5 Reasons Sales Teams Underperform Like My Old Wiper Blades

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

The 6 Best Windshield Wipers and Glass Treatments for Your Car of 2022 |  Reviews by Wirecutter

My windshield wipers were no longer getting the job done.  They were underperforming (leaving streaks and smudges), not clearing water from the windshield (failing to meet expectations) and I couldn't see the road properly when it was raining.  It presented a threat to our safety and an upgrade was required.  

I ordered Bosch Icon replacement blades, rated #1 by the NY Times, and after 30 minutes of unintentionally trying to put them on backwards, I finally got them installed. They were freaking awesome.  They exceeded my expectations in the rain, and last night they over performed in the snow.

The wiper blade adventure got me thinking about a few things. My car has 37,000 miles on it but the blades should have been replaced 17,000 miles ago so why did I wait so long? How is this similar to what companies go through when their sales team is underperforming?

I speak with a lot of CEOs and Sales Leaders from companies whose sales teams are underperforming.  One thing they seem to have in common is the mileage problem.  When I ask how long the sales team has been underperforming, it is usually the equivalent of 60,000 miles.  It's not a new problem, the signs have been there for YEARS but something recently changed to the extent that they couldn't tolerate it any longer.  The sales team's performance was finally presenting a threat (safety) whereby one or more of revenue, earnings, sustainability, personal income, stock prices, turnover, market share, morale and more were at risk.

What causes executives to wait so long?  Here are five potential reasons:

Hope - They hope this is the month or quarter that turns things around.  As everyone has heard by now, hope is not a strategy.

Misinformation - Their sales managers/sales leaders provide an overly optimistic narrative about how things are going.  "We have a great pipeline."  "We have some great opportunities." "Our salespeople are having some great meetings."  The keyword is great.  What makes the pipeline, opportunities, and meetings great compared to past months or quarters?

Fear - Sales are not very good right now, but what if we ask for outside help and we swing and miss?  Won't that be even worse?

Patience - They don't want to be guilty of a knee-jerk reaction so they wait a little longer.  After all, cash flow is still positive, so what's the harm in waiting?  Just another day.  Sure, another week.  Maybe another month.  Could we kick it down the road for another year?

Ego - They mistakenly believe that if they ask for help they will appear weak.  Executives don't think twice or worry about bruised egos when they need the advice of attorneys, accountants, bankers, commercial insurance agents, property managers, asset managers, wealth managers, etc.  Why does their ego start trouble when it comes to sales experts and their advice?

For every CEO and Sales Leader that do reach out, a third of them will remain in wait-and-see mode, failing to take action  commensurate with their underperforming sales team. They think that one big sale will solve their problem, but the reality is that one big sale will only further mask the problem.

A Sales Team evaluation helps executives - those who are ready and those who are hesitant - to understand why their teams are underperforming and what can be done about it.  You can learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales performance, evaluation, sales enablement, sales assessments, sales team, OMG Assessment

Can a New Sales Manager Be a Difference Maker?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 09, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

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For the longest time, my local Panera in Westboro Massachusetts was awful.  Like phone company awful. And cable company awful.

The problem was chronic.  The half and half was always empty.  The supplies of cup insulators and trays were nowhere to be found. The wait at the drive-through was intolerable.  Online orders were never ready at or even close to the time they provided for pickup.  Online orders were routinely screwed up.  

And then Panera wasn't a problem anymore.

Over the course of a few weeks in the summer of 2022, everything changed and they became remarkably reliable. What happened? 

They got a new manager! I'm guessing (I did not interview her) the new manager prioritized KPI's and accountability, hiring people who had attention to detail, who were committed to customer satisfaction, and who took personal responsibility.

Could companies that wanted to experience a similar uptick in sales performance achieve that by replacing their sales managers?

Maybe.

it would depend on with whom they replaced the sales manager.

I speak with so many sales leaders who tell me about the four sales managers they went through in the last two years.  I speak with CEOs who tell me about the three sales VPs they went through in the last eighteen months.

There is tremendous pressure to fill these roles because your team's performance will suffer without someone at the helm.  Or is that misinformation?  How much worse could a team perform than how they perform under a sucky sales manager?

