7 New Ways to Motivate Salespeople Through 20 Old Hurdles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 07:09 AM

Sales Challenges

Trust me when I say that this is a great article, but before we get to it, I have a few post-vacation links for you.  

This is important!  We want you to be part of our next White Paper on Sales Force Effectiveness.  Would you kindly take no more than 5 minutes to answer some questions about the sales force at your company?  We won't even ask your name or email address!  

Hubspot's Sales Blog published this post with some professional follow-up email templates.  It's worth a look and it has one of mine...

The September issue of Top Sales World was published last week and my article about the Top Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone was named Top Blog Post for August.

Gerhard Gschwandtner interviewed me for SellingPower TV. You can see the 5-minute interview here.

I'll be speaking at Inbound14, September 17, and I'll be talking about How to Hire Great Inbound Sales/Marketing people.  You can register here.

Finally, my article about How to Hire Salespeople That Will be Great Instead of Great Salespeople that Will Fail was posted in EcSell Institute's Coaching Library.  You can hear me speak on this topic there next month.

 

Now for the article.

The ability to motivate salespeople is just as important as it has always been.  However, there are differences today that make it more complicated than it used to be.

In the old days (pre-2008), if salespeople were motivated, then they were probably motivated by money.  According to data from Objective Management Group (OMG), 54% of salespeople were money-motivated during the 1990's and first half of the 2000's.  Today, the data shows that no more than 27% of salespeople are what we now call extrinsically-motivated.  Even the name has changed!

But what about those who are intrinsically-motivated - those who are motivated by satisfaction, fulfillment, praise and recognition.  They want to change the world.  They love what they do and want to achieve mastery.  That motivates them.  OMG is able to differentiate between intrinsically-motivated and extrinsically-motivated salespeople, but how do you manage those who are intrinsically-motivated?  How do you get them to perform when they are interested in things that go beyond a commission check?

Perhaps this will help:

In the next release of OMG's suite of Sales Candidate Assessments, Salesperson Evaluations, and Sales Force Evaluations, we will be able to show you exactly what YOU can do to motivate your existing and new salespeople.  For instance, wouldn't you love to know if a salesperson:

  • Loves to win - or hates to lose?  It's a subtle difference, but you would take a completely different approach to motivate each of these two types of salespeople.
  • Spends money to force performance - or performs and spends the money as a reward?  Just like the first example, the difference is subtle, but your motivational approach would be different.
  • Responds better to being pushed by the sales manager - or prefers to push himself?  If you are familiar with the scene in "Facing the Giants", you'll have a good idea of what it means to be pushed to be the best.  
  • Performs better when closely managed - or when left alone?  Some salespeople cannot function well when left to their own devices.  They don't self-start or self-direct and need to be directed and/or be part of a team.
  • Performs better when competing against others - or when competing against her own expectations?  What if the mediocre salesperson would rise to the next level if the competition and the rewards were compelling enough?
  • Responds better to recognition - or satisfaction after meeting and exceeding goals?  For some, it doesn't get any better than hearing their name called out, receiving an award or plaque, reading about themselves on a website or being listed as the winner.  Others could care less about all of that because the self-satisfaction one gets from knowing they're the best is all they need. 
  • Is motivated by proving someone else wrong - or proving himself right?  There are some salespeople who can be motivated to achieve greatness just because someone told them that they would fail at sales, that they weren't ready for this role, that they couldn't sell that big account, that they wouldn't beat out that particular competitor, or that they could never earn that much money.
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Salespeople are different - very different - and the more you know about what will help them face and overcome the following 20 hurdles, the better:

  1. Adversity
  2. Rejection
  3. Better-Known Competition
  4. Disinterest
  5. Ambivalence
  6. Existing Relationships
  7. Preconceived Motions
  8. Lower Priced Competitors
  9. Insulated Decision Makers
  10. Liars
  11. Assholes
  12. Impossible Political Structures
  13. Unfair Terms
  14. Unwillingness to Answer Questions
  15. No's
  16. Maybe's
  17. Self-Limiting Beliefs
  18. Discomfort with Certain Selling Situations
  19. Fear
  20. Pressure
     

Image Copyright: texelart / 123RF Stock Photo 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales challenges, sales testing, sales assessments, objective management group

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 1 of 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

social selling

This is the first in a four-part series that will run this week.

