HBR or OMG - Whose Criteria Really Differentiate the Top and Bottom 10% of Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 @ 10:08 AM

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The Harvard Business Review is at it again.  I honestly can't believe that a publication like HBR continues to publish and push junk science about sales.  Nearly every time they publish an article on sales or selling, they are usually as wrong as the mainstream media is with their attempts to manipulate readers and viewers to vote for their preferred candidates. 

I have previously taken issue with seven of HBR's articles: 

They did publish one that I agreed with on Looking for Potential in your Next Hire...

In their June 20, 2016 article, A Portrait of the Overperforming Salesperson, HBR identified several traits, attitudes and actions that they claim differentiate the top from bottom performers.  I'll summarize it for you below and then explain why I believe it is junk.  The findings include:

 

  • Focus which they described as including Money motivated, respected, likable and effective at prioritizing their time
  • Career Orientation which they described as including how much they think about work and why they went into sales
  • Personal Attributes which they described as including how they remember their childhood and what they use to make decisions
  • Customer Interaction Strategy which they described as tailoring, asking questions, being likable and having personal relationships  (these do differentiate tops from bottoms)
  • Attitude which was word association around sales management and sales process (word association?  really?)
  • Self Perception  which was checking off boxes to indicate the traits they believed they had

This was a survey of 1,000 salespeople. 1/3 of them are in field sales, 1/3 are in inside sales and the rest are sales managers or Sales VP's. 

Only 15% met the author's criteria of meeting quota 88% of the time. Although we weren't told what the quotas were, it's pretty safe to assume that the field salespeople manage accounts in existing territories.  Based on the questions asked, it is also safe to assume that the inside salespeople are making calls to and taking calls from existing customers.   So just in case you can't do the math, when you account for the sales managers and sales VP's in the survey, it changes the population from 1,000 top performing salespeople, to 150 people who don't have to find new business.  That is quite a distinction!  

I hate these surveys because surveys do not equate to science.

Compare this to Objective Management Group's (OMG) actual science from evaluating and assessing more than 1,000,000 salespeople from more than 200 industries over the past 2 decades.  7% are elite, and there are 16% more who are strong.  77% are ineffective.  From its 1,000,000 rows of data, I can assure you that no personality trait or behavioral style of any kind is predictive of sales success. Traits and styles are good to know - they help you understand who your employees are.  But they have never been, nor will they ever be, predictive of sales success.  

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies. Most of these competencies include as many as 10 attributes. Here are just some of the many differences between the top 10% and the bottom 10%:

Competency Average Score
for the Top 10%
Average Score
for the Bottom 10%
Sales Quotient (overall score) 143 (out of 173) 91
Sales DNA (supporting strengths) 84 (out of 100) 53
Motivation 75 57
Commitment to Sales Success 68 34
Closing 47 12
Hunting 74 37
Qualifying 81 31
Consultative Selling 74 37
Sales Process 67 39
CRM Savvy 77 37
Presenting 82 57 

If you look at Sales DNA - the combination of strengths that supports the use of strategy, tactics, process and methodology, you'll see that the top 10% are, on average, nearly 60% stronger than the bottom 10%.  You'll also see that the top 10% have an average Sales Quotient that is nearly 60% higher than the bottom 10%.  The top 10% have double the commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve sales excellence. For the more tactical competencies, the average scores for the top 10% are approximately double those of the bottom 10%. 

When we break sales down by difficulty level, industry sector, vertical market, decision maker to be called upon, price points, etc., the specific findings and scores that differentiate tops from bottoms change accordingly!  Now please tell me, when we have real science like this, what is the HBR thinking when they publish rubbish like personal attributes, attitude and self perception?

Will Barron recently interviewed me on some of these topics and it was a really good interview. You can watch or listen to it here.

Lori Richardson recently interviewed me on some of these topics too - another really good interview, that you can get here.

This article states that 4% of the salespeople sell 94% of the business.  I don't agree with their percentage but it gives you a sense of what is really taking place in sales.

