The Wall Street Journal Shares News About What it Takes to Succeed in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 14, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

wallstjournal

Brad Bolino emailed me a link from a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, "Millennials are Changing What it Means to be Successful in Sales."  

I read the article three times to make sure I wasn't rushing to judgement, didn't experience an inappropriate knee-jerk reaction, and that I correctly interpreted what the article implied:  The journal relied on anecdotal evidence from a handful of millennial salespeople and buyers to suggest that millennials are transforming the sales profession. 

I agreed with only one sentence in the article and it was the opening sentence which said, "Drop the hard sell." That's certainly not new as the hard sell was never a welcome component of professional selling!

I'm not anti-Wall Street Journal - at least I wasn't.  I haven't written about their articles before. After all, they aren't known for writing the kind of crap that the Harvard Business Review  writes with regard to sales and selling.   

While reviewing the article, I identified two themes - how much harder it is to sell today versus years ago and how millennials have adapted to changing times.

There is no doubt that selling has changed - a lot - but while selling in general has not become more difficult, it is very difficult for those who suck at it, as well as those who must find new business because they don't get repeat and/or residual business from existing accounts.  

While it is more difficult to reach decision makers today (it takes 10-15 attempts and most salespeople give up after 4 attempts) than ten years ago, there are multiple tools and methods for reaching out that were not available to past generations of salespeople.

If the recession deepens in 2023 it will be harder for prospects to get funding but this isn't new either.  It was true during the Covid lockdowns of 2020, the financial crisis of 2008-2010, the aftermath of 9/11, the dot com bust that occurred earlier in 2001, the recessions of the early 90's and 80's and the oil shortage of 1973-1974.  Recessions are not only cyclical, you could argue that we are in a recession every 10 years or so!

There are more decision makers involved in the buying process at larger companies but there have always been multiple decision makers in larger companies. 

Those interviewed for the article said that sales cycles are longer too.  Boo hoo. Getting business closed at the largest companies has always required a very long sales cycle. Millennials have adapted by using texting to communicate with their millennial prospects and customers.  Texts instead of emails. Remember when emails replaced the phone?  Email is a great tool for exchanging information but up until now there was nothing worse than email for having actual conversations.  If email was bad for conversations, can you imagine how much worse text messages are for having conversations?  Of course sales cycles will take longer if you're running sales cycles via text!

Reverting back to the article, I had several problems with it:

  • The sample size was minuscule - it was not representative of anything except a handful of opinions. For example, let's pretend that a reporter talks with five female millennials in Florida and reports that "Female millennials love Ron DeSantis."  However, the data shows that as a general rule, female millennials align with Democrats.
  • The salespeople interviewed claimed to be successful but there were no standards on which they were measured or compared.  Successful compared to who?  Compared to what?  Selling what? Selling to who?  At what price points?  Against which competitors? For example, let's pretend a resume states that the sales candidate was consistently the #1 salesperson in the company for 2 of the last 3 years.  We ask how many salespeople there were and find out there were only two and the other one was brand new.
  • The salespeople in the article are clearly facilitating sales cycles, not leading them; And they weren't facilitating because today's millennial prospects demand it, they were adapting and waiting out long sales cycles as a consequence of facilitating.  They're basically admitting that they aren't following a sales process, they're following a buying process.  They don't push back and ask the right questions, they play Simon Says and - sorry millennials from the article - you aren't Simon!
  • The salespeople interviewed were selling only to large companies which is not representative of selling to small, medium and mid-sized companies.
  • One sales leader said the profile of what it takes to be successful in sales has changed.  Not true. Her perception may have changed now that she is more experienced and wiser.  While the criteria required for success differs by selling role, it is still based on 21 Sales Core Competencies.
  • The millennials they interviewed on the buyer side were in procurement.  There isn't a single professional sales development expert or trainer that instructs salespeople to call on procurement!

