Masks and Sales Assessments - You Lose a Little Freedom and Control for Safety and Confidence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 @ 13:09 PM

mask-in-public

A short end-of-the-week post.

Earlier this week I wrote this article about correlation versus causation.  I compared analyzing restaurant dining and positive Covid-19 tests, and assessment findings and results.  This article will depart from correlation and causation but we'll still use the Pandemic as a metaphor for certain sales assessment experiences.  

I wear a mask whenever I leave the house or the car.  As someone in the vulnerable age group for Covid-19, a mask makes me feel much safer and more confident when I encounter other people.  When I wear my mask, I lack some of the freedom I previously had and I lose some control because I can't see where my feet are when I'm walking down a flight of stairs!  Of course that's only problematic if I miss a stair and knock on wood, that hasn't happened in the first 6 months of the Pandemic.

You lose a little freedom and control but you feel a lot safer and more confident when going out in public.

The same thing happens when clients use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  They lose a little freedom because they no longer arbitrarily interview salespeople who they feel like interviewing, and refrain from simply offering positions to people because they have a gut feeling about a candidate.   However, they lose some control because one half to two-thirds of the candidates will not be recommended when they aren't great fits for the particular sales role for which the company is hiring, or simply aren't very good salespeople - period.

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Companies that use OMG sales candidate assessments for sales selection are seeing huge improvements in applications, assessments completed (the candidate pool), and a sharp decrease in recommended (more lousy sales candidates and/or imperfect fits for the role) candidates, cost per assessment, days to hire and compensation.

quota-attrition

Companies that use OMG for sales selection have 80% higher quota attainment, and 238% lower attrition. 

You lose a little freedom and control to feel a lot safer and more confident when offering sales candidates a position.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment, sales selelction

The Best Solutions for Hiring Great Salespeople for Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 28, 2020 @ 12:08 PM

plane

Would you fly on a huge jet from Minneapolis, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota, usually a 15-minute drive?

Would you take a train between intersections of the same city block, usually a 2-minute walk?

Would you take a bus to the bottom of your driveway - usually a 1-minute walk or less?

Would you walk from Boston to Miami - a 3-hour plus plane flight?

These are all examples of inappropriate solutions to the simple question, "What is the best way to get there from here?"

How about the simple question, "What is the best way to assure that the salespeople I am about to hire will succeed in the chosen role?"

An OMG Partner pointed me to this article which has 7 assessment solutions. 6 of the recommendations are every bit as inappropriate as the solutions to my travel questions.

There are three additional questions that must be asked in order to answer the primary question that asks the best way to hire the right salespeople:

Are assessments in general good enough to identify those salespeople?  There are many types of assessments, including intelligence, honesty and integrity (illegal in some US states), personality (challenged in the courts), behavioral styles, cognitive ability and of course, skill-specific tests.  Because most of these assessments can be provided to any potential employee and are not specific to sales, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Are personality assessments good enough to identify those salespeople?  Personality assessments are not role-specific so they have been challenged in the court.  The dimensions and findings in Personality assessments are not predictive of anything and there is no specific personality type (including Meyers-Briggs, 16PF, DiSC, and Caliper which were all mentioned in the article) that indicates that one is a better salesperson than another.  Again, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Is OMG's sales-specific assessment a personality test?  Despite its inclusion in the article's list of 7 assessment solutions, Objective Management Group (OMG) is NOT a personality assessment. OMG provides a sales-specific assessment that measures a sales candidate's capabilities in all 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as several additional sales-specific competencies. Does it help identify the right salespeople because it is sales specific?  That is part of the reason but the more important reason is that OMG is validated using Predictive Validity.  Predictive. Validity.  Most validations show that an assessment is properly constructed and will provide consistent and reliable results. That is Construct Validity. On the other hand, Predictive Validity correlates the findings to on-the-job performance.  It is not enough though to simply identify good salespeople; you must identify the right salespeople for the role or roles in question.  Configurations for each role are customized so that the ideal salespeople are recommended for the company's specific role(s).  Right people in the right seats.  It's about getting sales selection right.  OMG has proven its accuracy and track record in sales selection having just passed 2 million sales assessments in 30,000 companies.  In the case of OMG, the answer is a loud and resounding YES.

