"Spirited" Has So Much in Common with Most Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 29, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

Watch new trailer for holiday comedy 'Spirited,' starring Will Ferrell and  Ryan Reynolds - Good Morning America

Last week we watched Spirited, the new Apple TV Plus take on the old Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.  In this lighthearted film, Will Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Reynolds is the 2022 version of Scrooge.  This Scrooge is a funny, selfish, materialistic, song and dance man, who is irredeemable. Can Will Farrell's character redeem Ryan Reynolds' character?

As usual, the movie got me thinking about salespeople and Understanding the Sales Force.

Ryan Reynold's character, Clint Briggs, is a fabulous showman, salesperson, and marketing consultant rolled into one.  The problem is that he never considers anyone or anything other than himself and his personal success..

There is a correlation between Clint Briggs and salespeople, many of whom are also irredeemable, but for different reasons. 

Most salespeople - 87% - still sell like it's 1975 and fall into one of three buckets:

  1. They sell transactionally. In other words, they talk about their company, their products and services, themselves, their features and benefits, and try to leverage that for a sale.
  2. They rely on demos to generate interest and then try to close.
  3. They rely on having the lowest price and take orders.

Only 13% of all salespeople take a consultative approach to selling and almost none of them can be found in the bottom 50% - the group that fails to meet quota each year.  A coincidence? On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10% of all salespeople are 4300% more likely to have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength!

Are the 87% redeemable?  Can they make the transition from transactional sellers, demo-focused presenters, and price focused order takers to professional, consultative sellers?  Only an OMG (Objective Management Group) sales team evaluation (SEIA) can answer that questionDownload free samples of the sales team evaluation here.

Spirited does have three things in common with prior versions of A Christmas Story and those are the ghosts of Christmas' past, present and future.  That got me thinking about the articles I wrote in 2022, the articles you'll see in December, and what you can look forward to in 2023.

Our ghost of articles past reminds us that we began 2022 talking about whether buying has changed and if salespeople have adapted.  We followed that up with our 6th installment in the popular Bob Chronicles about salespeople who make things your problem.  Then came an article about the 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and how to break them.  

February began with an article on how hiring salespeople the right way yields 62% less turnover and 80% higher quotas.  We followed that up with the similarities between cyber thieves, hackers and most salespeople.  No kidding!  Then came this favorite, the 7th installment of the Bob Chronicles about salespeople who can't close closable business.  I love the Bob articles!  Then I provided 10 steps to crush your sales forecasts.  Finally, our last article in February was my review of a prospecting email with some elements that could actually work for salespeople.

March started with an article explaining how salespeople with a high tolerance for money are 4,000 percent better than those with a low tolerance for money.  That's a huge differentiator!  Next was the comparison between great baseball coaches and great sales coaches.  Then I began a new series of my most popular videos and rants.  It started with the top 10 but there are now nearly 2 dozen popular videos and rants to watch! 

April started with another baseball analogy - this one about how the philosophy of great pitching coaches can improve your sales team.  Then I explained how to identify the accurate reason for a salesperson who is not performing.  

May's first article had my 5 simple steps to grow sales by 33%.  Really!  May ended with an article about how to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession.

In June, I explained how salespeople like to go fast but good salespeople actually go slow and followed that up with an article on the benefits of competency-based assessments.   

In July, I wrote about why you can't afford to lose customers or salespeople right now.  Then I wrote about big company strategies that small and medium businesses can emulate.  The last article of July explained the differences in requirements for success in different selling roles

August began with one of my trademark takedowns of a junk-science article with 20 attributes of successful salespeople. Not. That was followed with an article about how to stop account churn.  Then I explained how my car's qualifying ability is a great example of how salespeople should qualify. Then came the article that explained how salespeople would be impacted by the 15% minimum corporate tax and how difficult it would be for the IRS to hire 80,000 agents.  Sorry if reporting on an actual news story offended some of you.  The post that should have gotten people upset but didn't was when I compared the sorry and pathetic Boston Red Sox to most sales teams.  Not a single complaint about that one!  My final article in August was another baseball analogy where I compared closing a tough sale to hitting a home run.

In September I found and shared an article with a doctor's testimonial about the importance of his salespeople.  Awesome!  Then I wrote about 10 attributes that do not differentiate top from bottom salespeople.  Next up was my tortured message to the masses wondering why more companies don't use OMG.  Then came another takedown of a Harvard Business Review article that appeared online.  The last article in September talked about how you can double your revenue in a recession.  

October began with my personal life comparison of Jeeps and Infinities and how that analogy holds up when interpreting an OMG sales candidate assessment for hiring salespeople.  My 8th installment of the Bob Chronicles looked at the difference between selling skills and effectiveness.  Then I compared alleged criminals who are released under cashless bail to underperforming salespeople who are released back into the field.   My final October article explored the correlation between motivation and sales compensation.

