Derek Jeter Shows Salespeople How to Convert Leads to Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 13, 2010 @ 15:05 PM

Derek Jeter running out a ground ballDerek Jeter, the leader and all-star shortstop for the New York Yankees, goes all out running hard to first base on every ball he puts into play.  As a result, it's easy for management to expect the same kind of hustle and effort from everyone on the team.  After all, if the star does it, then everyone should do it. Other teams?  Not so much.  David Ortiz of the Boston  Red Sox never runs hard on a ground ball so what does management say to a younger player who also fails to run hard?

The sales force has similar issues.  If your Star Salesperson prospects like crazy it makes your job very simple.   You just point and say "Do what she does and one day you'll get the same results".  Then you hold your salespeople accountable to those expectations, let your top performer lead by example and watch what happens.  But the reality is that most of your Star Salespeople aren't really stars, don't do what stars do and live off of business they developed years ago or worse, off business somebody else developed years ago.  Then what?

Speaking of the grunt work, I read a statistic from one company that showed that they didn't get long term customer value from leads until 6-10 follow up attempts were made. 


That's just to get to first base. (Shameless Baseline Selling tie-in there)

How many of your salespeople are giving up WAY before 6 attempts?  

How many of your salespeople simply aren't working leads thoroughly enough?

Tell your salespeople that they're going to have to start running hard to first base on every ball/lead that they put into play.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Closing Sales, Sales Accountability, derek jeter, converting leads to appointments, lead conversion, sales prospecting

Football's Pitch Count and its Connection to Sales Management

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 @ 09:04 AM

Herm Edwards, currently of ESPN and formerly the Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was interviewed on WEEI, Boston's Sports Talk Radio station today.  He said a couple of things that were quite compelling:

  1. When asked about pro football players that get in trouble, like Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Edwards said he believes in the "12 O'Clock Rule - Nothing good can happen after 12 O'Clock so they have to know their pitch count."  That's two simple metrics that lead to winning.  Keep track of the time and the number of drinks.  Applied to sales, can you name two metrics, that happen off the field, that can prevent ineffective performance?
  2. When asked about tonight's NFL Draft, he said that 265 players will be drafted, 150 will make the opening day rosters, and about 25 of these rookies will be starters for the 32 Pro Teams.  He said that all boils down to "coach them and mold them".  How many sales managers take that approach with their new salespeople?  Not enough.  Most train their salespeople for a couple of days, throw them out in the field, set them up for failure, and don't understand why they don't perform.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, Sales Accountability, herm edwards

When the Sales Goals Change but the Behavior and Results Don't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 @ 23:04 PM

Suppose that you need your salespeople to find significantly more new business.  Perhaps you've wanted this for a while but it's only recently that you communicated this to your salespeople.  You've changed the goal but after a month your salespeople's behavior and results haven't changed at all. 

Let's compare this to weight loss.  You decide that you will finally lose that 30 pounds you've been carrying around for several years.  Your goal changes but after a month, the weight hasn't begun to decrease.  Did the behavior change?  Was there a change to either diet, lifestyle or exercise?  With weight loss goals, it's usually very apparent that the weight won't come off until at least one of those three behaviors change.

Unfortunately, with salespeople, it's not always apparent that a modified goal requires modified behaviors.  As much as salespeople tend to take the path of least resistance, sales managers tend to enable them by not holding them accountable and not providing the right type and amount of coaching and motivation.

You can change salespeople's behavior but it takes more than asking or demanding.  You must be able to provide a reason, explain the benefits, share the plan, set expectations, and have a timeline.  You must be able to coach to the new goals, hold them accountable to the new behavior, and be willing to enforce consequences when you don't see the anticipated change.

Or, you could simply allow them to continue doing what they've been doing...

I wrote an article on just this subject back in September.  It was the Hierarchy of Sales Coaching - How to Change Behavior. 


Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, Sales Accountability, sales expectations, sales goals

Best Sales Leadership and Sales Management Training - Boot Camp

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 07, 2010 @ 11:04 AM

How would you like to spend three days with me?

You can - in June - if you qualify.  I'm sure that only about one of every ten sales leaders will meet the qualifications for this comprehensive program. There's nothing like this program - anywhere.  Sure, there are a few other places where you can get basic sales management training but it won't be like this one.  This is my no-fluff, kick-ass, everthing that's crucial, original intensive Sales Leadership Boot Camp!