In summary, this article was no better than the dozens upon dozens of articles from non-sales experts sharing their anecdotal knowledge about the traits required for sales success.  They are almost always personality based, are not predictive of anything, are not backed by science, and are pure click-bait.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, keys to sales success, sales cycle length, reaching decision makers, millennials

How to Hire the Right Salespeople Using This Jeep vs. Infiniti Analogy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 07, 2022 @ 07:10 AM

Before I purchased my first Jaguar, my dream car was the Infiniti Q45.  In the early 90's, I couldn't wait to get that car and when winter came, I couldn't wait to get rid of it.  It didn't matter what kind of tires I put on that expensive-but-useless-piece-of-crap-for-all-of-winter car, it wouldn't go in the snow and ice.  I had to drive up a steep, mile-long hill to get home at the end of the day, and the hill wasn't well salted or sanded because it ran alongside a lake.  The parts of the Q45 became more important than the appeal of the car.

My brother-in-law had an old jeep.  It wasn't expensive and it didn't look great but it drove so well in the snow and ice that he rescued me when my Q45 wouldn't make it up that long hill.  The parts of the Jeep were more important than the lack of appeal of the Jeep.

That brings us to OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Candidate Assessment.  Usually, the overall score, relative strength of a candidate's capabilities, and recommendation are more important than any specific scores.  Usually.  But with the assessment of Mary, it was an entirely different story.  

Let's review the scores and findings from Mary's OMG Sales Candidate Assessment. She had really good scores.  Really good. Her Sales Percentile was 82 so she was stronger than 82% of the salespeople in the world. So was OMG wrong?  Why did the company hire her?  Why did she fail?

OMG wasn't wrong and as usual, OMG nailed it.  She wasn't a good fit for a new business development role and OMG did not recommend Mary for that role. But the company didn't want to pass on a sales candidate who was an 82 so they invited her in for an interview.  You know what happened next.  She sold herself, they thought her experience was a fit, and they hired her.

It didn't take long for the failing to begin.  While Mary scored well in 16 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, four of the five competencies in which she scored very poorly were crucial to success in the role she was hired for.

 

  • Doesn't Need to be Liked - 62.  A score over 79 is preferred for this role.
  • Reaches Decision Makers - 35. A score over 66 is preferred for this role.
  • Relationship Building - 17.  A score of over 59 is preferred for this role.
  • Responsibility - 0. A score of over 74 is preferred for all selling roles.
  • Closing - 24.  24 would have been fine if she could do everything well that must take place prior to closing.

Mary couldn't get past gatekeepers!

Mary would call, the gatekeeper would answer and attempt to get rid of her, and because Mary needed to be liked, she couldn't push back and overcome the initial wave of resistance.  Failing to reach the decision maker, she settled for someone without authority, failed to build a relationship, and did not impress mid-level managers enough to reach the decision maker.  She blamed the selling model, the gatekeepers, the training, the coaching, her manager, the company and anything and everyone other than the source of the problem:  Mary.

Do you remember my opening analogy about cars and their capabilities in the snow and ice?  Mary's overall score of 82 is the Infinity Q45 and her four weaknesses are the four tires.  It didn't matter how good her assessment looked, none of that mattered if she couldn't get the sales cycle started.

The warnings were right there in green, gold, red and white.  Good for OMG.

The client ignored the obvious and focused on a single number.  Bad for the client.

The salesperson failed in exactly the way that was predicted.  Another case of the salesperson simply being the salesperson.

There is nothing more accurate and predictive for hiring salespeople than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and OMG has assessed 2,258,422 of them!

If you are one of the 35,000 companies using OMG to assess your sales candidates, thank you!

If you want a sample click here and place a checkmark next to Sales Candidate Assessment.

If you want to take it for a test drive click here for a free trial.

