The Latest Perspective on My Most Popular Article on Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 20, 2022 @ 07:12 AM

3-nutcrackers.jpg

The lessons from my annual Nutcracker post have not changed at all in 12 years but my perspective changes. This year three new thoughts come to mind.

For example, each year the music in the Nutcracker suite becomes more and more familiar to me, but just think how familiar it is to the musicians in the orchestra who perform it day after day, and twice daily on weekends.  Like the dancers, they put us much effort, enthusiasm and emotion into the performance as they did the first time they performed.  Do salespeople have the same excitement about their products and services as they did their first year with their company or does it become mundane?

Mine is not the only family to make The Nutcracker or any other holiday event a tradition.  Year after year we return.  Are salespeople both familiar enough, special enough, and entertaining enough for their customers to renew each year?

They know that people like us return each year so to keep it interesting for us, they have updated the set a few times over the past 12 years, changed the dancers who play each character and embrace new, young dancers each year to play the parts of children.  Do companies keep their products, features and policies fresh enough with enough updates to their websites, user interfaces, and the way they do business to keep their customers interested?

And now, my famous Nutcracker article:

It's a family tradition that each December we attend the Boston Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker.  It's truly a magical show and even though the primary dancers change from year to year, the execution of the show's script and musical score is flawless.

Several years ago, during one of the performances, it dawned on me that the orchestra's role in the show correlated very nicely to an effective sales presentation.  There were 3 fantastic lessons that I presented then and as I have done each year since, will present again here.

If you attend a Nutcracker performance or simply listen to some of the orchestral suite during the holiday season, one of the selections you'll hear is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy".  Perhaps you can't match the music to the title, but I'm sure if you listen to the first 30 seconds of this version, you'll recognize the melody regardless of your religion or ethnicity.

Even though you've surely heard it before, can you identify the four primary musical instruments at the beginning of the selection?

In this version, you're hearing the glass harmonica, while most orchestral versions and performances feature the celesta, oboe, bassoon and flutes.  Can you hear them?

Just as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" sounds familiar to you, your salespeople find familiarity in the sounds, questions, comments and discussions on their sales calls.  As much as you may not be able to distinguish the specific instruments creating those sounds in "Dance...", your salespeople may not be able to differentiate the credible comments and questions from the noise on their sales calls.

During a first sales call, suppose your salespeople hear one prospect say, "This has been a very interesting and productive conversation and we might have some interest in this."  And imagine another prospect at the same meeting says, "We'll get back to you next month and let you know what kind of progress we've made."  And still a third might say, "In the meantime, please send us a proposal with references and timeline."

Lesson #1 (based on Objective Management Group's data) - Of every 100 salespeople:

  • 70 rush back to the office to begin work on the proposal and tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising because all 3 prospects in the meeting were very interested;
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and they'll do both eventually;
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking more questions.

Lesson #2:

  • Prospects' voices are like musical instruments.  Each instrument in "Dance..." has a specific role in the performance.  If the wrong instrument or notes are played or they're played at the wrong time, the entire selection is ruined.  Prospects' comments in the scenario above have different meanings depending on their business titles and their roles in the buying process.
  • If "please send us a proposal", "we're interested" or "very productive" are spoken from an Executive - the CEO, President or VP of something - it has a far different meaning than if the comment were to come from a buyer in Procurement.
  • When any of those 3 comments are spoken by a user - an engineer for example - rather than a buyer or an Executive, the comments may be far more genuine, but carry much less authority.

Lesson #3:

  • Sometimes it's more fun to listen to a song, symphony or simple melody and to figure out how and why the composer or arranger selected the particular instruments to play the particular parts of the selection.
  • Your salespeople must apply that wonder and analysis to their sales calls.  The prospect may be the composer (started the initiative), arranger (selected the vendors to talk with), director (charged with the initiative and conducting the process) or musician (following directions of the conductor).  It's the salesperson's job to figure out who they're dealing with, what role they play, what influence they'll have and how to get the various players aligned on the compelling reasons to buy and your ideal solution.

Homework Assignment - Return to Lesson #1 and answer 2 questions:

  1. Which of the 3 sales outcomes do your salespeople typically find themselves doing?
  2. Which additional questions do those 11 salespeople stay to ask?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales lessons, sales tips, Nutcracker

The Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2022

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 12, 2022 @ 07:12 AM

Top 10 of 2022

Each week we can read multiple lists of the top new movies and TV shows to stream at home.  Lists of the Top SUV's, Sedans, and Coupes are also prevalent right now.  And of course, as we move ever closer to the holidays, there are lists aplenty on the Top Gadgets, Luxury Items, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him and Gifts for Kids to peruse.  But it's also the time of year when I publish my list of the Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of the year.