If you are like most folks, you were away for at least part of the summer, took as many long weekends as you could, and worked fewer hours on the days you actually did work.  As part of getting the work done, you deleted as many emails as you could where a reply wasn't required and visited fewer websites and blogs.

That means you misssed a lot of what we were discussing this summer.  This series will catch you up in a hurry.

Four days, four categories, with related articles.  Easy.

 

Day 1 - The Social Selling Articles

You don't have to know a thing about social selling.  Just go to Google Images and type in social selling or click this link and you'll see just what an industry it has become.  While it does provide a myriad of new ways to connect with potential buyers and customers, most who are providing the tips, steps, methods, tools and opinions are selling those very services that support the existance of a social selling industry.  Take it all with a grain of salt and review these articles first.

Getting Emotional at Dunkin Donuts, and Over Social Selling 

Top 10 Reasons Why Inbound Cannot Replace Sales (includes video)

Leads are Making Salespeople Lazier Than Old Golden Retrievers 

One Thing Missing from The New Way of Selling - Part 2 

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling - Part 1 (includes video)

These articles were very popular, very polarizing and should cause you to think.  Read them, enjoy them, and add your opinions where appropriate.  We would love to hear what you think!

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Personality Tests, new sales core competencies, social selling, sales assessments, objective management group

The 21 New Sales Core Competencies for Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

core competencies image

Image Copyright Kheng Guan Toh via Shutterstock.com

[Note - While you may still wish to read this, the 10 Competencies were updated again in 2020 and this article has the latest lists as well as a link that allows you to see the data behind those competencies.]

Can you name 10 Core Competencies of a great salesperson?  Let's see, there's prospecting, qualifying and closing, and then there's....wow, this is difficult!

For the past 20 years, every Objective Management Group (OMG) sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment has been tied to 21 Sales Core Competencies.  We constantly improve, update, enhance and perfect the science of evaluating sales forces and candidates.  For all that we do though, I found it disheartening that we had not updated the Core Competencies to reflect the changes that have taken place in selling over the past 8 years.

Today, I'm relieved to report that this summer, for the first time in 20 years, OMG will integrate my revised and updated, new and improved, better than ever, much more relevant, 21 Sales Core Competencies.  

Here you go:

Core Competencies

Each competency is populated by several or more attributes.  The biggest changes, since our original set of 21 Core Competencies in 1994, are the addition of categories that compliment our dashboards as well as the inclusion of Sales Posturing and Social Selling.  

It's worth noting that social selling skills are one of the attributes of Hunting - the ability to find new opportunities - but mastery of the various social selling tools themselves is now a competency.  I'm sure this will cause outrage and debate from those who so strongly promote social selling, but when you look at an entire sales cycle, social selling takes place PRIOR to a first call or meeting, before we can consider whether or not to enter an opportunity into the funnel or pipeline.  

My next statement will cause even more outrage.  In its essence, social selling is really a component of marketing for which many more salespeople are now taking individual responsibility.  They are marketing themselves.

Intrigued?  

Click here for samples.  

Click here to check out our accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  

Click here for a free trial of our Sales Candidate Assessment. 

[Note: this article is from 2014 and the 21 Sales Core Competencies were updated again in March of 2017]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Personality Tests, new sales core competencies, social selling, sales assessments, objective management group

One Thing Missing from The New Way of Selling - Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

missing in salesYesterday, I read an article that was very consistent with what I was complaining about last week when I wrote The One Thing Missing From the New Way of Selling.  I have tremendous respect for the article's author, Mark Roberge, who has built a great sales force over at Hubspot.  They use Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments to identify the new kind of salespeople who will succeed there.  

