The Recession is Here - How to Take Advantage and Prepare Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 31, 2022 @ 07:05 AM


You boarded your plane, got seated, the plane pulled away from the gate and you fell asleep.  Later, a hard landing woke you and you wondered, "Are we already there?"  Yes you are and you slept through the entire flight.

The same thing is happening with the economy.  While you were sleeping, distracted by Russia invading Ukraine, baby formula shortages, off-the-chart gas prices, a migrant surge across the southern border, mass shootings, supply-chain shortages, and runaway inflation, the recession crash-landed and it's here.   

The two biggest tell-tale signs are new home sales were 100,000 or so units below expectations for April, and the first of many interest rate hikes have been enacted. And the biggest sign is that government officials continue to tell us that there is nothing to see here, the economy is booming and there will be a soft landing from inflation.  Sure.

While I'm citing events in the United States, there is no doubt that this will be a global recession.

So what must you do to prepare your sales team and how can you leverage the effects of a recession?

You'll know the recession is real when in the next 90 days, sometime between now and the end of August 2022, the first domino falls and a major corporation announces they will layoff thousands of workers.  Others are sure to follow.  Then come the spending freezes.  This trickles down to mid-size and small businesses and while this is taking place, consumer confidence plunges, people stop buying things, which reinforces the decision to stop corporate spending and vindicates them for the layoffs.  We're gonna get clobbered!

You can leverage all of this by hiring salespeople.  That's right.  Resist the urge to layoff salespeople and instead, take advantage of what will finally be a surplus of good to great salespeople.  They have been in very short supply for several years and this will be one positive consequence of a recession.  Gobble them up, upgrade and smart-size your team and use OMG's Smart-Sizing tool as part of a sales team evaluation. Use OMG's sales candidate assessments to distinguish the sales winners from the imposters because past success is NOT a good predictor of future success in sales. You should already know that from experience otherwise your track record would be better and all of your salespeople would be meeting or exceeding quotas.

You must prepare your salespeople so they can convince people who are on a spending freeze to spend money despite the freeze.  This REQUIRES that they be effective at calling on, reaching and engaging actual decision makers as they are the only people who can override the spending freeze.  In addition to developing their skills at engaging decision makers, they must be equally effective at using a consultative approach, selling value and using a sales process optimized for a value-based, consultative approach.  Why consultative?  Selling value doesn't work well outside of a consultative approach.  Not only that, but salespeople struggle to achieve differentiation outside of a consultative approach.

What could go wrong?

OMG has evaluated and assessed more than 2.2 million salespeople and the data shows that taking a consultative approach is where salespeople are LEAST effective.

As you can see, only 11% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 28% have reaching decision makers as a strength and only 31% have selling value as a strength.  But it's worse than that.  Weak salespeople make up 50% of the sales population.  Weak salespeople don't sell this way!  The next graphic isolates weak salespeople - the bottom 50% - only.

Only 1% of weak salespeople (half of your sales team!) have Consultative Selling as a strength, only 10% have reaching decision makers as a strength, and only 4% have selling value as a strength.

This is why half of your salespeople don't hit quota!  But over the past several years they have gotten by because they have been in order-taking mode.  With demand dropping like a rock and order-taking going away what will you do?  These are the five steps you should take.

1) Evaluate Your Sales Team  to determine who will be part of your future and who was part of your past.  Determine the exact competencies in which they will require training and coaching.  Better understand where the bottlenecks are and what it will take to increase your win rate. 

2) Assess Sales Candidates as you hire better salespeople.

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3) Customize and Optimize your Sales Process for a Consultative Approach

4) Get your sales managers trained and coached to be effective and consistent at coaching up their salespeople

5) Get your sales team trained to hunt decision makers, take a consultative approach, and sell value.

The economy might make a crash landing but there is no reason you or your sales team need to do the same.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, selling in the recession, sales candidate assessment, selling value, sales team evaluation

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



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!

Image copyright 123RF.

