Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 @ 18:01 PM

breaking-news

Some really terrific news came across my desk this week when John Pattison, Objective Management Group's (OMG's) COO, showed me two graphs he had created.  For the first time in recent memory, salespeople as a profession GOT BETTER!

That's right, when we compared the results of the 85,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2018 to the 80,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2017, there was a measurable improvement in overall scores!

Let's review the two graphs below.

In the first graph below you will see the that the blue plot line for 2018 has moved to the right for the middle 50%.  

Sales Percentile 2018 vs 2017

The next graph presents a more familiar looking bell curve. The move to the right for 2018 (shown in blue) is even more apparent in this graph.

Sales Index 2018 vs 2017 v4

It might not seem like much but there are two significant points to consider:

1. The lion's share - probably 99% of this data - is from salespeople and sales candidates prior to receiving professional sales training from any of OMG's partners.

2. An average improvement of 2% by the middle two quartiles is significant.  Remember, this is an average increase for the middle two quartiles (the IQR).  The 2% average is also affected by which company provides the training and coaching and which sales process and methodology are selected.  If 80% of revenue comes from the top 20% of salespeople, then the middle we are talking about here produces about 20% of the revenue. A 10% improvement represents a 33% increase in revenue so a 2% increase in effectiveness would yield a 6% incremental increase in revenue.   For example, suppose you run a $20 million company with a 33% margin and you improve revenue by 6%. That's an increase of $1,200,000 on the top line and $400,000 in gross profit.  Most businesses will take that incremental improvement on top of their expected year-over-year organic growth.  Often times, that improvement is the result of being more effective at selling value and in addition to being 2% more effective overall, salespeople are improving margins by 5 points or more.  In our example above, the gross profit would increase to $456,000.

What can we attribute this improvement to?  If I had to point to one thing, it would be that the coaching by sales managers is finally starting to support, rather than undermine, sales training and sales process.  I'm sure you have your own ideas as to what has moved the needle.  Add your comments to this discussion on LinkedIn.

Finally, we have evidence that the work being done to improve the capabilities of professional salespeople is paying dividends.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales revenue, revenue growth

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

Every Mac owner knows about the dreaded beach ball of death.  For those who have never experienced the Mac equivalent of a computer crash, a beach ball that won't stop spinning appears on the screen and when it's more than a simple application crash, the death reference implies impending doom to the Mac itself.  This is what it looks like:

spinning-beach-ball

During the summer, beach balls can also be seen floating among fans in the center field bleachers at Fenway Park. This is especially true when the Red Sox are losing or playing a particularly boring game.  Death quickly comes to those beach balls when players, security guards or grounds crew stab the beach balls with a bullpen rake!

floating-beach-ball

And then there is the beach ball I want to share today - the sales beach ball of impending doom.  You might be wondering how there could even be a sales beach ball, never mind one that spells impending doom; but, there is.

Last week I saw it for the first time on a slide from a deck that Objective Management Group (OMG) prepares when we evaluate a sales force.  This particular slide answered the question, "Why Aren't We Generating More New Business?"

Here's the slide:

slide-new-business-w-beach-ball
Do you see the beach ball at the bottom in the center of the slide?  If it was all green, that would mean that the salespeople would be capable of finding new business and building a better pipeline.  But it is far from being all green.  There is a lot of red and coral, suggesting that there is an even bigger problem than anything that a change in behavior, strategy or tactics might solve.  Let's take a closer look at that beach ball and the legend that accompanies it:

slide-sales-beach-ball-of-doomThat big red area tells us that 33% of their salespeople are classified as People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects (PETP).  Like their friends at PETA, who protect animals, the members of this group have a strain in their Sales DNA that prevents them from hunting prospects for new business.  In addition, the coral area tells us that 17% are fishermen.  They won't hunt either, but if a prospect bites, they'll reel in the opportunity.  The most a company could hope for is that the coral group of salespeople will follow up on leads.  The light green is represented by another 33% who will prospect if only a sales manager would hold them accountable.  But if you scroll up and look at the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see that sales management's ability to hold their salespeople accountable also falls into the red.  When all is said and done with this question about finding new business, only 17% of their salespeople will voluntarily go out on hunting expeditions. 

As presently constituted, their ability to find new business is extremely limited - a sales growth beach ball of impending doom.

This slide represented only one of more than two-dozen difficult business questions that we answer where we use science to explain why companies get the results they get, whether or not the sales force is capable of improving their results, and to what degree those results can be improved.  Are you interested in learning more about a sales force evaluation?

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales growth, sales prospecting, objective management group, revenue growth, OMG Assessment

Do Your Salespeople Have to Give Up Control to Their Prospects?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 @ 09:09 AM

adaptI just read Why Won't Anyone Return My !*#@$% Call by Don Fornes over at Software Advice.  Don's read of the current selling environment, specifically cold-calling, entry point into the sales process, and the table stakes just to play are dead-on.  Most of his conclusions are good as well.

I disagree with his article when he implies that we should be resigned to the fact that there isn't much to be done except building trust until the prospect is ready to engage.  For the under achievers, the largely ineffective 74% of all salespeople, this may be their only hope.  But the best salespeople, the top 26%, won't sit back and take a passive role with their prospects and they shouldn't.  The top 26% have the ability to engage their prospects earlier, redirect their prospects backward in the sales process, position themselves as trusted advisers, and differentiate themselves from their competitors.  All this before they present, close and win.  The passive 74% get in when their prospects are ready and typically present, quote, chase and lose.

So the argument is really dependent on whether you have a:

  • highly skilled, highly trained, high performing sales force whose competencies include consultative selling skills, proactive prospecting skills, sales cycle management, qualifying and closing skills; or
  • circa 20th century sales force whose competencies are limited to presenting, technology, proposals and account management.

In my experience helping companies develop their sales forces to meet the first description, very few of them were aware that their salespeople were so limited as to only meet the second description. 

The world of sales selling has changed dramatically due to the abundance of information and the recent economic meltdown.  Most companies have not adapted to this change and their sales and especially their margins, reflect this trend.

The question is, where is your sales force today, and how big is the gap between there and where you must be to grow revenue, profit and market share?

Objective Management Group's Sales Force Evaluation is a really good place to start....

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sales assessments, revenue growth

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

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