Well thought-out role requirements, patience, and being uncompromising are important ingredients to landing the ideal sales leader and/or sales manager.  When companies try to quickly fill an opening and as they often do, make a mistake, they have essentially doubled the amount of time that it takes to put a competent leader in the role.  Had they adhered to the requirements, been patient enough to continue recruiting and interviewing until a candidate met the requirements, and committed to not compromising, it could take an extra month or two, but it will be well worth it.

The problem is that most companies don't really know how to properly set requirements for these two roles, don't have an effective way to ascertain that the sales management and/or sales leadership candidate has the required skills to meet the requirements, and aren't disciplined enough to invest the time to get it right.

I write about Objective Management Group (OMG) a lot, and especially OMG's role-specific, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.  I rarely, if ever write about OMG's Sales Management Candidate Assessments or its Sales Leadership Candidate Assessments.  As I mentioned in this article, sales managers must spend the appropriate amount of time and be effective at coaching up salespeople.  How would anyone interviewing a candidate know the candidate was capable of this without the power of OMG's accurate insights?  Request a sample of the sales and/or sales leadership candidate assessments.

Other than actual experience, there are three primary differences between sales managers and sales leaders:

  1. Sales Managers are tactical (sleeves rolled up) and should focus on coaching while Sales Leaders are strategic and should focus on leadership (sleeves rolled down).  
  2. Sales Managers have salespeople reporting to them while Sales Leaders have Sales Managers reporting to them.   
  3. Sales Managers tend to earn in the $125,000 to $175,000 range while Sales Leaders tend to earn in the $250,000 to $350,000 range (US Dollars).

There are a lot of people carrying a Sales VP title who are actually performing the role of Sales Manager.  There are also some over-qualified Sales Managers who compensate for under-qualified and overwhelmed Sales VPs.  If companies could get these two roles right we would see an historic uptick in sales performance.

As part of OMG's Sales Team Evaluations, we conduct role analyses and can show you if you have the right people in the right roles and, if not, which roles they should be in.

OMG also conducts a pipeline analysis, a sales process analysis, a growth opportunity analysis, a sales cycle length analysis, a selling capabilities analysis a motivational analysis, a Sales DNA analysis and so much more.  Request a sample of the SEIA.

OMG has the greatest suite of tools for sales selection and development since sliced Panera Bread.  Would it help you to use OMG?  Contact us here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales leaders, sales pipeline, sales managers, omg, OMG Assessment, panera, sales team evaluation

New Data: Is Sales Compensation Aligned With Changing Motivational Needs?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 @ 06:10 AM

compensation

My MacBook Pro is running Monterey version 12.6 and it has been charging to only 80%.  This was driving me crazy so I did some digging and found that the default battery setting is "Optimized" where it says the following:  "To reduce battery aging, your Mac learns from your daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use it on battery."

I'm not the smartest person when it comes to topics other than sales or baseball, but my take is that when plugged in, it will remain 80% charged until I need it to run on battery, at which time it will obviously begin draining - to less than 80%.  This suggests that it will never charge to 100%!  It's not intuitive and takes some decoding.

When interviewing sales and sales leadership candidates, similar counter-intuitive discussions occur. Many candidates claim that money isn't that important because they love sales - until they claim that the base salary isn't high enough.  For others, even though they may not disclose it, the base salary is completely irrelevant as long as the company won't cap the salesperson's total earnings. We need to decode the topic of compensation so that we can be sure that both the base salary and the total on-plan earnings are acceptable to candidates.

It is very important to make sense of the hidden and unpredictable compensation responses because many salespeople leave the company after a short time because they don't believe earnings are equivalent to the compensation that was promised.

It is crucial to understand that salespeople are motivated primarily by one of two motivational styles and unless you wish to hire only one type of salesperson, there must be two compensation plans that should be tailored accordingly.  Let's discuss this.

Salespeople that are motivated by money are extrinsically motivated.  Salespeople who are motivated by something other than money are intrinsically motivated.  While neither is better or worse, the largest percentage of extrinsically motivated salespeople are in the top 5% of all salespeople.  A small percentage of salespeople are altruistically motivated and simply want to be of service. Generally speaking, that is the department they belong in - the Customer Service department.  The largest percentage of altruistically motivated salespeople are found in the bottom 10% of all salespeople.

