation, “Angry weather, sad weather, fearful weather passing through…” 
Noting our changing emotional weather patterns (as we might in meditation) enables us to observe them from a distance. We can acknowledge, even accept and embrace emotional weather without clinging to it.
This emotional skill — this wording and thinking change — is simple but not easy. Old habits die hard until we replace them with new habits as this practice becomes natural. Try it and see."

2) If staying in the moment is crucial for listening, then equally critical for asking questions is  not NEEDING to be liked.  It's OK and even desirable to be likable, but you shouldn't NEED people to like you.  When you need to be liked it will make you uncomfortable or even fearful of asking a lot of questions, asking tough question, or having the difficult conversation with your prospect that nobody else has had with them.  According to OMG, only 40% of all salespeople have "Doesn't Need Approval" and only 15% of the bottom half have this as a strength.

Staying in the Moment and Not Needing to be Liked are 2 out of the 21 Sales Core Competencies required for Sales Success.  If we look at the data differently, and filter on just the top 5% of all salespeople,  the results are quite different. The best salespeople (the top 5%) don't usually have nearly this much difficulty as 65% of them are able to stay in the moment making the top salespeople 342% better at this than the bottom half!  And when it comes to not needing to be liked, 79% of the best salespeople have this as a strength making the top salespeople 527% better at this than the bottom half.

Do you want to hit more home runs and close more sales?  Work to overcome your need to be liked and become more effective staying in the moment.  The Sales DNA Modifier is an inexpensive online course that uses powerful affirmations to help you make dramatic changes and overcome a sales weakness in just 3 weeks. Start with the lesson on Need to be Liked, spend 5-minutes with it twice per day for 3 weeks and then move on to the other weaknesses as needed.

The Sales DNA Modifier is a home run for salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, Sales DNA, closing tips, objective management group

Which is Worse - The Boston Red Sox or Your Sales Team?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 23, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

fenway

I wrote the best-seller, Baseline Selling, so it should come as no surprise that I'm a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan.  I'll be at Fenway Park for a game this week and I had some thoughts about how the Red Sox compare to many of the sales teams that get evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).

The Red Sox are not very good. They have become difficult to watch, and have morphed from a 2018 World Series champion, to a 2021 playoff team, and now to a last place team because their roster was so poorly constructed.  In the off-season and at the trading deadline, the Red Sox waited until the other teams made their big moves and the dust had settled. Then, from among the players that were still available (nobody wanted them), he made some bargain basement signings or traded players who will be due for big contracts and got little in return (again).  The result is a bad team with only a handful of stars and a supporting cast of broken parts, guys playing out of position, and minor leaguers filling in for injured players.  Do you know how bad a team has to be to score ten runs and still lose by five?

Most sales teams that go through the OMG evaluation process have a couple of stars but most of the salespeople are not very good (bargain basement hirings), not in an ideal role (out of position), and aren't contributing to the growth of their companies.

The construction of the Red Sox roster is simply a Stupid as Shit Strategy or SaSS. Use of the word strategy means that it's intentional and is a disservice to the word stupid!

Sales team construction usually lacks formal strategy and that suggests something accidental is at play. We tend to see the "we already had these salespeople" and then "these are the new salespeople who were willing to work for us." New is a relative term as the newest 30% of the team continues to churn when and if they find candidates.

In both examples, we have teams that appear to be underperforming when in fact, they suck because of poor selection.  I'm not letting managers off the hook as they are responsible for coaching up the people on their teams but let's face it.  If the right people were acquired in the first place, they wouldn't require much coaching!  

It's common knowledge that for the past several years, only around 50% of all salespeople meet or exceed quota. Are they underperforming or performing as they should based on their own capabilities?  I mined some data from the 2,242,971 salespeople that OMG has assessed. What follows helps to explains why:

OMG measures the difference between salespeople who can sell versus those who will.  Only 55% of all salespeople will sell.

Only 22% have the necessary Sales DNA (combination of strengths that supports the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics) to succeed in their roles.

Only 41% have Hunting as a strength and only 34% prospect consistently so pipelines fall short of target.

Only 43% have Relationship Building as a strength and only 29% are able to leverage their relationships to win business.