I'll be leading a three-day intensive Sales Leadership program limited to just 24 individuals. With a group this size, you'll get lots of attention, and you'll be able to report on your real progress, with your sales team, over the course of the three days.  For example, I'll teach you how to coach your salespeople the right way, then I'll play some recorded examples, then I'll coach one of your salespeople live, then you'll coach your salespeople, and then you'll be critiqued on your effectiveness. Intense!

You'll come away with every tool, system, process, strategy, tactic and metric you'll need to bring your sales force to the next level.  And you'll work your bottom off while we're together.

Annual Sales Leadership Intensive - The Premier Sales Leadership Event of the year.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, best sales management training, best sales leadership training, sales management training, Sales Accountability, sales management boot camp, sales leadership boot camp

Can We Really Get Salespeople to Change?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 @ 06:03 AM

People change when they are ready to change.

For example, I needed to lose weight and become healthier for several years.  I had been reading the literature on healthy eating for months.  I knew that this was important but until the day came when I was ready to commit to being healthy and eating healthy, nothing would change.

By default, salespeople are the same way.  They know that there are more effective methods of selling, they know the importance of following your structured sales process.  They have read the books, attended training, received coaching, heard the strategies and techniques, listened and participated in role-plays and been coached on proper use.  But until the day comes, probably a very frustrating day where they recognize the futility of their comfortable but ineffective ways, and they are willing to commit, nothing will change.

That can be very frustrating and worse, it can mean that much of the time and money you invest in sales improvement will be wasted. Unless...

A week ago I wrote an article on the 10 Rules for Getting Salespeople to Follow Your Sales Process.

When you implement those 10 Rules, especially Rules #1, 2 and 9, you can short-circuit human nature and cause salespeople to change on your time line rather than theirs.

Rule #9, Consequences for non-compliance, becomes the crucial ingredient in this process.  In my next article, I'll discuss consequences. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, changing salespeople, Sales Accountability, sales compliance

Sales Leadership - a Balancing Act to Achieve Compliance and Quotas

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 @ 05:03 AM

My guest on this week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts was Phil Harris, Worldwide VP of Sales for Akibia. We covered many areas of Sales Leadership that fall under the direction of someone in Phil's role including cultural issues, competition among sales managers, and getting an entire sales force to change.  I chose to discuss the balance sales leaders must have between sharing, mandating and asking.  Sounds simple.

MANDATING - this sounds easy.  The key to mandating is what, when and how to mandate.  It's important to start with WHEN.  You mandate when your sales managers or salespeople aren't doing what you have ASKED them to do.  You mandate WHATever it is that they aren't doing voluntarily.  And HOW you mandate is to use my four step hierarchy of sales coaching and accountability to change salespeople's behavior and my 10 Rules for Getting Salespeople to Follow the Sales Process. These days, one of the most common sales leadership issues is CRM compliance - getting the salespeople to maintain current account/opportunity information.

SHARING - this sounds even simpler! The key to sharing - your expertise, coaching, stories, ideas, suggestions, experiences, wisdom, thoughts, feelings or wishes - with your sales managers and salespeople is to have a strong relationship built on trust, respect and credibility before your sharing will have the desired impact.  Sharing must also be unconditional.  It's OK to share because you want to help.  It's not OK to share because you think you'll get something back in return.  It's great when you do get something back but you simply cannot share with those expectations.

ASKING -  This should be the default for all things Sales Leadership.  Always ask - nicely, respectfully, and clearly - and get feedback on how they will go about doing what you asked, when you can expect completion, and what you can do to help.  Asking can take multiple forms - from simple questions (would you please?), to challenges (can you handle it?), to loss of faith (I'm not sure you can do this).

Sales Managers can use the same balance with their salespeople and salespeople can use the same balance with their prospects, customers and clients.  Mandating to customers?  Sure.  At some point in the process you probably assign some kind of homework (Can you send me this?  Can you find me that?)  When they don't do it after you've nicely asked, you simply mandate (John, I won't be able to meet the time line if you don't provide me with that list of names and email addresses today).

Since this sounds so simple and doable, why do so many in sales management have so much difficulty with this balance?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, Sales Accountability, akibia, phil harris

Sales 2.0 Competencies, Changes and Myths

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 07, 2009 @ 17:12 PM

There has been much talk about Sales 2.0 yet most sales experts can't agree on exactly what it is.  But before we can even discuss Sales 2.0, I must confess that most companies have yet to get on board with good old Sales 1.x!  Most companies are still selling without formalized sales processes, effective strategies and effective tactics.  Most companies still have their salespeople show up, present, demo, quote and wait for the business. 