Here's another question.  Why only 30,000 companies?  If OMG is that predictive and accurate, shouldn't it be used in 3 million companies?  I don't think there are 3 million B2B companies that qualify but certainly there are 300,000.  So again, why only 30,000?

There are 3 answers that deserve consideration.

Ego.  Far too many sales leaders believe that their gut instinct is more accurate than some assessment.  Given that the overall success rate for hiring salespeople is hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, they couldn't be more wrong.  Of the candidates who were not recommended, but clients hired them despite OMG's warning, 75% failed inside of 6 months.  Of the candidates who were recommended and eventually hired, 92% rose to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.

Knowledge.  Far too many HR leaders believe that their expertise is in hiring and either don't need an assessment or they choose one they are familiar with, like DiSC, Caliper, Predictive Index or Myers-Briggs.   The reality is that only 14% of all HR professionals understand how assessments work.

Stupidity.  At some large companies, in-house counsel has banned the use of assessments.  While they often justify their own existence, this stupid practice occurs out of ignorance.  While attorneys are protecting their clients from law-suits alleging discriminatory hiring practices, only personality assessments have been successfully challenged in court.  Remember, OMG is not a personality assessment - it's sales-specific, or in other words, a role-specific assessment which is perfectly legal to use, has never been challenged in court, and shows no adverse impact on protected minorities.

If you aren't already using them, check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You'll improve your sales hiring success rate immediately!

If you aren't familiar with all 21 Sales Core Competencies, check out some of the data here.

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Topics: sales assessment, sales hiring, assessments, hiring salespeople, sales testing, sales hiring process, hiring mistake, sales hiring tools, predictive sales test

One Thing Your Company Must Do Right Now to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 13, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

cherry-picking

Most in the cherry-picking news media are continuing to pound us with bad stuff: record unemployment, 80,000 dead, lockdowns into August, 30 trillion in debt, economy will be slow to recover, you'll be jailed if you open your business too soon, schools to remain closed in September, people will die, etc.  But there is good stuff going on that they aren't talking about because, for the most part, the media doesn't care about sharing the good stuff.  It's bad for ratings.   

For example, since the 30 million who temporarily lost their jobs are receiving unemployment at more than 100% of what they were earning before, they aren't facing the hardship the media would lead you to believe and the money is there for a reboot when it comes.  But the really good news is for companies that are able to hire salespeople.  Consider this!

Do you have cash on hand?  Do you have access to cash?  Money is almost free right now so don't discount traditional borrowing!  If you can invest some money, now is definitely the time to hire salespeople.  Whether you want to expand your geographical coverage, the verticals you call on, the audience you sell to, the products you offer, want more saturation in your existing space, or want to upgrade the quality and performance of your existing sales force, THERE WILL NEVER BE A BETTER TIME TO HIRE SALESPEOPLE.  EVER.

Consider the following statistics from Objective Management Group (OMG), who have assessed 1,972,665 salespeople.HIRING-PANDEMIC

You are looking at historical shifts in statistics!

If you can find a way to spend the money now (cost of tools and 3-months salary), and you use OMG'S predictive sales candidate assessment, you will see some incredible swings:

Your sales candidate pool will increase in size by 600.  Yes.  They are out there!

The number of sales candidates completing their sales candidate assessments will increase by 958% because it is an employer's market.  Just three months ago it was a candidate's market.

The overall assessment recommendation rate will decrease by 45% because there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now. Also, you will be able to raise the bar on the minimum requirements for a recommendation because there are a lot of good salespeople out there too.

Because of all the available sales talent right now, you will be able to identify and hire your salespeople 450% more quickly.