Only 34% follow an effective Sales Process so most salespeople are winging it while believing they are terrific.

Only 28% Reach Decision Makers but only 11% reach the final decision makers and only 1% of new salespeople reach those decision makers

Only 11% have Consultative Selling as a strength and only 7% get past nice to have.

Only 31% have Selling Value as a strength and only 25% of salespeople make purchases in a manner that support successful sales outcomes.

Finally, 50% of all salespeople are weak!!  Is it any wonder that only 50% of all reps hit quota?

More importantly, CEOs and Sales Leaders don't know what their salespeople are truly capable of because they read only what appears in the CRM application, hear only what their salespeople tell them and see only the monthly, quarterly and annual revenue numbers.  At most companies, the salesperson responsible for the most revenue is often among the worst salespeople on the team.  They might have the biggest and/or best accounts, or the most lucrative territory, decades of tenure in the industry, but they aren't selling as much as they are serving in the role of account manager and order taker.  Don't confuse revenue with sales effectiveness.

A professional sales team evaluation shows what prevents your team from achieving a higher win rate, higher margins, more new business and a shorter sales cycle.  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles? How much better each can each salesperson become? What it will take to get them there and how long will it take?  Is your pipeline legit? Which of your salespeople can be trained or coached up to reach their potential?  Are your salespeople part of your future or part of your past?

You can guess or you can get the data.  Learn more about a sales team evaluation.  Request a sample.

This article began with poor sales team performance as a by-product of selection.  Start using OMG's sales candidate assessments - the most accurate and predictive sales selection tool in the world. Request a sample.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales assessments, objective management group, sales team evaluation

Salesenomics - Many Sales Organizations Are Stuck in the 1980's

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 22, 2021 @ 07:11 AM

1980s

Today is moving day for Objective Management Group.  When we first toured our new space, John Pattison, OMG's COO said, "It looks like something the 1980's barfed up!"  I'm happy to report that thanks to big-time help from PENTA Marketing CEO Deborah Penta, our new space is bright, cheery, modern, energetic, open and functional! 

Thinking about the 80's got me thinking...

When was the last time you saw a black and white television or even a console color TV?

How about an electric typewriter?

Or a car that didn't have anti-lock brakes?

You would have to return to the 1980's to see those things and when it comes to their operations, some sales organizations are still in the 1980's.

For example, check out these statistics from OMG's evaluations of 30,000 sales teams and more than two million salespeople.

31% of companies don't use CRM.

44% do not have a way to track the opportunities in their pipelines.

89% do not qualify their proposals.

39% do not track whether their salespeople are under/over quota.  

54% do not track win rates

51% do not know their average order size

74% do not track the length of their sales cycle

40% do not track the number of opportunities in the pipeline

65% do not track the quality of the opportunities in the pipeline

35% do not track margins!

90% do not track the number of meetings required to close

96% do not track the cost of a sale

Unfortunately, there is more, but these are the head turners and it makes me wonder...

It's been widely reported for years now, that fewer than 50% of salespeople are hitting quota.  From the data shown above, we know that 39% of companies don't even track that.  What percentage of their reps do you think are hitting quota?  My guess is less than 20% (think 80/20 rule) so how much worse would it be if those companies were included in the data?  I'm guessing we would learn that fewer than 33% of all salespeople are hitting quota.  That's much closer to what I hear from companies every day.

We are no longer in the early stages of the information era.  Data is king so how can companies operate without this crucial information?  Even prior to the dawn of the information age, companies found ways to track this information, so why would some choose to ignore this today?

I'm guessing that most of the companies in question are small with less than $20 Million in revenue and fewer than 8 salespeople.  I assume that they are not tech companies and probably come from older industries, like building materials, small manufacturers and small industrial distributors.  But I'm just guessing.