Criteria: Popularity (views) is nice but quality of content is nicer.  Likes are cool but engagement is cooler. Entertainment value counts and my opinion matters because I'm judging the articles.  In the end, I'm applying popularity, quality of the content, likes, entertainment, comments, engagement and my opinion to create this list of the top 10 articles.

Enjoy!

10. The Bob Chronicles Part 7 - Salespeople Who Can't Close Closable Business 

9. Why You Can't Lose Customers or Salespeople Right Now

8. How to Use This Jeep Versus Infiniti Analogy to Hire the Right Salespeople

7. How You Can Double Your Revenue in a Recession (most comments)

6. Hiring Salespeople the Right Way Yields 62% Less Turnover and 80% Higher Quotas

5. The 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and Tips for How to Break Them

4. How to Identify the Real Reason When a Salesperson is Under Performing (best content)

3.  The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4,000 Percent Better at This Than the Bottom 10%

2. How to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession

1. The Irony of Free Passes for Under Performing Salespeople   (most engagement)

Top Article - Dave Kurlan's Top Videos and Rants (most views, comments and engagement)

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, human resources, Sales Coaching, closing, effective sales leadership, sales enablement, top sales articles, tips for hiring salespeople, sales management effectiveness, Top 10 Sales Tips

New Data: Will Salespeople Hit Quota When Sales Managers Coach and Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 07, 2022 @ 06:11 AM

Astros win 2022 World Series: Houston clinches second title as Yordan  Alvarez's Game 6 homer ousts Phillies - CBSSports.com

I was reviewing stats from the 2022 World Series between the World-Champion Houston Astros and the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies might have had a two-man wrecking crew in Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper but it wasn't nearly enough. Over the entire 6-game series, the Astros' batting average was 43% higher (good), their pitchers' ERA (earned runs allowed per 9 Innings Pitched) was 26% lower (good), WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was 19% lower (good), they scored 22% more runs (good) and that led to their winning twice as many games and on Saturday, a world-series victory.  There was a clear correlation between 4 baseball KPI's and the outcome of the World Series.  

Pivoting to sales, and staying with correlations and KPI's, could there be one between how sales managers spend their time and why so few salespeople hit quota?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has data on approximately 250,000 sales managers from tens of thousands of sales team evaluations.  Sales managers are expected to spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople but the data proves that it is nowhere close to that!  The average percentage of time actually spent coaching salespeople is less than 18% or, during a 40-hour week, just 7.2 hours.  Most of what sales managers consider coaching does not really qualify as coaching and you can read about that here.  How are salespeople supposed to improve and hit quota when sales managers continue to treat coaching with the same disdain they have for taking out the trash and visiting the dentist?

Instead of spending their time on coaching, sales managers are spending too much of their time on personal sales.  Sales managers with fewer than 5 salespeople may be required to carry a quota but generally speaking, sales managers are expected to spend no more than 5% of their time selling. OMG's data shows that the percentage of time that sales managers sell is closer to 13%.

Why do they sell instead of having more coaching conversations?  There are several reasons:

  • Compensation - Sales Managers are typically paid more on their personal sales than team sales so there's need and greed.
  • Quota - When Sales Managers worry about hitting quota and lack confidence that their salespeople will hit quota, the one thing they believe they can control is their own ability to sell their way to quota. 
  • Coaching - The reality is that Sales Managers don't enjoy coaching because most of them are not very good at it.  Most of them were promoted to Sales Managers because they were such good salespeople so they gravitate towards what they know and what they are good at.

The time spent coaching and selling adds up to only 31% so it's important to know that most sales managers waste their time on strategy, organizational issues, crises, keeping salespeople motivated, and holding salespeople accountable.  It's clear that when sales managers spend 13% of their time selling and only 18% coaching, most salespeople fail to hit quota most of the time.

Baseball has a manager AND coaches so the roles are well defined.  The manager manages the game while the coaches coach up the players on their baseball skills and the coaching occurs before games, during games, and after games.  In sales, managers take their manager titles too literally. As a solution, I recommend that companies hire sales coaches who understand from the outset that their only role is to coach before calls/meetings, during calls/meetings, and after calls/meetings.