If you're ready to get started click here and an expert will help you customize the tool for the sales role(s) you are filling.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales recruiting, relationship building, reaching decision makers, sales hiring assessment, sales assessments

How Many Authors Does it Take to Screw in a LightBulb Highlighting Selling Skills?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 22, 2022 @ 15:09 PM

Indeed - Home | Facebook

A few years had passed since the last time I wrecked an hbr.com (Harvard Business Review online) article about sales.  If you haven't been reading the Blog for the last sixteen years you may have missed my previous fourteen take downs.

Why Do You Think Harvard Business Review Does This When it Comes to Sales?
The Challenge of the Challenger Sales Model - The Facts
Harvard Business Review Blog Off Target on Sales Greatness
Harvard Business Review Blog Post Gets Salespeople Wrong
Harvard Business Review Hit and Then Missed the Mark on Sales
How Wrong is the Harvard Business Review Article on How to Hire Salespeople?
Revealing Study of Salespeople Makes News at HBR
Another HBR Article on Sales Leaves Me with Mixed Feelings
Top 10 Questions for Salespeople to Ask and Stay Away From
What Customers Expect From Your Salespeople and More
HBR or OMG - Whose Criteria Really Differentiate the Top and Bottom 10% of Salespeople?
More Junk Sales Science in HBR Blog
Now That You Have a Sales Process, Never Mind
I
s SELLING an Afterthought in Today's Sales Model?  

Dan Caramanico alerted me to this dubious September 19, hbr.com article that explains their 5 Skills Every Salesperson Needs to Succeed.  It took three consultants to screw in the lightbulb that illuminates their five stupid-as-shit skills so let's take a look:

The five skills they claim everyone should have are not sales skills at all.  In their defense, their title doesn't state they are sales skills, but instead, skills that salespeople need to have.  As you read these, ask yourself, does EVERY salesperson need these skills, do certain salespeople need these skills, or do any salespeople need these skills?

  1. Anticipating the Customer's Tomorrow
  2. Collaborating Inside and Out
  3. Leveraging Digital and Virtual Channels
  4. Ability to Get Power from Data
  5. Capacity to Adapt

The three authors looked at sales job postings on Indeed and extracted their five skills of choice by looking at some of the requirements listed by enterprise companies, like Apple, Grainger, Microsoft, Pfizer, Bank of America and 3M.

Enterprise companies are rarely representative of small, medium and mid-market companies.  If we study industries that are considered old-school, like industrial distribution or building materials, they wouldn't even consider skills like these being associated with sales.  They're just learning what CRM is!

Let's look more closely at #3, digital and virtual.  This requirement simply states that salespeople must be able to use the tools that all salespeople have learned to use, like Zoom, LinkedIn, MS Office, and CRM.  In this day and age, those requirements are no different than twenty years ago when it was a requirement for a salesperson to have typing skills!

If we look at the top five sales skills that every salesperson - EVERY SALESPERSON IN EVERY ROLE - needs to have in order to succeed, I would choose these (data courtesy of Objective Management Group (OMG):

  1. Reaches Decision Makers - you can have all five of the skills listed in the hbr.com article but if a salesperson can't reach and meet with the decision maker, the skills listed above and below cannot be leveraged.  Salespeople who reach decision makers are 341% more likely to close the business.
  2. Consultative Seller - Salespeople must uniquely differentiate themselves and provide the prospect with an ideal solution that is both cost and needs appropriate.  The best way to do that is with a consultative approach based on excellent listening and questioning skills, attributes of the Consultative Seller competency at which only 11% of all salespeople are strong
  3. Value Selling - The ability to sell at a profitable margin is very important to most companies.  Selling Value is the skill that drives profit but it requires a set of beliefs, strategies and tactics to support the effort.  Simply spouting off a company's value proposition will not get the job done.  Only 31% of all salespeople have Selling Value as a strength.
  4. Qualifying - The win rate is driven by a salesperson's ability to thoroughly qualify an opportunity and there is a direct correlation between unqualified and lost, and fully qualified and won.  Only 21% of all salespeople have the Qualifying Competency as a strength.
  5. Sales Process - A custom staged, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process will support and enhance a salesperson's ability to use a consultative approach, sell value and thoroughly qualify a decision maker's ability to buy.  Only 34% of all salespeople have Sales Process as a strength.