In November I wondered if salespeople will sell more effectively when sales managers sell and coach and if new sales managers can be difference makers.  Then I wrote a take-down of a Wall Street Journal article about selling to millennials.  My most recent article compared my failing wiper blades to why executives fail to take action when they have underperforming sales teams.

Which of these articles will make the list of the top 10 articles of the year?  Stay tuned for the December reveal as well as my annual Nutcracker post.  In 2023 I'll be focusing even more on how you can use OMG's data to improve sales performance.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, sales performance, sales tips, sales effectiveness, sales assessments, sales team

5 Reasons Sales Teams Underperform Like My Old Wiper Blades

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

The 6 Best Windshield Wipers and Glass Treatments for Your Car of 2022 |  Reviews by Wirecutter

My windshield wipers were no longer getting the job done.  They were underperforming (leaving streaks and smudges), not clearing water from the windshield (failing to meet expectations) and I couldn't see the road properly when it was raining.  It presented a threat to our safety and an upgrade was required.  

I ordered Bosch Icon replacement blades, rated #1 by the NY Times, and after 30 minutes of unintentionally trying to put them on backwards, I finally got them installed. They were freaking awesome.  They exceeded my expectations in the rain, and last night they over performed in the snow.

The wiper blade adventure got me thinking about a few things. My car has 37,000 miles on it but the blades should have been replaced 17,000 miles ago so why did I wait so long? How is this similar to what companies go through when their sales team is underperforming?

I speak with a lot of CEOs and Sales Leaders from companies whose sales teams are underperforming.  One thing they seem to have in common is the mileage problem.  When I ask how long the sales team has been underperforming, it is usually the equivalent of 60,000 miles.  It's not a new problem, the signs have been there for YEARS but something recently changed to the extent that they couldn't tolerate it any longer.  The sales team's performance was finally presenting a threat (safety) whereby one or more of revenue, earnings, sustainability, personal income, stock prices, turnover, market share, morale and more were at risk.

What causes executives to wait so long?  Here are five potential reasons:

Hope - They hope this is the month or quarter that turns things around.  As everyone has heard by now, hope is not a strategy.

Misinformation - Their sales managers/sales leaders provide an overly optimistic narrative about how things are going.  "We have a great pipeline."  "We have some great opportunities." "Our salespeople are having some great meetings."  The keyword is great.  What makes the pipeline, opportunities, and meetings great compared to past months or quarters?

Fear - Sales are not very good right now, but what if we ask for outside help and we swing and miss?  Won't that be even worse?

Patience - They don't want to be guilty of a knee-jerk reaction so they wait a little longer.  After all, cash flow is still positive, so what's the harm in waiting?  Just another day.  Sure, another week.  Maybe another month.  Could we kick it down the road for another year?

Ego - They mistakenly believe that if they ask for help they will appear weak.  Executives don't think twice or worry about bruised egos when they need the advice of attorneys, accountants, bankers, commercial insurance agents, property managers, asset managers, wealth managers, etc.  Why does their ego start trouble when it comes to sales experts and their advice?

For every CEO and Sales Leader that do reach out, a third of them will remain in wait-and-see mode, failing to take action  commensurate with their underperforming sales team. They think that one big sale will solve their problem, but the reality is that one big sale will only further mask the problem.

A Sales Team evaluation helps executives - those who are ready and those who are hesitant - to understand why their teams are underperforming and what can be done about it.  You can learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales performance, evaluation, sales enablement, sales assessments, sales team, OMG Assessment

The Similarity Between Cashless Bail and Free Passes for Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 21, 2022 @ 08:10 AM

criminal

If you aren't aware of the crime taking place in most of America's big cities, you have either been living in a cave or experiencing willful ignorance. Most of the alleged criminals are repeat offenders and those who are arrested are usually back on the street committing additional crimes later that day due to cashless bail and the presumption of innocence.  

If you think about it, and you don't have to think very long or hard, cashless bail mirrors how companies deal with under-performing salespeople who are also repeat offenders.  Let me explain.

A typical US sales team consists of 15 people, including a Sales VP, 2 Regional Sales Managers, and 12 salespeople.  Of course, there are exponentially larger and smaller sales teams, but this is the version that we most frequently encounter.  This team will have no more than 3 performing salespeople, another 3 who sometimes hit their numbers, and 6 who chronically under-perform.

Let's assume that the salespeople who are ranked 10-12 are not just under-performers, but pathetically ineffective salespeople.  At the end of the year, they receive their annual review - the equivalent of an arrest and release - and are back on the street to underperform for another year, making the company both both the victim and the enabler.  This is insanity!