And from OMG's data, this is just in.  The bottom 10% of all salespeople are actually better than the top 10% in 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  I'll bet you can guess which one...scroll down for the answer...

 

 

 

Relationship Building! It's no wonder that crappy salespeople keep getting hired.  You can hire the best salespeople for your role when you use OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.  Try it! 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, comparison of top salespeople, harvard business review, difference between good and bad salespeople, objective management group

Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 10:06 AM

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You'll regularly find me writing about the science - the data - that differentiates top sales performers from the bottom.  But today, I'll move into the world from which everyone else in this space operates - anecdotal evidence and opinions. 

I will cite two sources for this article:

  • The 130 sales consulting firms that partner with me at Objective Management Group (OMG) and provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments;
  • The tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders that I have personally trained.

In both groups of people I have noticed a few things that are common to the tops and not so much the bottoms and I'm certain that if you paid attention, you would recognize some of the same patterns in your organization.

In my experience, The top salespeople in both groups typically attend scheduled training events, Conferences, Webinars, and coaching calls.  They also tend to stay on top of updates, communications, reviews, emails and notes.  While some bottom performers do these things too, it's clear that there is a correlation between the tops and the learning and development activities on which they choose to invest their time.

The question is, are they at the top because they focus, participate, attend and respond; or do they actively participate because they are at the top?  Which one is cause and which one is effect?

Each of the activities I mentioned are best practices of top performers.  It's almost impossible to be a top performer and not do those things, while it is quite easy to not do those things and be a bottom performer.  But that doesn't answer the question of cause and effect.  Let's take a closer look at the bottom performers that do all of those things but still fail to perform.  If they do all of the same things, what holds the bottom performers back?

I didn't begin writing this article with a plan to go here, but as always, it ends up here.  Assuming that an ineffective sales manager isn't to blame, it comes down to the following four things:

  • Lack of Desire for Greater Success in Sales
  • Lack of Commitment to Do What it Takes to Achieve Greater Success in Sales
  • Weak Sales DNA - Strengths Don't Support their Selling Skills
  • Poor Selling Skills - Never Developed or not up-to-date

 I just looked at a few thousand rows of data from the last two weeks.  While 91% of these salespeople had strong Desire, only 59% had the Commitment to do what it takes.  That's a difference maker!  Additionally, only 33% had Sales DNA of 70 or better and only 9% had Sales DNA of at least 82 which is required to support the Challenger Sale.   Worst of all, only 11% had at least 50% of the selling skills we measure.

So even when I try to write an anecdotal piece, I end up returning to the OMG's science behind selling.

Cause and effect?  Salespeople who do the right things don't necessarily become top performers but top performers necessarily do the right things.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, the challenger sale, top producer, sales assessments, objective management group, top performing salespeople

What Should You Do When You or Your Company is Disliked in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

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I know.  Everyone loves you. You are just so likable that it's inconceivable that you could be disliked.  As usual, I see things a bit differently and I'll prove that there is someone that not only dislikes you, but might even hate you.  For example, my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), is universally hated by an entire vertical!   I'll share that with you, but first I must ask you a question.  If you are in territory sales, is there a competitor salesperson gunning for you?  Have you taken business away from anyone?  Do they hate you?  Is there a competitor who is all smoke and mirrors, who can't deliver on what they promise, who still manages to win business at your expense?  Do you hate them?  Do you sell a product or service that can help a company do more with fewer employees?  Do those employees hate you?  It wasn't that long ago when Apple hated Microsoft and Microsoft hated Apple.  Allow me to provide a few examples and then I'll share how to deal with the hate.

One of OMG's products is our legendary, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment.  Everyone from the CEO down through sales leadership and HR love this tool, but internal recruiters hate it and recruiting firms hate us!  Internal recruiters hate us because they have to work harder to find sales candidates who will be recommended.  It's their job, so they deal with us.  After all, only 7% of all salespeople are elite, and just an additional 16% who qualify as strong.  That means that 77% of the candidates they find suck, usually aren't recommended, and our assessment exposes that.  