These five skills are Sales Core Competencies at which all salespeople must be good.  Compare these five competencies to the five skills in the hbr.com article and you will easily see that their five skills, without my five competencies, won't get a deal done.  On the flip side, I would argue that my five competencies, even without their five skills, will still get a deal done.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies with an average of 8 attributes per competency.  OMG measures all 21 of them and there is an online tool where you can see the data behind all 21 Sales Core Competencies and break it down by industry and Sales Percentile.  OMG has assessed 2,253,218 salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales CRM, reaching decision makers, selling value

Siri Can't Help You Close the Deal but Doing These Three Things Can!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 09, 2021 @ 07:08 AM

Siri - Apple

When it comes to navigation I usually opt for Waze but sometimes Siri can find a way out of traffic that Waze can't.  On the other hand, try asking Siri to dial a phone number while she's navigating and you'll quickly learn that she can't multi-task.  If you are navigating using Apple maps in CarPlay, then Siri will navigate to the address you asked her to call.  She gets in the way!

Sometimes Siri doesn't actively listen and decides to send you somewhere different from where you asked her to navigate; a different city or town and/or a place that doesn't sound remotely close to what you asked for. She gets in the way.

So what do you do when Siri isn't cooperating?  Do you give up and wing it?  Do you try again?  Do you stop navigating with Siri and switch to Google, Waze or your built-in system?  Do you persist until you get what you need?

That's exactly what salespeople are supposed to do.  Get creative, be persistent and find a way to reach the decision maker.  You do it with Siri, so why don't you do it when someone in the company won't introduce you to the decision maker, when they won't give you the decision maker's name or when they don't cooperate?  Why do so many salespeople give up and plow forward with the contact they are speaking with right now?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has more than 2 million rows of data on this and the science says that salespeople who reach the actual decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business compared with those salespeople who don't reach the decision maker.  It is not only profound, nothing could be more straight-forward!

Also at play is a salesperson's need to be liked and their fear that if they push, challenge or question it, or if all else fails, they go around this person, said person will become upset, no longer like them, so they won't get the business. While the feared consequences are outright false, 59% of all salespeople do need to be liked and that gets in the way - a lot.

Something else gets in the way of getting to decision makers and it isn't Siri.  It's timing!  There is a specific moment in the sales process when your odds of reaching the decision maker are stronger than at any other time.  It's like a Tornado.  When certain weather conditions exist, those conditions become perfect for a tornado and without those conditions, there is virtually no chance.  So it goes with selling.  There are certain conditions that make it perfect for getting the decision maker engaged but without those conditions, there isn't much of a chance.  

You must be able to first ask, "Who else cares about this?" and upon hearing the decision maker's title, ask, "How do we include Mary in our conversation?"  

In order to properly time the "who else cares?" question, you must have already discussed something so compelling, so powerful and so impactful, that the "who else cares?" question is the next logical question in the discussion.  Asked at any other time and the question won't fit. 

In order for the person you are speaking with to care about getting the decision maker engaged, you must have monetized or quantified their issue to the degree that its cost is many, many times that of your solution. In essence, you are asking who else cares about that much money.

There is a fourth potential reason - salespeople get lazy, take shortcuts, and simply don't try.  I've seen it happen with good, veteran salespeople - a lot.  The good news is that this particular reason is VERY easy to fix.  