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

Why Half of the Sales Force Resigned This Month

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 08:05 AM


Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Half of the company's 20 salespeople have left voluntarily in just the last month and the CEO wants to know why everyone is resigning.  He wants Jeff, his sales manager, coached up and needs to recruit replacements.  He has tremendous urgency to get this moving and believes that Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment will help him select good salespeople that will stick around.  But there is a hidden problem that the CEO is unaware of and even the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet - ours - won't overcome the issue.  It's worse than you can imagine!  It turns out that the sales manager is causing everyone to leave.

OMG had conducted a sales force evaluation a month earlier and the following issues were among dozens attributed to Jeff:

  • His salespeople don't trust him, so they won't trust his intentions or his coaching advice.
  • His salespeople don't respect him, so they won't perform for him or value his coaching.
  • He doesn't have relationships with his salespeople, so they won't share their concerns with him.
  • He has 86% of the attributes we look for in the Accountability Skill Set without complimentary Motivational or Coaching Skill Sets making him quite the task master/dictator.
  • None of his salespeople are comfortable working for a sales manager that places tremendous pressure on them to perform.
  • He only spends 10% of his time coaching, so there is pressure without any support.
  • He does not know what motivates his salespeople.

Any one or two of these findings alone would not be the end of the world, but when one sales manager has all 7, you realize that Jeff is hated!  That's why the salespeople are leaving - and fast.

So here is the question.  Do you urgently work to train and coach Jeff before he blows up the rest of the team or do you find a replacement for Jeff?

Of course, it depends on the rest of the team, but in my experience, it would be crucial to eliminate Jeff from the equation and look for a replacement at the same time that you are replacing the salespeople that have already departed.  If you were to retain Jeff, and make the faulty assumption that Jeff could be fixed, you could lose the rest of the team while you are doing repairs and run the risk that he would alientate the sales candidates that are interviewing for the available jobs.  If your company is big enough and the community is small enough, word could easily get out that your company is not a very good place to work, making it difficult to attract good salespeople for years to come.  

The bigger question is, how was the CEO so completely unaware of Jeff's failings and the salespeople's immense dislike for him?

The combination of a hands-off CEO (as in unapproachable) and a powerful (remember the accountability skill set) sales manager create the perfect storm for a scenario like this.  It's crucial for CEOs to be visible, approachable, involved and committed to the success of the sales force and clearly, that was not evident at this company.

Sales Managers often fail to have the desired impact on the sales force.  In most cases, they have not been trained or coached to lead a sales force, rarely understand what is expected of them, lack the skills to effectively perform in the role, and don't have a clue how to get people to follow them, perform for them or grow.

If you are a sales manager, did you get the equivalent of four years of college to prepare you for your role?  If you are a Sales Director or VP with sales managers reporting to you, did you provide them with that kind of training and development?  If you are a CEO, do you have people in sales management roles who have not been adequately trained to have an impact?

I'll be hosting my annual, top-rated, Sales Leadership Intensive on August 27-28, 2015 in the Boston area.  Click here for more details.  It would be very cool to have you and/or your people there!

For more information on OMG's Award-Winning Sales Candidate Assessments:

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Topics: sales management, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales candidate assessment, sales test, problem sales manager

Top 5 Reasons You Don't Get More Strong Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 05:03 AM

strong sales candidatesClients frequently ask about the percentage of candidates recommended by Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment and why it is so low.  When clients are feeling the urgency to hire salespeople and too many candidates are not getting recommended, their knee-jerk reaction is to change the customized criteria on the role configuration so that more candidates can be recommended.  In this case, "more" would mean more like the ones they already have instead of more like the stronger ones they said they wanted to hire...