While some could argue that this is happening because it is so difficult to find sales candidates and harder still to find good ones.  The argument doesn't hold up because while the current labor market is consistent with the lack of quality sales candidates, the practice of rewarding sucky salespeople with continued employment has been around as long as I have!

Three contributing factors to this practice are relationships, ego and hope.

Most sales leaders aren't comfortable terminating salespeople with whom they have developed a strong relationship.  Their ego doesn't allow them to terminate ineffective salespeople because it would be an admission of a hiring mistake and ineffective coaching.  And they hope that this will be a breakout year for these salespeople.

OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Team Evaluation provides leaders with science-backed data to know which under-performers can be trained and coached up, how much better they can become, what kind of help they will need to achieve those improvements, and how long it will take.  Isn't that better than hope?

While it helps to train and coach up those who can improve and identify those who can't, the other way to address this issue is to fix the sales hiring problem.  It's time to stop using gut instinct, personality assessments that weren't designed for sales, faulty sales recruiting processes, and resumes as a basis for hiring salespeople.  These practices are at best hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, and examples of ego getting in the way of methodically making good sales hiring decisions.  OMG's legendary sales candidate assessments are customizable, accurate and most importantly, predictive of sales success in the specific sales role for which the company is hiring.

Several White Papers on these topics are available as a free download here.

You can request samples here.

You can see the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures here.  Each core competency has an average of 10 attributes for a total of around 200 scores/findings per salesperson.

You can request more information here.

After an OMG evaluation of his sales team, one of the regional sales managers pushed back and said the OMG evaluations were wrong. The scores were not very good for his top salesperson despite the fact that he sold the company's biggest deal last year and just made president's club.  I asked some questions and learned that this salesperson's big deal was his only decent sale in 6 years and his sales manager actually closed the heavily discounted deal.  I asked the sales manager which was more indicative of who his salesperson really was - the 6 years of under-performance or the one deal that his salesperson received the credit for?  After a minute of hemming and hawing, he admitted it was the 6 years.  Then I asked which was a more accurate evaluation of that salesperson - the OMG evaluation or his own evaluation.  After another round of hems and haws and he admitted it was the OMG evaluation. 

The best investment you can make to improve sales performance is to use OMG's suite of sales team evaluations and candidate assessments.  They are the Gold Standard.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales performance, sales excellence, sales enablement, underachieving, sales assessments, sales success

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

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

Before I purchased my first Jaguar, my dream car was the Infinity Q45.  In the early 90's, I couldn't wait to get that car and when winter came, I couldn't wait to get rid of it.  It didn't matter what kind of tires I put on that expensive-but-useless-piece-of-crap-for-all-of-winter car, it wouldn't go in the snow and ice.  I had to drive up a steep, mile-long hill to get home at the end of the day, and the hill wasn't well salted or sanded because it ran alongside a lake.  The parts of the Q45 became more important than the appeal of the car.

My brother-in-law had an old jeep.  It wasn't expensive and it didn't look great but it drove so well in the snow and ice that he rescued me when my Q45 wouldn't make it up that long hill.  The parts of the Jeep were more important than the lack of appeal of the Jeep.

That brings us to OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Candidate Assessment.  Usually, the overall score, relative strength of a candidate's capabilities, and recommendation are more important than any specific scores.  Usually.  But with the assessment of Mary, it was an entirely different story.  

Let's review the scores and findings from Mary's OMG Sales Candidate Assessment. She had really good scores.  Really good. Her Sales Percentile was 82 so she was stronger than 82% of the salespeople in the world. So was OMG wrong?  Why did the company hire her?  Why did she fail?

OMG wasn't wrong and as usual, OMG nailed it.  She wasn't a good fit for a new business development role and OMG did not recommend Mary for that role. But the company didn't want to pass on a sales candidate who was an 82 so they invited her in for an interview.  You know what happened next.  She sold herself, they thought her experience was a fit, and they hired her.

It didn't take long for the failing to begin.  While Mary scored well in 16 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, four of the five competencies in which she scored very poorly were crucial to success in the role she was hired for.

 

  • Doesn't Need to be Liked - 62.  A score over 79 is preferred for this role.
  • Reaches Decision Makers - 35. A score over 66 is preferred for this role.
  • Relationship Building - 17.  A score of over 59 is preferred for this role.
  • Responsibility - 0. A score of over 74 is preferred for all selling roles.
  • Closing - 24.  24 would have been fine if she could do everything well that must take place prior to closing.

Mary couldn't get past gatekeepers!

Mary would call, the gatekeeper would answer and attempt to get rid of her, and because Mary needed to be liked, she couldn't push back and overcome the initial wave of resistance.  Failing to reach the decision maker, she settled for someone without authority, failed to build a relationship, and did not impress mid-level managers enough to reach the decision maker.  She blamed the selling model, the gatekeepers, the training, the coaching, her manager, the company and anything and everyone other than the source of the problem:  Mary.