For recruiting firms, the hate is even worse.  Their profit depends on a company quickly falling in love with a candidate and when one of their clients wants to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, it is not only more difficult, but it takes much longer for them to find the right candidate. That eats into their profit and they absolutely hate that!  One way that recruiting firms deal with this is when they attempt to discredit our assessment.  As you can imagine, that kind of hate isn't much fun because it puts clients right in the middle of that battle.

Over the years, the creative people in our entrepreneurial and innovative economy have been responsible for developing products (think internet-related) and services (think outsourcing) that eliminate jobs.  The employees who are most vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated absolutely hate the companies and their salespeople who provide those services.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, one of the best sites is EvanCarmichael.com and last week, Evan hosted a video interview with me when we talked about assessments, selling, presenting and differentiating.  It was a fun and fast-paced interview and you can see it here.

So what can you do when you there are groups of people who hate you?  Introduce the issue yourself.  You'll need to wait until you have uncovered their compelling reason to buy and then you can ask a question like this one, "An ideal solution is going to eliminate some jobs, and while that will save the company money, how will you deal with the pushback that you're going to get?" or, "A solution that will solve the problem we are talking about will cause this group over here to be quite upset.  How will you deal with the protests you are going to get from them?"

Here are some additional resources.

This article on how to ask questions so that customers buy and you don't have to sell was named one of the top 10 sales blog posts of the month.

This article that I wrote for the SellingPower blog explains how to sidestep price issues so that you can sell value!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, competition, Motivation, Apple, objective management group, selling power, microsoft

Why Uncovering Pain Doesn't Close the Sale with a CEO and the 3 Conditions You Do Need

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 15:04 PM

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Other than birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and sporting events, how many occasions are there when you have repeated an event, in one form or another, for at least 22 years. Not many, right?  This past weekend, I hosted 130 sales experts from around the world as part of Objective Management Group's 22nd Annual OMG Conference.  I'm proud that we kept these sales experts engaged to the point where there were just as many people in the room for the end of the final presentation as there were for the beginning of the first presentation. I want to share 5 out of more than 100 important insights that they took away which apply equally to you too.

Playing Your Part

There were some great take-aways from our keynote speaker, Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports.  He offered dozens of insights and suggestions and shared some great stories, but the two that really stuck with me were:

  1. "Are you a participant or a spectator?"  In my opinion, there are just so many salespeople that would fall into the spectator category - reacting, responding and facilitating - instead of the participant category where they are proactively building their pipeline, gaining traction, achieving velocity and closing business.
  2. "The underdog has nothing to lose - it's like playing with house money!"  It's just like this quote from Band of Brothers which I included in this article, "You're Afraid to Sell Because You Have Hope."   Actual video clip...

Selling to the CEO

One participant asked why it was so difficult to get a CEO to pull the trigger despite having uncovered some pain points. I explained that pain points alone may help to eventually create some urgency, but they represent only one of the three conditions necessary to create enough urgency to cause action.

You may be able to use the pain you uncovered to create the second condition - quantifying the opportunity.  Properly quantifying an opportunity requires using math in a way that helps you build your case, and you can see it demonstrated here.  Quantifying may help you develop a compelling reason for the CEO to move forward, but as I mentioned, it's a CEO, and a CEO may need three conditions to be in place.  The third condition is a connection to their end game - their overall long-term strategy. When CEO's can't see how your solution helps to achieve their long-term strategy and goals, they may not buy despite the pain you uncovered!  