The majority of both extrinsic and intrinsic salespeople are motivated and you can continue to motivate them, but compensation plans for each group should be appropriately tailored.  Intrinsically motivated salespeople don't want less money, they want more security from their base salary.  Extrinsically motivated salespeople don't need a larger base salary, they want the ability to maximize their earnings without a cap.

The most recent data from Objective Management Group (OMG) shows that only 23% of all salespeople are extrinsically motivated, down from 25% in 2017 and from 59% in 2005. Ironically, while most compensation plans are geared towards this group, the largest percentage of salespeople are intrinsic!

While the motivational style represents how salespeople are motivated, the motivational score tells us the degree to which salespeople are motivated.  The score varies slightly around the world as it is 93% in Latin America, 82% in Europe, 89% is Asia, 83% in Oceana, 95% in Africa, and 88% in the United States.

The score also varies by years of sales experience where, for the most part, years of sales experience correlates to age demographics.  For example, those with fewer than 3 years of sales experience are also those we expect to be younger salespeople where 84% of that group is motivated.  Surprisingly, that jumps to 89% for salespeople with more than 5 years of sales experience and holds steady through 30 years of sales experience. 

One other Competency score that changes based on experience/age is Commitment to sales success.  Only 56% of the salespeople with fewer than 3 years of experience are committed, but that jumps to 64% for those with 5-10 years of experience, 67% for those with 10-20 years of experience and up to 69% for those with 20-30 years of experience.

Why are the oldest and most experienced salespeople more committed?  If you have hired younger salespeople, you already know how unlikely they are to stick around for more than 1-2 years and how few of them succeed!

If you look at Commitment and Motivation by sales proficiency or percentile, Commitment and Motivation become even clearer.  100% of the top 10% of all salespeople are both committed and motivated.  Compare that to the bottom 10% where only 13% are committed and only 20% are motivated.  The top 10% are 606% more committed and motivated than the bottom 10%!  When we look at the weakest 50%, we learn that only 39% are committed and 76% are motivated.  As you can probably guess, motivation won't get the job done when a salesperson is not committed to sales success.

Understanding how a salesperson is motivated is the key to aligning your compensation plan, but knowing a salesperson's level of Commitment is one of the key competencies to predict sales performance and success.

Motivation and Commitment are two of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG so when you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments these two important findings are no longer a hidden secret. 

You can see the average scores for all salespeople, the top 10% and the bottom 10% and you can also see the scores for your industry and even your company's sales team.

Free sample.

Free trial.

Contact Us to Get Started with our Help.

Get Started on your Own.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Motivation, sales commitment, sales compensation, OMG Assessment

Is 28 Years Long Enough for a Sales Assessment Trial ?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

long-time

The Sony PlayStation, Gorilla Glue, Aquafina, and The George Forman Grill were all introduced in 1994.  You've heard of those but have you heard of Vamp Nail Polish or KoronaPay?  They were also introduced in 1994.

Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment was also introduced in 1994 and while 35,000 or so companies are raving fans, that represents less than 1% of the potential B2B market.  As successful as OMG is, and as legendary as our sales candidate assessment is, the reality is that relative to the potential size of the market, hardly anyone uses it.

Isn't 28 years long enough for us to prove ourselves?  

Clearly OMG is not for everyone. Companies that sell at the lowest price, companies that are the brand leaders, and companies that have a transactional sale don't need to hire good salespeople because their salespeople are order-takers.  But what about everyone else?

After consistently proving its legendary predictive accuracy making it a no-brainer to use OMG, there are five possible reasons why companies didn't use OMG  to assess their sales candidates over the past 28 years:

  1. They perceive OMG to be an inferior assessment.  I have never heard anyone say that and none of our partners have ever heard anyone say that but maybe some people feel this way and keep their thoughts to themselves.  In this day and age?  Are you kidding me?

    Based on all of the awards OMG has earned, its raving fans, and strong renewal rate, I don't believe this is ever the reason.

  2. Sales Leaders and sometimes even HR Directors, believe their gut instinct, experience, skills and expertise can out-perform OMG.  While the science disproves this, it is a common reason as to why companies don't use OMG to hire salespeople.  Even worse, some Sales Leaders feel that if they have to rely on a tool to hire salespeople it will make them appear weak.  It's an ego problem. 