While the fixed cost for a sales candidate assessment license remains the same, the relative cost per assessment decreases by 958% and your annual compensation drops by 11% due to supply and demand.

Even if the market you sell to is sluggish right now, that won't be the case by the end of the summer.  Don't wait until then to hire!  Everything will shift again by Labor Day.  Both supply and quality of available sales talent will decrease as demand increases, the time to hire will increase, and the time to onboard your new salespeople will take longer as well.  DO. THIS. NOW.

Your current and new salespeople will face unprecedented challenges in the form of delayed closings, resistance to being sold anything at all, and resistance to spending more money than anyone has to.  This resistance will come in the form of stalls, put-offs, objections, excuses and sob stories.  Your current and new salespeople must have the skills to differentiate, take a consultative approach and sell value if you are to have any chance of maintaining your margins.  If your salespeople move forward armed with only the limited skills they had prior to the pandemic, your win rate and margins will be crushed.  YOU MUST EVALUATE YOUR EXISTING SALES FORCE, DETERMINE HOW BIG THE SKILLS GAPS ARE, AND PROVIDE THIS CRUCIAL SKILLS TRAINING NOW.  If you wait, you will find yourself fighting to survive from the back of the pack.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, grow sales, recruiting salespeople, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, recovery

How Companies Choose Sales Training Companies is Backwards

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 @ 06:02 AM

reverse

Do you partake of dessert prior to eating your appetizer?  Do you eat your dinner in the morning and have breakfast at night?  Would you prefer to have the builder complete the finish work on your new house prior to framing it and installing the roof?  Would you back your car out of the garage before opening the garage door? (I've actually done that by accident - twice!)

It's all quite silly.  You wouldn't think of doing those things in that order but that's how most companies choose sales training companies.  After 35 years in the sales training industry, I'm qualified to comment on this silly behavior, and explain why companies have it all backwards.

If your company is going to partner with a third-party to help increase sales, the actual sales training component should be the last of the various services to be delivered.  What services should be delivered prior to sales training?  

First, a complete sales force evaluation to identify the gaps, problems, challenges, and most importantly, the reasons why your sales results are what they are. This allows you to set realistic expectations for growth by understanding who is capable of improvement, by how much they can improve, and what will be required in the way of training and coaching to achieve that growth.  If you provide training without conducting the evaluation you might as well just write the check and spare everyone the time, effort and aggravation.

Second, sales process.  Your sales process must be customized and optimized because training must introduce your formal sales process and all of the content must be delivered in the context of the process.

Third, sales management training and coaching. If you want the sales training to work, then your sales managers must be trained and coached so that they can coach to the content in the context of the sales process. If your sales managers won't or can't coach consistently and effectively, the training won't stick and the changes won't take place.

Fourth, tweaks to your sales operations infrastructure.  You don't want to start tweaking things after sales training has begun.

Fifth, Upgrades.  Some of your existing salespeople won't be part of your future and knowing who they are in advance from the intelligence of the sales force evaluation allows you to replace them before, not during the sales training. 

Of course, there are other variables, like how the training will be delivered, support materials and technology, the effectiveness of the trainer, how many training sessions a program will include, the topics that will be covered, how much role-playing will be included to demonstrate what good conversations sound like, and homework assignments.  If you make the mistake of rolling out sales training instead of the sales force evaluation as the first step, you won't have the MRI of the sales organization, or a sales radiologist to read the MRI, so it would be like ordering surgery from a menu instead of receiving the proper needs-based treatment.