As I explained to the group, it's a lot like a Nor'easter.  For a blockbuster snowstorm like a Nor'easter to materialize, there are three conditions that must exist.  The first is that there must be cold air from Canada in place.  No cold air?  No snow.  The second condition is that the storm must pick up a significant area of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico or the waters off of the southern coast of the US.  Without the moisture, there can be no big storm regardless of how much cold air there might be.  But there is a third condition that must occur, and that is a favorable track of the storm.  If the storm tracks too far inland, the storm will be in the form of rain.  If it tracks too far to the south and/or east of New England,  only Cape Cod and the islands will see snow.  The storm must track just to the south and/or east of Cape Cod and then most of New England gets a major snow storm.  When salespeople uncover only pain, that's the equivalent of the moisture - but we don't have the cold air in place and the track of the storm sends it out to sea.

21 Sales Core Competencies

We shared the latest enhancements and new features of our Sales Force Evaluation and the attendees were very excited about the expansion of 5 of the Sales Core Competencies for which we already had findings.  Effective today, we have expanded the competency sets for:

  1. Milestone-Centric Sales Process
  2. Relationship Building
  3. CRM Savvy
  4. Social Selling
  5. Pipeline Management (sales management)

We previously included findings/scores for these competencies, but now we show approximately 8 attributes for each of these 5 competencies - a lot more details and explanation. They round out the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure and report on.  The 21 Sales Core Competencies can be seen here.   

Motivation

Last year, we announced that we had expanded our measurement of sales motivation.  We had already begun looking at both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation when we began measuring 7 additional ways that salespeople are motivated.  This year, we announced that in addition to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we will begin measuring altruistic motivation.  This is important because sales managers are finding it more difficult to help salespeople who are not motivated by money. When sales managers understand how salespeople are motivated, they can use other strategies and tactics to help maintain motivational consistency.

Zero's are Like Carbs

One of the big take-aways for the group was my comment that zero's are like carbs - they're bad for you.  All of the zeros that appear, when the value of a huge sales opportunity is entered into the CRM application, cause salespeople to become inappropriately excited.  They facilitate instead of pushing back.  They respond instead of being proactive.  They get happy ears instead of continuing to question things.  Just cross out the zeros and treat it like any other opportunity!

There were literally dozens of other insights and take-aways that I don't have time to share today, but if you like these, let me know and I'll share some more in my next post.  I'll know you liked it if you click the LinkedIn share button at the top of the article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, objective management group, creating urgency, selling to the CEO, uncovering pain

Breaking News - More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before (and Why)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

Saturday evening, I was driving my car and listening to the radio when a song played that I hadn't heard since the 70's.  It occurred to me that long before the advent of rap music, Charlie Daniels must have been the accidental originator of rap with his song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia.  If you are too young to have heard it, don't remember it, or just want to hear this white country boy do his thing, watch this awesome YouTube clip.

Thinking of rap got me to thinking of salespeople - who always get a bad rap - and that got me to thinking about Bad Company, and their song, Taking Care of Business.  The only problem with my thinking is that Bad Company didn't record that song; Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO) did as you can see in this YouTube clip recorded at a prison!  If you're like me, you must be wondering where this post is heading...

Salespeople always seem to get a bad rap and obviously that's bad for business. But it's always been that way and nobody has made a very big deal about it, so what has changed? This article details all of the things that have dramatically changed modern selling in just the past several years.  And this article explains why millions of salespeople will lose their jobs and become obsolete.
 
Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed salespeople and while selling has changed and evolved, the data shows that one thing hasn't changed at all.  The following graph shows sales capabilities as measured by OMG's Sales Quotient and how that has changed in the past 15 years.
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For years, I've been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.
 
So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren't doing a great job of taking care of business.
 
When a change in the way that people buy is taking place at a faster rate than a change in the way that people sell, we see results like these.  Richardson just published their 2016 Selling Challenges Report.  I typically don't care for surveys - especially those with a small sample size like this one, and those whose respondents are primarily from large companies. But in this case, the findings are correct; especially the top 3 issues that salespeople are struggling with:
  1. Creating value and insight during the client conversation
  2. Uncovering complete information regarding the decision making process
  3. Exploring client issues and challenges

The 3 topics are identical to those I write about most frequently because they correlate to the issues we uncover when we evaluate sales forces.  Why are salespeople struggling so much with these issues?