    One Sales Leader had turned over 50% of his sales team and the other 50% were underperforming.  He had failed to hit forecast for 4 consecutive quarters but instead of blaming it on sales selection and/or training and coaching, he was blaming the company's pricing model and didn't believe salespeople could succeed with the current pricing.  While the right salespeople would perform fine with their pricing model, he didn't know how to identify the right salespeople and wasn't willing to spend money on an assessment that would effectively do that.

  3. "Legal" doesn't allow for the use of assessments.  Legal as a reason (LaaR) only occurs in large companies, and because the market is flooded with personality assessments that are not role specific or predictive.  Disgruntled candidates, who are not selected, could potentially blame their failure to land a job on a personality assessment, leaving companies potentially vulnerable to a law suit.  On the other hand, a role-specific assessment, like OMG, creates no such liability for a company so this line of thinking is very difficult to understand.  It's worth noting that Legal doesn't even get involved until either the CEO, HR Director and/or Sales Leader decides to utilize OMG. 

    One company was having trouble hiring 300 salespeople.  They had already hired 500 salespeople but 350 had quickly turned over and only 150 were actually selling for them.  They had a huge problem getting sales selection right so they gave OMG the verbal go-ahead but Legal put the kibosh on it.  The ill-conceived fear of a law suit outweighed the fact that their revenue generating car had its gears in reverse.  I think the weak CEO should have been fired for allowing legal to override his decision-making.

  4. HR is married to another assessment and feels it would be too difficult to learn a new assessment.  As Dave Mantel pointed out, HR is measured on their cost per hire and time to hire; not on sales performance. Unfortunately, these HR professionals believe selecting the most accurate and predictive sales assessment is not as important as their level of comfort, even if it will make their job easier.

    Why use a personality assessment to determine if they have the sales capabilities required to succeed in a particular sales role at the company?  As Aaron Prickel of Lushin & Associates put it, "You wouldn't give your son a pregnancy test to determine if he's using drugs!"   

  5. A Sales Candidate Assessment is not in the budget.  So?

    One company was paying their two worst salespeople a $60,000 base salary and those two salespeople were at 50% of quota.  In addition to the $120,000 the company was throwing out the window on two losers, they were failing to generate $1 million in revenue!  They needed to hire salespeople this year and only had to spend $7,500 with OMG to hire 6 ideal salespeople.  Somehow, they didn't have $7,500 to spend, but were OK throwing $120,000 out the window and accepting a $1 million short-fall.  Math does not seem to be a strong suit at this company.

Circling back to how the article began, isn't 28 years of helping companies improve their sales selection effectiveness a long enough trial to prove to the masses that OMG is a game changer for sales?  Consider these statistics:

Do you see it?  44% more salespeople achieve quota at companies that use OMG compared to companies that use another assessment, and 80% better than companies that don't use an assessment.  And sales attrition is 75% lower at companies that use OMG compared with companies that use another assessment and 237% lower than companies that don't use an assessment.  So much for gut instinct, experience, expertise and skills.

And this?  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG doesn't recommend, 75% of those salespeople fail within 90 days.  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG does recommend, 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales teams within 12 months.  So much for legal, ego, budgets, and comfort level.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies, each with an average of 8 attributes, and OMG measures every single one of them.  Depending on the role, some attributes and competencies are more important than others.

Put science to work and rely on it to hire your next group of salespeople.

Request a sample Sales Candidate Assessment.  
Download free White Paper on Sales Selection.   
Begin a Free Trial

Let us know you want to Get Started. 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales hiring test, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Can You Find The Perfect Sales Candidates for Your Sales Team?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 01, 2021 @ 12:12 PM

recruiting

Have you tried recruiting salespeople lately?

It's a lot like it was in 2019, pre-pandemic, only different.

From time to time, I help clients recruit for key roles.  Unlike recruiters, I don't work on a contingency because I take responsibility for the entire recruiting process from soup to nuts and then the client makes the decisions on who to hire.  They pay a fee for services.  I specify the requirements, write the job postings, attract and source candidates, take the initial application, get them through Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive candidate assessments, review resumes, conduct the first interview and then recommend candidates who are perfect fits for the roles.

With that for context, consider these two contradicting projects.   I am helping one company find a single needle-in-a-haystack sales leadership candidate and it has taken nearly six months.  I am helping another company find 3 sales leaders and received 3,765 applications.  What's the difference?

For the answer to be meaningful, we have to look at the entire job market, not just sales candidates.