Where do you find such a sales radiologist?  Objective Management Group (OMG) partners with 300 of the best sales experts in the world who all provide those services as part of an OMG Sales Force Evaluation.  Sure, there are other assessment companies and other team reports but nothing compares with what OMG offers.  Not a single one is able to do the in-depth sales-specific analyses of your team that OMG provides.  Request a sample Sales Force Evaluation

Some of the analyses that OMG includes in a Sales Force Evaluation:

  • Role Analysis (right people in the right roles)
  • Pipeline Analysis (quality and restaging)
  • Sales Process Analysis (thoroughness, sequence, milestones and adherence)
  • Development Analysis (scope, friction, opportunity and timeline)
  • Analysis of 6 Sales DNA Competencies (do strengths support sales process, strategy, tactics?)
  • Analysis of 10 Sales Capability Competencies (selling skills)
  • Sales Management Coaching Analysis (skills, environment, frequency, topics, effectiveness)
  • Sales Leadership Analysis (competencies and effectiveness)
  • Messaging Analysis (elevator pitch and value proposition)
  • Analysis of 5 Will to Sell Competencies (can vs will sell)
  • Industry Comparison Analysis in all 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Systems and Processes Analysis (sales operations)
  • Priorities for Growth (areas to focus on and training and development requirements)

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales force evaluation, sales training

New Data Reveals a Finding That Correlates to Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

sales-success

We had a request for some data from one of our longtime partners.  My knee-jerk reaction to her request was that it would be a big nothing burger.  She asked for data that would show the difference between salespeople who are goal oriented and those who are not.  I did not expect much of a difference except in the area of Motivation but I was wrong.  Very wrong!  Check out some of the profound differences this data mining uncovered!

Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales-specific Core Competencies. You can see them all here.  We have data from our evaluations and assessments of 1,940,502 salespeople. Can you guess which of the 21 sales competencies shows the most profound difference between those who are goal-oriented and those who are not?

Hunting.  That's what you guessed, right?  The average score for the Hunting Competency for goal-oriented salespeople is 82% while those who are not goal oriented have an average score of only 68%.  Goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at Hunting!  If you think about it, this makes sense because without goals or a plan, the need to prospect for new business is not as obvious or urgent.  "Prospects consistently" and "Maintains full pipeline" are 2 of the10 attributes of the Hunter competency.  Are you looking to hire new salespeople that will grow your business?  Use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to help select ideal salespeople for your selling role.

Motivation.  This one was a no brainer as "Has written personal goals" and "Has a plan to achieve goals" are 2 of the attributes of the Motivation competency.  Those who are goal oriented have an average score of 81 versus the average score of 61 for those who are not.

Revenue.  This isn't a competency but this finding was screaming for my attention.  Those who are goal oriented have average revenue of $3.8 million while those who are not saw averages of only $2.7 million.

Sales Percentile.  This score places salespeople in a range from 0-100.  A Sales Percentile score of 100 would mean that a salesperson is better than 100% of all salespeople while a Sales Percentile score of 0 would mean that 100% of all salespeople are better than this salesperson.  Goal oriented salespeople have an average Sales Percentile of 64 while those who are not goal oriented have an average Sales Percentile of only 45.  Goal oriented salespeople score 42% better!

Responsibility.  Interestingly, goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at taking responsibility and as a result, are far less likely to make excuses for their lack of performance.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics.  However, when Sales DNA is weak, it sabotages rather than supports.  Sales DNA isn't learned.  Sales DNA isn't skills.  So it blew my mind to see the correlation between goal oriented and stronger Sales DNA.  The difference is profound.  Generally speaking, as the difficulty of the selling role increases, the minimum Sales DNA score required for success increases with it.  For example, if you sell 7-figure capital equipment to the C-Suite of Enterprise sized companies against huge competitors where the incumbent is difficult to replace, that level of difficulty requires a minimum Sales DNA of 82.  If you're selling SaaS to small businesses, you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 72.  If you're selling commercial batteries to fleet parts managers you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 66.  Goal oriented salespeople have Sales DNA that is 6 points higher and when it comes to Sales DNA, that's a huge difference maker!

Selling Competencies.  10 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure are pure selling competencies, like:

  • Hunting
  • Relationship Building
  • Consultative Selling
  • Value Selling
  • Qualifying
  • Presentation Approach
  • Closing
  • Sales Process
  • CRM Savvy
  • Social Selling Mastery

When we combine the average scores of the 10 selling competencies above, goal oriented salespeople are 20% stronger with an average score of 60, compared to an average score of 50 for those who aren't goal oriented.