Do you remember my opening analogy about cars and their capabilities in the snow and ice?  Mary's overall score of 82 is the Infinity Q45 and her four weaknesses are the four tires.  It didn't matter how good her assessment looked, none of that mattered if she couldn't get the sales cycle started.

The warnings were right there in green, gold, red and white.  Good for OMG.

The client ignored the obvious and focused on a single number.  Bad for the client.

The salesperson failed in exactly the way that was predicted.  Another case of the salesperson simply being the salesperson.

There is nothing more accurate and predictive for hiring salespeople than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and OMG has assessed 2,258,422 of them!

If you are one of the 35,000 companies using OMG to assess your sales candidates, thank you!

If you want a sample click here and place a checkmark next to Sales Candidate Assessment.

If you want to take it for a test drive click here for a free trial.

If you're ready to get started click here and an expert will help you customize the tool for the sales role(s) you are filling.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales recruiting, relationship building, reaching decision makers, sales hiring assessment, sales assessments

Is 28 Years Long Enough for a Sales Assessment Trial ?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

long-time

The Sony PlayStation, Gorilla Glue, Aquafina, and The George Forman Grill were all introduced in 1994.  You've heard of those but have you heard of Vamp Nail Polish or KoronaPay?  They were also introduced in 1994.

Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment was also introduced in 1994 and while 35,000 or so companies are raving fans, that represents less than 1% of the potential B2B market.  As successful as OMG is, and as legendary as our sales candidate assessment is, the reality is that relative to the potential size of the market, hardly anyone uses it.

Isn't 28 years long enough for us to prove ourselves?  

Clearly OMG is not for everyone. Companies that sell at the lowest price, companies that are the brand leaders, and companies that have a transactional sale don't need to hire good salespeople because their salespeople are order-takers.  But what about everyone else?

After consistently proving its legendary predictive accuracy making it a no-brainer to use OMG, there are five possible reasons why companies didn't use OMG  to assess their sales candidates over the past 28 years:

  1. They perceive OMG to be an inferior assessment.  I have never heard anyone say that and none of our partners have ever heard anyone say that but maybe some people feel this way and keep their thoughts to themselves.  In this day and age?  Are you kidding me?

    Based on all of the awards OMG has earned, its raving fans, and strong renewal rate, I don't believe this is ever the reason.

  2. Sales Leaders and sometimes even HR Directors, believe their gut instinct, experience, skills and expertise can out-perform OMG.  While the science disproves this, it is a common reason as to why companies don't use OMG to hire salespeople.  Even worse, some Sales Leaders feel that if they have to rely on a tool to hire salespeople it will make them appear weak.  It's an ego problem. 

    One Sales Leader had turned over 50% of his sales team and the other 50% were underperforming.  He had failed to hit forecast for 4 consecutive quarters but instead of blaming it on sales selection and/or training and coaching, he was blaming the company's pricing model and didn't believe salespeople could succeed with the current pricing.  While the right salespeople would perform fine with their pricing model, he didn't know how to identify the right salespeople and wasn't willing to spend money on an assessment that would effectively do that.

  3. "Legal" doesn't allow for the use of assessments.  Legal as a reason (LaaR) only occurs in large companies, and because the market is flooded with personality assessments that are not role specific or predictive.  Disgruntled candidates, who are not selected, could potentially blame their failure to land a job on a personality assessment, leaving companies potentially vulnerable to a law suit.  On the other hand, a role-specific assessment, like OMG, creates no such liability for a company so this line of thinking is very difficult to understand.  It's worth noting that Legal doesn't even get involved until either the CEO, HR Director and/or Sales Leader decides to utilize OMG. 

    One company was having trouble hiring 300 salespeople.  They had already hired 500 salespeople but 350 had quickly turned over and only 150 were actually selling for them.  They had a huge problem getting sales selection right so they gave OMG the verbal go-ahead but Legal put the kibosh on it.  The ill-conceived fear of a law suit outweighed the fact that their revenue generating car had its gears in reverse.  I think the weak CEO should have been fired for allowing legal to override his decision-making.

  4. HR is married to another assessment and feels it would be too difficult to learn a new assessment.  As Dave Mantel pointed out, HR is measured on their cost per hire and time to hire; not on sales performance. Unfortunately, these HR professionals believe selecting the most accurate and predictive sales assessment is not as important as their level of comfort, even if it will make their job easier.

    Why use a personality assessment to determine if they have the sales capabilities required to succeed in a particular sales role at the company?  As Aaron Prickel of Lushin & Associates put it, "You wouldn't give your son a pregnancy test to determine if he's using drugs!"   