There are many possible reasons why a large percentage of candidates are not being recommended.  Here are some to consider:

  1. Expectations - Clients expect at least half of the candidates to be recommended so the actual percentage is low compared to expectations.  The actual percentage depends on the level of difficulty for the role and the custom requirements specified by the client.  See the normal range of recommended sales candidates.
  2. Compensation - Clients often set the difficulty level of the job really high, hoping to get an extremely strong salesperson.  But they fail to change the compensation, keeping it the same as what they were paying mediocre salespeople.  The result is that only mediocre salespeople apply for the position and when the strong ones don't apply, they can't take the assessment or get recommended!
  3. Customization - Clients go crazy specifying custom criteria and then they don't include the criteria in the job posting.  Then mediocre salespeople apply for the job and don't meet the criteria in the assessment.  The requirements should be included in the job posting!
  4. Contradictions - Criteria that only a strong, experienced salesperson could possibly possess is included in the job posting.  But so is compensation consistent with a mediocre salesperson.  Result?  A reduction in the overall number of candidates because the pool of candidates who meet both the criteria AND can live with the limited compensation is very small.
  5. Industry-Specific - Many executives still believe that their next salesperson must come from their industry.  For some reason, the very people who feel that way, tend to be from the industries that have the worst salespeople.  Nobody gets recommended!
  6. Profiling - (I know the title said "Top 5", but it sounds better than "Top 7".)  Clients create an image of the salesperson they want that makes it sound like profiling.  They want someone young (not EEOC compliant, of course), with a degree, 5 years experience, motivated, energetic, memorable, attractive, well-dressed, professional, trustworthy, and polished.  What does all that have to do with selling effectiveness?  The only one of those 11 items that will impact sales is whether or not they are trustworthy.  Of course, the posting attracts the very candidates that are like this and the wrong salespeople send their resumes and most aren't recommended!
  7. Bad Memory - Clients quickly forget why they chose this assessment in the first place.  They were sick and tired of hiring salespeople who don't work out.  Better to identify the right salespeople in the first place rather than roll the dice.  That good, confident feeling lasts about a month and when the position isn't filled, they long for the good old days when they could fool themselves for a few months while they hope that their latest gamble pans out.

If you want better salespeople, you need to do the work to make sure you attract better salespeople.  You must also exhibit patience while waiting for the right strong salespeople to come along.  They may not be in your first or second round of candidates.

Don't forget to register for Wednesday's Webinar, Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 2.  I'll be hosting along with my panel of sales experts.  We start at 11 AM Eastern and it will run no longer than 1-hour.

We'll be discussing the following 3 topics:

Blindspots - When Salespeople Finally Have Better Conversations
Blindspots - Fighting for The Candidate You Love 
Blindspots - We Finally Have a Working Pipeline

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, stronger sales candidates, hiring great salespeople, sales candidate assessment

Best Example of Value-Added vs. Commodity Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 07, 2013 @ 20:03 PM

Top Sales WorldI wrote an article for the March 2013 issue of Top Sales World Magazine that debriefs an actual sales call.  I've written more than 1,000 articles and I believe this one is the best yet!  The article effectively details an actual value-added consultative sales call which, because of a single incorrect question, quickly became a transactional, commodity-based, price-driven call.  The example is really striking because it so clearly shows that you can do everything correctly but asking even one question the wrong way can cause a salesperson to lose the opportunity to be a trusted advisor, and fall into the abyss of commodity sellers.  

You'll have to get this month's issue (existing subscriber link) or sign up to read it.  It's on page 7.  The bonus is that there are 12 additional articles you can read after you download the issue.  The magazine will open in a separate tab or window so that you can return here and contribute your comments.  There should be a lot to share!

[Update - For the sales management side to this story, I wrote a coaching piece for EcSELL Institute and that article is available here.  In this article you'll discover the proper way to debrief this call and make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.]

I'm hosting a fast-paced, 45-minute webinar and will share some of the findings and statistics that make Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessments so magically predictive.  Please join me:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
10 AM Eastern Time

I'll also be hosting our annual fall Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston.  It is simply the finest two days of sales leadership training for CEO's, Presidents, GM's, Sales Directors, Sales VP's and Sales Managers.  What makes it so special?  Click here for two videoclips (scroll to the bottom of the page) featuring some of the attendees from the fall 2012 Sales Leadership Intensive and hear what they have to say.   Please join me:

November 14-15, 2013
Westin Copley Hotel, Boston
More Information 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales management, Sales Coaching, commodity selling, sales candidate assessment, value added sale, value added seller, predictive sales test

Sales Hiring Chronicles: The Doctor, The Drug Dealer and The User

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 23:01 PM

drug dealerGot you on that title, didn't I?