You can easily track everything you should be tracking with the right CRM application.  OMG has an integration with what we believe is the best sales-specific CRM application in the world, Membrain.  It's user-friendly, ideal for complex sales, easy to customize, produces the most important data and reporting out of the box, and you won't have to nag your salespeople to use it. And for fans of Baseline Selling, there is a BLS specific edition of Membrain too.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, crm, omg, KPI's, objective management group, sales team evaluation

Siri Can't Help You Close the Deal but Doing These Three Things Can!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 09, 2021 @ 07:08 AM

Siri - Apple

When it comes to navigation I usually opt for Waze but sometimes Siri can find a way out of traffic that Waze can't.  On the other hand, try asking Siri to dial a phone number while she's navigating and you'll quickly learn that she can't multi-task.  If you are navigating using Apple maps in CarPlay, then Siri will navigate to the address you asked her to call.  She gets in the way!

Sometimes Siri doesn't actively listen and decides to send you somewhere different from where you asked her to navigate; a different city or town and/or a place that doesn't sound remotely close to what you asked for. She gets in the way.

So what do you do when Siri isn't cooperating?  Do you give up and wing it?  Do you try again?  Do you stop navigating with Siri and switch to Google, Waze or your built-in system?  Do you persist until you get what you need?

That's exactly what salespeople are supposed to do.  Get creative, be persistent and find a way to reach the decision maker.  You do it with Siri, so why don't you do it when someone in the company won't introduce you to the decision maker, when they won't give you the decision maker's name or when they don't cooperate?  Why do so many salespeople give up and plow forward with the contact they are speaking with right now?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has more than 2 million rows of data on this and the science says that salespeople who reach the actual decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business compared with those salespeople who don't reach the decision maker.  It is not only profound, nothing could be more straight-forward!

Also at play is a salesperson's need to be liked and their fear that if they push, challenge or question it, or if all else fails, they go around this person, said person will become upset, no longer like them, so they won't get the business. While the feared consequences are outright false, 59% of all salespeople do need to be liked and that gets in the way - a lot.

Something else gets in the way of getting to decision makers and it isn't Siri.  It's timing!  There is a specific moment in the sales process when your odds of reaching the decision maker are stronger than at any other time.  It's like a Tornado.  When certain weather conditions exist, those conditions become perfect for a tornado and without those conditions, there is virtually no chance.  So it goes with selling.  There are certain conditions that make it perfect for getting the decision maker engaged but without those conditions, there isn't much of a chance.  

You must be able to first ask, "Who else cares about this?" and upon hearing the decision maker's title, ask, "How do we include Mary in our conversation?"  

In order to properly time the "who else cares?" question, you must have already discussed something so compelling, so powerful and so impactful, that the "who else cares?" question is the next logical question in the discussion.  Asked at any other time and the question won't fit. 

In order for the person you are speaking with to care about getting the decision maker engaged, you must have monetized or quantified their issue to the degree that its cost is many, many times that of your solution. In essence, you are asking who else cares about that much money.

There is a fourth potential reason - salespeople get lazy, take shortcuts, and simply don't try.  I've seen it happen with good, veteran salespeople - a lot.  The good news is that this particular reason is VERY easy to fix.  

Siri might not be able to get you to the decision maker, but using science, ignoring your need to be liked, and getting the timing right will make it 341% more likely that you will close the business.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, objective management group, need to be liked

How Gas Grills, Gardening, Masks, and Baseball Mimic Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 03, 2021 @ 13:05 PM

gasgrill

Some random thoughts from the weekend and its impact on sales teams...

We have a twenty-year old gas grill built-in to a stone wall on our back patio and this year I decided to replace all of the components.  New burners, new heat plates, new briquettes, new grates, new ignitor, and new wiring.  All told, it took three-hours of work, much of it with the ignitor and the wiring.  When I got it all reassembled, everything worked except the ignitor despite the fact that I smartly tested it prior to reassembly.  I opened it back up and discovered that the battery had become disconnected.  A tweak later, it was reassembled, the ignitor was sending sparks, but it was still failing to ignite the gas.  After all that work, and despite all the new components, I still must use a hand lighter to light the grill and will have to call a gas grill expert to get the sparks to ignite the gas.

My project corresponds so well with how many executives approach their sales teams. 

They do nothing for years, and then, after growing frustrated with complacency and inability to grow revenue, finally decide to make changes and rebuild their sales teams.  They quickly reassemble the team by terminating the obvious liabilities and hiring replacements.  Then, when the new salespeople don't perform to expectations, they make additional tweaks by adding hiring criteria, and try again.  Lacking a real sense of what good looks like, they continue to get it wrong and are back where they started, needing expert help to select the right salespeople to grow revenue.