  5. A Sales Candidate Assessment is not in the budget.  So?

    One company was paying their two worst salespeople a $60,000 base salary and those two salespeople were at 50% of quota.  In addition to the $120,000 the company was throwing out the window on two losers, they were failing to generate $1 million in revenue!  They needed to hire salespeople this year and only had to spend $7,500 with OMG to hire 6 ideal salespeople.  Somehow, they didn't have $7,500 to spend, but were OK throwing $120,000 out the window and accepting a $1 million short-fall.  Math does not seem to be a strong suit at this company.

Circling back to how the article began, isn't 28 years of helping companies improve their sales selection effectiveness a long enough trial to prove to the masses that OMG is a game changer for sales?  Consider these statistics:

Do you see it?  44% more salespeople achieve quota at companies that use OMG compared to companies that use another assessment, and 80% better than companies that don't use an assessment.  And sales attrition is 75% lower at companies that use OMG compared with companies that use another assessment and 237% lower than companies that don't use an assessment.  So much for gut instinct, experience, expertise and skills.

And this?  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG doesn't recommend, 75% of those salespeople fail within 90 days.  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG does recommend, 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales teams within 12 months.  So much for legal, ego, budgets, and comfort level.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies, each with an average of 8 attributes, and OMG measures every single one of them.  Depending on the role, some attributes and competencies are more important than others.

Put science to work and rely on it to hire your next group of salespeople.

Request a sample Sales Candidate Assessment.  
Download free White Paper on Sales Selection.   
Begin a Free Trial

Let us know you want to Get Started. 

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales hiring test, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Which is Worse - The Boston Red Sox or Your Sales Team?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 23, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

fenway

I wrote the best-seller, Baseline Selling, so it should come as no surprise that I'm a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan.  I'll be at Fenway Park for a game this week and I had some thoughts about how the Red Sox compare to many of the sales teams that get evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).

The Red Sox are not very good. They have become difficult to watch, and have morphed from a 2018 World Series champion, to a 2021 playoff team, and now to a last place team because their roster was so poorly constructed.  In the off-season and at the trading deadline, the Red Sox waited until the other teams made their big moves and the dust had settled. Then, from among the players that were still available (nobody wanted them), he made some bargain basement signings or traded players who will be due for big contracts and got little in return (again).  The result is a bad team with only a handful of stars and a supporting cast of broken parts, guys playing out of position, and minor leaguers filling in for injured players.  Do you know how bad a team has to be to score ten runs and still lose by five?

Most sales teams that go through the OMG evaluation process have a couple of stars but most of the salespeople are not very good (bargain basement hirings), not in an ideal role (out of position), and aren't contributing to the growth of their companies.

The construction of the Red Sox roster is simply a Stupid as Shit Strategy or SaSS. Use of the word strategy means that it's intentional and is a disservice to the word stupid!

Sales team construction usually lacks formal strategy and that suggests something accidental is at play. We tend to see the "we already had these salespeople" and then "these are the new salespeople who were willing to work for us." New is a relative term as the newest 30% of the team continues to churn when and if they find candidates.

In both examples, we have teams that appear to be underperforming when in fact, they suck because of poor selection.  I'm not letting managers off the hook as they are responsible for coaching up the people on their teams but let's face it.  If the right people were acquired in the first place, they wouldn't require much coaching!  

It's common knowledge that for the past several years, only around 50% of all salespeople meet or exceed quota. Are they underperforming or performing as they should based on their own capabilities?  I mined some data from the 2,242,971 salespeople that OMG has assessed. What follows helps to explains why:

OMG measures the difference between salespeople who can sell versus those who will.  Only 55% of all salespeople will sell.

Only 22% have the necessary Sales DNA (combination of strengths that supports the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics) to succeed in their roles.

Only 41% have Hunting as a strength and only 34% prospect consistently so pipelines fall short of target.

Only 43% have Relationship Building as a strength and only 29% are able to leverage their relationships to win business.

Only 34% follow an effective Sales Process so most salespeople are winging it while believing they are terrific.

Only 28% Reach Decision Makers but only 11% reach the final decision makers and only 1% of new salespeople reach those decision makers

Only 11% have Consultative Selling as a strength and only 7% get past nice to have.

Only 31% have Selling Value as a strength and only 25% of salespeople make purchases in a manner that support successful sales outcomes.

Finally, 50% of all salespeople are weak!!  Is it any wonder that only 50% of all reps hit quota?

More importantly, CEOs and Sales Leaders don't know what their salespeople are truly capable of because they read only what appears in the CRM application, hear only what their salespeople tell them and see only the monthly, quarterly and annual revenue numbers.  At most companies, the salesperson responsible for the most revenue is often among the worst salespeople on the team.  They might have the biggest and/or best accounts, or the most lucrative territory, decades of tenure in the industry, but they aren't selling as much as they are serving in the role of account manager and order taker.  Don't confuse revenue with sales effectiveness.