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Mark and I go back a long way.  I worked for his dad back in 1973 and his dad worked for me earlier in the current century.  OMG became one of Hubspot's very first customers in 2006 and all of my articles are hosted on their terrific platform.  

I loved Mark's article about the 4 Habits of a New Generation of Salespeople.  You should read the article!  It's a great description of how their salespeople and many inside salespeople operate. It describes mostly young, social salespeople, who sell inside and to marketers who are also mostly social sellers.  

On the other hand, while many inside sales experts are writing terrific articles, they are at the same time attempting to get the entire sales population to do what works so well for inside/inbound sales (and sell their inside/inbound services).  And it does work if you have a suitable product, price range, technology, target market and sales cycle.  It works if you have a dedicated team of top-of-the-funnel inbound marketers.  However, for every company and product where this makes sense, I can name three where it doesn't.  I love the new way of selling.  Just don't proclaim that the new way is the only way.  That's like saying, now that we have developed a spaceship that can take private citizens to outer space, everyone shall commute to work that way.  When commercial airlines made flying affordable enough for everyone, it didn't eliminate buses, trains and cars.  It simply became a better choice for long-distance trips.  We still use our cars to drive 120 miles!

While we are on the subject of old and new, I wrote an article that appears in the new issue of Top Sales Magazine.  You can download the magazine here.  The article, What is the Big Secret That Powers Baseline Selling? includes some video and some terrific explanations of what continues to make the process and methodology work so well for so many salespeople, 10 years after it was written.  And guess which book their salespeople read over at Hubspot?  Yeah, once they have a prospect, they still have to sell...

 

Baseline Selling

 

Selling is still selling and while a lot has changed in the last 10 years, a lot of it hasn't.  I'm a social seller.  Social sellers get found, find prospects and connect using a myriad of social selling tools.  But once a meeting has been scheduled, the social must be dropped in favor of the selling.   A prospect should only be aware of a terrific conversation, but process and methodology must be hidden backstage.

Image Copyright: lianna2013 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales selection tool, social selling, Mark Roberge, objective management group

Top 20 Reasons Why Data May Not be the Key to Boosting Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 @ 16:06 PM

DataI read somewhere that data was the key to boosting sales.  Really?  Says who?

When you look into the "who", it should come as no surprise that it's the companies that provide data analytics that say so.  Don't get me wrong; data (and especially the right data) can be very useful.  But data, by itself, doesn't boost anything.

If you are getting the right data...

  • where opportunities stall in your sales process,
  • why they stall,
  • conversion ratios from first contact to closing,
  • win rates by salesperson and opportunity type,
  • length of sales cycle by salesperson and opportunity type,
  • % of opportunities where there is true traction,
  • % of opportunities that are fully qualified,
  • % of opportunities that get demos, proposals, quotes,

...and you know what to look for, you can discover what and/or who needs to be fixed.  But you still have to fix it.  The data won't do that for you.  And you need to know more than what and who.  You must know why.  And the why could be different for each and every salesperson.

Data can help you identify bottlenecks, trends and problems.  The importance of those cannot be understated.  However, can you actually fix the problem once you know what it is?

For example, one of the common trends, being illuminated by data, is the dropping win rate.  So you know you aren't closing enough business to hit plan.  Why is the win rate so low?

It could be:

  1. Poor sales selection,
  2. Ineffective sales coaching,
  3. Lack of accountability,
  4. Unqualified proposals or quotes,
  5. Unqualified demos,
  6. Inconsistent messaging,
  7. Lack of onboarding,
  8. Skill gap,
  9. Poor consultative selling skills,
  10. Lack of listening and questioning skills,
  11. Lack of effort,
  12. Follow-up,
  13. Pricing,
  14. Inability to sell value,
  15. Rushing through the sales process,
  16. Ineffective sales process,
  17. Poor sales DNA,
  18. Poor closing skills,
  19. Lack of relationships, and/or
  20. Failure to reach decision makers.
Hint:  It's probably not #18 - poor closing skills.  Closing skills aren't required when the earlier stages of the sales process are effectively executed.  The only time when closing skills should come into play is when a properly qualified, closable prospect isn't able to make a decision at closing time.  
Of course there are many, many more possibilities, but these are simply the first 20 that come to mind!  And in case you forgot, these were some of the reasons as to why the win rate is so low.
After you have identified the reason(s), then you must determine how to fix the problem.  If it's simply a single issue, coaching is probably the best course of action, but the salesperson must be coachable and you must be better at this particular issue than your salesperson.  If it's multiple issues affecting multiple salespeople, then training is a better way to go.
The fastest and easiest way to identify all of the issues on your sales force is to have your sales force evaluated.  You can learn more about that by watching this 2-minute video:

Image Copyright: tashatuvango / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, evaluate the sales force, objective management group

Sales Blogging - Do As I Say, Not as I Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

hipocriteIt's a big problem with many of the sales blogs you read.  One-person sales consulting firms, self-appointed experts, telling, but not doing, what they say.

If you were to read through each of the 1,150 articles I have posted on this blog since 2006, and organize, sort, create a flow and edit it all into a Sales Management Bible, we would have one enormous how-to guide.  Although that was the original plan in 2006, it is no longer on my radar.  I have introduced, questioned, preached, urged, and forced a lot of issues, but I always check myself to make sure that my words do not fall into the "do as I say, but not as I do" trap of many consultants.

Keeping that in mind, Objective Management Group (OMG) held its quarterly Rockefeller Habits meeting this week.  We go to market through a global network of certified partners - our channel - and we spent considerable meeting time talking about them.  As we always do, we further refined our criteria for what constitutes a good partner, redefined our cut-offs and set the wheels in motion to say our goodbyes to those who don't make the cut.  OMG is not a company that has tolerance for non-performers.

We also spent some time identifying where our best Partners come from and I was surprised to learn that most of them had been reading this blog and either decided to add our suite of world-class Sales Force Evaluation and Candidate Assessment tools to their offerings, or start their own sales consulting businesses.  

If that describes you, please send me an email!

The rest of you should be doing the following at least on an annual basis:

  • Evaluate your sales force.
  • Identify the differences between top and bottom performers - request a sample Sales Force Evaluation.
  • Replace bottom performers who can't be coached up.
  • Commit to hiring people who are better than your current top performers - request a sales candidate assessment sample too.  Register for this free June 5, 2014,  11 AM ET, webinar on the Magic of OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.
  • Constantly refine your onboarding process, expectations and execution.
  • Improve your sales coaching capabilities.
  • Get tougher about accountability.
  • Develop and refine strategies and tactics for improved effectiveness.
  • Train, coach, train and coach some more.

It's not very difficult to upgrade the quality of your sales force or channel.  But many find it difficult to start - to take action - to take the steps listed above that properly position them to upgrade the sales force or channel.  That's because most people find it difficult to have the tough conversations, deliver the tough messages and put the tougher policies in place.  Accountability.  Execution.  Not what most people are best at.  But it's never too late to start...

But before you can start, you need information - you need answers - you need to evaluate your sales force so that you know where your sales force could be more effective, how much more effective they could be, and what must change.  It means knowing whether you truly have the right people in the right roles, whether they are going about things in the right way, and whether the right things are in place to support a high-performing sales force.

Evaluate and thrive!

Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

Benchmarking Salespeople Sounds Great but Has Many Flaws

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

benchmarkYou want to hire better salespeople, don't you?  And you've been told that if you use a sales assessment, you will be able to select better salespeople, right?  And if you have a strong HR background, you may believe that benchmarking is a good first step.  There are many uses for benchmarking in sales, and while the approach taken by most assessment companies helps them, it doesn't really help you.