The problem will be one of expertise.  A change in roles or not, the data shows that 82% of all sales managers are not well-suited for sales management and fewer than 10% are not good at coaching salespeople.  While newly hired sales coaches will be more likely to do the coaching, the actual coaching will still suck.

It may be time to train an entire new generation of sales coaches!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales managers, omg, objective management group, sales management role, how sales managers spend their time

The Bob Chronicles - The Difference Between Selling Skills and Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 12, 2022 @ 07:10 AM

chiropractor

Back in the 90's, after years of Chiropractic, I learned to crack my own back and neck.  You never know when you will need to relieve stiffness and/or pain.  Actually you do know.  If you drove more than two hours today or slept in a hotel bed last night I'm certain you'll need to crack your back and neck...

In the spring of 2020, I sprained my ankle and it never improved.  I'd step out of the car and the pain was so bad I would limp for the first twenty steps until it loosened up.  Imagine my surprise when two years later I heard a familiar crack - not in my ankle - but in my foot and then my knee.  When I stiffened my leg below the knee and purposely created the necessary torque, I heard four separate cracks and then bam! I was pain free!  Now, each time I stand up, I crack my knee and foot and I can walk without pain.  The most important thing was that my symptom screamed ankle but the root cause was my leg and foot.

it's the same with sales teams.  I receive calls and emails that begin with things like "My salespeople are complacent" or "My salespeople need some training on closing" or "My salespeople aren't bringing in enough new business" or "My salespeople need help with negotiating" or "Our team has a lot of stalled opportunities."  Just like my ankle, the real problem is RARELY any of these things.  It's usually something else or, in many cases, a number of something else's.

Today a client asked me to explain the difference between skills and effectiveness. You won't find the answer by doing a Google search as that search turns up exactly nothing on the subject.  This article will discuss the similarity between symptoms/causes and skills/effectiveness. Do you remember Bob, the subject of many articles and my favorite weak salesperson to write about?

Bob strikes again!

I've written 10 articles about Bob and everyone says that the Bob series is their favorite.

I was reviewing Bob's OMG (Objective Management Group) Sales Assessment and realized it is a great example of a salesperson who has skills, but is not effective.  For example, he scored 90 in the Hunting Competency but was not effective at scheduling new meetings because he was sabotaged by his huge need to be liked as evidenced by his score of only 50 on the Doesn't Need Approval Competency.

His need to be liked made him worry that prospects would be angry with him if he got through and interrupted their day. His need to be liked also prevented him from asking good, tough, timely, questions for fear that prospects would dislike him.  Bob has relatively good scores for both the Selling Value and Qualifying Competencies but he has another weakness that limits his effectiveness.

Supportive Buy-Cycle is a Competency in which Bob scored only 29 - an incredibly low score. 

His process for making major purchases does not support ideal sales outcomes and absolutely crushes his ability to sell value and thoroughly qualify.  One of the articles I wrote about Bob dealt with his Non-Supportive Buy-Cycle in great detail.

Let's look at Bob through the lens of his symptoms because up until now we have been discussing the root causes for his lack of effectiveness.  The best way to do this is to ask management.  When they discuss Bob, what do they talk about?

Bob hunts but doesn't land many appointments.  The opportunities that do enter the pipeline end up being about price. Opportunities stall and he can't get them moving again. He drives his sales manager crazy.  He has the skills (knows what to do) but lacks effectiveness (isn't able to execute).  Fortunately, OMG is able to differentiate between those who can sell (know what to do) and those who will sell (will execute) so clients using OMG to assess candidates don't have to deal with these problems. When clients use OMG to evaluate their current sales teams, these are but a few of the challenges they discover.

Last week I wrote an article about OMG not being about any one single score.  Like today's discussion of Bob, that article provided a great example where the sum of the parts, instead of a single score, will always predict exactly what will happen on the phone, over video, or in the field.

Take a crack at OMG and see what happens!  Whether evaluating your current sales team for development purposes or to assess sales candidates for open sales positions, OMG has the science-backed accuracy you can trust.  You can reach us here.

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, prospecting, omg, qualifying, selling value

How Your Sales Team Can Double its Win Rate in a Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 26, 2022 @ 14:09 PM

double

Isn't it awesome when you learn about new tricks your computer, phone or software can do that you weren't previously aware of? I've been using a number of new widgets on the home screen of my iPhone 13 and I love how quickly I can get or enter information!

Isn't it fascinating when you thought you knew what a product was all about but you were wrong?  A client was having great success using OMG (Objective Management Group) to assess their sales candidates and they assumed the sales candidate assessment was the only thing OMG offered.  When they learned that our core offering is evaluating their existing sales team they became excited about what that would mean for addressing their two biggest selling challenges.  