A professional sales team evaluation shows what prevents your team from achieving a higher win rate, higher margins, more new business and a shorter sales cycle.  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles? How much better each can each salesperson become? What it will take to get them there and how long will it take?  Is your pipeline legit? Which of your salespeople can be trained or coached up to reach their potential?  Are your salespeople part of your future or part of your past?

You can guess or you can get the data.  Learn more about a sales team evaluation.  Request a sample.

This article began with poor sales team performance as a by-product of selection.  Start using OMG's sales candidate assessments - the most accurate and predictive sales selection tool in the world. Request a sample.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales assessments, objective management group, sales team evaluation

The Philosophy of a Pitching Coach Will Improve Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 04, 2022 @ 07:04 AM

pitching

I find ideas and material for this Blog everywhere, especially when I'm not looking for them. Yesterday I received a daily email from a Paul Reddick, a baseball coach who was drumming up some business for his baseball institute. It resonated - not for its baseball coaching - but as sales coaching.  Here's what it said:

If your coach is talking about any of the pitching flaws that you see listed above…

Run… Run Fast!

That Coach is working on “flaws” that will have no impact on your pitching.  He is working on symptoms… not the illness!  He is trying to fix things that are happening as a byproduct of incorrect movement early in your delivery. If you get the first second of your delivery right, almost all of these flaws get fixed instantly. 

Do you know how this applies to sales? 

I'll explain exactly how it applies and I promise you will be surprised!  Click here to read last year's fun article comparing pitcher's fielding practice (PFP) to role-playing in sales.

If a CEO, Sales Leader, Sales Manager, Sales Coach or Sales Expert suggests that closing or negotiating is a selling flaw, then that individual does not really understand what salespeople must do in order to win business.

Closing is over-rated. 

Always has been.

Except for the concept of when to close, closing shouldn't even be taught!

If a salesperson is effective adding opportunities to the pipeline, reaching decision makers, building relationships, taking a consultative approach and uncovering compelling reasons to buy, selling value, qualifying, and doing that in the context of a effective and efficient sales process, they will earn the business and it will close at the appropriate time.

If they suck at any or all of the nine competencies referenced above, then the lack of wins will appear to be a closing issue, when it is actually symptomatic of something that wasn't properly executed earlier in the process.

Same goes for negotiating.  If an opportunity is properly qualified at the appropriate time, there should not be anything to negotiate.  However, if qualifying lacks thoroughness and is completed too early, it invites a negotiation at closing time.

Training and coaching should be targeted towards the competency in the sales process that has the lowest conversion ratio.  In other words, if salespeople struggle to get opportunities into the pipeline, focus on prospecting.  If salespeople are booking meetings but opportunities stagnate in the pipeline, the issue is with the consultative approach and/or value selling.  If opportunities get as far as qualified but fail to close, then the issue is probably with qualifying and/or consultative selling/value selling.

The most important thing to identify is where ALL of the skill gaps are.  How can salespeople leverage their strengths, sharpen existing skills, learn new skills and improve their conversion ratios?

The best way to do that is to know exactly what they are capable of, where their bottlenecks are, what their blindspots are, and what they need to do in order to improve.  This should never be a guess because most sales managers, sales leaders and CEOs guess wrong!  It sounds like most of the calls and emails I receive where the potential client says, "Yes, we're looking for someone to provide some sales training on closing and negotiating."

There are a couple of ways to find out what your team is really capable of and how much better they can become:

An OMG Sales Team Evaluation is the best solution and provides answers to every possible question you might have about your team.  In addition to the comprehensive Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA), Executive Summary, and Visualizer (interactive tool to play with the data), you and your sales team will learn how everyone measures up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

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OMG has a free self-serve solution as well.  You can see how your team collectively compares to other teams in your industry and to companies overall in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  You won't get any reports or individual results but you'll see where the team-wide gaps are.

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Companies that have their sales teams evaluated experience faster, quicker and greater growth than those who don't.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Closing Sales, sales assessments, sales team evaluation

The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4,000% Better at this than the Bottom 10%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 03, 2022 @ 07:03 AM

Why Do Deer Run Into Cars

This weekend, a deer ran across the highway and hit our car.  The deer was injured but she did manage to run away so we were relieved that she wasn't killed.  After we returned home, I couldn't find our dog, Dinger.  Regular readers may remember Dinger from these posts:

My Dog Has Better Listening Skills Than Most Salespeople 

Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople

How Top Salespeople Manage Resistance

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Veteran Salespeople or Millennials?

I found Dinger with his nose glued to my front bumper where some of the deer's hair was still attached to my car.  Dinger, who loves to bark at deer from the safety of our home, seemed to be saying, "Ohhhh, so THIS is what a deer smells like!"

