A Home Run - How the Right Data Can Help You Hire Your Ideal Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 13, 2021 @ 19:07 PM

2021 Home Run Derby bracket

Last night Major League Baseball held its annual Home Run Derby.  We've seen the home run derbies before.  We watch them every year.  They are always the same - each slugger tries to hit more home runs than the other sluggers in the contest.  At the same time, they are always different and last night there were four stories that made this year's home run derby different from all the rest.  Pete Alonso, Shohei Ohtani, Trey Mancini, and Juan Soto made the contest different. It is always the individual story lines that make the mundane different.

Speaking of the same but different, from time to time I've posted some compelling top/bottom sales team analyses using sales assessment data from Objective Management Group (OMG).  From nearly 250 data points in 21 Sales Core Competencies, we identify the specific findings and scores that differentiate a company's top 3 performers from their bottom 3 non-performers.

There are several reasons for doing this:

  • Proof of Concept - to prove to non-believers that OMG can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms and would therefore be able to identify sales candidates who will succeed in their business.
  • Tailored Fit - we add those same differentiators to role configurations as additional customization and criteria on their OMG sales candidate assessments.
  • Understanding - it helps clients to know why some salespeople are succeeding and others are failing.  These differentiators help them understand their sales teams, salespeople and sales bottlenecks.

I completed a top/bottom analysis for a large, well-known company and it doesn't get more compelling than this:

In this analysis there were 38 findings and scores that differentiated the tops from the bottoms.  The three tops met between 89%-97% of them while the three bottoms met only 5%-13% of them.  But the analysis is bigger than how many differentiating factors there are and how the final percentages are different.  Look at some of the differences within the findings themselves!

The tops are 100% more effective at reaching decision makers which, by itself, is a game changer.

The tops are 266% more effective at using a consultative approach to selling and 193% more effective at selling value.  Of course they are!

The tops are 187% more compatible with the criteria for being successful in their roles which points to very ineffective sales selection at hiring time.  For example, in the screen shot above you can see that the tops, but not the bottoms, are generally more experienced and comfortable with hunting for business in the C Suite of institutional accounts.  They are also more experienced and comfortable facing resistance and competition, asking for more than $250,000 in a long sales cycle, and selling conceptual services.  Together, those are ten factors that should have been identified as crucial for sales success PRIOR to hiring any salespeople, and their candidates should have been vetted for those experiences and their comfort level!

Want to hit more home runs when you're hiring salespeople?  Never will you have more confidence hiring the right salespeople for your company and selling role(s) than when you use Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. They are proven and time-tested to be the most accurate and predictive sales-specific assessment on planet Earth.  Check them out here.

Image copyright MLB.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, objective management, sales test

How Gas Grills, Gardening, Masks, and Baseball Mimic Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 03, 2021 @ 13:05 PM

gasgrill

Some random thoughts from the weekend and its impact on sales teams...

We have a twenty-year old gas grill built-in to a stone wall on our back patio and this year I decided to replace all of the components.  New burners, new heat plates, new briquettes, new grates, new ignitor, and new wiring.  All told, it took three-hours of work, much of it with the ignitor and the wiring.  When I got it all reassembled, everything worked except the ignitor despite the fact that I smartly tested it prior to reassembly.  I opened it back up and discovered that the battery had become disconnected.  A tweak later, it was reassembled, the ignitor was sending sparks, but it was still failing to ignite the gas.  After all that work, and despite all the new components, I still must use a hand lighter to light the grill and will have to call a gas grill expert to get the sparks to ignite the gas.

My project corresponds so well with how many executives approach their sales teams. 

They do nothing for years, and then, after growing frustrated with complacency and inability to grow revenue, finally decide to make changes and rebuild their sales teams.  They quickly reassemble the team by terminating the obvious liabilities and hiring replacements.  Then, when the new salespeople don't perform to expectations, they make additional tweaks by adding hiring criteria, and try again.  Lacking a real sense of what good looks like, they continue to get it wrong and are back where they started, needing expert help to select the right salespeople to grow revenue.

We went to an outdoor garden center - outdoors means no masks if you're fully vaccinated so it should be an opportunity to shop mask free!  Not.  Everybody - young and old were masked up because we've learned that if you remove your mask people give you dirty looks and employees refuse to help you. So we must continue to mask up.  What does this have to do with selling?  

The discomfort with removing masks outdoors speaks directly to our discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  After 14 months you would think that people would be excited for the opportunity to go maskless but it's not close to happening in Massachusetts.  You would also think that salespeople would be quick to embrace strategies, tactics and sales processes that will help them dramatically improve their effectiveness, and help them differentiate and close more business. That has great appeal, but most salespeople are typically slow to adapt for the very same reasons.  Discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  It takes time.

Like most spring weekends, we were watching our son play baseball (2 games each day) only this year spectators aren't allowed on college campuses so we were watching live streams.  We wondered how we would handle not being present and cheering for him and his team, how disconnected we might feel watching him on a computer screen, and how much we would miss it.  It was especially difficult this year since it is his freshman, or as they now say, "first year" season.  We adapted.  We had to adapt. The seating and food were both exponentially better at home, we didn't have six hour round trips to campus and back, and the bathrooms were sparkling!  That said, we still missed being there for him and can't wait until we can return to watch him play in person.