One of their issues was their 20% win rate was much lower than they thought it should be and they believed their salespeople needed some refresher training on closing.  They also had a large number of opportunities stalled in the pipeline and they believed that training on more effective techniques to conduct follow up calls would help.

In this article, I thought it might help if I share a bit of what they learned about their sales team.

It turns out that they didn't have either a follow up or a closing problem.  The three biggest issues were that their salespeople were:

  1. Not reaching the individuals who actually made the decisions to buy their services.  They knew they had to reach that person and  reaching that high in the organization was a milestone in their sales process but only 7% of the sales team was having any success doing that.  We also learned that the salespeople who did get to the decision maker were 400% more likely to close the business than the others on the team.



  2. Somewhat ineffective at Discovery and as such, were not uncovering compelling reasons for their prospects to buy.  Without compelling reasons, there was a lack of urgency and without urgency, there was nothing compelling their initial contacts to get the decision makers involved or the money approved.  The salespeople were simply not getting their prospects beyond "nice to have."
  3. Not selling value. They were focused on selling value, but because they were not uncovering compelling reasons to buy, they were unable to communicate their value in terms that would resonate with their prospects.  As a result, by the time the opportunity was proposal-ready, 50% had reverted to price-based opportunities.

These three issues were not the only issues facing this company but to give you a sense for how crucial these three issues are, read the next sentence three times.  If they were to do nothing else, but they relentlessly trained, coached and role-played these three issues, they would double their win rate next near. DOUBLE THEIR WIN RATE!

Some companies learn that their issues lie within their pipelines because the opportunities are not well qualified or scored.  Other companies learn that their problem is the company's ineffective sales process.  Some companies discover that the problems have more to do with not having the right salespeople in the right sales roles, a selection problem.  At other companies, we learn the problem is ineffective sales management, due to ineffective coaching and/or accountability.  Motivation is the problem at some companies while the thing that looks and sounds like complacency is often a problem with lack of Commitment.

Some companies have sales teams that aren't very effective developing relationships while others have trouble leveraging the relationships to generate revenue.  I've seen some sales teams that weren't very effective at building trust and credibility while other companies had hired salespeople whose Sales DNA wasn't strong enough to differentiate their higher priced products or services in the C Suite.

The problems I mentioned above are a small sampling of the many issues OMG identifies and it might surprise you to learn that many sales teams have all of these problems and more.

You can't fix the sales problems you can't measure.

When you scientifically measure exactly what the sales problems are, who has the problems, to what extent those problems exist and what the complimentary problems might be, you can begin to determine exactly what kind of development, training, coaching, and even organizational changes are required.

Or, you can do what this company was about to do before they evaluated their sales team and hire a sales training company to train on the latest and greatest closing and follow up techniques. After reading the story, you will understand that what they thought they needed for sales training would have never helped - not even a little!

If you are interested in learning more about having your sales team evaluated, you can email me and I'll get your request to the right person. If you don't want to hear from anyone (an example of a non-supportive selling belief that lowers Sales DNA), you can head to this site where you can get started on your own for free.  Full disclosure, at some point you will still have to speak to someone and pony up to receive the deliverables.

Image copyright 123RF 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, recession, OMG evaluation, creating urgency, sales team evaluation, discovery

Selling and the Need for Speed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 08, 2022 @ 08:06 AM

speed-limit

We had Chinese for dinner and my fortune said, "Speed is not as important as accuracy."

When you think of speed what are the first things that come to mind?

Fighter Jets? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to Mach 6.70 (5,140 MPH)

Racing Cars? The 6 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 304 MPH.

Motorcycles? The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 273 MPH.

Power Boats?  The 10 fastest in the world reach speeds of up to 317 MPH.

Light travels at 186,270 miles per second!

And salespeople.  What?  That's right, salespeople speed.  Let me explain.

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to close - before an opportunity is even closable.  

Salespeople tend to be in a rush to present - before an opportunity is even qualified.  Most salespeople are in such a hurry that they completely skip things like qualifying and discovery.  And when salespeople do perform discovery they accept the very first indicator they hear and rush to explain how their product or service addresses that indicator,

Example. You tell the doctor about a stomach ache and the doc says, "No problem - I can help" and calls in a prescription for an antacid.  And while that example actually happens, a good, thorough doctor would ask questions like, "Where does it hurt?"  "Does it hurt to the touch?"  "Is it always sore or does it come and go?"  "Is it more frequent after a meal or when you're moving around?" "How long have you been experiencing this discomfort?"  "Can you show me the exact area of the pain?" "Have you been overly stressed or anxious?"  "Have you made any changes to your diet?" 