Let's say that you're speaking with a company that provides a personality assessment or a behavioral styles assessment.  The personality assessment can clearly help you with cultural fit and the behavioral styles assessment can certainly help with identifying the best ways to manage an individual.  But, neither assessment is predictive of sales success because their core competency is not sales and their assessment is adapted, not built, for sales.  In this case, adapted means that they change the names of the findings and the descriptions of those findings to sound more like sales findings.  But what they actually measure, and the questions your salespeople actually answer, have nothing to do with selling.

In an effort to combat the lack of sales specificity in their assessments, many of these companies offer to benchmark your top performers.  It sounds terrific - really - and they can always get you engaged by finding traits and styles common to your top performers.  But these benchmarks are flawed - for several reasons:

  • What you consider a top performer in your organization may be very different from an actual top performer in the general sales population, so sometimes they are looking at the wrong people!
  • They don't look at your bottom performers, but know that your underachievers have some of the exact same traits and styles as your top performers.  These commonalities are the traits and styles that caused them to enter sales - not the traits and styles that cause them to succeed at sales!
  • The personality and behavioral styles assessment companies are not experts at selling and don't understand the nuances in marketplace, pricing, selling value, competition, verticals and variations in roles that cause different salespeople to have different results.

Consider Objective Management Group's (OMG) approach.  Back in 1990, OMG developed the very first assessment specifically for sales.  OMG's sales assessment is an executional sales assessment and scientifically shows not only if a sales candidate can sell, but whether or not they will sell and succeed - for your company, in a specific sales role, against your competition, at your price points, calling into your market, and from the challenges they'll face.  It is not based on personality traits or behavioral styles, and we don't need to run a benchmark in order to figure out what causes salespeople to be successful because we already know.  We have done this times!  And we customize every role configuration to marry our criteria for sales success at various levels of difficulty with a client's requirements for the role.  However, companies that are used to running these benchmarks still ask for them and we take a completely different approach:

  • We look at both groups - top performers AND bottom performers.
  • We know that both the top and bottom groups will have some common findings, usually indicative of what the hiring managers were looking for, like motivated salespeople.   
  • We identify the differences between the top and bottom performers, not the commonalities of the top performers.  For example, members of both groups may have a particular finding as a strength, but only the top performers have a score in a certain range.  Or only the top performers have a particular finding as a strength and the bottom performers have it as a weakness.
  • We can usually identify 10-15 findings that are unique to the top performers and, more importantly, predictive of sales success in their particular role at their company.
  • We build a third layer of customization to identify candidates that will not only succeed, but perform at an elite level.

Benchmarking can be useful when it comes to training your salespeople.  If you have two regions that are performing similarly, selling the exact same products or services to the exact same types of customers, against the exact same competitors, you can benchmark the training.  Group 1 is your control group and receives no more help than they received previously.  Group 2 is the training group and they get the optimized sales process, their sales managers are trained to coach, and the salespeople are trained on both sales process and methodology.  At the end of the agreed upon time period, compare the before and after results of the two groups in the following areas:

  • pipeline quantity and quality,
  • conversion ratios,
  • pipeline velocity or sales cycle length,
  • opportunity size,
  • time wasted with prospects who don't buy,
  • percentage of new accounts,
  • growth of existing accounts,
  • average margin,
  • ratio of proposals per opportunity, and
  • win rate.

Benchmarking can be quite useful, as long as it doesn't cause you to look at the wrong data, send you down the wrong path, or make the wrong decisions.  When it comes to sales selection, make sure science is on your side.

Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Benchmarking, sales testing, objective management group

Is This an Example of Succeeding or Failing at Inside Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 20:04 PM

forestYesterday I was in the office, preparing for the formal introduction of Objective Management Group's (OMG) award-winning, new and improved, fourth generation, Sales Candidate Assessment (view the 25-minute Webinar here) when the phone rang and I answered.

Not only was it a cold call, but it was one I could write about - the best kind!

The salesperson was from Oracle and wanted to know if I was aware of and had seen their CRM software demonstrated.  

