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

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

Before I purchased my first Jaguar, my dream car was the Infinity 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

The Many Different Selling Roles and How They Differ - Part 1

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 27, 2022 @ 12:07 PM

car-comparison

When you think about cars, you know there are coupes, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and sports cars.  You also know there are luxury cars, mid-range cars and economy cars.  You also know there are fast cars and slow cars, flashy cars and vanilla cars, big cars and little cars, white cars, black cars and every color in between.  But if you were to think about specific features that differentiate one car from another, you would have to really think about it, wouldn't you?  It used to be easy.  Air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, power windows, power seats, side mirrors and automatic transmissions were standard in the expensive cars but not available in the budget-priced cars.  Today, most cars, in most classes include all of those features as standard.

The same kind of thinking is required when thinking about the various roles of salespeople.  We can name them: Account Executive, Territory Manager, Business Development Rep, Sales Development Rep, Account Manager, Key Account Manager, National Account Manager, Channel Manager, Application Engineer, Sales Consultant, Inside Sales, Outside Sales, and more.

To further complicate things, in some companies and industries, Sales Managers function as salespeople and Sales VPs function as Sales Managers.

While the above roles have selling as a primary responsibility, there are as many differences to selling roles as there are differences to the class or style of cars.  Today, we'll explore the difference between an Account Executive and a Business Development Rep.

I collaborated with Joe DiDonato, Chief of Staff at Baker Communications, and together we produced the following comparison.

Role Comparison for 21 Sales Competencies

While both roles overlapped in 10 key competencies, the capabilities in the remaining 11 competencies were very different. 

A successful AE needs to excel at 18 of 21 competencies that OMG assesses, while a successful BDR needs to excel at 13 of the 21 competencies. BDRs perform lead follow-up, send emails and connection requests, and conduct cold-calling. The reality is that most individuals in that role aren’t very good at it, based on the data we've collected. There is a prevailing misconception that those 3 tasks don’t require much selling ability because it’s “all top of the funnel,” but success in the role requires proficiency in 11 different sales competencies.

It’s the nature of each role’s responsibilities - and the prospect’s point of entry into the sales process and funnel - that requires different strengths. A BDR is focused on closing the prospect on initial sales and proof of concept steps at the top of the sales funnel. They’re going to be faced with 9 out of 10 callers rejecting them – if not more - and must be able to shrug that off without taking the rejection personally. As a result, the BDR must be “rejection proof” in addition to having strong hunting and closing capabilities. 

In contrast, the AE role relies on relationship building to move the opportunity down the sales funnel and through the formal sales process. Included in that effort is a strong consultative selling ability, as well as the knowledge of how to convincingly sell value to the prospect – both essential skills in moving the opportunity forward. 

Next comes strong presentation skills as the proposed solution has to be presented to multiple stakeholders, as well as a keen understanding and respect of the formal sales process that successfully moves the opportunity forward. Rounding out the AE's portfolio of skills is that the AE must have a considerably stronger comfort level around discussing money. 

So many opportunities are squandered as a result of an AE's failure to verify that the money is there, it can be spent, they are willing to pay more, and the value of more has been established. AEs who are comfortable having that conversation will outsell those who don’t. When they skip, avoid, or vaguely cover finances, proposals are generated for prospects who either won’t buy or won’t pay the price resulting in price objections, delays, business lost to competitors, or prospects choosing to do nothing. 

One of the most significant differentiators between the most successful AEs and their less successful counterparts can be found in the sales competency called Supportive Buy Cycle (shown in the table above). The attributes in the Buy Cycle competency correlate to how salespeople go about the process of making a major purchase for themselves and salespeople tend to sell in a way that is consistent with how they buy. The best salespeople determine what they want to purchase and simply buy it - without much consideration of price, alternate sources, having to think it over, and more. 

Conversely, the weakest salespeople tend to conduct research, comparison shop, look for the lowest price, think things over, and some of them even hate salespeople and "being sold" something. As you might imagine, the weakest salespeople understand it when their prospects want to buy the same way that they do, while the strongest salespeople don’t understand that buying behavior, push back, and ask questions. 

Strong salespeople have the ability to eliminate competition, shorten the sales cycle, and help prospects buy on value instead of price. It’s difficult for some salespeople to grasp the concept and consequences of this competency. But when salespeople change the way they buy so that it supports ideal sales outcomes, their revenue increases by 50%.

As you can see from the analysis, the skill sets are very different. Many companies treat the BDR role as an entry-level position in preparation for the more demanding AE role at some future date. But as closely aligned as these two roles are in objectives, they require different skills to be successful. As a result, the movement between roles is not as easily accomplished as most sales managers hope.

Before we conclude the article, it's important to note that for each of these 21 Sales Core Competencies, OMG includes 8-10 attributes (64 on one of them) for a total of around 275 specific sales findings and scores.  We have a site that shows the following data for each competency:

  • Average score for all salespeople
  • Average score for the top 10%
  • Average score for the bottom 10%
  • Average score in your industry
  • Average score for your company (you'll need some of your salespeople to take the evaluation to populate this bar on the graph - it's free for them to take it and populate the bar graph with your aggregate scores but you'll have to pay for the 30-page reports if you want them)

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, relationship building, prospecting, sales core competencies, sales CRM, top of the funnel

Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

first-impression

Most salespeople don't take first impressions seriously enough. If they did, their first impressions would be much more favorable.