According to this Reuters article, while the number of new US jobs ticked upwards in October, the US labor force has four million fewer workers than in 2019.  That could explain both the shortage of candidates and the skewed unemployment numbers.  [Update - US jobs report from November shows sharp decline in new jobs created.]

Yet, according to this article in TheBalance, there are still 7.4 million workers in the US who are unemployed.  7.4 unemployed plus 4 million fewer workers means that 11.4 million workers are at home despite there being reports of 10 million available jobs!

And according to this post from Statistica.com, the unemployment rate in the US has dropped by only 2.3% in the past 12 months.

The Wall St. Journal said that nearly 20 million US workers resigned during the spring and summer of 2021.

At the same time, this post from Statistica.com shows that there are nearly 2 million MORE workers in the US than in 2019!

And finally, this article from Verizon.com says that there are more than 91 million people in the US who are not working.

So if we combine all of these data points and place them in the context of hiring salespeople, we can draw some interesting conclusions:

The candidates may or may not be currently working.  They may have temporarily retired, be working but ready to leave for a better offer, or not looking to leave at all.

They are out there, but they are being flaky.  29% of the candidates who applied for the jobs I posted did not respond to calls, texts or emails, and 31% of the group that did respond would not take the time to complete online applications and assessments.

I looked at the variables for the two companies I was helping.  I was able to eliminate a lot of them because I was running both campaigns, used the same job sites, used similar job postings, engaged the same way, made the same two asks up front, and conducted similar video interviews.  The only two variables that were different were location and compensation.

There was MUCH more interest in the opportunity where remote or an hour from a major airport were the criteria, as compared to the requirements of a specific locale and in-office presence.

Base salaries were NOT factors but there was MUCH more interest when total compensation exceeded $200,000-$300,000 as compared with total compensation that would reach $100,000-$200,000.  

So sales, sales management and sales leadership candidates are fickle right now, will apply if the total compensation is a no-brainer, and if they don't have to commute to an office.  Otherwise, they'll stay where they are or stay home.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, HR, sales leadership, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment

When Your Sales Opportunity Stalls, Do You Call Roadside Assistance?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2021 @ 14:10 PM

flat-tire

We were driving on the highway when the dashboard indicated low pressure in the left rear tire.  That can't be good!  As we exited the highway eight miles later, the tire was flat and we were able to drive another mile to a safe location and call roadside assistance.  Until that moment, I wasn't aware that the car did not have a spare tire but was equipped with a tire inflation repair kit instead.  Roadside assistance told us that the lack of a spare tire meant the car would be towed to their nearest dealer.

There are typically three possibilities when you have a flat tire:

  1. Change the tire if you have a spare and know how to do it or have roadside do it for you
  2. Use the tire inflation repair kit and keep the tire inflated long enough to get to your mechanic
  3. Get towed.

In my opinion, getting towed is the worst possible option and the last thing we want to deal with and in the waning days of a pandemic, they'll take your car but not you, so that doesn't solve anything.  Your car is still broken, you are still stranded, and you are temporarily separated from your beloved vehicle.

When salespeople get into trouble and an opportunity stalls out or goes off the rails, their sales managers are the sales version of roadside assistance.  In the context of a sales opportunity, there are typically three possibilities:

  1. Change the tire - put another salesperson on the opportunity
  2. Repair the tire - the salesperson does enough damage control to keep the opportunity alive until they can get coaching from their sales manager
  3. Call Roadside and the sales manager calls or shows up to get the opportunity back on track if possible

If you agree that a tow would be your last possible option, then it should follow that a rescue from a sales manager would be equally bad.  The prospect loses respect for the salesperson and will only speak with the sales manager after the rescue. Salespeople learn to lean on and use their sales managers as crutches, salespeople never become strong enough to handle these situations on their own, and sales managers fail to develop strong teams.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments on more than two million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, only 18% of all sales managers are well-suited for the role and only 7% are actually good at coaching. We know from this article on being an underdog in sales that the bottom half of all salespeople totally suck.

When you combine those three pathetic data points, there are a few insights that pop to the surface.

Most sales managers are a lot better at selling than they are at managing and coaching and are at their best when salespeople call for roadside assistance.  That explains their universal desire to accept those calls without pushing back, coaching and challenging their salespeople to do better.  Salespeople improve when they have no choice but to improve!