It's bad enough when companies move to the demo too quickly, but it doesn't get any faster or more transactional than when they ask you if you've seen their demo with their very first question.  But hey, give him a break.  At least he asked a question instead of telling me he wanted me to see a demo...

I explained what my company did, and that we would normally be recommending CRM to our clients and he repeated his question - did I want to see a demo?  I repeated my statement, that among other things, we recommend the appropriate CRM solution to our clients, and don't need to see a demo.  His response was that he was from inside sales.  In other words, "I'm not supposed to figure out what you're trying to explain to me - I'm an inside salesperson!"

He said he was making a notation in the file (in Oracle's CRM application?) and he thanked me for his time.

Of course, if he was not an inside salesperson, he could have asked any of the following questions:

  • Do you recommend Oracle?
  • How many of your clients use Oracle?
  • Can we get you to recommend Oracle more often?
  • Which CRM applications do you recommend?
  • Why do you recommend those?
  • What do you think is the most important feature?
  • Why is that so important?
  • How do you think Oracle handles that feature?

On the other hand, his job was to schedule demos and I wasn't going to become one, wasn't going to count toward his quota, wasn't going to count toward his bonus, and wasn't worth another minute of his time.

From an inside sales perspective, he actually did his job because he cut his losses and moved on to the next call.  But from a practical, business development standpoint, he completely blew his opportunity to become aligned with a major influencer to the vertical into which he sells!

There couldn't be a better example of just how consistently misguided some of the inside sales experts are.  I just set myself up for two weeks of nasty tweets and comments from the entire inside sales community.  Most of them hate me for my opinions.  Most of them can't see the forest for the trees and the top of the sales funnel is represented by the first row of trees in the forest.

Speaking of inside sales, Dan McDade wrote a great post on everything that's wrong with inbound marketing and how it is causing inbounditis!  It's a must-read.

What is your opinion about the appropriate role for inbound and inside sales?

Image Credit: Foto4u 123RF.com

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, inside sales, objective management group, inbound sales, dan mcdade, oracle

Is There a Lack of Clarity on the Current State of Selling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 @ 15:04 PM

clarityLast week, I wrote this article questioning the Death of SPIN Selling.  Over the years, I have questioned the impending death of other important areas like cold-calling, selling, sales process, salespeople and more.  As we continue to discuss these issues and more like them, let's think about why there are two camps - those who continue to prophecise the eventual death of salespeople and selling; and those who defend its existence and continued importance as we march into the future.

I believe that if you do some digging into who is writing relative to each topic, it becomes fairly easy to see that most of the deathmongers hail from isolated areas of the industry. Some of them are marketers who, in order to push their applications, must convince you that marketing can handle both finding and closing sales - all via the internet.  Others are from the big, new, inside sales industry.  Those bloggers too must convince you that traditional sales is on its way out the door in order to get you to buy their services.  It's no coincidence that because most inside sales groups are responsible for the top of the funnel (following up on leads or generating leads and/or meetings) or selling low-cost, high-demand products and services (transactional of course), they have little insight into a longer, more complex sale.  Then there are researchers who simply fail to talk with the right people. 

On the other side of this discussion are those, like me, who are saying, "Sorry, you just don't get it.  You don't know what you're talking about."  We are actually in the field, working with companies, their leadership teams, their sales management teams, their salespeople and helping them navigate these choppy waters and develop modern, effective sales processes, strategies, tactics and styles.

Without question, the internet, inbound marketing, and social selling have replaced traditional sales - IN CERTAIN AREAS.  But they are relatively small areas and most B2B sellers will NEVER, EVER find themselves in that situation.

If your company has a long sales cycle, a complex sale or sells a high-ticket product or service, you will always require great salespeople.  If your company is not the market leader, low-cost alternative, or the maker of the products that people wait in line to buy, you will always require great salespeople.  And if your company and/or your technology is new, you will require great salespeople.  It's really that simple.