Did you ever find yourself in a position where you needed to hire salespeople?  Of course you did.

Did you use Objective Management Group's (OMG) incredibly accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments as part of your filtering and selection process?  Perhaps you did.

Did you decide to augment the candidates whom you were finding and hire a recruiter?  Perhaps you did that too.

That's when all the fun starts!

Recruiters think that all of their candidates walk on water.  Clients think that because of our assessment, quality advice and guidance that we walk on water.

So the recruiter sends 5 of the best candidates ever to the client, who has them assessed, and 3 are not recommended.  The recruiter is upset, "Why are you using that stupid assessment? You don't need that! I know these candidates and they're awesome."  

We simply explain to our client why the recruiter has such a high opinion of the candidate (they represent a commission) and why we don't share that opinion.  There are always excellent reasons why a candidate may not be recommended for a particular client, and in some cases, for any client.  

The client feels stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It's just like the title of this article.

You hurt your back and feel tremendous pain.  Your doctor tells you that you'll require surgery to repair a bulging disc.  He suggests bed rest until the following month's surgery.  A friend introduces you to his brother-in-law's, girlfriend's, cousin's nutritionist, who has a yellow pill that will make all of your pain go away.  Today.  Right now.  Decisions, decisions.  Do you listen to your doctor who knows what's best or go for the drug dealer's quick fix? 

To complete this sales analogy, OMG is the doctor, the recruiter is the drug dealer and the client is the user.  It's so easy to get and take the drug for temporary relief.  It's only money.  But the surgery provides the proper long-term solution.  If you take the drug (recruiter's candidate) which wasn't recommended by the doctor (OMG), you'll be back for more when the euphoria wears off, realizing that you still have the disc problem (ineffective salesperson) and ultimately need the surgery (be selective and listen to the expert advice).

I don't mean to upset recruiters, but let's face it.  They don't go nearly as wide and deep on their candidates as we do.  Most aren't sales experts, and really don't know if the salesperson who succeeded at XYZ can succeed at ABC.  We, on the other hand, do know and can show you why, explain the science and provide accurate advice 95% of the time.

The doctor or the drug dealer?  The choice is always yours!

Use this free tool to calculate the cost of your sales hiring mistakes.  If you aren't already an OMG client, you can get a free 72-hour trial of our award-winning sales candidate assesment.  OMG was awarded the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment Tool in 2011 and 2012.  And if you'd like to see what hiring salespeople looks like when you work with us, compared with doing it the traditional way, check out this infographic.


Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales management, omg, hiring salespeople, sales candidate assessment

The Sales Assessment Client Who Didn't Renew after All These Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 05, 2012 @ 10:03 AM

correllationHe has been a client of Objective Management Group (OMG) for over 20 years.  He had a license to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and, as most clients do, had renewed it each year.  When we met for breakfast recently, he told me that he had a new VP of Sales and would not be renewing his license this year.  I was surprised for two reasons:  

  1. OMG clients nearly ALWAYS renew their candidate assessment licenses unless they are hiring just one or two salespeople, after which time they are done - they find who they are looking for and then they are finished hiring.  Companies that hire salespeople on an ongoing basis always renew their licenses because the salespeople they hire with our assessments are much more effective.
  2. He told me that the reason for not renewing was that the assessment did not correlate with their performance.  Seriously?  Our top-rated, highly-predictive assessment didn't predict success and failure?  "Send me the names and the outcomes".
I reviewed everything he sent me.  He gave me their names along with their scores for the OMG Assessment , Predictive Index Assessment, Industry Knowledge, Industry Experience, Group Interview and Performance Results.  Each score was rated on a 1-3 scale with 3 being the best.
They hired seventeen salespeople in the past five years.  I ran a simple face-value correlation analysis: How predictive was each score - at face value - at predicting the performance outcome?  Here are the results:
Step Face Value Correlation
OMG Sales Candidate Assessment 68%
Predictive Index 50%
Group Interview 54%
Industry Knowledge 38%
Industry Experience 38%

Face value correlation alone isn't enough. At OMG we have a mantra that we expect our clients to follow.  A candidate that is "Not Recommended" should never be hired.  A "Recommended" candidate can easily become a "No" based on their phone interview, whether their experience meets your requirements, and how well they perform during a face-to-face interview.  "Recommended" is not a license to automatically hire without further due diligence.  It is simply a recommendation that the candidate belongs in the pool of candidates that move to the next step.  This client was hiring candidates that were not recommended!