Most sales managers actually believe it's their job to be the hero and that is one of the biggest impediments to developing strong salespeople.

There are far more salespeople whose opportunities go off the rails and need help but who end up following one of three even worse scenarios than calling their sales managers:

  1. At the time, they lacked the situational awareness to realize the opportunity went sideways on them so they follow up as if nothing bad happened.
  2. They realized the opportunity was going sideways but chose to use the tire repair kit instead of calling for roadside assistance
  3. They knew it went sideways but lacked the commitment to call for roadside or use the tire repair kit and simply gave up.

These scenarios play out every day, on every sales team, at every company, all over the world.  Isn't it time to raise the bar on both sales mangers and salespeople, train them up, coach them up, and stop accepting so much mediocrity?

Join me on October 26 for a free 45-minute introduction to Baseline Selling and learn how to avoid the mistakes that most salespeople make, shorten your sales cycle, differentiate from the competition, and improve your win rate.  Register here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales managers, ineffective salespeople, ineffective sales manager, OMG Assessment

Why More Salespeople Are Being Recommended for Difficult Selling Roles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 24, 2021 @ 15:06 PM

recommended

We are finally doing things we haven't done for quite a while including dining inside restaurants, flying, staying in hotels, going to and hosting parties, attending packed stadiums for sporting events and more.  Something else we haven't done for quite a while is revisit Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales selection statistics on the percentage of people that are recommended for various selling and sales management roles.

The last time we looked at recommendation data was in 2014!  In the seven years since we have seen a sluggish economy (2014-2016) with lots of candidates to choose from, a robust economy where candidates were very difficult to find and attract (mid-2017 to early 2020), a non-existent economy hammered by COVID (2nd quarter 2020- through the 1st quarter of 2021) with a decent supply of good candidates, and now back to a robust economy with good candidates scarce once again (2nd quarter 2021).

I was interested to learn how the recent recommendation data compared with the recommendation data from seven years ago.

First, let's define what a recommendation means.

Every OMG sales, sales management and sales leadership assessment has some criteria that is set in stone, some that varies with the difficulty of the role, and some that is client-side specific.  Candidates must meet the criteria in all three areas to be recommended.  Good salespeople are sometimes not recommended for certain roles because they aren't a good fit while mediocre salespeople are sometimes recommended for certain roles because they are a great fit.  It's too complicated to get into customization criteria in an article like this but the goal of OMG's candidate assessment is to get the right people into the right roles and there is a huge difference between all the possible selling roles in all the companies in all the industries where OMG assessments are utilized.

To get a sense for differences, even in the same industry, please refer to this article.

OMG allows five levels of difficulty for its sales roles, three for its sales management roles, and two for its sales leadership roles.  To give you a sense for how those difficulty levels differ, consider the following examples:

  • Little to No Difficulty - salesperson checks stock, fills stock with order updates.  An order-taker.
  • Some Difficulty - industrial sales of supplies used in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) A better order-taker.
  • Moderate Difficulty - government sales, mostly bid work, but selling the reason to choose you at a higher price.
  • Considerable Difficulty - 6 or 7 figure consultative sale of capital equipment against formidable competition.
  • Significant Difficulty - 6 and 7 figure consultative sale of services to the C Suite in a long sales cycle competing against formidable competition

Now that you have some context for the difficulty levels, let's take a look at the before and after data and.

 

                                               2014                                                                                  2021

So what are the noteworthy changes?

The percentage of candidates being recommended for the most difficult and challenging sales roles has almost doubled!!  That's right.  Two exclamation points on that one.  Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that there are more strong candidates than seven years ago, but it does mean that companies are improving their ability to target and attract the good salespeople into their candidate pool.

Similarly, a higher percentage of sales managers are being recommended at the higher levels.  As with sales candidates, I attribute this to better targeting and attraction tactics.

The percentage of sales leadership candidates being recommended has dropped - a lot.  There are a lot more sales leadership candidates out there today than in 2014 and most of the candidates don't meet the significantly higher bar that exists for sales leaders today.

Finally, some HR and Sales Leaders are horrified and all recruiters are pissed when so many of their candidates are not recommended.  But isn't that why you choose an accurate and predictive assessment like OMG in the first place?  You choose OMG to AVOID making the mistake of hiring someone who can sell but won't,  who sounds good but isn't, who sells you but doesn't sell anyone else, or who simply isn't a good fit for the role.