There is some clarity though.  It's clear that most of the inside sales/marketing folks lack clarity when it comes to writing about sales.  What they write about certainly applies to what they are doing in their corner of the sales world, but it is no more representative of sales and selling than Palm Beach resorts and Orlando Theme Parks are representative of Florida.  People who visit there experience life in a controlled environment.  It's an aberration - a bubble - because the real Florida has violence, crime, pick-up trucks, cowboy boots and large metal belt buckles. 

Yesterday, during our 2014 Objective Management Group (OMG) International Conference, I was speaking with Cliff Pollan, CEO of Postwire, my favorite content-sharing application and one of our great Strategic Partners.  Despite leading a company that essentially helps companies market via an ability to push, pull and track content engagement, Cliff sides with those of us helping traditional B2B companies to sell their products and services.  

OMG introduced its brand new, fourth generation Sales Candidate Assessments at this conference and they go live next Monday, April 21.  I will be leading a webinar and walking end-users through the new report on Thursday, April 17, at 11 AM ET.  Even if you aren't a current user, you are welcome to join us and learn why there is so much buzz about OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  Register here.

Image credit: rtimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, inside sales, postwire, cliff pollan, b2b sales, sales assessment testing, objective management group

The Biggest Mistake Executives Make about their Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 @ 15:03 PM

Blood Test or Sales Force EvaluationYesterday, I had my annual physical and my doctor ordered the usual array of blood tests.  It didn't matter that I felt terrific.  It didn't matter that he observed my blood pressure, throat, eyes and ears to be perfect.  It didn't change his mind when he listened to my heart and lungs.  And he was still ordering those tests after he felt for things and didn't find anything.  The tests he can do in his office - basically the eye test - are observations.  How I report to be feeling is my version of the eye test - it's based on my own observations.  And the reason for the blood and urine tests is that we don't know what we don't know.  

Clearly, if you or I don't feel well and that feeling persists for a long enough period of time, we would seek out a doctor.  There would be symptoms.  The doctor's job would be to learn enough, from observations and tests, to identify the cause and make a diagnosis, recommend a treatment and provide a prognosis.

That is pretty much what we do at Objective Management Group (OMG).  In some cases, CEO's, Presidents, HR Directors and Sales VP's seek us out, complain about their symptoms (observations and eye test), we ask some questions and then conduct our sales force evaluation.  They know things aren't right, but they don't know why.  Our job would be to learn enough from the observations, tests and analyses, to identify the causes (diagnosis), recommend a plan of action (treatment), and provide a projected return (prognosis).

In some cases, an executive does not seek us out.  They may have stumbled upon us through what they found on the internet.  They may have read one of my thousands of articles or watched me on a video.  They may have been looking for something else and OMG came up in the search results.  They may have been introduced by a friend or colleague.  Regardless of how they found us, this plays more like the annual physical where they believe that their sales force is fine.  They are happy to talk with an expert, but don't have any symptoms that they can identify or report.  Sales are fine.  

And that, right there, is the single biggest mistake that companies make every single day.  They use revenue as the metric to determine whether their sales force is healthy. 

Sales are fine.  Compared with what?  Sales that aren't fine?  Others in the industry?  Other industries?  What they expected sales to be?  What they needed sales to be?  Their nut?  What sales could have been?  What was forecast?

Sales is always relative to an expectation and is never an accurate barometer of sales effectiveness.  One large sale or account can mask missed metrics, poor conversions, elongated sales cycles and lousy win rates.  Two large sales or accounts can mask a weak pipeline and an entire sales force of underachievers.  Renewals and residuals can similarly skew the numbers in such a way that executives have no idea how ineffective and inefficient their salespeople really are.  And today, with most companies generating inbound leads at a record clip, salespeople don't even have enough time to follow up on all of them.  That too masks the numbers because they certainly have a lot of activity taking place, don't they?

When sales are fine, there is no better time, because there is no pressure or urgency, to evaluate the sales force because it is at that very time that executives don't know what they don't know.

Use our complimentary Sales Force Grader.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation.  Read about a Sales Force Evaluation Case Study.

Image credit: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

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About Dave

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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