Goal oriented salespeople score higher in every single competency.

Here's the biggest takeaway.

83% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have written personal goals while only 44% of weak salespeople (the bottom 50%) have written personal goals.  That's an 89% difference!

76% of elite salespeople have a plan for reaching their goals while only 25% of weak salespeople have a plan for reaching their personal goals.  That's a 304% difference!

Together those two findings make up the goal oriented finding and while it alone is not predictive of sales success. However, goal oriented is an attribute of the Motivation Competency and that does correlate perfectly with sales success as you can read in this article.

Those who have written personal goals and a plan are far more likely to be top performers than those who don't. Goal setting is low-hanging fruit so why aren't more companies providing their salespeople with professional goal setting programs?

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales performance, top salespeople, goal setting

An Inside Look at Why 3 Good Salespeople Failed and 3 So-So Salespeople Succeeded

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 09, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

failure

You hired a great salesperson that didn't work out.  You hired a so-so salesperson that did work out.  You hired another great one that kicked ass, and another one that was so-so.  That's the story of hiring salespeople.  It's mostly hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.

In this article I'm going to share an actual example that illustrates why this happens so frequently.  I'll show you tangible differences between three salespeople who succeeded and three who failed in the same role at the same company.

Most of the time when we perform these analyses the differences are usually seen inside of the 21 Sales Core Competencies - the performers are strong in the necessary competencies and the failures are not.

So let's dig into some data, shall we?

One of the ways that Objective Management Group (OMG) customizes a role configuration to recommend the ideal salespeople for a particular role is to conduct a top/bottom analysis.  We attempt to identify 15-20 scores or findings that differentiate the top salespeople from the bottom salespeople.  In small companies we use three tops and three bottoms.  In mid-size companies we use five tops and bottoms and in large companies ten tops and bottoms.

We manually analyze and compare those top and bottom salespeople against 280 scores and findings to identify those which differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  As I mentioned, the differentiations are usually found in the 21 sales core competencies or the attributes within those competencies.

Yesterday, I completed one of these analyses and the salespeople who were failing appeared to be stronger salespeople than those who were succeeding.  That's not good!  But I've learned stay with it, not give up too soon, and remember that if I'm patient enough the differences will shine through.  That's how it happened with this team but many of the differences weren't in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  They were simpler, more basic, and more behavioral.  Check out the screen shot below and I'll recap it in beneath the image where you can see a sea of green at the top and a sea of red at the bottom.

top-bottom-Jan-2020

There were nineteen findings identified that were differentiators.  Only half came from the 21 Sales Competencies, like:

  • Sales DNA  (average of 6 Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >76
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >56 
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of 100 
  • Handles Rejection  (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >60
  • Hunting (a pure selling competency) Score of >50 
  • Account Management (a selling competency) Score of >66
  • Prospects Consistently (an attribute of the Hunter competency)
  • Gains Trust Early (an attribute of the BuildsTrust competency - not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies)
  • Makes Decisions (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)
  • Will Uphold Margins (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)

It was more unusual to see the following findings as differentiators.  These are more behavioral and are well outside the 21 Sales Competencies.  As you read through them you can clearly see why salespeople with decent selling skills would fail when these findings appear as weaknesses:

  • Time and Organizational Skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Business Minded
  • Prior experience calling on SMB's
  • Prefer to be recognized for achievements
  • Previously sold into a very competitive marketplace
  • Figure it Out Factor >61 (a compilation of 10 findings that predict a quick ramp-up)
  • Compatibility with the Role's selling requirements - score of >67

If they can't get started, organized and work on their own, in a remote selling role, the chances of success are nearly zero, regardless of skills!

The minimum required scores for success change by role, company, industry, target customer, price points, competition, difficulty, complexity, sales cycle, resistance, and more.