Prior to working with them, most of my clients have said that they had a sales process, had worked with their salespeople on questioning and listening skills and just needed some tweaking. Just today, two companies emailed me saying pretty much the same thing. One "only" needed a sales playbook and the other "only" needed some negotiation skills.  The passing of time and a sales force evaluation have historically shown these claims to be mostly untrue!  The clients thought they had provided this guidance, thought their salespeople were executing and thought they only needed tweaking.  The reality was that their salespeople were nearly as ineffective as the companies that hadn't worked on these competencies at all.  Why? We can explore that in a future article.

So if Sales 1.x is grounded in sales process and consultative skills, what is  Sales 2.0?

While Sales 2.0 includes technology (sales force automation, CRM, Lead Generation and Tracking, Sales Enablement, etc.) at its core, most of this technology merely supports salespeople and provides coaching and accountability tools (via dashboards) for sales management.  In my opinion, the two biggest differentiators between Sales 1.x and Sales 2.0 are:

  1. The emphasis on being found by your prospects over you finding your prospects.  There is tremendous danger in this - much like being part of a networking group or attending networking events.  If you rely solely on networking for referrals that lead to getting you introduced to a potential new customer/client, you will starve unless you have a tremendous flow of quality referrals coming your way (By Referral-only Training). Similarly, with outbound and inbound marketing and advertising, if you don't have enough prospects finding you, then you'd better hit the phones and make up the difference with some good old Sales 0.0.
  2. Prospects are more educated than they used to be at your first point of contact so you must provide more value when you meet or speak with them.  How do you add value?  By asking good, tough timely questions. Isn't that part of Sales 1.x?  Yes!  It's just that now, prospects expect you to ask questions, not just sales experts.

So you still have to hunt and you still have to possess great listening and questioning skills.  That brings us back to the other factor in Sales 2.0, the use of technology.  In a recent survey, not yet released, CRM was more likely to have been integrated with the sales force than sales enablement tools, prospect/customer data and marketing/lead tracking. The survey indicated that the impact these products are having is fairly significant too, proportionate to the level of integration. 

What does it mean?  In the end it comes down to this;  These technologies are not going away and they are extremely helpful in how they support the sales effort.    They do not replace the sales effort, so it's a matter of having proper expectations, commitment and follow through

If your expectations are properly set (they will be a big help supporting the sales effort), your company is committed from the top down (we are committed to using these tools and anyone who isn't in compliance can leave) and you follow through (if you don't use them and keep them up to date you are gone), then you will have plenty of useful data to help with process, information, cycles, follow up, coaching, tracking, accountability, training, metrics, and forecasting.  On the other hand, if your expectations are lousy (Tom, this might give sales a boost), your commitment is weak (just give it a try Jeffrey - we can always pull the plug if they don't use it) and you fail to follow through (don't worry Zig, this doesn't apply to you), you'll get what you deserve.

With proper expectations, commitment and follow through, the actual applications you choose become a little less important, although it helps to use applications that take away most of the excuses. 

I have some favorites that I recommend:

Instead of CRM I strongly recommend  One look at what they offer (VIP's will input the data by phone for your salespeople that don't want to! And, it gives you an opportunity-centric, rather than contact or account-centric, interface) and you'll understand why.

For getting found I strongly recommend  One look at what they offer (not just a platform for tracking data with analytics, but analytics that guide what you do) and you'll understand why.

In the end, it doesn't matter whether you're at Sales 1.x or Sales 2.0. What matters is that your salespeople are still out selling and not hiding behind technology hoping for things to happen.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, sales management functions, Sales 2.0, Sales Accountability

Accountability - 2nd of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 @ 06:11 AM

This is the 2nd in the series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.


In its simplest form, sales accountability consists of the following:

  • Holding salespeople accountable to something measurable - metrics - on a daily basis
  • Being more demanding - being firmer and tougher
  • Eliminating Excuse Making - people take responsibility for their results
  • No more under achieving - everyone achieves and over achieves or else...

Here's a video of me discussing Excuse Making...


Accountability is an ongoing function and takes place on the following time line:

  • in a daily huddle
  • no more than 5-10 minutes
  • with your entire team (in person or by teleconference)
  • using the power of peer pressure
  • everyone reports on the metrics on which they are being held accountable (it isn't necessary for everyone to be reporting on the same metrics)

Yesterday, on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, my guest, Bob Waks, not only talked about passion and commitment, but his theme throughout the show was on building strong processes and systems and using them to hold people accountable. Click here to contact Bob.