  • Their sales managers aren't capable of helping them.
  • The majority of companies fail to bring in expert help from the outside.
  • A lot of the training doesn't focus on the cause - only the symptoms.
  • Salespeople tend to not practice and when they do practice, they practice doing it the wrong way.
  • Those 3 issues are the core of Value Selling and a Consultative approach - the 2 most difficult competencies out of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.
  • A lot of the training either isn't very good, isn't reinforced, or isn't enforced.  Sales leaders and CEO's are not holding salespeople accountable for change.
  • The starting point for any effective training is a customized, formal, structured, milestone-centric sales process and that is missing from many well-known training programs.  Last week I received a call from an Israeli company that wanted Kurlan & Associates to teach their 200 salespeople to sell based on the video tools they created.  Their products were cutting edge 21st century products, but the selling approach they created on their own was vintage 1970's.  I told them that they would have to either allow us to completely change their sales process and approach, or they would have to find another company to help them.
  • Sales DNA plays a huge part in the difficulties that salespeople have when attempting to sell value or use a consultative approach.  Sales DNA is the combination of strengths that support skills and when the strengths are actually weaknesses, salespeople are uncomfortable and/or unable to execute the process, strategies, tactics and achieve milestones.
Today, if salespeople do not learn to master the consultative approach, a prerequisite for Value Selling, they won't be able to differentiate themselves in the field.  Without differentiation strongly grounded in value, buyers will ultimately make their decisions based on price.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, objective management group, selling value, Richardson, OMG Assessment, charlie daniels, bachman turner overdrive

Has the Sales Profile of an A Player Changed Dramatically?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 03, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

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Recently, a number of readers asked me to review two articles which they thought were right up my alley.  Apparently they thirst for one of my specialties - poking holes in articles that are just plain wrong about hiring salespeople.  It's not that I enjoy ripping articles apart, it's just that I don't have any tolerance for authors who either don't know what they are talking about, don't have any science backing them up, or use examples that can't be replicated across industries, markets and geographies.  Shall we dig in?

We'll begin with an article from Sales Benchmark Index which in itself is a surprise because Greg Alexander and his team typically write great articles that are usually challenge-proof. If Dan Perry were more specific, and cited the particular assessments and tools to which his theory applied, then The Myth of the Ideal Hiring Profile would be fine as is.  Instead, he used a broad brush leaving readers to believe that all assessments are outdated.  Most personality and behavioral styles assessments were never designed to be used for sales selection, but not wanting to ignore an opportunity, these mostly old social instruments were adapted by using sales-like labels for their findings.  But make no mistake; the findings are still the same age-old social findings that have no connection to business or sales and therefore, are not predictive of sales success.  Clearly, these profiles are all useless and outdated for the specific role of sales selection.  But not all assessments are outdated or adapted for sales.

That brings us to his other point; that the profile for an A player has changed dramatically in the past 12 months.  I could agree with a statement that said sales has changed dramatically in the past 8 years, but really in the last 12 months?  Here are 25 Ways it has changed...  In sales, A players (the elite 6%) have only needed to add some social selling skills and use of tools to their repertoire.  They already bring to the table the selling package required to succeed in sales in 2016 and beyond.  They build relationships, follow a milestone-centric sales process, use a consultative approach, ask the tough questions, qualify thoroughly and get business and accounts closed.  The group of salespeople that has changed the most are B players, who needed to close their skill and Sales DNA gaps.  You can suggest that C's have had the most changes to make, but the thing with C's is that what they most need to change, they actually change the least.  That's why they are C's!

Finally, if you want to use a sales assessment/selection tool that was designed for sales, is more accurate and predictive than any other assessment on the planet, is customizable for any modern sales role, and evolves as selling evolves, then you'll want to become one of the 11,000 companies that rely on Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Moving on to my favorite target, Harvard Business Review, I have to challenge Frank Cespedes again.  I last challenged Frank and HBR in November of 2015 with the very popular article, How Wrong is the Harvard Business Article on How to Hire Salespeople.  Their current collaboration, Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Way to Grow, was a very interesting read. The article wasn't really about hiring stars as much as it was about how to scale a SaaS business and I was in agreement with most of that.  My issue - and it's the same issue that I had with the November article - is that the authors insist that hiring salespeople should be based on their ability to complete the tasks they have identified.  