[I'd make a good doctor!] 

Then the doctor would say, "I want to make sure we aren't missing anything.  I would like to get you scheduled for X-Rays, and an MRI so that we can rule out a few things."

He's still in discovery.  A good doctor has no need for speed.

Back to salespeople who do have a need for speed.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and how a company, team or individual salesperson scores on those competencies tells a story about how they sell, what they encounter, and how effectively they can turn those encounters into business.  Several competencies overlap with Discovery, the two most obvious being Consultative Seller and Value Seller.  However, those two competencies are much easier to complete when we include the competencies Reaches Decision Makers and Relationship Builder.  The numbers in the 3 images below show the percentage of 2.2 million salespeople who are strong in these four competencies.  All salespeople are on the left, the top 10% are in the middle and the bottom 50% are on the right.

Do you see the problem?  Even some of the top 10% struggle with the Consultative approach but they excel at Reaching Decision Makers and Selling Value.  Why do even the best salespeople struggle?  Because among the 10 or so attributes found in the Consultative Seller competency, the 2 most crucial are listens and asks great questions.  Most salespeople struggle mightily with listening and when one doesn't listen effectively, the next question isn't that obvious.

To execute the 4 competencies above, a certain amount of Sales DNA is required.  When strong, Sales DNA supports the execution of sales process and methodology.  When weak, Sales DNA sabotages those efforts.

Only 22% of all salespeople have strong Sales DNA.  Here are the average Sales DNA Scores for salespeople.

  • All salespeople have an average score of 65.
  • The top 10% have an average score of 81. 
  • The bottom 50% have an average score of 56.

More challenging selling roles require higher Sales DNA scores while less challenging selling roles require lower Sales DNA scores.  Here are three examples:

  • A salesperson who sells industrial batteries (for golf carts, truck fleets, wheelchairs) in a territory can get by with Sales DNA of 64.
  • A salesperson who sells payroll software to HR departments in a territory can succeed with Sales DNA of 72.
  • A salesperson who sells 7 to 8 figure capital equipment to the C Suite of the Fortune 500 against formidable competition in an 18 month sales cycle requires Sales DNA of over 82.

The salesperson the first example and those in similar roles to that salesperson have a need for speed.  It's a transactional sale.  They can move the sale and the relationship from transactional to consultative by S-L-O-W-I-N-G down.

The salesperson who is successful in the second example has slowed down.  Their biggest challenge is competition.  It's not a question of if the company will buy and use payroll software, the only question is whose software they will use and who they will purchase it from.  Slowing down even more will help to differentiate.

The salespeople in the third example have learned that if they are to have any success in this role, they must crawl through their sales process.  Slow is the name of the game.  I don't mean slow as in extend the sales cycle. I mean slow as in thorough.

[Update: One reader suggested that the crucial piece is having a variable speed where you move as fast or as slow as your customer.  I agree that you need variable speeds but many times the client wants to move fast and you need the ability to slow down the client or it will become a transactional sale.  So variable is OK but only when it provides an advantage to you.

They say speed kills and other than driving, nowhere is this more true than in sales.

Evaluate your Sales Team.

See scores for your industry in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Talk with an expert.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, selling value

5 Steps to Grow Sales by 33% in 12 Months

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 11, 2022 @ 08:05 AM

I'm a baseball guy and a die hard Boston Red Sox fan but I can't bear to watch them right now.  They are playing the worst baseball since I was 10 years old so that's going back 55 years!  It's not hard to understand why they are so bad because the data tells the story.  Their stats show that as of May 9, 2022 their bullpen has 9 blown saves.  Bullpens rarely blow 9 saves over a full season never mind over five weeks but if you look deeper, they wouldn't be in so many close games if their offense was producing.  Only three guys (JD Martinez, Xander Boegarts and Rafael Devers), are hitting!   Coaches will review game video and hitters will take extra batting practice to work on their mechanics and timing.

Sales teams go through periods like this too but sales leaders rarely seek out the data that would immediately point to the real problem.  They tend to hope things will improve and go from there. However, there are several levels of data to be reviewed so let's take a look.

As the article title suggests, there are five steps you must take to grow sales by 33% in 12 months.  You can't pick and choose as all five are required.

