15 Lessons Learned from Converting a Multi-Day Conference to a Virtual Online Event

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 06, 2020 @ 10:04 AM

virtual-event

What a month it's been!  Not only how the Covid-19 virus has changed our lives and sent us to work from home, but how we are conducting our businesses from home.  Green screens, virtual backgrounds, video calls and meetings, team chats, video team huddles, a blur between days, working hours and relaxing hours, and more.  In today's article I'm going off topic so that I can share how we converted Objective Management Group's (OMG) 4-day Boston International Sales Experts Conference for OMG Partners, to a 3-Day Virtual Event on short notice, as well as the lessons learned so that you might be able to accomplish the same things that we did.

  1. It's a Broadcast, not a webinar.  People have preconceived notions about webinars and you don't want them thinking for even a second that this will be a boring, one-to-many presentation of a slide deck.  Why?  It.Can't.Be.That.
  2. It's more like a Television News Channel with shows scheduled every hour - some that are opinion shows, some with guests and some with panels.  All of the presenters from OMG's team had consistent, branded, virtual backgrounds with green screens to give the broadcast a professional appearance.
  3. You'll need a team of "Engineers."  You won't be able to do this yourself!  For our event there were at least four of us at all times monitoring chat and Q&A, announcing questions to the presenters, monitoring hand-raising, and promoting attendees to panelists to get them on camera
  4. Platform - we chose Zoom Webinar.  That allowed us to have 2 hosts and unlimited panelists, branding, but more importantly, pre-registration and approval of those registrations, microphones and cameras off by default, and the high-quality play of videos embedded in our slide decks.
  5. Balance - we made sure that we stopped sharing slides the moment the presenter was going to discuss any topic so that no one slide stayed on screen and became the focal point and the speaker/presenter became the focal point.
  6. Slides - speaking of slides, this event required more slides, not fewer.  As a matter of fact, when all was said and done, this is what we included.
    content

  7. Panelists - There was one particular session that I found most difficult to convert to virtual.  In this session, I planned to distribute a handout consisting of an 80-page slide deck, break the attendees into groups of five, have them work as teams and have team answer one of seventeen questions.  Instead, I posted the deck on Bloomfire (our knowledge base/content sharing platform) ahead of time, asked for 17 volunteers and shared the 17-question assignment.  As people volunteered, I assigned them to one of the questions, and asked them to email their work and one-minute presentation to me for review and approval.  Then, five minutes before that session, they were each promoted to panelists and as their turn approached, we were able to seamlessly turn cameras and microphones on and off to have them appear on screen as the presentation progressed.  It was just like a news show!
  8. Video - We included 22 movie clips to break things up, keep things light, and keep attendees entertained.  You can't hope to keep people engaged for 8-9 hours per day if you don't break it up.  We included everything from an interview of Kobe Bryant to a scene from Forrest Gump to a youtube video called Stay the F**K at Home.  And all 22 videos were in the context of the topic we were discussing at the time.
  9. Attendance - There were 135 OMG partners/associates registered to attend our event in Boston but with no conflicts, travel  requirements or costs to attend, 250 registered to attend the virtual event and we consistently had around 200 people in attendance through the two nine-hour days.  Attendees were from the US, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark The UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lebanon, Morocco, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil (and the countries I forgot to include).
  10. Awards Banquet - We weren't able to host our annual two-hour awards banquet but we did have an awards presentation that consisted of a 50-slide deck that honored each of the 42 award winners in less than 5 minutes.
  11. Polls, Q&A's and Chat - At a live conference you'll ask people to raise their hands, you'll get feedback on what you introduced, and they'll have lots of questions.  We pre-built poll questions that we could open and share at pre-determined times in the virtual conference to get the feedback that we wanted.  Starting with the 5-minute intro video on the first day, the chat never subsided as attendees were sharing their thoughts, insights and takeaways for two straight days.  We had two people monitoring chat to pull out and share the golden nuggets that passed by.  And one person monitored the Q&A and came on camera to share the best questions with the presenters.  It was a  great team effort!
  12. Attendee Tutorial - We took five minutes at the beginning of day one to put up some slides on how to use the Zoom controls for the best experience, including, but not limited to:
    1. Changing screen size
    2. Muting and unmuting
    3. Camera on and off
    4. Gallery view versus Speaker view
    5. Side-by-Side mode
    6. How to contribute using chat
    7. How to ask a question using Q&A
    8. How to separate the chat and Q&A from the Zoom window
    9. How to raise their hand
    10. And for panelists, how to share their screen
  13. Fluid Schedule/Agenda - At a hotel, you need to stick to the schedule to make sure it coordinates with meals, beverage breaks and the group's need to use rest rooms.  Not so with the virtual event.  If they had to use the bathroom they could go and nobody would be the wiser.  If they got hungry or thirsty they could eat or drink and nobody would know.  We were able to go longer on sessions that required more time and simply change the schedule as we went along.  On both days we skipped presentations and moved them to the end of the day and nobody cared or got upset.
  14. Networking - In the end, this is the only thing that people wanted that we couldn't deliver.  At a normal conference, they mingle and talk before and after presentations, network at meals and some really crave that aspect of a conference.  We offered a virtual happy hour on Saturday after the final presentation but only 20 people showed up.  Oh well.  You can't please everyone all the time.
  15. Results - the overwhelming response seemed to be that considering everything, our virtual event was as good or better than our hotel-based event!  We worked hard to make it that way but there were other factors.  They didn't have to leave home, they could spend evenings with family, it didn't cost them anything to attend, they had comfortable seating, wore comfortable clothing, ate what they wanted, when they wanted and didn't have to be "on" for the sake of others.  A good time was had by all.