We went to an outdoor garden center - outdoors means no masks if you're fully vaccinated so it should be an opportunity to shop mask free!  Not.  Everybody - young and old were masked up because we've learned that if you remove your mask people give you dirty looks and employees refuse to help you. So we must continue to mask up.  What does this have to do with selling?  

The discomfort with removing masks outdoors speaks directly to our discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  After 14 months you would think that people would be excited for the opportunity to go maskless but it's not close to happening in Massachusetts.  You would also think that salespeople would be quick to embrace strategies, tactics and sales processes that will help them dramatically improve their effectiveness, and help them differentiate and close more business. That has great appeal, but most salespeople are typically slow to adapt for the very same reasons.  Discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  It takes time.

Like most spring weekends, we were watching our son play baseball (2 games each day) only this year spectators aren't allowed on college campuses so we were watching live streams.  We wondered how we would handle not being present and cheering for him and his team, how disconnected we might feel watching him on a computer screen, and how much we would miss it.  It was especially difficult this year since it is his freshman, or as they now say, "first year" season.  We adapted.  We had to adapt. The seating and food were both exponentially better at home, we didn't have six hour round trips to campus and back, and the bathrooms were sparkling!  That said, we still missed being there for him and can't wait until we can return to watch him play in person.

This aligns with how sales teams pivoted to virtual selling in the spring of 2020.  It worked, but many of the same differences were in play.  The seating, food and bathrooms were better, but we missed being with our colleagues and customers.  We adapted, although in the case of virtual selling, we didn't adapt as well.  I am still very frustrated with the sales teams I personally train, who week after week, have failed to upgrade their physical appearance, wardrobe, and backgrounds.  I don't want to see bedrooms, closets, kitchens, dens, basements or bathrooms!  The lighting sucks!  You've had 14 months to upgrade how you present yourselves, so read my article on upgrading your virtual presence and get with the program.  Many of you will be selling this way, from home and/or office, for the foreseeable future.

It was a great weekend for gardening and when the baseball games weren't streaming we were in the gardens.  Pulling weeds, grooming the beds replacing perennial flowers and cutting down scrawny, ugly or dead trees were on the list.  It's what we do in May.

This is a great time for weeding out your under-performers and negative, whiny liabilities, upgrading your sales teams, and replacing them with better salespeople who are better fits for the role.  It's what we should do, not only in May but year-round.  A sales force evaluation should come first so that you know who is part of your future, how to develop them, and how much more revenue they can generate. You must also know who is part of your past and whether or not to move on from them.  You must understand why you get the results you get and what needs to change.  You should also use an accurate and predictive, customizable, sales-specific candidate assessment to help select your new salespeople. Ask your sales consultant about Objective Management Group (OMG) for help with both issues.  If you don't have a reliable, magical sales expert you can call, we can recommend one for you.  If you have one, but they don't offer OMG, insist that they either become OMG certified or find one who does offer OMG.  Just email me and I'll get you hooked up with someone who can help in a big way.

Image Copyright: arinahabich

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Salesforce, sales effectiveness, sales hiring tools, objective management group, sales team

New Data Shows That Top Salespeople are 2800% Better at Disrupting the Flow

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 @ 17:09 PM

current

Fish, rafts, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and swimmers all find much more success when they are moving with the wind or the current rather than going against it.

Unfortunately, the same isn't necessarily true in sales.

Most salespeople who are struggling with large companies and all of the meetings, procedures, stakeholders, vendor options and criteria, find it easier to just go with the flow - the current - and wait and see how it all shakes out.  Following the "current" results in a future outcome rather than a "current" outcome.  In other words, current = future.

On the other hand, when salespeople are confident enough to ask questions, challenge their process, and nicely push back, they will not only differentiate themselves from their competition,  they might be able to disrupt the current, move themselves to the top of the list, and get a current outcome instead of a future outcome.  In other words, anti-current=current.

There are three keys to succeed with this approach.

The first key to having success with this approach is whether or not you need to be liked.  This is not about whether you can get people to like you.  This is about whether you NEED people to like you.  They are two completely different things and NEEDING people to like you is a huge barrier to disrupting the flow. 