I reviewed the seven assessments that did not correlate at face value.  Two of the five met performance expectations and four were recommended by the OMG assessment, but with warnings and conditions.  In the table below, the scores in columns two and three are how the client conducted the scoring, not how OMG scores its assessments.  The client's scale is beneath the table.  Here are the findings:

ID OMG Score Performance Comments
1  3  1 Candidate's Assessment showed that while she had strong DNA, she is an excuse maker, isn't motivated by money, and had zero skills other than top-of-the-funnel skills and had will prospect as a weakness. It was there in black and white that while she met the criteria,  Salesperson #1 would not build a pipeline or move opportunities along!
2  3  2 Assessment was nearly identical to Salesperson #1 but with additional skills that went beyond top of the funnel.
 3  1 Assessment showed that he lacked direction - no goals, plan, tracking and would be unable to work independently.  He was assigned a remote territory!
 3  1.5 Assessment also showed will prospect as a weakness and not money motivated and 7 of the 10 skills we identified were top of the funnel skills.  Like Salesperson #1, Salesperson #3 would not build a pipeline or move opportunities along!
 2  1.5 Salesperson #5 was assessed twice - the first time not hirable, the second time with a huge red flag saying less than ideal. 
 3 Salesperson #6 had the lowest group interview score, industry experience score, and the lowest overall score of any candidate.  That correlated with the assessment's finding showing his inability to develop rapport early in the process. 
 1.5 Salesperson #7 met expectations only because of how likeable she was and her high scores in food service, and industry experience - she had a following.  She would have been more successful, but as the assessment showed, she wasn't a hunter, made excuses, wasn't money-motivated, and had zero selling skills other than her top-of-the-funnel skills.
3 - Exceeded    2 - Meets    1 - Failed

Conclusions: Inclusive of our recommendations not to hire, and the warnings and skill gaps associated with recommended candidates, the assessments accurately predicted the results in 16 of 17 cases between 2006 and 2010 - a batting average of 96%.  In the 17th case, Salesperson #6, the client failed to follow his own hiring process and would not have hired the individual based on his non-OMG scores.

The client assessed 2,500 candidates over this time period.  As a result, they were saved from having to speak with at least 2,300 candidates.  If they spent just five minutes reviewing 2300 resumes (191 hours) and ten minutes on the phone with one third of the candidates (126 hours), the assessment saved them 317 hours (two business months) of manual filtering.  If they value their time at $100 an hour, the license more than paid for itself in the value of time saved over five years ($41,700).

Monday morning quarterbacking is easy if you take the time to do it.  I chose to take the time.  This client is probably similar to many clients who either don't read the warnings, or don't factor the warnings into the decision-making process for bringing a salesperson on board. The warnings were certainly incorporated into the development plan or accountability requirements for success.

Message to Clients and Would-Be Clients of OMG:  Our assessments are incredibly predictive, but you need to pay attention to more than a single finding, recommendation or score!  Every assessment tells a story and if you take the time to read the story on the candidates who are recommended, you'll be able to determine whether your current sales management resources are up to the task at hand for borderline candidates:

  • How much hand-holding will they need?
  • Will they fill the pipeline on their own?
  • Will they be able to move opportunities through the process?
  • Will they be able to generate urgency?
  • Will they qualify thoroughly?
  • Will they be able to close?
  • Will they self-start?
  • Can they work independently?
  • Will they take short cuts?
  • Will they be ineffective because of weaknesses?
  • How long will it take them to ramp up?
  • Will they stick?
It's all there - it's all accurate - it's all predictive - one just has to read it!