Siri might not be able to get you to the decision maker, but using science, ignoring your need to be liked, and getting the timing right will make it 341% more likely that you will close the business.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, objective management group, need to be liked

A Key Competency That Differentiates Top Sales Performers From Posers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 21, 2021 @ 16:07 PM

Watch The Goldbergs TV Show - ABC.com

We were watching an episode of the hilarious comedy series The Goldbergs and one of the themes of episode 4 in season 3 was about authenticity.  In this episode, Barry and Erica, the two oldest children, accused each other of being posers.

The bottom 50% of all salespeople are posers too.  In an article last week we discussed how data can help you hire the ideal salespeople.

In that article I shared a top/bottom analysis where the top performers were 100% more effective reaching decision makers than the bottoms.  Below I've shared another top/bottom analysis with different findings. 

 

At every company there are always a combination of between 15 and 30 findings and scores (from among the 250 or so that Objective Management Group [OMG] measures) that differentiate the best top performers from the worst under-performers.   In this analysis, if we had to choose a single differentiating factor, it would be the top performers' ability to sell consultatively (column 10).  If we chose a second factor, it would be their ability to use their skills to reach decision makers (column 17). Column 18 shows that their top performers are also succeeding at uncovering the decision makers' compelling reasons to buy because in addition to their skills, they are also assertive (column 21), allowing them to push back and challenge their prospects.  This causes those decision makers to respect them, view them as trusted advisors instead of vendors, and develop a bias towards them.  

When a salesperson can effectively use a consultative approach and uncover the decision maker's compelling reasons to buy they will stand out, develop a relationship along the way, and usually get the business. 

It doesn't hurt that these top performers also score significantly higher on hunting and maintaining a full pipeline so that the opportunities they find will move through the pipeline and often close while their under performing colleagues find a much smaller number of opportunities which get stuck in the discovery stage of the pipeline and fail to close.

While the reasons for inconsistent sales performance are always different, the answers will always be found in the data.  The 21 Sales Core Competencies will always reveal where the real problems are and that allows companies to focus their training and coaching on the appropriate competencies.  An OMG Sales Force Evaluation provides all of that data and then some.

Request samples here.  (Be sure to check Sales Force Eval.)

See the 21 Sales Core Competencies along with average scores by industry and if you want, even for your own company here.

Hire the right salespeople for each selling role at your company using OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments here.  A company that began using OMG's sales candidate assessments two years ago reported that their retention had improved from 25% to 70%, diversity had improved from 90% white male to 51%, ramp up time was 40% faster, and 75% of their teams had exceed their annual quota after just six months.

The time for having posers selling for you has passed.  What will the future of your sales team look like?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, reaching prospects, reaching decision makers, improve my sales teams performance, OMG evaluation

2 Selling Shortcuts That Will Always Work

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 22, 2019 @ 16:04 PM

shortcut

Do shortcuts work in sales?

I can tell you that shortcuts work when you're driving a car and need either a more direct route to your destination or a route that avoids traffic.  Waze helps a lot with that!

Shortcuts work in math when you know what the formula is and how to use it.

But shortcuts in sales?  Not usually.  Watch this 1:30 video on sales shortcuts and then I'll share two scenarios where shortcuts can actually be used.

 

 

So most shortcuts in sales will only serve to lengthen your sales process because the more milestones you skip, the less you know, the less urgency there is, and the harder it will be for you to overcome the void.

However, there are two shortcuts that do shorten the sales cycle, but there are crucial prerequisites to using them. If you attempt to use them without having met the prerequisites, the shortcuts are doomed to fail.

Before I share the shortcuts, you'll need context so please watch the first 4:30 of this video on sales process.

 

Now that you have reviewed the sales process with the milestones, I will share shortcut #1.  One of the milestones between 2nd and 3rd base is the timeline.  Most salespeople handle that milestone by asking something along the lines of, "When will you be making a decision?"  Bad.  Salesy.  Ineffective.  And the answer given is usually sometime in the future, which serves to lengthen the sales cycle.  Instead, if you simply ask, "When would you like to have this problem solved?" you will get an answer more in line with "today," or "yesterday," or "ASAP."  That not only serves to shorten your sales cycle, it also allows you to take another shortcut by asking, "And when there is urgency to get a problem solved, what kind of shortcuts can you take on your end to move this along?"