Selling is not task-oriented as much as it is milestone-oriented and that's when we are discussing sales process.  The real magic in selling is when the sales process is integrated with the sales methodology - the consultative approach required for the conversation to flow seamlessly from stage to stage and milestone to milestone.  While there are tasks involved during a sales cycle: following, calling, sending, showing, providing, sharing, explaining, etc., a salesperson's ability to execute on those tasks is dependent upon their underlying selling skills and Sales DNA.  Tasks are an oversimplification of the art and science required to be successful in selling. And whether you want to scale, grow at a moderate pace, or maintain your revenue, your salespeople - both new and veterans alike - must be able to execute consistently and effectively in their roles.  How can you determine whether sales candidates have what it takes?  Once again, I urge you to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  How can you determine whether your existing salespeople can execute your plan and what is required to develop their capabilities?  Check out the OMG Sales Force Evaluation

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hiring salespeople, HBR, sales benchmark index, sales assessments, objective management group, frank cespedes, sales a players, greg alexander

Sales Selection Experiment - Part 2 - It's Back!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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When our son was just beginning to speak and we did something that he really enjoyed, he would say, "Again!  Again!"  

Two years ago, I wrote about a sales selection experiment with a group of college kids and the results were so much fun to read that when they repeated the exercise this year, my first reaction was, "Again!"  I think you're going to really enjoy the conclusions from this year's class!

First, you'll need the back story and results from the first go around and don't worry - it was an extremely short article!

Now that you are familiar with the premise and the first set of results, we must ask whether or not the results will be similar, the same or completely different.  The setup was the same - 5 teams - organized by their scores, and they set out to sell overpriced encyclopedias to homeowners in upscale neighborhoods.  Here are my conclusions from this year:

The students with the highest scores for Commitment to Sales Success sold five times more books than the students with the lowest scores for Commitment.  Once again we see why Commitment is the most important finding.

The team with the highest scores for Desire for Sales Success had both the best win rate and the most wins, but also had the fewest door knocks.  While strong Desire is always a requirement, Desire alone is not enough!

The two teams with the lowest scores for Desire for Sales Success and the lowest Sales DNA / Sales Quotient tied for the lowest win rate and fewest books sold.

The student who had the highest combined scores for Desire and Commitment had the highest win rate and the most books sold.

The five students with the lowest scores for Commitment and the most doors knocked had a combined win rate of 0.  Did they lie about the number of doors they knocked on or simply knock and fail to do what was required after that?

The seven students, or 28%, with the highest combination of Desire and Commitment closed 19 of the 32 sales.

The three students, or 13%, with the highest combination of Sales DNA and Sales Quotient scores closed 5, or 20%, of the 32 sales.

Neither Sales Quotient nor Sales DNA by themselves are enough.  The five who scored highest on each of those scores closed only 6 of the 32 sales.  They must be accompanied by Desire and Commitment!

This study also proved that numbers alone aren't enough to get it done.  The ten students who knocked on the most doors closed only 7 of the 32 sales.

 

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales assesments, sales selection, objective management group

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, we would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers.  We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.

This is scientific sales selection.  It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

12 Proven Sales Hacks to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

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It seems that these days, things are changing faster than we can recognize. Cosby is finally out of the news, but the Marathon Bomber is back in. The terrible winter weather is in our rear view mirror, but now we are dealing with droughts and tornadoes! And in our world, Sales 2.0, a term we haven't heard in a while, is making the rounds again. In today's article, we'll talk about the sales improvements that readers are most interested in.