The exact same thing happened to a salesperson I was training.  It wasn't a deer or a dog, it was about Jim's sales aha moment.

His team was asked to send me an email with their five biggest lessons from their first six months of training.  Among Jim's top five was this one:

Your own bias affects the selling process - Wow!  I did not realize that my biases are affecting my sales process and approaches.  For example, I have a money bias that was unknown to me until recently.  I make a strange face (as if I am going to get punched in the face) whenever I tell the client the cost for a service or product.  I started noticing my strange face recently on my zoom calls and I now know that my money bias was likely affecting my sales.  I was not confident in my ask for the cost of the service or the product and thus it showed on my face as I waited for the client's rebuttal.  (And usually their rebuttal would feel like they punched me in the face)

What a great lesson!  Jim was referring to a sales competency found in his Sales DNA called Comfortable Discussing Money and an attribute called High Money Tolerance found in another competency, Supportive Buy Cycle

Salespeople who don't have high money tolerance become very uncomfortable when the amount of money being discussed exceeds the amount they consider to be a lot of money.  Jim believed that $500 is a lot of money yet he was asking companies for $500,000.  No wonder he made a strange face - that's 1,000 times greater than his choking point!  If the salesperson lacks confidence in how much money they are asking for, why in the world would we expect the prospect to have any confidence about buying from the salesperson?

The top 10% of all salespeople are 4,000% more comfortable discussing money than the weakest 10% - 4,000%!  And the top 10% of all salespeople are 100% more likely to have a high money tolerance than the weakest 10%.

Finally, being comfortable discussing money and having a high money tolerance directly support a salesperson's ability to uncover the actual budget.  Salespeople who do uncover the actual budget are 172% more likely to close the business - 172%!

Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and has assessed more than 2.2 million salespeople.  You can view some of the data here, see how the data changes by industry, and how you and/or your sales team compares to other companies in your industry and overall.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales assessments, sales data, uncovering budget

62% Less Turnover and 80% Higher Quota Attainment When You Hire Salespeople the Right Way

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 03, 2022 @ 07:02 AM

 

snowblower

Buying a snowblower?  Pick one, have it delivered, wait for a snowstorm and blow some snow.  What's the worst that can happen?

Planning to go out for dinner?  Choose a restaurant, make a reservation, show up and enjoy.  What's the worst that can happen?

Hiring salespeople? Spec the role(s), post your job descriptions, collect resumes, choose some candidates to interview and make some hires.  What's the worst that can happen?

If you have a sales cycle of several months or more, subsidize your salespeople until they are self-sufficient, and in early 2022 it takes 3 months to find a suitable candidate, you are screwed before you start!  Once you finally identify a decent candidate, you have hours, not days or weeks, to make a decision and pull the trigger and what's the worst that can happen?  Six months or more pass before you realize that salesperson won't make it and you not only wasted a half year's salary, you lost six months, have an empty territory or vertical, and have to start over from the beginning!

It doesn't have to be that way and here's why.

There are several keys to getting sales selection right and we can discuss them here:

  1. Compensation: Base salaries are in and while you would love to hire a salesperson who is willing to eat what they kill (straight commission), most salespeople are not well-suited for that kind of pressure.  Your on plan total compensation for the first year must be appealing or in today's market good salespeople will ignore you.
  2. Location: Many salespeople love working from home and leveraging video platforms to generate revenue.  They can be MUCH more effective and should be much more successful.  You'll need to offer a remote option to attract good salespeople.
  3. Job posting:  The job posting must stand out and describe your ideal candidate instead.  Don't post a job description, post a candidate description, don't make it about your company, and you'll have a better chance to attract the best candidates.
  4. Sales Candidate Assessment: In today's candidate market you MUST have a crystal ball to differentiate the duds from the studs and more importantly, identify the salespeople who are the best fit for the particular selling role you are hoping to fill.
  5. Confidence: If you get the first four things right, then you will have the confidence to pull the trigger before you lose a good candidate to another company.

Today, I conducted a tailored fit for a company that will use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and highly predictive sales candidate assessments.  The tailored fit adds an additional layer of customization - in this case 30 additional criteria - to help identify the right salespeople.  We also use tailored fits as a proof of concept, to show skeptical potential clients that our sales candidate assessment accurately differentiates their top producers from their worst under performers.  Check this out:

So what are we looking at here?

We start with 185 or so findings inside 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Then we identify the findings and scores that differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  In the example above, eight of the differentiators we identified are actually selection criteria that the company wasn't aware of and was badly messing up. Four of the differentiators are related to motivation which is ironic because most executives believe they have a tremendous ability to identify and hire motivated salespeople.  Two of the findings are related to Sales DNA, weaknesses that sabotage performance.  Seven differentiators reside with traditional sales core competencies.  Two identify salespeople's suitability for working remotely and their ability to self-start.  And six of the differentiators represent specific selling skills.

