2020's Ten Must Read Sales and Sales Leadership Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 @ 11:11 AM

TopTen

The year was 2020 and it was an unpredictable year.  There were surprises galore. For example, instead of only bank robbers and anarchists from ANTIFA wearing masks, we were all told to always wear masks.  Instead of forcing myself to be social among extroverts, I was given permission to be socially distant, a not so awful turn of events for an acute introvert like myself.  The stock market lost and gained more than 10,000 points in the same year.  Most companies pushed hard for the last six months attempting to generate enough revenue to offset their lackluster second quarter sales.  All because of the pandemic.  But there was one thing that didn't change.  I still managed to churn out around fifty articles and after 15 years of blogging and almost 1,900 articles to date, I feel like most of the articles from this year were among my best ever.  As has been the custom each December, today we name the top ten articles of 2020 and I hope you'll read every one of them.

The articles from 2020 fell mostly into three categories with some overlap to an obvious fourth category; the pandemic:

Category 1: Research, Data Mining and Assessments (19 articles including 6 that were pandemic-related)
Category 2: Sales and Selling (9 articles including 1 that was pandemic-related)
Category 3: Sales Leadership (17 articles including 8 that were pandemic-related)

There are many ways to vote the top ten articles including:

  • views
  • comments
  • likes
  • engagement
  • personal favorites
  • award nominations/wins
  • appearances on top-10 lists

It's difficult to assign weightings to the list because more views doesn't necessarily mean that people liked or engaged with it, engagement doesn't mean people liked it, lack of comments doesn't mean people didn't like it, awards and top-10 lists are dependent on the people making such designations actually seeing and considering an article, and my favorites won't necessarily be your favorites.  As this is partly scientific and partly subjective I introduce:

The Top 10 Articles of 2020

Best article on How to Conduct an Opportunity Review - This was a fun article to write because I was able to use the political divisiveness as a metaphor to demonstrate the correct and incorrect ways to conduct opportunity reviews.

Best Take-Down of a competitive assessment - Most competitive assessments don't stand a chance against OMG and I simply obliterated Extended Disc in this take-down!  This article was even more fun because you can't make this stuff up! 

Best article on the difficulty explaining the differences between salespeople - Most people can't explain or justify how one salesperson is better than another and are left to rely on revenue as the differentiator.  But revenue is actually the single worst way to compare or differentiate salespeople and sales capabilities.  This article explains why revenue comparisons don't work and presents a better way to make these comparisons.

Best article showing how sales effectiveness changed before, during and after the first recovery from the pandemic - Sales capabilities are sales capabilities, right?  Not when it comes to a Pandemic.  Some scores actually changed throughout the pandemic and into the summer recovery.  This article shows what changed, what stayed the same and why.

Best article on how to be your best selling virtually over video - 6 upgrades that you must make to your virtual/video sales efforts to improve prospects' impressions of you.

Best use of an analogy to explain sales team effectiveness - Regular readers know I love to use analogies and I can turn almost anything into a sales analogy. This was not only one of my best analogies, LinkedIn readers piled on with more examples from this analogy.

Best article on explaining how metrics are used and their importance to sales  - In yet another analogy article, I used pandemic metrics - many that aren't reported - to drive home the importance of having and identifying the correct sales metrics.

Best article showing correlation between a finding and sales success - There are dozens of OMG findings that correlate to Sales Percentile and ultimately, sales success, but the correlation to this finding hadn't been noticed prior to the publication of this article.

Best article on why sales managers are so bad at sales coaching - The data doesn't lie and this article is packed with data about what sales managers do and don't do, as well as how poorly they do it when it comes to coaching.

Best article on what you can do to have a great fourth quarter - While it's too late to impact the fourth quarter of 2020, this article has fifteen specific things you can do which, given the date on the calendar, will impact your first quarter of 2021.

Honorable Mention - these are some of my personal favorites

Most Controversial Article - Trump.

Best use of politics in an article - The first day of the Senate Confirmation Hearing on Amy Coney Barrett was chocked full of examples of how not to convince people to do what you want them to do.

Best article dealing with the Pandemic - How to lead your team in times of crisis.

Best article using historical figures - I wasn't much of a history buff but I did find a way to include FDR and Sir Isaac Newton in this article about fear.