And finally, OMG introduced some spectacular new tools, features, insights, and features that were as well-received as if we had presented them with a stage and an audience.  I'll write more about this in the days and weeks to come.

You can do this too!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, omg, conference, keynote speaker, sales assessments, virtual

The Science Behind One Company's Top Sales Performers and Why They're So Much Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 08:01 AM

apples-to-oranges

There are comparisons of apples to oranges, red or green, black or white, stop and go, and the most relevant and current of all, liberals to conservatives.

In today's article, I'll share a hot/cold comparison of my own, but this one is about sales candidates.  Back on January 9, my article about why 3 good salespeople failed and 3 so-so candidates succeeded, used the results of a top/bottom analysis to identify the reasons why.  

Those results were unusual because many of  the differentiators came from outside the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  What does it look like when the differentiators come from within the 21 Sales Core Competencies?  Take a look at this top/bottom analysis and you'll quickly see the difference!

The screen shot below shows that we identified 21 major differentiators.

Jan14TailoredFit

Their three tops are far better and stronger salespeople than the tops in the previous analysis.  Even their bottoms are stronger than the tops and bottoms of the previous analysis.  But the differentiations are very clear.  Consider:

  • Desire for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >87.  The normal cutoff is 60 so even the three bottoms scored well in Desire but the tops had even more Desire.
  • Motivation for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >74.  The normal cutoff is 50 so as with Desire, even the bottoms had good scores.
  • Sales Percentile is the overall score.  Greater than 79 means that their tops are stronger than 79% of the sales population.  And if that's what it takes to succeed in this particular role at this particular company, then the sales candidates that OMG will recommend to them must be in the top 20%.
  • Figure-it-Out-Factor or FIOF is a roll-up of 10 findings that predict whether or not a salesperson will ramp-up more quickly than a typical candidate.  Those who are succeeding at this company have FIOF scores of greater than 66.
  • The Sales DNA Competencies are the overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  These are the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics and sales methodology.  The tops have tremendous Sales DNA Scores of >81 while the bottoms have Sales DNA more consistent with weak salespeople.
  • Supportive Sales Beliefs (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >86. You could say that everything begins with beliefs!  Their top salespeople have scores for beliefs that are only a few points better than their bottoms so a score of 86 or better is an important differentiator.
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >70.   There is  a huge difference in how the tops score compared with the bottoms for this competency!
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >82. 
  • Handles Rejection (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >77. 
  • Hunting (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >92.  These are really good  scores so it  should come as no surprise that their tops are filling the pipeline!
  • Consultative Seller (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >49.  This is the second lowest cutoff score of all  the  differentiators we identified. The company overall is still selling transactionally and this is an area for improvement.
  • Qualifying (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >59.  This is another significant differentiator between  their  tops and bottoms.
  • Presentation Approach (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >81.
  • Closing (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >33.  Did you see the scores for the bottoms?
  • Sales Process (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >77. Another  huge differentiation.  It's included twice in this analysis to give it twice the weight because it's that important.
  • Compatibility with their Selling  Environment >71
  • Maintains Full Pipeline (part of the Hunter competency)
  • Self-Starter
  • Decision Maker (part of the Buy Cycle Competency)

Like I always say, these are different for every role at every company selling into every market.  No two analyses are the same and these analyses become the second layer of customization for our sales candidate assessments.  That's what makes them so accurate and predictive.