The three salespeople from the company above that were failing didn't have bad selling skills.  Remember, I looked at 280 findings and their selling skills were good to excellent in many of the 280 findings.  But it's not if they can sell; it's if they will sell!  The Sales DNA scores, and the non-sales skill findings combine to show us that their tops WILL sell and their bottoms only CAN sell.

When a company has a way to measure can vs. will they can hire with confidence.  It's like having a crystal ball.

Every top/bottom analysis looks different and as a result, every role configuration for sales candidate assessments is different. The findings we incorporate are different and the minimum required scores are different. Success in one role, at one company, in one industry, with various levels of difficulty, complexity, calling into certain verticals or geographies, selling with certain price points against various levels of competition and various sales cycle lengths, all serve to uniquely change the requirements for success used in the role configuration.

A sales-specific, customizable, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment like the one that OMG provides is the crystal ball for 29,000 companies and it's why OMG was just awarded the gold medal for Top Sales Assessment by Top Sales World for the 9th consecutive year.

You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can checkout OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 08, 2019 @ 06:07 AM

pipeline2

Big ones, little ones, sharp ones and stubborn ones. I was pulling weeds from the garden when it became crystal clear to me.  The various weeds were like the many types of opportunities in most sales pipelines.  Big ones, little ones, those that hurt (we're behind the competition) and those who are stubborn (they aren't sharing important information).  The flowers in the garden are allowed to remain and are nurtured with sun, water and plant food. Similarly, we must leave and nurture the opportunities that will grow and produce sales, and weed out the undesirable opportunities that distract us from what is most important.

Flower gardens can be large, colorful, impressive and calming to look at.  Unfortunately, most sales pipelines are full of weeds, not large enough, and certainly not impressive.  From its evaluations and assessments of 1,875,978 salespeople, Objective Management Group (OMG) has found that only 46% of all salespeople maintain a full pipeline.  It breaks down as follows:

Elite  (the top 5%) 76%
Strong 65%
Serviceable 57% 
Weak (the bottom 50%)  41%

And when it comes to full pipelines, we must ask, full of what?  Generally undesirable opportunities.

Why do those undesirable opportunities remain in the pipeline?  They provide salespeople with a sense of security. Unfortunately, what they perceive as a safety net, is really denial of the reality of their pipeline.

Step one in transforming your sales pipeline is to perform a thorough weeding, which leaves you with a smaller pipeline, but with the same number of quality opportunities.  This is where a well-built, predictive scorecard will help.

Step two is to determine how many opportunities must be in your pipeline at all times.  To find the answer to that question you must know the size of your average sale or account, your closing percentage, and monthly sales goal.  Let's assume the following three metrics:

  • Monthly sales goal of $100,000,
  • 25% Closing percentage
  • $20,000 Average sale or account

With those numbers, you must have 20 opportunities worth $400,000 in your pipeline at all times in order to close 5 of them each month.  Complete the same exercise using your own historical numbers.

Step three is to determine the gap between what you need and what you have.  Using the example above, let's say you actually have 4 good opportunities worth a total of $80,000.  Your gap is 16 opportunities worth $320,000 - just for this month!

Step four is to add 16 new opportunities.  How?  Referrals, introductions, inbound leads, cold calls, whatever it takes.  But do it!  Today!  Now!  Referring back to OMG's findings again, only 40% of all salespeople are strong at Hunting.  That breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 88% 
Strong: 77% 
Serviceable: 58% 
Weak (the bottom 50%): 26%

When it comes to generating referrals and introductions, only 35% of all salespeople are strong.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 48%
Strong: 42%
Serviceable: 39%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 32%

[Update - I was asked whether weak Sales DNA is responsible when a strong rep is weak at getting referrals and introductions.  It turns out that for 97% of strong reps, it's not Sales DNA but for weak reps Sales DNA is responsible 97% of the time.]