Check out OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, HR, hiring salespeople, sales assessment tools, top sales assessment, right salespeople right seats, OMG Assessment

Will Salespeople Travel or Continue to Work Remotely in 2022?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 01, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

May 29 was the day that nearly all COVID restrictions were lifted here Massachusetts.  How liberating! Or so I thought...

I went to the grocery store and was stunned to discover that I was the only person in the store not wearing a mask.  Either everyone in the store was unvaccinated, didn't believe the vaccine would protect them, or they were afraid to go out in public without the mask.

I returned to the store on Sunday and was stunned again when nearly everyone in the store was maskless.  It seemed odd that the masked and maskless numbers flipped in twenty-four hours but I loved it.  We were much closer to normal.  But it did get me wondering what normal means for sales teams moving forward.

My first attempt to understand how 2022 might look was to survey Objective Management Group's Partners (sales development experts that provide OMG's assessments to their clients).  Among other topics, we asked them two questions about travel and in-person training and here is what they had to say:

As you can see, roughly 30% are chomping at the bit to travel to an in-person event, but 20% are pretty sure they will be staying home.  While another 20% could be persuaded to attend, a huge group - nearly 30% - are undecided and would probably lean towards staying home.  So right now it looks split down the middle and these beliefs also reflect whether they would be comfortable leading in-person sales training events for their clients.

We also asked what kind of in-person event they would travel to attend and there was more clarity there, with longer, multi-day conferences having more appeal than shorter, one-day events.

Will salespeople be traveling in their territories, to their big customers, or to sales calls?

The answer appears to be, "It depends."

The decisions have a lot to do with what their companies are requiring them to do, what their customers need and are comfortable with, and salespeople finally being more comfortable selling virtually over video.  For a lot of old-school territory salespeople the transition to virtual was like pulling teeth and many of them can't wait to get back out there.  But will their customers allow them back on the premises?

Again, the answer is split with some customers saying, "Come on down!" and others saying, "No visitors."  In the US, a lot of it depends on geography with customers and sellers in red states much more comfortable with the old normal and customers and sellers in the blue states much more comfortable with the new normal.  In Europe, APAC, LatAm, and EMEA, the factors influencing a return to normal have more to do with containment of the virus with outbreaks continuing in many countries.

One of the big factors in all of this is school and daycare.  With many schools still closed, and some teacher's unions resisting orders to reopen in the fall, some parents are still forced to stay home and that trumps all of the other factors.

In conclusion, we are making progress, but we are still a hybrid mess with two parts fear, one-part comfort and three parts of the unknown all mixed together.  That means for the foreseeable future, there will still be a lot of virtual selling, servicing, training and coaching taking place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment, remote selling, selling virtually, sales travel

Masks and Sales Assessments - You Lose a Little Freedom and Control for Safety and Confidence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 @ 13:09 PM

mask-in-public

A short end-of-the-week post.

Earlier this week I wrote this article about correlation versus causation.  I compared analyzing restaurant dining and positive Covid-19 tests, and assessment findings and results.  This article will depart from correlation and causation but we'll still use the Pandemic as a metaphor for certain sales assessment experiences.  

I wear a mask whenever I leave the house or the car.  As someone in the vulnerable age group for Covid-19, a mask makes me feel much safer and more confident when I encounter other people.  When I wear my mask, I lack some of the freedom I previously had and I lose some control because I can't see where my feet are when I'm walking down a flight of stairs!  Of course that's only problematic if I miss a stair and knock on wood, that hasn't happened in the first 6 months of the Pandemic.

You lose a little freedom and control but you feel a lot safer and more confident when going out in public.

The same thing happens when clients use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  They lose a little freedom because they no longer arbitrarily interview salespeople who they feel like interviewing, and refrain from simply offering positions to people because they have a gut feeling about a candidate.   However, they lose some control because one half to two-thirds of the candidates will not be recommended when they aren't great fits for the particular sales role for which the company is hiring, or simply aren't very good salespeople - period.

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Companies that use OMG sales candidate assessments for sales selection are seeing huge improvements in applications, assessments completed (the candidate pool), and a sharp decrease in recommended (more lousy sales candidates and/or imperfect fits for the role) candidates, cost per assessment, days to hire and compensation.

quota-attrition

Companies that use OMG for sales selection have 80% higher quota attainment, and 238% lower attrition. 