For brand new users, our top/bottom analyses also serve as proof of concept.  We're able to prove that we can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms to give them confidence that our award-winning sales candidate assessments will work for them.

Where can you get your hands on our sales candidate assessments?  Click here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales performance, assessment, omg

The Deal Breaker That Prevents you From Hiring a Great Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

cheat

One of the questions we are often asked by HR Directors is, "Can people game the OMG assessment?"  Of course they can try, but we have a very effective algorithm that smokes out those who attempt to cheat.  It doesn't happen very often that somebody attempts a big cheat but when it does, it's almost magical in the way we uncover them.

There is a very small percentage of salespeople who attempt an all out cheat.  This unethical group can usually be found in the category of weak salespeople - the bottom 50% - which explains why they think they need to cheat.  But what happens if a good salesperson attempts to game the system?  What would that look like?

This OMG sales assessment dashboard is from a strong sales candidate who cheated.

cand-dashboard

The 93 percentile score puts him in the top 7% - with flaws of course - but still quite strong.  Find the circled area in the bottom left of the dashboard and you'll see the finding "Scoring Confidence" with the score at the lowest end of the low range.  Scoring Confidence is OMG's score on whether we have faith in the results of this particular candidate.

Now look at the top right of the dashboard to the recommendation.  What would otherwise be a Recommended candidate is Not Recommended because of the Scoring Confidence score.

Are there any clues that something doesn't add up for this candidate?  There are.  No, not the low closing score.  The Closing competency is overrated. How can someone this good be so bad at building relationships?  He also scores quite low on the Building Trust competency which can be found in the details of the assessment document.  In my experience, a salesperson who can't build trust or relationships won't be very effective.   He also has two weakness that other salespeople in the top 7% don't have.  He doesn't uncover budgets and wastes time with unqualified prospects.

If you were interviewing this salesperson, the chances are good that his poor relationship and trust building skills would have caused you to dislike him.  You probably wouldn't have hired him because of that.  But what if the clues were different?  What if the inconsistencies were not with competencies that would have tipped you off in an interview?

In the end, sales selection is about information.  There are ten important data points:

  1. The face-to-face interview
  2. The OMG Assessment recommendation
  3. Relevant Experience (found on the Resume)
  4. Compatibility with your Selling Environment (found in the OMG assessment)
  5. Track Record
  6. References
  7. Phone Interview
  8. Responsiveness (in your communications with the candidate)
  9. Thoroughness (in those communications and the interview)
  10. Likability

Still not using the highly accurate and predictive OMG Sales Candidate Assessment?  From among the sales candidates that we don't recommend, but who clients hire despite the warning, 75% of them fail within 6 months!  Why would you choose to make such important decisions without the OMG crystal ball?  

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, sales selection tool, sales assessments, sales test

Sales Process and Why So Many Salespeople Lose Their Way

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 @ 19:10 PM

driving-rain

Last night I was on Interstate 90, the MassPike, driving home from the airport in a wind-driven rainstorm.  It was so bad I couldn't see the white lines that divide the three lanes nor could I see the Jersey barriers dividing the eastbound from the westbound traffic.  It was almost as scary as the plane's rocky decent from 30,000 feet in gale-force winds last night or driving in a blizzard! 

The inability to see where I was and where I was going is what most salespeople experience when they sell.  Most salespeople don't have a formal, structured, milestone-centric sales process to follow so they can't possibly know where they are, and where they need to go.  

Consider the following alarming statistics from Objective Management Group's evaluations and assessments of 1,908,143 salespeople with regard to sales process:

sales-process-2

As you can see, only 45% of all salespeople are strong, and only 27% of the bottom 50% are strong.  The top 5% are 850% stronger than the bottom 10%.