Which article did you like the most?  Which article was most helpfuil?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, top sales articles, top sales blog, sales hiring assessment, sales effectiveness, Donald Trump, pandemic

The Keys to Fourth Quarter Sales Success in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

You're probably going to hate this article!  I'm going to show you that much of what is transpiring with the Pandemic could be having a greater impact than you realize relative to the future state of your business and you might not like what I have to say.  As always, if you can hang in through some of the preliminary analysis, I'll make the pivot to sales and business.

Each day, the Boston Globe sends an update with metrics that the state of Massachusetts is monitoring with regard to the Pandemic.  The update for October 19, 2020, is shown below:

Notice that the death toll rose by 15. 

Also notice that under "Related" the link to the article warning about gloom and doom over the next 6-12 weeks.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer tweeted this out today:

Back in May, when Massachusetts began reopening, there were between 10-20 deaths per day, and 100-200 new cases per day.  Over the past 5 months, the number of new cases has risen by more than 100 each month to the 827 new cases reported today.  However, during this entire 5 month period, the daily death toll has not exceeded 10-20, the same as it was back in May.  See the two graphs in the next paragraph on media reporting.

Media Reporting - Unfortunately, most media outlets insist on reporting only the number of new cases, but don't tell you that hospitalizations are down  *dramatically*  and deaths have remained steady after dropping to their current low levels.  Check out the CDC's own graph on hospitalization rates between week 10 (early March) and week 40 (early October):

You are reading this graph correctly.  Even among those over 65, hospitalizations are down to just over 5% of those infected with Covid. 

This is the latest graph of US deaths from Covid.

That's right.  Cases way up.  Deaths way down.  You should also check out this data on death counts - click on the graph to see the entire graph.

You read this table correctly too.  The actual number of deaths did not significantly exceed the expected (normal) number of deaths.  Does this mean that the largely elderly population with comorbidity, who died, might have died anyway?  This video shows that the CDC's own data shows that more than 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 were not COVID deaths!

If deaths and hospitalization rates are so low, despite cases continuing to increase, why isn't the media sharing this great news? 

After all, we all want good news, we all want to be more optimistic, and we all want the economy to thrive.  What's going on? 

There can be only one answer.  The media wants to continue making President Trump the villain so that he does not win reelection.  If you don't agree with that explanation then please explain why the media never shared any of these graphs and tables with you.  Do you have a better explanation?

Impact on Business - The same media that is misleading you about the Pandemic is also telling us that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession in history, with more jobs lost than ever before, and it will become much worse.  Of course, that's not the case.  Unemployment is down to just 7.9% and that's with most of the travel, tourism and restaurant industries still shutdown or operating at very reduced capacity! 

I participated in a government survey on the impact the Pandemic had on my small business and last week they sent a link to view the results. You can see the results for yourself here but I can save you a tremendous amount of time.  I played around with the variables on the site, recorded my results and one thing became crystal clear.  When I didn't include states like California and Michigan, whose Governors are still trying to keep small businesses shuttered, and I didn't include the two NAIC codes from the industries that were devastated, the rest of us have fared pretty well through the past 7 months!  We're doing OK!  It's important for us to know this fact in order to drive home a fantastic 4th quarter to salvage 2020.

Metrics - The pandemic has called attention to the fact that on a daily basis we are surrounded by key metrics for COVID-19. I can't believe how many companies have still not identified the key metrics that will drive their sales results.  There are either no metrics, the metrics are irrelevant or the metrics are backwards looking.  It's 2020.  Forward looking metrics rule the day.  Get with the program!

Tools - I read this article about the best Chrome Extensions for sellers.  I don't want to criticize the article because it's an accurate list of great applications that you can start from within Chrome.  However, the last thing your salespeople need right now is more tools.  It's noise. A distraction.  Technology for the sake of technology.  There are basic tools that every salesperson should be equipped with and everything else is completely unnecessary.

We're trying to grow the economy all the way back and most of the information being pushed at us isn't helping. We've come a long way since March and we can make even more progress in the fourth quarter if we keep our eye on the ball and don't allow the fear-mongering, agenda-driven media to have their way, negatively influence the masses, and cause another slowdown or worse, shutdown.  Here's what the same Boston Globe sent out today, October 20, 2020.

In summary, Simplify.  Focus.  Metrics. Optimism. Hire Salespeople. Sell. Train. Drive. Fight. Engage.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales tools, revenue growth, covid-19, pandemic

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

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