4 out of 5 of the bottom 50% of all salespeople have difficulty reaching actual decision makers.  They often begin the sales process with the wrong person and then ask to meet the actual decision maker.  Naturally, prospects resist and salespeople usually give in, continuing to pitch to the wrong person.  That brings us to shortcut #2.  One of the milestones between 1st and 2nd base is uncovering the compelling reason to buy. When the decision maker is not engaged, and especially if there is no compelling reason or urgency, intermediaries tend to be hesitant to get the decision maker involved.  However, if the compelling reason to buy has been uncovered, there is urgency to solve it, and the salesperson asks, "Who else cares about this?" they'll immediately hear the names and titles of the people who care - the people who are making the decisions - at which time the salesperson can ask if they might like to offer their opinions on the problem.

Shortcuts work, but only if you use the proper shortcuts and use them at the right time.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, shorten sales cycle, shortcuts

One Question Provides Salespeople with Instant Feedback on How Well They Differentiated

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 @ 11:03 AM

1

Most salespeople do not know the difference between their prospects' decision-making process compared with their decision-making criteria.

What's worse is that even more salespeople don't even bother asking about it.  According to data from Objective Management Group (OMG) who has evaluated/assessed 1,843,105 salespeople, only 27% of all salespeople are strong qualifiers so it's likely that the majority are not asking.

If you do ask a prospect about their decision-making process, you might hear about the steps they will take. If you ask about criteria, you might hear about the topics they'll consider when they make their decision.

I'll take you through an example. 

Let's say we were going to decide on the best car we have ever owned.

Our process would be to make a list of 5 cars we have owned and enjoyed.  My personal best are my current car, a 2018 Lincoln Navigator, a 2001 Jaguar XJR, a 1999 BMW 7 series, a 2005 Lexus LS and a 2015 Lexus GX. So far, that's similar to short-listing the vendors a company will invite to make presentations.  PROCESS.

Next, identify the criteria that's important to you.  For my list, I chose look, comfort, features, handling, noise level, cargo space (my son's catcher's gear takes up a lot of space) and driving enjoyment.  Note that the price I paid is not one of my criteria but I understand if it is one of yours. This is similar to identifying the questions that each vendor will be asked.   CRITERIA.

Rate each car on a 1-5 scale for each of your criteria, with 5 being the best.  PROCESS.

Next, calculate the average score for each of the 5 cars.  PROCESS.

Finally, rank the cars by score.  Your favorite car is the one with the highest overall score. Mine is my Lincoln Navigator.  This represents how the decision will be made.  CRITERIA.

Knowing a prospect's process and criteria for making a decision is only the first step.  Why are they doing it that way?  Do they need to do it that way?  If they want to work with you, why are they complicating it so much?  If there is urgency to get their problem solved, why are they taking so long?  Does it all come down to the fact that none of the salespeople stood out?  Nobody differentiated themselves?  There wasn't a single salesperson who was head and shoulders above the rest?  Everyone seemed and sounded so much alike that your product or service appeared as a commodity?

Shame on you!

Whenever they commoditize you, your company, your product, your service or your price, you are receiving instant feedback as to your how poorly you differentiated yourself.  The only consistently effective way to differentiate is to take a consultative, value based approach, featuring listening and questioning skills.

Unfortunately, most salespeople are unable to identify compelling reasons to buy, create urgency, and get their prospects to "must have."  Most salespeople fail to uncover anything more than business issues, which are never enough to differentiate.  