Topics: sales assessment, omg, kurlan, Validation, Correlation, sales candidate assessment

Top 10 Keys to an Effective Sales Hiring Process

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 00:08 AM

keys to hiring salespeopleThere are many keys to making the the sales hiring process work effectively yet most companies fail to get these keys right.  Some of them are obvious, while some are more subtle.  And most of all, the integrity, or in this case, the outcome of the process is only as strong as the weakest link.  Ignore or fail to complete any one step the way it is designed and the entire outcome will be in jeopardy, as in, another salesperson that fails to launch, doesn't meet expectations, or succeeds at being utterly mediocre.

Here are some keys and comments:

  1. You must identify what experiences the new salespeople must have in order to succeed at your company, in this position, calling into your market.
  2. You have to nail the posting - get it wrong and the wrong people will apply for the position.  When the wrong people apply, you have a pool that's green and unsuitable for diving in.
  3. You must use a customized, sales specific, predictive assessment to identify the candidates who will succeed in your positions and roles.  If the assessment isn't predictive and you can't rely on it, you'll end up wasting your time with the wrong candidates.
  4. You must be able to determine, in less than 5 minutes by phone, which of the recommended candidates have the desired experience, sound great, and should be interviewed.
  5. You must be able to firmly but nicely cross-examine your candidates in a face-to-face interview to determine whether they are the person described on their resume or an imposter, meaning the resume was a work of fiction.
  6. You must have realistic expectations on your timeline.  30-60 days to fill an ordinary territory sales position, 90 days or more to fill a niche sales position, and even longer for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
  7. You must be patient enough to do it all over again if you don't find the candidate(s) that make you happy.  Once you have reached the interview stage, candidates will come in 6 and possibly 12 flavors: 
    • Strong sales skills, perfect background and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, a background that is close and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, wrong background and you like them;
    • Strong sales skills, perfect background and you don't like them;
    • Strong sales skills, a background that is close and you don't like them;
    • Strong sales skills, wrong background and you don't like them;
If you compromised on the assessment profile and didn't insist on it recommending only the strongest salespeople, you'll have 6 more flavors like those above, only they will be showing Weak Sales Skills.
You need to select from Strong, perfect or close, and you like them.  Period.  You let the assessment tell you whether they are strong.  You let the interview, not the resume, determine whether they have the right background.  And only then do you decide whether you like them.
If you don't get what you want, you must answer this question:  12 months from now, will you be happy that you took three more months to find the right salesperson, or pissed off that you compromised, wasted a year, and have to begin the process all over again?
8.  After identifying a candidate(s) you wish to hire, you must be able to effectively sell the opportunity to them.
9.  Finally, you must be able to effectively on board the new salesperson(s) so that they go roaring out of the gate
10. You must be willing to coach at least twice per day, while holding the new salesperson accountable to all of the agreed upon startup metrics.

Hiring salespeople is not for the faint of heart, should not be performed without the right tools, and cannot be conducted without the right process.  Most importantly, gut instinct is not a part of this process!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Recruiting Process, sales hiring process, sales candidate assessment

Another Behavioral Styles Assessment Pretends to Assess Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 02, 2010 @ 22:12 PM

If you're a regular reader, you know I have sometimes written about other assessments and how they fare when they go head to head with Objective Management Group's Industry Leading Sales Force Evaluation tool and Sales Candidate Assessments.  Today, another one of those attractively packaged, inexpenisve behavioral styles assessments challenges OMG's highly predictive, insightful, sales specific champion.  How will this newcomer fare? 

Well, the marketing and graphics on the cover are great.  After all, how can you beat a report title like "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople"?  But from there?  Pretty standard behavioral styles findings.  Let's compare a few, shall we?

First, the 7 areas they look at don't even differentiate successful salespeople from unsuccessful salespeople.  I'll give you an example:

Their #1 is what they call Being Your Own Ally - It's very similar to what we call Record Collection or one's collection of Self-Limiting Beliefs.  Objective Management Group's data on 1831616 salespeople assessed to date shows that 77% of the top 5% of the sales population have a supportive Record Collection while none of the bottom 5% do.  The problem is that while we are measuring sales specific beliefs, they are measuring general positive thinking, more closely aligned with what we call Outlook.  Not only is there little difference in the Outlook of strong and weak salespeople, MOST sales candidates (possibly in between jobs) have a Poor Outlook.