Explained another way, the top producers prospect consistently, are extroverts and score high in the Hunting competency.  They reach decision makers, take a consultative approach and uncover compelling reasons to buy, sell value and leverage sales technology.  They can work remotely, and have experience calling on business users, asking for up to $25,000, selling conceptual services that are not top of the line, in a hunting role with high pressure to perform while working at a major corporation and a turbulent and ever changing culture.  The bottom under performers do not. 

This company was not using OMG's assessment and managed to hire some very ineffective salespeople.  As long as they follow OMG's recommendations, they will never make mistakes like this again!  The salespeople that OMG recommends move to the top half of the sales team within 12 months while 75% of the salespeople that are hired although they were not recommended by OMG, fail within 6 months.  Read that again to make sure you read it right.

The 33,000 companies that have used this tool to assess more than 2.2 million salespeople, have hired nearly 100,000 salespeople.  They have 62% less turnover, shorter paths to productivity, and 80% higher quota attainment.

You can be consistently successful hiring salespeople if you follow my 5 tips and use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Need to see a sample?  Request one here.  Choose Sales Candidate Assessment.

Need to try it out?  Request a free trial here.

Ready to save time and money, hire with confidence and start using OMG?  Have an OMG expert help you get started

George Kriza sat down and interviewed me about the challenges of finding and hiring salespeople in the current economy.  Watch it now!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, Personality Tests, sales candidate assessment, sales assessments, sales test

Bob Chronicles Part 6 - When Salespeople Suddenly Make Things Your Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 @ 07:01 AM

airplane

Both AT&T and Verizon have delayed activating their 5G networks near airports because it might cause interference with airplane guidance systems on certain planes, like Boeing 777s.

Forgive my cynicism, but how long have the airlines known about that?

They have probably had years to prepare for this deployment and update their own technology but didn't and now, at the eleventh hour, they sounded the alarm and tried to make it the carriers' problem.  

Can you think of any selling scenarios for which this would be a good analogy?  I can!

Scenario 1:  Your salespeople were scheduled to begin using new technology or even to take an OMG Evaluation and the night before the deadline you start hearing all the reasons why they haven't been able to set it up, enter their data, get online, complete the project, turn it in, upload, download, unload, or do it correctly and all of a sudden it has become your problem.

Scenario 2: Bob was informed 2 weeks ago that an important customer proposal would be due by the end of business today. At 4pm, Bob was in a panic, screaming that he needed pricing in the next 10 minutes or you'll lose the business.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 3: Recently, an opportunity became closable and yesterday was the day to get it closed. Yesterday, for the first time, Bob learned there was another competitor who proposed an alternate solution that the customer liked and at a lower price. Bob must respond to this situation today and needs you to be on the call.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 4: A decent sized opportunity has been stuck in the pipeline for weeks and Bob has assured you that despite the lack of movement it is still good to go. Your Spidy-sense suggests that it's anything but good to go and you urge Bob to follow up and you share your strategy with him.  Bob, who always knows the best way to proceed, resists and you know that if this opportunity sits another day it's as good as gone so if anyone is going to follow up it isn't going to be Bob.  His resistance to following up has made this your problem.

Scenario 5: Bob tells you that he has a huge opportunity but needs references before they will meet with him.  He doesn't have any good references of his own and wants to use your references so now this has become your problem.  Watch this 2-minute video rant to see how I feel about premature requests for references.

We know Bob is a weak salesperson and he isn't alone as half of the entire population of salespeople are very Bob-like in their behavior.  I'm sure you can think of a dozen more examples and I hope you will add them to the comments below.  I've written about Bob before and you can "catch up" here:

Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

Over the nearly 2,000 articles on this Blog we have discussed evaluations, assessments, sales performance data, consultative selling strategies, examples, closing, prospecting, qualifying, advanced selling tactics, coaching, recruiting, accountability, pipeline, sales process and more.  However, we have rarely, if ever, talked about the importance of being organized, proactive, detailed, prepared, and ahead of schedule to avoid the problems that sabotage so many salespeople.

I mentioned that Bob is among the weakest 50% of all salespeople.  You can see the data here.

You can avoid hiring salespeople like Bob by using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on planet earth.  You can check that out here.

You can evaluate your existing sales team to learn whether you have a team full of Bobs or only some Bobs.  You can learn more about that here.

Finally, if you want to see samples of our sales, sales management, sales leadership insight reports, sales team evaluations, or sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments, click here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, sales tips, sales calls, closing deals, time management, sales assessments, pipeline management, sales team, organizational skills

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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