Join the discussion of this article right here on LinkedIn.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, consultative, prospect buying strategy, reaching decision makers

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 @ 06:07 AM

best-worst2

Professional athletes have one trait in common - they are all very athletic and their skills are among the top several hundred in the world in their particular sport.  For example, in Major League Baseball, there are 30 teams with 25 players each, making those ball players the top 750 in the world.  Dig a little deeper and in each sport there is an even smaller subset of players who are all-stars. Among the top 750 baseball players in the world, just 34, or just a little shy of 5% of that group are named to the all-star team each year.

Professional salespeople have one trait in common - they are all professional salespeople.

Since there are 16 million of them in the USA alone, they are hardly a rare breed and everyone knows someone or a lot of someones who are in sales.  However, once we look at salespeople as a profession, much like sports, around 5% are all-stars.  The difference between an all-star baseball player and a bench player or substitute for one of the 30 teams is that the all-star hitter consistently crushes the ball, the all-star pitcher consistently dominates hitters, and the all-star closer consistently shuts down hitters in the final innings of play.  

In sales, we don't have substitutes, but we have lots of weak salespeople who are far less effective than subs.  First, there are so many of them it would be like including all 2,500 or so minor league players (A, AA, and AAA leagues), 1,110 or so independent league players who aren't good enough to play for a minor league team, all 50,000 or so college baseball players, and all 500,000 or so High School players and you still wouldn't come close to the 8 million inferior salespeople in the USA!

That said, there are some things that the elite salespeople do which weak salespeople aren't able to do and it doesn't involve hitting a baseball.

The table below which shows how comfortable salespeople are when it comes to money and related discussions with their prospects, including whether or not they are speaking with the actual decision maker.

talking-money

There are so many take aways from this!

  1. Strong across the board correlation to Sales Percentile
  2. Elite salespeople are score 613% higher in the competency Comfortable Talking about Money
  3. Elite salespeople score 86% higher in Money Tolerance - their concept of how much is a lot of money
  4. Elite salespeople score 23% higher in the competency Buying Habits Support Selling Value - they buy value instead of buying based on price
  5. Elite salespeople score 74% higher at uncovering actual budgets
  6. Elite salespeople score 55% higher in the competency reaching actual decision makers.

When you put it all together, elite salespeople are 200% more likely than their weaker colleagues to succeed at selling value, while having a financial conversation, with a decision maker.  Put another way, a weak salesperson has very little chance of having any kind of financial discussion or even reaching a decision maker.

That begs the question, why do so many companies put up with having so many weak salespeople?

You can see data for hundreds of thousands of salespeople in more than 200 industries in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  If you want to get serious about selecting and hiring better salespeople you can take OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment for a test drive here.

Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, elite salespeople, talking about money, sales data

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 @ 08:07 AM

bryce-harper3

Some of you might have seen Bryce Harper's incredible last-minute barrage of home runs in the 2018 All-Star game. It's one of the highlights of summer!  Today I give you a barrage of my own with three killer videos and a powerful data-packed article.  

All 3 videos and the article use data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluation and assessments of salespeople.  You can see some of the actual data for yourself.

First up, this article that I wrote for Selling Power, has data that shows how strong salespeople score 375% better than weak salespeople in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Second in my barrage, the video below explains why the need to be liked is such a serious handicap in sales.

 

 

Third in my barrage, this video explains why 80% of salespeople aren't getting to decision makers and what to do about it.

 

 

Finally, my barrage ends with this video explaining why most sales managers aren't effective at coaching.

 

 Photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2018/07/did-bryce-harper-cheat-to-win-2018-home-run-derby-cubs-fans-think-so/

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, reaching decision makers, need to be liked, sales data

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 05:04 AM

decisionmaker

Humans have been waiting for thousands of years to discover the secrets of life.  Why are we here?  Why do bad things happen?  What happens after we die?  Is Heaven real?  What is God's plan for us?

While many experts have attempted to answer all of these questions, most of us lack proof. There's no data.  If we wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly there are not only answers to these questions, but science-based proof, that would be a game-changer for us.