This aligns with how sales teams pivoted to virtual selling in the spring of 2020.  It worked, but many of the same differences were in play.  The seating, food and bathrooms were better, but we missed being with our colleagues and customers.  We adapted, although in the case of virtual selling, we didn't adapt as well.  I am still very frustrated with the sales teams I personally train, who week after week, have failed to upgrade their physical appearance, wardrobe, and backgrounds.  I don't want to see bedrooms, closets, kitchens, dens, basements or bathrooms!  The lighting sucks!  You've had 14 months to upgrade how you present yourselves, so read my article on upgrading your virtual presence and get with the program.  Many of you will be selling this way, from home and/or office, for the foreseeable future.

It was a great weekend for gardening and when the baseball games weren't streaming we were in the gardens.  Pulling weeds, grooming the beds replacing perennial flowers and cutting down scrawny, ugly or dead trees were on the list.  It's what we do in May.

This is a great time for weeding out your under-performers and negative, whiny liabilities, upgrading your sales teams, and replacing them with better salespeople who are better fits for the role.  It's what we should do, not only in May but year-round.  A sales force evaluation should come first so that you know who is part of your future, how to develop them, and how much more revenue they can generate. You must also know who is part of your past and whether or not to move on from them.  You must understand why you get the results you get and what needs to change.  You should also use an accurate and predictive, customizable, sales-specific candidate assessment to help select your new salespeople. Ask your sales consultant about Objective Management Group (OMG) for help with both issues.  If you don't have a reliable, magical sales expert you can call, we can recommend one for you.  If you have one, but they don't offer OMG, insist that they either become OMG certified or find one who does offer OMG.  Just email me and I'll get you hooked up with someone who can help in a big way.

Image Copyright: arinahabich

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Salesforce, sales effectiveness, sales hiring tools, objective management group, sales team

My Prediction - What's in Store for Sales Teams in 2021?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 08, 2021 @ 11:01 AM

prediction2021

When I made my predictions for 2020 I'm pretty sure I didn't predict a pandemic.  Making predictions isn't easy. 

In the US, sales teams are coming off three robust years of sales growth and while revenue was up during that time, the percentage of salespeople hitting quotas was not.  That means the top 20% were not only carrying the load, they carried more of the load.

That dynamic growth hit an iron barrier last spring when COVID became the unexpected economic disrupter, but the second half comeback was quite impressive.  What does 2021 have in store for those of us in the sales world?  In the US, how will Democrat control of all three branches of government affect sales and selling?  And how long before that kicks in?

Americans can't be certain that threats to pack the supreme court, make DC a state, and change the rules will come to fruition, but the incoming administration has been very clear about their intent to quickly increase taxes, especially on corporations and people with annual income of more than $400,000.  Given the ambitious progressive agenda they wish to implement and the enormous cost - trillions of dollars we don't have - it's likely that the tax increase will include the middle class too.  How will that affect our ability to sell stuff for at least the next two years?

Their progressive agenda, some anti-capitalist cabinet appointments, and Biden's history of coziness with China suggest that the next two years will not be very business-friendly.  Tax increases lead to reduced spending by corporations, small businesses, and consumers.  Lay-offs come next as companies scramble to do more with less.  Sound familiar?  That was the new normal from 2008-2016 so what's old is new again.

That said, we can be sure of three things thanks to the ripple effect of a China-friendly administration, a massive tax increase and lay-offs: 

  1. Imports from China will be on the rise and that means increased competition from low-cost competitors. 
  2. There will be increased pressure on sales teams to boost revenue and profit to compensate for the cost of the tax increases.
  3. Companies will be significantly more restrained about what they purchase from sellers.

See the challenge?  While sellers will be under tremendous pressure to generate additional revenue, the very companies on which they rely for revenue will be more resistant to buying and more price conscious than ever!  

There's more.

With Democrats in control, fear about the new strain of COVID, and the vaccine still months away for most people, it's likely that many more states besides California will be back in a lockdown.  If the new lockdown is anything like the last year's lockdown, the shit show known as 2020 will be back for an encore performance.

You can't endure lockdowns, tax increases, lay-offs and Chinese imports and expect selling to resemble anything routine or easy.

Salespeople will fail.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 2,050,385 salespeople shows that the bottom 50% lack the selling skills to handle resistance, competition, and price sensitivity.  This screen shot represents the percentage of salespeople who have these ten tactical selling competencies as strengths.  See all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

Mastery of these 10 selling competencies is required for times like these but as mentioned above, fewer than half of all salespeople have them as strengths.  We know that the top 20% of all salespeople generate 80% of the revenue so if the bottom 50% are going to fail, that will either reduce revenue by 20%, or place even more pressure on top producers to compensate for the shortfall.  Neither option is a winning strategy.

That leaves two viable strategies:

  1. Evaluate and train the ever living crap out of them.  OMG's sales force evaluation will identify the areas in which each salesperson needs help in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and then training and coaching can be targeted.  Typically, around 65% will improve but it may take 8-16 months! 
  2. Replace them with top performers. OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments will help you identify and select those who will succeed in your roles but it won't eliminate the need for on-boarding and you still have to allow for ramp-up time (the length of your learning curve plus the length of your sales cycle plus 30 days).