Consider that 79% of the top 10% of all salespeople DO NOT need to be liked, while only 8% of the bottom 10% have this as a strength.  

The second key to having success with this approach is whether or not you can stay in the moment.  The opposite of being able to stay in the moment is when you talk to yourself, worry, get excited, or strategize on the fly. 

66% of the top 10% of all salespeople are able to stay in the moment while only 10% of the bottom 10% have this as a strength. 

The third key to having success with this approach is whether or not you understand and agree with their buying process.  68% of the top 10% of all salespeople have a supportive buying process and therefore, don't understand why the prospect needs to comparison shop, look for a better price or think it over.  By contrast, only 2% of the bottom 10% of all salespeople have a supportive buying process as a strength.  

When we take the average of these three elements of Sales DNA, 71% of the top salespeople have these strengths and only 2.5% of the worst salespeople have these strengths. These three are huge differentiators between studs and duds! Top salespeople are twenty-eight times more likely to disrupt the flow and get a current outcome.

Those elements of Sales DNA are just three out of a total of twenty-one Sales Competencies that are measured by Objective Management Group. You can see them graphed here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, objective management group

How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 08, 2019 @ 06:07 AM

pipeline2

Big ones, little ones, sharp ones and stubborn ones. I was pulling weeds from the garden when it became crystal clear to me.  The various weeds were like the many types of opportunities in most sales pipelines.  Big ones, little ones, those that hurt (we're behind the competition) and those who are stubborn (they aren't sharing important information).  The flowers in the garden are allowed to remain and are nurtured with sun, water and plant food. Similarly, we must leave and nurture the opportunities that will grow and produce sales, and weed out the undesirable opportunities that distract us from what is most important.

Flower gardens can be large, colorful, impressive and calming to look at.  Unfortunately, most sales pipelines are full of weeds, not large enough, and certainly not impressive.  From its evaluations and assessments of 1,875,978 salespeople, Objective Management Group (OMG) has found that only 46% of all salespeople maintain a full pipeline.  It breaks down as follows:

Elite  (the top 5%) 76%
Strong 65%
Serviceable 57% 
Weak (the bottom 50%)  41%

And when it comes to full pipelines, we must ask, full of what?  Generally undesirable opportunities.

Why do those undesirable opportunities remain in the pipeline?  They provide salespeople with a sense of security. Unfortunately, what they perceive as a safety net, is really denial of the reality of their pipeline.

Step one in transforming your sales pipeline is to perform a thorough weeding, which leaves you with a smaller pipeline, but with the same number of quality opportunities.  This is where a well-built, predictive scorecard will help.

Step two is to determine how many opportunities must be in your pipeline at all times.  To find the answer to that question you must know the size of your average sale or account, your closing percentage, and monthly sales goal.  Let's assume the following three metrics:

  • Monthly sales goal of $100,000,
  • 25% Closing percentage
  • $20,000 Average sale or account

With those numbers, you must have 20 opportunities worth $400,000 in your pipeline at all times in order to close 5 of them each month.  Complete the same exercise using your own historical numbers.

Step three is to determine the gap between what you need and what you have.  Using the example above, let's say you actually have 4 good opportunities worth a total of $80,000.  Your gap is 16 opportunities worth $320,000 - just for this month!

Step four is to add 16 new opportunities.  How?  Referrals, introductions, inbound leads, cold calls, whatever it takes.  But do it!  Today!  Now!  Referring back to OMG's findings again, only 40% of all salespeople are strong at Hunting.  That breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 88% 
Strong: 77% 
Serviceable: 58% 
Weak (the bottom 50%): 26%

When it comes to generating referrals and introductions, only 35% of all salespeople are strong.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 48%
Strong: 42%
Serviceable: 39%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 32%

[Update - I was asked whether weak Sales DNA is responsible when a strong rep is weak at getting referrals and introductions.  It turns out that for 97% of strong reps, it's not Sales DNA but for weak reps Sales DNA is responsible 97% of the time.]