And as for making cold calls, only 33% of all salespeople prospect consistently.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 70%
Strong: 54%
Serviceable: 43%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 25%

If from among the bottom half of all salespeople, 50% of them won't make cold calls, 64% won't generate referrals and introductions, and 82% won't fill their pipelines, then nearly half of your salespeople may not do much of what was laid out in this article.

But there is hope for the serviceable, strong and elite salespeople - the other half.  Many of them will be able to do most of this but the key is holding them accountable.  Their sales managers must set expectations, designate this as non-optional work, impose a deadline, and enforce penalties for non-compliance. 

These four steps are not a one-time fix; they are requirements for continued success in sales that continue into perpetuity. 

Comments?  Questions?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, objective management group

Six Overlooked Factors When Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 14:04 PM

turnover

This week I've been sick with my annual bout of asthmatic bronchitis - fun stuff - and the question I've been asking myself is, "how long will it last this year?"  Historically, it's takes 2-4 weeks for this to subside and it sucks big time during that 2-4 weeks.  But thinking about time frames got me thinking about one of the universal timelines and challenges facing companies everywhere.

How long should it take for a new salesperson to become successful and why do so many of them fail?

There are six factors in total but let's begin with those on the client-side:

  1. The length of your sales cycle
  2. The length of your learning curve
  3. A Transition period

If you have a six-month sales cycle, a three-month learning curve and it takes 3 months to transition from their old world to your business, that translates to 12 months of pipeline building before you can reasonably expect your new salesperson to start closing business.

On the salesperson side, there are also three factors:

  1. Length of their runway (cash or safety net to survive a transition that doesn't guarantee as much money)
  2. Degree of urgency (how much urgency they feel to get off to a great start)
  3. The theory of relativity  (the more difficult your business is compared with their old business, the shorter the runway becomes)

If your new salesperson has a six-month runway, medium urgency, and selling in your world is more difficult than the world from which they came, there is a negative six-month gap and it's pretty clear that the salesperson will fail.

These factors are but a handful of the factors that go into successful sales selection strategies.  If you select the right salespeople up front, you'll experience much less turnover, fewer delays to growing your revenue, and build stronger sales teams.

Objective Management Group offers the most predictive, accurate and customizable sales-specific candidate assessment on planet earth. You can check it out here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, sales talent, sales selection

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 @ 13:09 PM

improve

I've written extensively about how salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies. Typically, both the articles and data are shared in the context of the difference between top salespeople and weak salespeople but rarely have I written about what happens after salespeople have been evaluated.

Here's how it usually works.  A company asks their outside sales expert for help growing sales.  As a first step, the expert suggests evaluating the sales force using OMG's incredible suite of tools.  The results are shared and reviewed with the client and anonymous data from the evaluation is added to our nearly 1.8 million rows of data.  That is the data I so often write about and you can see the aggregate scores, sorted by sales percentile, industry or region, at our public statistics site.

Post evaluation, the expert will likely help the company by providing some combination of training, coaching, consulting, recruiting, systems and processes updates in the areas that need to be improved.  As a result, do salespeople actually get better?  That's a direct result of the trainer's/consultant's effectiveness, the company's commitment to change, and the sales managers' ability to coach to the sales process and methodology, all well out of OMG's hands.  However, we do have some insight into how much their salespeople improve.

Approximately one year after the initial sales force evaluation, OMG offers to conduct a checkpoint where change can be measured and now I have the data.

I looked at the before and after scores for eight of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as the Reaches Decision Makers, Account Manager and Farmer competencies for a total of 11.  See the table below:

checkpoint-changes

One of the first things you might notice is that scores went down in 2 competencies - Relationship Building and Account Management.  Many salespeople believe that selling is simply having relationships and showing up. Then, when training and coaching targets the more impactful competencies, it's not unusual to see scores actually get worse in the two competencies they previously took for granted.

Another thing you might notice is the significance of change for Closing, Reaching Decision Makers, and Selling Value, a bi-product of what I assume the training and coaching would have been focused on post evaluation.