Veteran salespeople should be - and are - nearly twice as strong as newer salespeople.  

Going back to my opening paragraphs, 55% of all salespeople fail to see where they are and where they are going during their sales calls, meetings, and sales cycles.  And since most companies do not have their sales processes properly integrated into their CRM applications, navigation is difficult even when there is a process.  And equally frustrating is that most existing processes are missing key stages and key milestones, and are not properly sequenced so that the process can build on itself.

Lighting and reflectors on the highway allow you to navigate with confidence, move more quickly, and maintain more control.  Shining the light on sales process will accomplish the same thing.

Contribute your comments to the LinkedIn discussion on this article.

 

Image copyright iStock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, omg, sales stats

Using the Most Powerful Sales Tool to Get What You Want

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 16, 2019 @ 06:09 AM

blacklist

My wife and I have been binge watching a TV series called Blacklist which rivals 24 for its drama and intensity.  James Spader stars as international bad-guy Ray Reddington.  He's on the top of the FBI's most-wanted list but works with the agency to help them track down bad-guys that are as bad as he is.  Somehow, he gets the FBI to help him get what he wants and he gets the bad guys to give him what he wants from them.  Everybody gets what they want because he is so good at using leverage.

Leverage is the most powerful tool in your sales tool box because with leverage comes urgency and after you have urgency your prospect will qualify so easily you won't believe it.  They'll ask, "What do you need from me?"

That brings me to a recent LinkedIn post by Andy Paul.  I've never disagreed with anything Andy wrote before but this one is just plain wrong.  He wrote that you should talk about money up front.  Read his post here

The problem with qualifying up front for money is that you haven't yet built a case.  It's like walking into a doctor's office and when you sit in her chair the first thing she says to you is, "You're going to need surgery and it will cost $25,000."  Talk about getting your resistance up!  On the other hand, if you told her that something hurts, and she does a complete examination, blood tests, and x-rays and then says, "You're dying but surgery will save your life and it will cost $50,000, you'll say, "When should I be here?"

Want proof?  The top 10% of all salespeople take a consultative approach, sell value and then qualify in that order.  Those who talk about money up front all fall into the bottom 10% of all salespeople.  They are the sucky ones!  You can check out the stats here.

Building a case is important because it allows you to develop the leverage you need.  You develop leverage by uncovering compelling reasons to buy, learning about personal impact, and monetizing what you uncovered.  It isn't easy and it isn't for rookies.  But if you try to qualify for money up front, without having built your case, you'll have:

  • a transactional conversation instead of a consultative one
  • a resistant prospect instead of a cooperative one
  • left money on the table because you weren't able to sell value
  • lose more than you win
  • not differentiated yourself from the competition
  • fallen victim to taking the easy path which leads to difficult-to-get results instead of the hard path which leads to easy-to-get results

Nothing will get you what you want faster than having leverage.  Make sure you never forget that!

Share your comment on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, omg, building value, selling value

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

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 2 million salespeople and sales managers from 30,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so there was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.  You can become better at coaching salespeople by attending my Annual Sales Leadership Intensive - The Virtual Edition.  This top-rated event is happening in just two weeks, from June 16-18, 2020.  Read more here.  Use the discount code DKVIP to save 10% on your registration!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales improvement, sales core competencies, omg, Closing Sales, sales growth, sales qualification, sales data

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 07:07 AM

pipeline

If you happened to read the article about most salespeople being fired or arrested if they worked in accounting then this is the sequel - Arrested 2!

That article focused on the number of late-stage opportunities in the pipeline.  Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a pipeline analysis as part of its Sales Force Evaluations.  We ask salespeople to answer nineteen questions on four late-stage, proposal-ready, closable opportunities each.  In addition to looking at and rating the quality of the pipeline, we then go and re-stage their pipeline based on their answers.  It's pretty cool and the re-staging looks like what I described in this article.

The premise is that if we ask for late-stage, proposal-ready, or closable, then 100% of the opportunities should be in either the qualified or closable stage. I looked into the percentage of opportunities that required re-staging sorted by sales percentile and once again, the findings are powerful and insightful.

Take a peek at the table below where you can see the percentage of opportunities that we replaced in each stage, organized by sales percentile.

restaging-percentages

The first thing you'll notice is that without exception, the percentages correlate perfectly with sales percentile.  This is powerful because OMG does NOT use pipeline data to calculate sales percentile. So the opportunity percentages by stage serve to validate of our sales percentile scores in one more way!

