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

What Percentage of New Salespeople Reach Decision Makers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

deadend.jpeg

It isn't as good as the Father's Day gifts I received from my wife and son, but I love it just the same.  My team at Objective Management Group (OMG) built a great new tool and this one does not help us to more effectively evaluate sales forces and assess sales candidates.  We're already pretty darn good at that.  The new tool allows me to quickly grab and analyze data faster and more effectively than I ever could before.  For example, I used it last week for the first time and within a few minutes I was able to write this article that showed 2 of our 21 sales competencies in a completely surprising way.  While this is very cool for me, I think this could be even more awesome for you!

For example, I reviewed a new set of around 8,500 rows of data today.  I wanted to know what percentage of salespeople were able to get past gatekeepers, including voice mail systems, and reach decision makers. This was very interesting!

Overall, 46% of all salespeople are able to get past gatekeepers and reach decision makers - but that's only when we include procurement folks as decision makers.  If we filter the data on salespeople who do not begin with procurement, that number drops to just 13%!  But there's more!  When I filtered the data by salespeople who are brand new to sales it drops to only 1%.  ONLY ONE PERCENT OF NEW SALESPEOPLE ARE ABLE TO REACH DECISION MAKERS!!  And who are the people filling all of the new sales development and business development roles - the top of the funnel roles where BDR's and SDR's call to make appointments for the account executives to meet with Decision Makers?  Brand new salespeople!!  This data is only about getting through - prior to having a first conversation with a decision maker - is it any wonder that they average only 1.5 meetings booked per week?

There are plenty of people writing articles about the differences between good salespeople and everyone else.  I attempt to debunk as many of those articles as I get to see but there are more than I could ever get to. Compared to the science based data that OMG has, those articles are based on opinions and anecdotal references and generally quite false.  Do you have a theory about salespeople?  Have you observed a difference maker?  Have you worked with some great salespeople?  With this new tool at my disposal, I can accept any and all of your theories, questions, assumptions and requests, run an analysis, and report on what we learn!  I'm very excited about the process.  You can enter your request in the comments below, or if you prefer anonymity, email it to me at dkurlan@objectivemanagement.com.  I won't use your name if you don't want me to.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, booking appointments, reaching decision makers, phone prospecting, top of the funnel

Bad Guys - How We Lost This Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

lost-the-deal

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Lost deals, as well as sales calls and sales meetings that go south, make up a huge portion of our coaching calls with clients and their salespeople.  After all, everyone can learn a lot more from what went wrong than they can from what went right.  We also coach clients and their salespeople on how to win the deals that are currently in the later stages of their pipelines.  They tend to be overly optimistic, so for a dose of reality, we always ask about what could possibly go wrong.  They rarely know what could go wrong, so we help them out and introduce them to a long list of possibilities.

Today, Murphy's Law made a rare appearance at our company.  My favorite law from Murphy is, "Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes straight to the bone." Unfortunately, that wasn't the law that appeared.  Of course, it was, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Here's what happened...Last week, we received a verbal go ahead from the CEO of a company and a formal agreement was to be signed today.  There didn't seem to be anything that could derail this deal and in addition, they had tremendous urgency to get started.  They knew they needed help and in my opinion, things were even worse than what they thought.

Last week, they were very excited about what we could do to help and couldn't wait to get started.  We were talking with both the Chairman and the CEO, so we couldn't have gone any higher in the company.  We are uniquely qualified to provide the very specific help that they required in both the short and long term and there was terrific alignment on both sides of the table.

Blindsided

Today, we learned that they were going with another company due to the relationships that two of their outside investors had with the competitor.

Wait a minute...what outside investors?  Isn't the chairman the outside investor?

How did we miss that?  

In an action adventure novel, there is never only one bad guy trying to kill the hero; there are always at least two!  And the mastermind never sends just one team of bad guys, he always sends a backup team just in case his first team fails.  

Remember this!!  It doesn't matter whether we are talking about bad guys or outside investors.  There are always at least two!!

It turns out that there are more than two more outside investors.  Would knowing that last week have changed anything?  Maybe.  We could have asked if the outside investors would have input.  We could have asked to include them in the conversation.  We could have asked if they knew anybody in our business.  We could have asked what would happen if they wanted to work with someone they had personal experience with.  We could have sold them on working with us.  We could have done more than we did.

The Lesson

In professional sales, there is a qualified opportunity and then there is thoroughly qualified opportunity.  On the opportunity in question, we substituted qualified for thoroughly qualified.  It does not help to know that our version of qualified is still at least 10 times more qualified than what the typical salesperson calls qualified.  Does-not-matter-one-bit.  If you miss something, whether or not you should have known about it, you still missed it.  If something catches you by surprise after the fact, you still missed it.  If a new competitor, a new stakeholder, a new issue, a new budget, or even a new time line comes up at the 12th hour, you still missed it.

It's our job to know everything.  We failed because we didn't do our job.

There is yet another way to lose a deal and that's by losing control of your emotions.  Read this article on the Hubspot Blog for more.

Join me for one of the following free presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks:

February 19 at Noon Eastern: How to Hire Your Next Salesperson presented by TAB.

February 26 at 11 AM Eastern: The Magic Behind OMG's Legendary Sales Candidate Assessments presented by Objective Management Group

March 5 at 9 AM Eastern: The Power of Sales Process and Pipeline Management/CRM presented by Membrain and Kurlan & Associates

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales World Magazine is available today.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales qualification, reaching decision makers, lost sale, lost deal, outside investors

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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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