Let's kick things off with the most popular article of the first 6 months of 2015, which talks about how dramatically things have changed in selling. Read this very popular article from earlier this year, which is all about the next change to take place in selling.

On LinkedIn, this article explains one simple change that salespeople and sales managers can make that will significantly improve the pipeline and win rate.

With all that has changed, no single characteristic is more important to selling than an individual's unconditional commitment for sales success. This article explains what committed salespeople do differently.

This popular article compares a bad sales email to a good one and a similar article exposes an ineffective cold call and includes a breakdown as to why it was so bad! This article completes the business development highlights with 3 keys to help convert more of those calls to meetings.

We've covered how to be more effective getting meetings scheduled, so let's move to another popular article that explored the possibility that with everything changing so quickly, consultative selling could already be dead.

One of the biggest challenges that companies are having right now is in attracting, assessing, interviewing and selecting new salespeople. Companies are hiring and it's more difficult than ever to hire a good salesperson. Accordingly, some of the most popular articles of the first 6 months of 2015 were written about hiring salespeople.  

This article explains why 1 million sales jobs will be lost, while this one explains why half of an entire sales force resigned in a single month. Could this happen at your company? Why is it that some great salespeople don't live up to your expectations while others are as good, or better than expected? This article explains how and when that can happen. On the other side of that story are the weak salespeople - those with poor Sales DNA and/or sales skills - who somehow find ways to succeed. This article talks about the intangibles they may possess and why they can't be taught or replicated. To round out the best of the sales selection articles, read this one about the phoney baloney sales candidate and how you can make sure that he doesn't fool you.

Finally, you won't want to click on this one right now. Instead, save it for when you have 30 minutes to read it in its entirety. The article began as a simple rebuttal to some junk science on sales selection and turned into a debate on the science of sales assessments and specifically, put Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments on trial. The people have spoken, but what did they say?

Was today's article helpful? Share it! Tweet it! Comment.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales 2.0, cold calling, sales selection, objective management group, sales emails that work, building the sales pipeline

What You Get When You Accelerate Sucky Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 08:06 AM

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Celebrating Fathers Day, we went to a restaurant of my choosing - an upscale burger place - and it took nearly an hour for the food to come. I asked, "Is it normal for the food to take this long?" I was told, "No, usually it only takes 35 minutes" - for burgers! Granted, they were special, great tasting, artisan burgers, but they were burgers! If this was a romantic dinner for my wife and me, then who cares how long the meal takes? Let's just enjoy the time together. But they had people waiting 45 minutes to be seated. They were scaling and the service kind of sucked.  

Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell.com says, “Be careful not to accelerate suck!”. That quote appeared today on the High Velocity Sales Blog, where Chad Burmeister wrote a great article about outbound on demand. You should read that article. It can change your world! Anyway, I wanted to elaborate on that quote as it applies to expanding your sales force. 

 

So many companies reach the point where they are ready to scale - exponentially grow their company, revenue, operations, capacity or reach - and to do that, they need to significantly expand sales. Scaling requires that the right sales leader(s), along with the right salespeople are already in place to form a foundation that can be replicated and/or multiplied. When that isn't the case, and it usually isn't, that is when suck gets accelerated.

Most companies set revenue as a milestone for scaling, but revenue can be deceiving. There is a huge difference between $10 million comprising 5 major accounts, versus $10 million made up of 3,000 accounts. The first scenario sounds more like a case where the founders were able to go back and sell their wares to the companies that previously employed them. The second scenario suggests that we have a top performing sales force where the majority of salespeople are capable of finding and closing a large quantity of accounts.  

Attempting to scale in the first scenario will lead the company into a dark hole, while replicating the second scenario should work quite well. Most companies find themselves somewhere in the middle so the scaling process and result are less predictable.

How do you know whether or not your sales force is scalable today? A sales force evaluation will quickly and accurately answer that question.

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How do you get the right salespeople for the right roles? Learn more about the award-winning and incredibly accurate and predictive OMG Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, growing a sales team, sales assessments, objective management group, Scaling sales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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