I can still remember my first (unintentional) lesson about first impressions.  My family was gathered at my grandfather's house to watch the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.  It was February 9, 1964 and at 8 years old, I was one of seventy-three million people watching the show that night.  I was as excited about this show as I would be later that same year when I attended my first Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.  That is pretty excited! 

Sitting on the carpet, I was completely focused on seeing and hearing The Beatles play five of their hit songs, but my mother was doing color commentary from the plastic covered sofa behind me.

She said, "He's cleaner than the other 3", referring to Paul McCartney, who had straighter teeth, and a face more suitable for the mop top hair style shared by the four of them.

There it was, my first lesson in judging people by how they looked, and more specifically, what "clean" did and did not look like.

We were all exposed to unintentional lessons like that when we were young and those lessons stay with us today.  My father was an optometrist and around a quarter of his patients were on welfare.  While they were entitled to the same eye examination as everyone else, they were not allowed to choose from the same selection of eye glasses  and were not allowed to wear contact lenses - unless they could pay the difference.  Therefore, I assumed that anyone I saw wearing "those glasses" must be on welfare.

15 years later, when I was in the music business, a man who looked like he spent the night sleeping on the side of the road, bought the most expensive guitar I had in stock.  He paid cash.

Enough for the trip down memory lane.

When you are in sales, your first impression has been made the moment a prospect sets eyes on you, and based on how that prospect reacts, you, in turn, create a first impression of them.

Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated or assessed 1,869,505 salespeople, has a finding I haven't written much about called Sales Posturing.  In a nutshell, Posturing measures first impressions, how memorable you are, and how effectively you differentiate yourself from the competition. In the table below, you'll see scores for Posturing,  as well as Relationship Building which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies. 

posturing-relationships

While there is a correlation between both sets of scores and the overall effectiveness level of salespeople, the difference in scores is minuscule in comparison to creating urgency, The 21 Sales Core Competencies, Closing, and 5 Scores Related to Money.  This proves my point that most salespeople, even the great ones, do not pay enough attention to the quality of their first impressions.

How much focus have you given to how you make your first impression?  Here are 10 things you can control to assure that you make a great first impression.  For a lot of these, Goldilocks and  the Three Bears will be a good guide.  Not too much, not too little, but just right:

  1. Your smile
  2. Your handshake
  3. Your confidence
  4. Your outfit
  5. Your hair
  6. Your first words
  7. Your tonality
  8. Your trustworthiness
  9. Your approach
  10. Your authenticity

Thirty-three years ago, when I was far less experienced in the sales development space, my first impressions were not very good and it was represented by the quality of my clients at the time.  Fortunately, thirty-three years provides a nice, long runway for improvement!

Selling, and especially consultative selling, is difficult enough without having to dig out of the hole created by first impressions gone wrong.  You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so remember, every encounter provides you with your last chance to make a good first impression.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, relationship building, assessment, omg, the beatles, objective management group, Ed Sullivan

Sales Effectiveness - IDC and CEB Draw Conflicting Conclusions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 @ 21:02 PM

relationshipThe latest IDC Study says that of the customers who changed vendors last year, 65% did so because they either had a poor relationship with their vendor or a better relationship with the new vendor.  One of their conclusions is that companies need to do a better job teaching their salespeople how to develop relationship building skills, especially in the C-Level.

The latest Corporate Executive Board study starts out with this headline:  "Most companies are betting that reps who focus on building stronger customer relationships will rebuild sales.  They’re wrong—here’s why."

So why are these two studies coming to two different conclusions?

If we look inside the CEB study, they polled 450 first line sales managers and asked them to assess their salespeople in 44 different areas.  There are three huge problems with this:

  1. 44 is far too large a number; 
  2. Most first line sales managers don't possess the ability to recognize what "good" is supposed to look like because good on their team could be the equivalent of poor on any other team;
  3. Objective Management Group's data on more than 100,000 sales managers reveals that 52% of all first line sales managers shouldn't even be in the role and only 7% are elite.  How can we place any value on a study that doesn't limit its participation to the top 7%?

The IDC study fared no better. They polled customers who then rated salespeople in various areas.  How many customers are aware of how the salespeople performed compared to sales expectations?  It was more likely that they rated salespeople in areas like responsiveness, relationships, attention to detail, ability to provide lowest prices and knowledge. These aren't sales competencies, they're professional competencies and they come with an agenda.

Both studies are really nothing more than surveys and surveys are only as good as the design, criteria, objectivity and demographic of the audience being surveyed. 

Do companies need to develop their salespeople in the area of relationship building skills?  Yes, of course.  Our data shows that 74% of the salespeople we have assessed are not as effective as they need to be in that area.  But relationship building skills alone won't get the job done!

Companies must also develop their sales team's selling skills, formalize and optimize their sales processes and significantly develop and improve their sales management skills.

And even more important than all of that?  You absolutely must have the right salespeople in the right roles and nobody can survey their way to those important decisions!  You must evaluate your sales force to determine whether you have the right people, whether they can execute your strategies, whether they can sell the way one must sell to be effective in this new economy, to know how much better they can become, what it will take to get them there and how long before they'll arrive.  Listen to me discuss the reasons to conduct a sales force evaluation.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales management, relationship building, Corporate Executive Board, Relationship Selling

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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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