Elite (5%) and Strong (15%) salespeople represent around 20% of the population, while around 50% of all salespeople are weak and the other 30% or so are serviceable.  Notice that elite salespeople had 150% more of their opportunities remain in a late stage (qualified or closable) than weak salespeople who only saw 16% of theirs remain late stage.  That's right. 84% of their opportunities were restaged to either the suspect or prospect stages of the pipeline.

As with the other articles that dig deep into the data, this is less of a surprise and more of a confirmation of what most of us have suspected and believed.  But like the data, it goes deeper.  You've heard the expression, "Inspect what you expect" and it is so true with pipeline.  Before you give elite salespeople a free pass, note that even they had 60% of their opportunities restaged!

My takeaway is that organizations must move from pipeline reviews and forecasts, to pipeline inspections and justifications.  Only then will coaching be in the proper context and will forecasts become accurate and reliable.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, omg, sales data

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

bad-stats

When you watch the news these days, it seems like all you hear is Russia, Immigration, North Korea, FBI, DOJ, liars and leakers, and the latest celebrities to be disgraced by their behavior.  You would think there wasn't anything else going on!

You might be having a similar experience with my recent articles as I have been sharing lots of data about salespeople - to the degree where you might think that nothing else matters.

Today we're diving into sales management and specifically, the Sales Management Coaching Competency. What you read will surely disappoint and shock you and might even cause you to puke in disgust.

Many sales experts have been talking about how important it is for sales managers to not only spend 50% of their time coaching, but for that coaching to be impactful as well.  Sales managers should be coaching to opportunities, and coaching on strategy, tactics, and pipeline.  They should be coaching up their salespeople and they need to be great at it.  But is any of this actually taking place?  Let's take a look.

We'll be digging intoObjective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluation of nearly 1.8 million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  For this study, I have mined the data from the most recent 9,000 sales managers to be evaluated along with their teams.

The first table shows the percentage of sales managers who are strong in the Sales Coaching Competency arranged by Sales Management Quotient.

coaching-as-strength

I'm sure you can easily see for yourself that outside of the top 3 percent of all sales managers, expecting sales managers to be effective at sales coaching is pretty much a pipe dream.  Only 10 percent of all sales managers are any good at coaching and most of them come from the strongest 15 percent.

Does it get any better when you look at the frequency of coaching? According to the salespeople who report to these sales managers, the majority of the coaching that takes place is on demand.  The next table shows that when salespeople don't ask for help, few sales managers proactively provide frequent coaching with "never" being the third most common scenario following on demand.  Only 10 percent are getting the daily or multiple times per week coaching we would hope for.  Could that 10 percent be reporting to the 10 percent of managers who are good at coaching?

coaching-frequency

We asked these sales managers how much time they spend on coaching and the next table shows just how grim the coaching situation really is. Read this table from the bottom right and up where you can see that 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and slightly more than half of those managers are spending no more than 10% of their time coaching.

coaching-time-spent

24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category and 70% of them are spending no more than 20% of their time coaching.  Of the remaining 13% (elite and strong) of all sales managers, just under half are spending no more than 30% of their time coaching. 

After all the preaching, teaching and beseeching, not much has changed in 10 years.  Sales managers aren't spending nearly enough time coaching their salespeople and when they do, the coaching is pathetic.  I recorded this 2-minute video to share my thoughts about the practical reality of widespread lousy sales management.

 

There are a several reasons for this:

  • Many of these sales managers maintain personal sales and their commissions far outweigh their sales management compensation and they don't have the time nor do they want to make the time for coaching.
  • They think that coaching is what happens when they do a ride along or listen in on a phone call.
  • They think that telling a salesperson what to do, helping with pricing or specs, or asking how a call went is coaching
  • They aren't able to execute the single most important and effective element of sales coaching - the role play.