Twelve months later, there is an overall 18% improvement in scores.  We know that a just a 10% improvement creates a 33% increase ins sales.  Don't believe me?  Check out this table:

10-percent-improvementIf a 10% improvement creates a 33% improvement in revenue, what does an 18% improvement create?  Math is a really important tool in creating value and in this case, math tell us we can expect a 59% increase in revenue.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Closing Skills, sales core competencies, sales data

How Executives Fail to Understand the Reasons for Poor Sales and Revenue Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 @ 09:08 AM

transformers.jpg

"That wasn't what I expected!"  

You might say that after reading an awesome book, waiting for months and years in anticipation of the movie version, only to be extremely disappointed when the much hyped film failed to live up to what you remembered feeling when turning the pages.

You might also feel let down after leaving a great, but expensive restaurant, but the meal, service or ambiance was quite different from what you had imagined when you heard about the business.

And from experience, I can tell you that once in a blue moon, after we evaluate a sales force and present our findings, a rare CEO can become defensive and react poorly to the results.  When it happens, it's usually a sign that the CEO is out of touch with the sales force.  I'll share some of the things to which they sometimes react badly:

The top 5 findings that a CEO might react poorly to are:

  1. An executive sales leader appears to be weak on OMG's Sales Leadership Evaluation.  The CEO might say, "Well, the only reason we landed that multi-million dollar contract with that billion dollar company is because of Bob.  He sold it himself.  So how do you explain that?" 

    The CEO didn't recognize that the company took a great major account salesperson, place him in the Sales VP role, and instead of leading the sales force and functioning as a Sales VP should, he still wants to be the rainmaker and the star of the show. That definitely makes him a weak Sales VP!

  2. The entire sales team is weak.  The CEO might say, "Then how do you explain our double digit growth over the last 5 years?"  

    The CEO doesn't recognize that the company's success has more to do with great marketing and desirable products than the salespeople who represent them because their salespeople just plain suck!  This is an example of Mediocrity winning out over excellence. If the company grew at double digit rates with this group, then they would be growing by leaps and bounds with stronger salespeople!  

  3. The salespeople have issues around the Will to Sell.  Many of the salespeople lack the kind of commitment to sales success that is required to get to the next level.  The CEO might say, "I can't understand how that can possibly be and I certainly don't know how to fix it."  

    The problem is that the company was hiring the wrong salespeople, focusing on technical skills instead of sales core competencies and in doing so, created a culture of complacency.

  4. With the proper training and coaching, the existing sales force can generate 75% more revenue but it will take 24 months.  The CEO might say, "That's a considerable increase.  I don't believe that's possible.  Why is it so large and why will it take so long?"  

    The problem is that the existing sales force is so weak that they are leaving letting large numbers of opportunities slip through their fingers without any ability to capture it.  It will take 24 months because the gaps are so wide and deep and there is a lengthy sales cycle.

  5. Some of the top account managers evaluated as weak salespeople.  The CEO might say, "They are the top 3 salespeople so they can't be that weak!"  

    The problem is that those 3 account managers manage more revenue than anyone else and they're extremely important to your success.  However, they aren't your top 3 salespeople and we can prove it.  If you took their existing accounts away - which they probably inherited and didn't close themselves -  and asked them to build a pipeline, close some new accounts and generate new business, they would fail in dramatic fashion.

Our eyes can be wide open yet still fail to see what we don't want to see.  When expectations aren't met it causes the three D's - discomfort, disappointment and disaster.  Sometimes you can't see the reality of your own sales force until you have the actual data and use it to look at your people, systems, processes and strategies through a different lens.  Companies that fight the data don't change.  Companies that are afraid of the data remain clueless.  And companies that embrace the data grow by leaps and bounds.

The sales force evaluation is the most important and powerful thing you can implement at your company.  It leads to better decisions, changes based on science instead of hunches, and improvements based on necessity instead of opportunity.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales effectiveness, Drive Revenue

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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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