Their #4 is the Ability to Develop a Compelling Story - This IS a differentiator between good and bad salespeople - only they have it backwards!  The bottom 74% have perfected the ability to present capabilities, value proposition, the brand promise and other pitches.  The top 26% have perfected the ability to ask good, tough, timely quesitons.  What good is the story unless you can tie it to the problems uncovered by effective questioning?

Their #3 is Prospecting but even 31% of the bottom 5% of the sales population prospect consisently!

Their #2 is something called Maximizing Return on Energy or the ability to stay focused.  This is mostly about being organized and realizing the importance of prospecting.  Our data shows that the best salespeople have this attribute - but that data also shows that the worst salespeople have it too!

Their #5 is Becoming a Master of Communications which is understanding the importance of communications and being prepared.  This is actually one of the few things one can observe from simply interviewing a candidate!  It is not a differentiator between the top and bottom performers, just a differentiator between those who are prepared versus not prepared.  There is only a one-way correlation between performance and preparation.  While those who are successful are always prepared, those who are prepared are not always successful!

More important than the difference between the skimpy findings in their assessment is what's missing from their assessment.  Motivation, Real-World Sales Challenges, Skill Sets, and Predictions.  Salespeople can have the skills yet have weaknesses that won't allow them to execute their skills.  Salespeople can have skill gaps galore but strengths that allow them to consistently achieve favorable outcomes on pure determination alone.  We see strong salespeople - skills and strengths - that lack the desire and commitment to use their skills and strengths.  And we see motivated salespeople who have neither the strengths or the skills to succeed.

In a nutshell, this assessment is cute, but like every other behavioral styles assessment disguised as a sales assessment, it is not predictive and therefore, has little value as a sales selection tool or a sales development tool.  This is a great example of an assessment whose relative cost is as low as the value provided.



Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sdss, sales candidate assessment, objective management group

The Science of Selling - Rules versus Data

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 @ 10:02 AM

Regular readers know that I like to talk about the science of selling.  I don't mean the science of the sales process, strategy and tactics, as much as the science of research, data and proof.  There is a science to selling but a more appropriate name for it would be the rules of selling.  In Baseball, the rules dictate what you do, when you do it and how it should be done.  In Selling, the rules accomplish the same thing. 

The true science in selling is the research and data that explain performance.  In Baseball, a good or bad year, by a team or player, is not explained so much by whether the rules were followed - they probably were - but by the statistics that explain why a good or bad year occurred. We have the same thing in sales and Objective Management Group may have the mother load of that data.  OMG has assessment data on nearly 500,000 salespeople and sales managers within nearly 8,500 companies. Whether we look at teams, industries or individuals, we can explain performance as well as what should change (people, systems, processes, strategies, skills sets, competencies, selection criteria, etc.) in order to change the relative performance. In other words, we've simplified the complex analysis required to find answers.  We're the sabermaticians of sales! Over the last few years I have written enough articles on the science, data and research of sales to put them into a series.  This information is also used to accurately predict whether a sales candidate will succeed in a specific role, at a particular company, in a given industry, and with the unique set of sales challenges they would face selling into their market at this point in time.

One guy who embraces the science of sales team performance as much, or maybe even more than me is Bill Eckstrom, founder of EcSell Institute. Bill was my guest on yesterday's edition of Meet the Sales Experts and we talked about science and whined for nearly an hour about sales managers who turn a blind eye to it!  Bill shared some great analogies, talked about the importance of improving leadership and coaching skills, and shared a great discovery.

He used a new application which increased outbound conversations at EcSell Institute from 5/hour to 22/hour!

Bill also shared that his members said their #1 most important issue was the ability to identify and acquire talent.

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Bill.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, Sales Force, EcSELL Institute, bill eckstrom, sales candidate assessment, sales assessments, science of selling

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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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