And as for making cold calls, only 33% of all salespeople prospect consistently.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 70%
Strong: 54%
Serviceable: 43%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 25%

If from among the bottom half of all salespeople, 50% of them won't make cold calls, 64% won't generate referrals and introductions, and 82% won't fill their pipelines, then nearly half of your salespeople may not do much of what was laid out in this article.

But there is hope for the serviceable, strong and elite salespeople - the other half.  Many of them will be able to do most of this but the key is holding them accountable.  Their sales managers must set expectations, designate this as non-optional work, impose a deadline, and enforce penalties for non-compliance. 

These four steps are not a one-time fix; they are requirements for continued success in sales that continue into perpetuity. 

Comments?  Questions?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, objective management group

Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

first-impression

Most salespeople don't take first impressions seriously enough. If they did, their first impressions would be much more favorable.

I can still remember my first (unintentional) lesson about first impressions.  My family was gathered at my grandfather's house to watch the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.  It was February 9, 1964 and at 8 years old, I was one of seventy-three million people watching the show that night.  I was as excited about this show as I would be later that same year when I attended my first Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.  That is pretty excited! 

Sitting on the carpet, I was completely focused on seeing and hearing The Beatles play five of their hit songs, but my mother was doing color commentary from the plastic covered sofa behind me.

She said, "He's cleaner than the other 3", referring to Paul McCartney, who had straighter teeth, and a face more suitable for the mop top hair style shared by the four of them.

There it was, my first lesson in judging people by how they looked, and more specifically, what "clean" did and did not look like.

We were all exposed to unintentional lessons like that when we were young and those lessons stay with us today.  My father was an optometrist and around a quarter of his patients were on welfare.  While they were entitled to the same eye examination as everyone else, they were not allowed to choose from the same selection of eye glasses  and were not allowed to wear contact lenses - unless they could pay the difference.  Therefore, I assumed that anyone I saw wearing "those glasses" must be on welfare.

15 years later, when I was in the music business, a man who looked like he spent the night sleeping on the side of the road, bought the most expensive guitar I had in stock.  He paid cash.

Enough for the trip down memory lane.

When you are in sales, your first impression has been made the moment a prospect sets eyes on you, and based on how that prospect reacts, you, in turn, create a first impression of them.

Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated or assessed 1,869,505 salespeople, has a finding I haven't written much about called Sales Posturing.  In a nutshell, Posturing measures first impressions, how memorable you are, and how effectively you differentiate yourself from the competition. In the table below, you'll see scores for Posturing,  as well as Relationship Building which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies. 

posturing-relationships

While there is a correlation between both sets of scores and the overall effectiveness level of salespeople, the difference in scores is minuscule in comparison to creating urgency, The 21 Sales Core Competencies, Closing, and 5 Scores Related to Money.  This proves my point that most salespeople, even the great ones, do not pay enough attention to the quality of their first impressions.

How much focus have you given to how you make your first impression?  Here are 10 things you can control to assure that you make a great first impression.  For a lot of these, Goldilocks and  the Three Bears will be a good guide.  Not too much, not too little, but just right:

  1. Your smile
  2. Your handshake
  3. Your confidence
  4. Your outfit
  5. Your hair
  6. Your first words
  7. Your tonality
  8. Your trustworthiness
  9. Your approach
  10. Your authenticity

Thirty-three years ago, when I was far less experienced in the sales development space, my first impressions were not very good and it was represented by the quality of my clients at the time.  Fortunately, thirty-three years provides a nice, long runway for improvement!

Selling, and especially consultative selling, is difficult enough without having to dig out of the hole created by first impressions gone wrong.  You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so remember, every encounter provides you with your last chance to make a good first impression.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, relationship building, assessment, omg, the beatles, objective management group, Ed Sullivan

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 @ 17:08 PM

sales-team

We all see the effects that strong leaders have when they surround themselves with either strong, mediocre or weak people.  What happens when strong leaders inherit a mixed team?  What happens when they hire a mixed team?  What happens when we ask the same questions about weak leaders?

I dug into a subset of data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of the salespeople who report to more than 15,000 sales managers to determine whether the best sales managers actually have the best salespeople.  I was surprised and disappointed by what I found.  Check this out!