Likewise, every day most companies try to determine why their salespeople don't close more business, why so many opportunities die on the vine, and what they need to do differently to change their results.  They try everything!  Most leaders think it's an issue of closing skills.  It's not.  Others think it's about prospecting.  While that has an impact on the size and quality of the pipeline, it has little to do with results.  But I have discovered the cause, will show you the data, and discuss how to fix it.

Recently, Objective Management Group (OMG) integrated its sales force evaluation and its pipeline analysis.  Previously, the pipeline analysis was a separate chapter and while very revealing, the data was standalone.  OMG also expanded its analysis of salespeople's ability to reach decision makers and rather than a finding as it once was, it is now a full competency with 8 attributes.

I have reviewed several dozen sales force evaluations conducted since the change and discovered something very revealing.  Look at the bar graph shown below:

DM's

This is VERY representative of every sales force evaluation I reviewed for this article. There is a lot going on in this graph so let me walk you through it.

This sales force averages 54% of the attributes for reaching decision makers but only 13% (green slice of the pie) are strong at this competency.  The overwhelming majority of the salespeople believe in the importance of reaching decision makers and use their skills to attempt that.  Let's focus on the first two attributes which are both Calling on Actual Decision Makers but show contradicting data.

DM2

Let's start with the second attribute.  We ask each salesperson to identify 4 late-stage, proposal-ready or closable opportunities and we ask them 19 questions about each of those opportunities.  Nearly 90% of the salespeople met with the actual decision makers on these late-stage opportunities.  That's pretty good.

The first attribute comes from each salesperson's personal evaluation.  It shows that only 10% of them are reaching actual decision makers overall.  That's pretty bad.

Now that we have these two opposing data points, it should be clear what the problem is, both for this company and for many of the companies showing the same contradiction.

When salespeople successfully reach the actual decision makers, opportunities move through the pipeline and reach the closable stage, often resulting in a win.  However, MOST salespeople are NOT reaching the actual decision makers and those are the opportunities that lose traction and/or result in a loss.

Remember, for the most part, these are salespeople who believe it's important to reach the decision maker, have that as a milestone in their sales process, have the sales skills to reach decision makers, but still fail to reach the decision makers. 

Let's take a closer look at a few of the other attributes.

DM3-1

Half of their salespeople are calling on buyers at the start of the sales process.  Why are they doing that?  Nearly half aren't comfortable meeting and talking with the target decision makers, and a third need to be liked and can't push back on buyers who won't introduce them to or allow them to meet with decision makers.

Clearly, this is not the only problem that sales organizations are facing by a long shot.  However, this data shows that if they could fix just one thing today, the consistent ability to reach decision makers would make a huge difference.

It's one thing to know what the problem is and its impact on results.  However, fixing this problem is not  simple. Reaching decision makers is made possible by having advanced listening and questioning skills in an effective consultative selling process, an ability to differentiate, and being perceived as a trusted advisor.  Reaching decision makers is time sensitive in that the timing must be perfect to consistently succeed at getting the decision makers to engage.  Let me use my expert ability to combine baseball and sales for the perfect analogy.  Have you read Baseline Selling?

If the batter swings too early he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a weak ground ball.  If the batter swings too late he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a pop fly ball.  If the batter times his swing perfectly and squares the bat to the ball he will crush it.  Salespeople need to crush it when it comes to reaching decision makers.  They must time their ask perfectly or they will probably strike out.  You can also use comedy as an analogy where the comedy writer provides the same routine to a professional comedian and an amateur.  The words coming out of each person's mouth would be identical but the professional comedian gets the laughs because of having mastered the timing and cadence of the delivery.

This problem can be fixed but the trainer or coach providing the help must have a mastery of the nuances of how these pieces all come together.  If your salespeople can reach even 25% more decision makers, think about the impact that will have on revenue.

You can see all of OMG's data for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, by industry and even see how your company compares.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, reaching decision makers, closing more sales, win rates

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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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