You lose a little freedom and control to feel a lot safer and more confident when offering sales candidates a position.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment, sales selelction

An Inside Look at Why 3 Good Salespeople Failed and 3 So-So Salespeople Succeeded

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 09, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

failure

You hired a great salesperson that didn't work out.  You hired a so-so salesperson that did work out.  You hired another great one that kicked ass, and another one that was so-so.  That's the story of hiring salespeople.  It's mostly hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.

In this article I'm going to share an actual example that illustrates why this happens so frequently.  I'll show you tangible differences between three salespeople who succeeded and three who failed in the same role at the same company.

Most of the time when we perform these analyses the differences are usually seen inside of the 21 Sales Core Competencies - the performers are strong in the necessary competencies and the failures are not.

So let's dig into some data, shall we?

One of the ways that Objective Management Group (OMG) customizes a role configuration to recommend the ideal salespeople for a particular role is to conduct a top/bottom analysis.  We attempt to identify 15-20 scores or findings that differentiate the top salespeople from the bottom salespeople.  In small companies we use three tops and three bottoms.  In mid-size companies we use five tops and bottoms and in large companies ten tops and bottoms.

We manually analyze and compare those top and bottom salespeople against 280 scores and findings to identify those which differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  As I mentioned, the differentiations are usually found in the 21 sales core competencies or the attributes within those competencies.

Yesterday, I completed one of these analyses and the salespeople who were failing appeared to be stronger salespeople than those who were succeeding.  That's not good!  But I've learned to stay with it, not give up too soon, and remember that if I'm patient enough the differences will shine through.  That's how it happened with this team but many of the differences weren't in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  They were simpler, more basic, and more behavioral.  Check out the screen shot below and I'll recap it beneath the image where you can see a sea of green at the top and a sea of red at the bottom.

top-bottom-Jan-2020

There were nineteen findings identified that were differentiators.  Only half came from the 21 Sales Competencies, like:

  • Sales DNA  (average of 6 Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >76
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >56 
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of 100 
  • Handles Rejection  (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >60
  • Hunting (a pure selling competency) Score of >50 
  • Account Management (a selling competency) Score of >66
  • Prospects Consistently (an attribute of the Hunter competency)
  • Gains Trust Early (an attribute of the BuildsTrust competency - not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies)
  • Makes Decisions (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)
  • Will Uphold Margins (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)

It was more unusual to see the following findings as differentiators.  These are more behavioral and are well outside the 21 Sales Competencies.  As you read through them you can clearly see why salespeople with decent selling skills would fail when these findings appear as weaknesses:

  • Time and Organizational Skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Business Minded
  • Prior experience calling on SMB's
  • Prefer to be recognized for achievements
  • Previously sold into a very competitive marketplace
  • Figure it Out Factor >61 (a compilation of 10 findings that predict a quick ramp-up)
  • Compatibility with the Role's selling requirements - score of >67

If they can't get started, organized and work on their own, in a remote selling role, the chances of success are nearly zero, regardless of skills!

The minimum required scores for success change by role, company, industry, target customer, price points, competition, difficulty, complexity, sales cycle, resistance, and more.

The three salespeople from the company above that were failing didn't have bad selling skills.  Remember, I looked at 280 findings and their selling skills were good to excellent in many of the 280 findings.  But it's not if they can sell; it's if they will sell!  The Sales DNA scores, and the non-sales skill findings combine to show us that their tops WILL sell and their bottoms only CAN sell.

When a company has a way to measure can vs. will they can hire with confidence.  It's like having a crystal ball.

Every top/bottom analysis looks different and as a result, every role configuration for sales candidate assessments is different. The findings we incorporate are different and the minimum required scores are different. Success in one role, at one company, in one industry, with various levels of difficulty, complexity, calling into certain verticals or geographies, selling with certain price points against various levels of competition and various sales cycle lengths, all serve to uniquely change the requirements for success used in the role configuration.

A sales-specific, customizable, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment like the one that OMG provides is the crystal ball for 29,000 companies and it's why OMG was just awarded the gold medal for Top Sales Assessment by Top Sales World for the 9th consecutive year.

You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can checkout OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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