In the first table, you'll notice that salespeople reporting to elite sales managers are 14% stronger overall than those who report to weak sales managers.  That's good, but why isn't there a larger gap?  I'll answer that question shortly.

mgrs-to-sp-comparison

The second table clearly shows that strong sales managers have 25% more elite and strong salespeople reporting to them than elite sales managers. How can that be explained? And the relatively small gap from the first table?

mgrs-w-elite-spI have a simple explanation that you may or may not agree with.  Elite sales managers have so much confidence in their abilities, that they refuse to give up on mediocre salespeople.  They believe that given enough time they can coach everyone up.  Along the same line of thinking, elite sales managers also tend to believe that they don't have to hire A players because as long as the salespeople they select have a great personality and industry knowledge, they believe they can train and coach them to become strong performers. Because of that, elite sales managers tend to take shortcuts at hiring time as evidenced by their lower scores for recruiting.  Without a doubt, they should be using an accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessment like OMG's award-winning tool.

While the best sales managers do tend to have better salespeople, the contrast is not nearly as sharp as most of us would expect it to be, but explains why leaders don't understand when strong sales manager's teams are not significantly more effective than weak sales manager's teams.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales performance, hunting, sales effectiveness, objective management group

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

report.jpg

 Image Copyright Shironosov

One of OMG's sales candidate assessment clients in Europe purchased two goldfish. In keeping with their tradition, the client named the two fish, Recommended and Not Recommended.  Surprisingly, recruiting salespeople was not one of the topics addressed in the Richardson 2017 Selling Challenges Study.  Meghan Steiner, from Richardson, was nice enough to send me a copy of the results.  There were a number of interesting findings and of course I had some insights from the report.

Respondents said the following issues are challenges for their companies:

  • 24% said gaining higher prices 
  • 20% said closing win/win deals
  • 17% said maintaining profitability
  • 24% said competing against a low cost provider
  • 16% said creating a compelling case for change
  • 19% said customers who continue to reopen the negotiation
  • 15% said positioning a competing value proposition

The 7 findings I listed above came from two different chapters of the report.  Higher prices, win/win deals and profitability came from the chapter on Negotiation.  Positioning, reopening negotiations, competing against low cost providers and the case for change came from the chapter on closing.  

It is clear to me that if you combine those 7 challenges, the real problem
these companies have is that their salespeople are unable to sell value!

The findings came from a survey where most of the 300+ respondents were from companies larger than $500 million, with sales quotas generally running more than $1 million each.

How do the findings compare with OMG's scientific data from the evaluation of 2 million salespeople from 30,000 companies?  Let's compare!

The average score for the Selling Value competency is 56 which means that the salespeople in the 370,000 rows of data in my query have, on average, 56% of the attributes in the Selling Value competency.  You can see that the top 10% are significantly more effective and the bottom 10% are significantly worse!

value2.jpgAnother way of looking at this competency is to determine the percentage of salespeople who have selling value as a weakness.  

68% of the salespeople I looked at were weak at Selling Value.  

OMG's data shows that selling value is a much greater issue than the survey suggests.  The likely reason for this is that respondents from large companies probably don't understand the reasons why they have the seven issues bulleted above.  They only recognize the symptoms.

You can see the attributes of the Selling Value competency in this screen shot from a sales force evaluation.

value-1.jpg

When companies mistakenly believe that their problems lie in negotiating and closing, they tend to seek training on negotiating and closing!  When the real problem is selling value, the training needs to be on what the selling conversations should sound like when you take a more consultative approach, sales process to support a consultative approach, a value-based pricing strategy, and training on selling value.

Here are four other things you should do:

1. See how your salespeople compare to others in your industry and to salespeople in general in any or all of the 21 Sales Core Competencies with OMG's complimentary stat finder tool.

2. Select only strong (16%) and elite (7%) salespeople with OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

3. Become more effective coaching your salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies 

4. Download the 2017 Sales Challenges Study from Richardson.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, close more sales, negotiating, objective management group, selling value, Richardson, OMG Assessment

Content not found
Subscribe via Email

View All 2,000 Articles published by Dave

About Dave

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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards  

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

2020-07-20_14-45-52


 

2020-Bronze-BlogIndi

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

2020_Top20_Web_Large_assessment_eval