I have written on accountability before. 

Read this article to learn how you can quickly change sales behaviors by using my four-step accountability method. 

Read this article for a case history of a client using accountability to change sales performance

This article illustrates where accountabilty must be used in the sales process

Read this article for an example of executive excuse-making for not using accountability

Read this article to see how much time sales managers spend on holding salespeople accountable (hint - not enough!). 

This article discusses the role of accountability in why new salespeople fail.

And finally, read this article to understand the importance of accountability in the context of sales training, coaching and development.

If you are going to focus on just one of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions and hope to realize an improvement in sales, Accountability is the single function that will help you accomplish it.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management functions, Sales Accountability, excuse making, sales mangaement

Overcoming the Disfunction in Sales Organizations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 @ 06:08 AM

Rocky LaGrone is a sales development expert who has seen his share of disfunction.  Rocky was my guest on last week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  Rocky is another sales development expert/sales pro who points to Napoleon Hill and his classic, Think and Grow Rich, as the book that helped him understand what made him who he was and what gives successful people that special charisma.  He also points to this book as an early resource that helped him better understand disfunction and move away from it. So it's ironic that when he begins working with most clients, the disfunction in their sales organization stands out so much.

It was clear early in the interview that Rocky was and still is someone who won't back down from a challenge.  He shared several stories to illustrate that point including the challenge that got him to sell Kirby Vacuum Cleaners.  And he shared a great story - about values - that led to his resignation from Kirby.

These days, many companies have questions about compensation for salespeople and sales leaders and as a result they make a lot of mistakes too.  Why would a company want to squash a top producer because he/she is making a lot of money?  It happened to Rocky once and he weighed in - with a strong opinion - on the subject.

I asked Rocky about they key that lead one of his many successful clients to grow from $5 million to $45 million in a short time.  He said it was accountability.  Listen to the show to learn how this CEO changed and went from unable and unwilling to ready and able to execute accountability at his company.

Listen to the entire episodeContact Rocky.

Topics: sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, Rocky LaGrone, dysfunction, Sales Accountability

How to Get the Entire Sales Force to Change - Now

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 @ 13:07 PM

Let's discuss how difficult it is to change.

Let's start with a result of change:

In one week I:

  • lost 8 lbs.
  • stopped taking all of my toxic prescription medications and over the counter remedies
  • got my energy back
  • lost 3 inches around my waist
  • fit into my clothes again
  • discovered great flavor in foods that I previously didn't like
  • don't feel bloated anymore after eating

To make this even more dramatic, I was the person who, although usually quite open to ideas and criticism, was totally resistant when it came to food.  Quite simply, I loved my food, I wouldn't give up my favorites, and I couldn't imagine going without bread or ice cream.

Why and how this happened are not as important as what happened.

Most people don't change because they are:

  • afraid of it,
  • uncomfortable with it,
  • don't want to give things up, or
  • don't want to take things on.
For me it was the latter two.

But one day, inspired by my wonderful wife, in one dramatic moment, I made a decision.  And it was a decision that I intended to commit to, without exception.  You see it's the exceptions that can get you in trouble...."just this once"..."I deserved it"..."I've already blown today, this week, this month, etc."...

Anyway, the final goal may take some time to accomplish but the change takes place immediately.  And the initial results of that change provide the ongoing motivation to continue.  The food I was worried about missing?  After three days I didn't care anymore.

Now lets discuss your company and the sales organization.  What have you been afraid to change?

  • Evaluating your Sales Force?
  • implementing an Effective Recruiting Process?
  • Installing Sales Force Automation?
  • Making Your Sales Systems and Processes more effective? 
  • Developing Your Salespeople?
  • Holding Salespeople Accountable?
  • Daily Coaching?
  • Getting Salespeople to Resist Presenting?
  • Getting Salespeople to ask better questions?
  • Being tougher?
  • Overcoming weaknesses like Need for Approval and Rejection
  • Bringing in an Outside Sales Development Expert?
  • Spending Money?
  • Replacing non-performers?
  • Terminating relationships?

There really isn't a hard part. There's simply a decision and once you've made it you're already working on the good stuff so you don't have much time to think about the decision, what you've given up, what you've taken on, your fear or your discomfort.  Nike had it right all along.  Just do it.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales motivation, resistance to change, sales evaluation, Sales Accountability

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

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