There is always one more option.  Hide under your desk, hope that things work themselves out, and that you won't have to do anything different.  We already know from last year how that option worked out!  Companies that asked for help during March, April and May of 2020 had absolutely rocking, kick-ass fourth quarters.  By the time the US began reopening during the middle of the year, those who didn't ask for help earlier were so far behind the 8-ball, they were no longer in a position to even pay for the help they so desperately needed.

What will you do to make sure that 2021 is a growth year?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales evaluation, sales predictions, 2021, democrats in control

Found! The Caliper vs OMG Comparison: Which Sales Candidate Assessment is More Predictive?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 01, 2020 @ 09:12 AM

lost-and-found

When are you most likely to find the item you lost or misplaced?  Immediately after you purchase its replacement, of course! 

I just found an article that I wrote in 2012 but forgot to click the publish button!  Almost nine years in the making, this article compares OMG with Caliper and I did update it so that the information on both assessments is current.

I compared two assessments for the same candidate: one from Objective Management Group (OMG) and one from Caliper.  Not being one to pass up opportunities like this, I conducted another comparison where OMG recommended this person for the role and Caliper did not. 

OMG's assessment is sales specific - built for sales.  Caliper is a personality assessment adapted for sales.  Caliper asks the same questions as in their traditional personality assessment, but modifies the findings based on the personality traits they believe are associated with sales.  Some of Herbert Greenberg's (Caliper founder) earliest research on salespeople appears in my classic white paper, The Science of Salesperson Selection.

It is not unusual for OMG's findings to contradict the findings of even the most reputable of all personality assessments because OMG measures different things than everyone else.  Most of the sales-specific competencies and attributes that OMG measures are not measured by personality assessments, including Caliper.  OMG measures 21 Sales specific Core Competencies that no personality assessment - even Caliper, can touch.

Additionally, personality tests are not able to provide insight into other important areas like:

  • Longevity - likelihood that the candidate will stick to produce 5x ROI,
  • Skill Gaps - the sales-specific skills that have not yet been developed,
  • How the Candidate Thinks about Selling - their specific beliefs that support or sabotage the sales process,
  • Ramp up - whether they will achieve success more quickly than other candidates,
  • Selling Skills - the specific skills they have learned and actually execute to fill their pipeline, close business, manage accounts, and sell to major accounts.
  • Will to Sell - the combination of sales-specific competencies that determine whether the salesperson has the grit to succeed.  This is the difference between can sell versus will sell.
  • Sales DNA - the combination of strengths that support sales process, sales strategy, sales methodology and sales tactics.
A large insurance company recently stopped using Caliper for pre-employment assessments because it failed to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful salespeople.  For comparison, 75% of the candidates that OMG does NOT recommend, but who are hired anyway, fail within 6 months; 92% of the candidates that OMG recommends, who are eventually hired, rise to the top half of their sales forces within 12 months.
 
These are some of the personality traits that Caliper measures and reports on.  How many of them sound sales-specific? How many of them have anything to do with sales success?
 
One could argue that assertiveness, empathy, gregariousness, level-headedness, skepticism, sociability, thoroughness and urgency are useful traits for a salesperson to have - and they are.  The problem is that they don't differentiate strong salespeople from weak salespeople.
 
By contrast, OMG reports on 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as an additional 8 sales competencies not considered to be core.  Each of the competencies have an average of 10 attributes that make it easy to see what is being measured, and what a competency is all about.  Notice the ten tactical selling competencies that are blocked in red below.  I'll share the attributes for two competencies so you can see that the attributes are selling attributes, not personality traits. 
 
 
In a previous article I compared OMG to Extended DiSC and showed the attributes in the Hunting and Qualifying competencies.  This time around, let's look at the attributes from the competencies, Selling Value and Reaching Decision Makers to show how different this is from what a personality assessment like Caliper measures.
.

As you can see, these attributes define and complete each competency.  You may have also noticed that we show the percentage of attributes as well as the weighted score as some attributes are more important to the competency than others. That made a huge difference for this candidate when it came to the Reaching Decision Makers competency where despite having 57% of the attributes, he was missing the most important attribute. When you compare sales-specific competencies that drive sales performance and success, to personality traits that are not specific to sales and which fail to differentiate strong from weak salespeople, it's clear that OMG is both miles and decades ahead of any and all other assessments.

So which assessment - OMG or Caliper - is more predictive?  That answer is so obvious that it doesn't even require me to answer it!

Sales Candidate Assessments are extremely important because they prevent hiring mistakes and remove bias from your hiring process.  However, if you don't choose the right assessment, configure it correctly for each role, use it at the right time in the process, or heed its advice, don't count on any assessment to make a meaningful difference!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, omg, caliper, sales assessment test, personality test, pre-employment test

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.

Image copyright 123 RF

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.

Image Copyright

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.

Image copyright 123RF

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 to 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 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.

Image copyright iStock Photos

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

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About Dave

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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