There is an important discussion taking place here on LinkedIn on this article and in the comments, Barbara Giamanco suggested adding three additional reasons to the list:

  • Managers are not given training in how to coach. Since they don't know how to effectively coach they either - don't do it, or do it badly. Plus, it is highly likely that they aren't being coached by their boss either.
  • There isn't a coaching culture that provides the foundation for giving managers the time needed to invest in coaching well and often. In other words, senior leadership doesn't buy into the importance of coaching.
  • The managers themselves don't see the value, so they don't do it.  Like so many things we see in sales today that haven't changed, people seem to keep defaulting to what they've always done even if it isn't working.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.  There were more than 85 comments when I added this link.

More!  I've written a lot about effective coaching.  Here are five of the best articles:

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, omg, sales management competencies, sales data

The Craziest, Most Unusual Sales Selection Criteria and What Really Works

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

Crazy.jpg

It was just last month that I wrote this hugely popular article about the tech buyer who hated salespeople.  In the first paragraph I mentioned that I had a crazy case of poison ivy.  At about the one-week point, I started searching Google to find anything that might help ease the itching and discomfort. As you might guess, the remedies I found included some very crazy things that common sense would tell you to stay away from.  Well, in the 31 years I've been in the sales consulting business, I have heard some very crazy sales selection criteria too.  When salespeople are hired but don't work out, executives and in some cases, entire industries, stick their head in the sand and call it normal or acceptable.  Life insurance, where turnover can run as high as 90%, is a perfect example of this.  Insurance industry executives say that it's perfectly normal.  However, outside of the insurance industry, most executives will try just about any remedy to stop the discomfort.  Here are some of the craziest I've seen.

A telecommunications company had to hire 300 salespeople.  By the time they called me they had hired 500 but only employed 150 salespeople.  You can do that math but it comes to 70% turnover.  In their case, it got so bad that they added the following selection criteria:

  • firm handshake
  • good eye contact
  • nice smile showing teeth
  • able to survive a round-trip car ride from upstate NY to Boston with the hiring manager

They did not have a clue as to why their salespeople weren't staying or succeeding and were willing to try anything to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, "anything" did not include identifying the real problem, which was the culture, and the sales managers who were doing the selecting and the on boarding.

A SaaS company was turning over SDR's at a rate of 50% and wanted to improve their retention.  They had been hiring from the 25 and under demographic and and decided that young was not quite enough. They "improved" on young by adding recent college graduates to their criteria and turnover went from 50% to 70%.  Apparently the recent grads were a lot smarter than the high school grads and most of them determined that the role wasn't for them earlier in their employment.

A technology company was turning over 100% of its territory sales reps.  They were a startup, with a brand new technology, higher prices than traditional companies in their space, and definitely not the safe decision for tech buyers.  Prospects were resistant to meet with them , resistant to change, and resistant to paying more.  The company's primary selection criteria was to hire salespeople from their top competitors where, they had never faced resistance, always had the lowest prices, and never had any difficulty scheduling meetings. Needless to say, at this new tech company, the salespeople failed with tremendous consistency.

But the winners of the worst sales selection criteria competition are the thousands of companies who believe that hiring people with good personalities will get the job done. While it could get the job done it would be a complete accident, not their personality making a difference.  Sales is more difficult than at any time in our history.  It has changed dramatically in the past 7 years.  Even professional salespeople who were successful ten years ago, are struggling to those results today.  Why would someone who possesses a resume of "great personality" be able to achieve sales success where professionals have failed?

Suppose you need to boil water for your dinner.  While there are many ways to do that, most of us will stick to the method where you simply apply heat to a pot.  You could burn some wood, but the timing would be more predictable if you place the pot on the stove.  Sure, you could add in lighter fluid, gun powder, or dynamite and throw in a match. While those 3 methods will certainly boil the water in a hurry, you won't be very happy with the overall results as you look down upon what's left of your house from your comfortable perch in Heaven.  You boiled the water - congratulations over your complete stupidity and carelessness.

Yesterday, in a LinkedIn group discussion about evaluating salespeople, members were requesting some home-grown survey form from one of the contributors, rather than looking at a professional, time-tested solution.  Stupidity!

Like I wrote in the forum, there are many ways to select salespeople and they all provide some benefit.  However, when there is already a proven, time-tested, accurate and predictable tool available, why would anyone consider the dynamite option?  It's completely customizable, easy to use, and a lot more affordable than adding the equivalent of gun powder - making a sales hiring mistake which, on average, can cost $250,000 or more in soft and hard costs. 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, omg, sales hiring tools, sales selection

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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 eight 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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