1. IDENTIFY BOTTLENECKS - A quality CRM application, like Membrain, will show your win rates, age in stage, conversion ratios, pipeline velocity, pipeline volume and pipeline quantity and more.  Dig into that data to determine year over year changes and identify where your bottlenecks have been and where they are today.  Be mindful that this is lagging data and are merely symptoms of the real problems!  (My personal favorite is the Baseline Selling edition of Membrain)

2. IDENTIFY THE REAL REASONS - An OMG Sales Team evaluation will explain why you have those bottlenecks and why your team gets the results it gets.  Note which of the 21 Sales Core Competencies are to blame - by team and individual - and more importantly, how much revenue is being left on the table and who is capable of upping their game.  For example, are deals getting stuck because salespeople aren't capable of reaching decision makers?  We know that salespeople who can begin with the decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business!  A training curriculum can be designed from these conclusions. Learn MoreRequest Samples (Request Sample Sales Force Eval)

3. PROFESSIONAL OUTSIDE SALES TRAINING - Provide your sales team with appropriate training to close the competency gaps, improve skills, and achieve better execution.  This should not be a one or two-day event.  Change requires on-going, long-term training to change beliefs, approaches, strategies, tactics and develop skills!

4. DAILY COACHING - Sales managers must provide daily, one-on-one coaching to their salespeople to help them with their individual gaps and improve their Sales DNA.  Only 7% of all sales managers come equipped with effective coaching skills so they will need to be trained and coached in order for them to provide effective coaching.

5. ACCOUNTABILITY - Sales Leaders must hold sales managers accountable for coaching as sales managers hold their salespeople accountable for change.

Once you have the data and take action, there is absolutely no good reason why you can't bump sales by at least 25%!  That's right, AT LEAST 25%.  If everyone improves by just 10% you will grow sales by 33%!

  • 10% more opportunities
  • 10% higher average sale
  • 10% greater win rate

That comes out to 33%!  Don't believe me?

Start with monthly goals of 20 opportunities, a 20% closing rate, and a $20,000 average sale. That translates to 4 sales for $80,000 or $960,000 annually.  10% more equates to:

  • 22 opportunities
  • 22% closing rate
  • $22,000 average sale

That's 4.84 sales at $22,000 which totals $106,480 per month or $1,277,760. A 33% increase in revenue!

What are you waiting for?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, crm, omg, how to increase revenue, sales increase, membrain, sales team evaluation

Great Sales Managers are Like Great Baseball Coaches Without the Screaming

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 15, 2022 @ 12:03 PM

baseball-is-back

So there will be Major League Baseball in 2022.  Suddenly the bitching and moaning about the owners has stopped and everyone is just happy that baseball is back.

Speaking of baseball and bringing sales into the discussion, let's talk about coaching.  First the baseball.

When my son was home for winter break, I asked him to rank all of his baseball coaches, an exercise that he found quite interesting.  Starting with Little League, through travel teams, all-star teams, tournament teams, High School teams and finally College, he has had 18 coaches not including me.

He played 4 years for his #1 ranked coach.  For the first two years he was afraid of this coach and for a very good reason.  The coach screamed at him, embarrassed him, and made an example out of him every chance he had.  At the very same time the coach pushed him, challenged him and brought out the best in him.  From the coach's perspective, he knew Michael could take it, saw his potential, and knew he could play even better than he did.  Some of Michael's best games and clutch performances were played under this coach.  The coach didn't scream at everyone.  Other players who disappointed the coach were simply ignored. He didn't want to waste his time screaming at them because he knew it wouldn't change anything and the players would repeat their mistakes.

I was not surprised over the coaches that Michael ranked 14-18.  They weren't very good at coaching, didn't add much value, and their teams didn't win anything. 

The nicest coach Michael ever played for, the one who we, as parents liked the most, and the one Michael loved the most, didn't make the top 5.  They loved each other but didn't win anything together and the coach didn't bring out the best in Michael.  He was simply way too chill.

So let's pivot back to sales.

The biggest difference between great sales managers and crappy sales managers is how effectively they coach up their salespeople to make them better.  There are two parts to this:

The first part is tactical - How to coach effectively, when to coach, what to coach on, how frequently to coach, and what good sounds like.  It can all be taught but it relies so, so heavily on listening skills.

The second part is Sales Management DNA -  How comfortable sales managers are when it comes to confronting, pushing back, challenging, being truthful, and providing constructive criticism.  It relies heavily on not allowing their fear of upsetting or losing salespeople to get in the way, preventing them from providing great coaching.

We can draw a comparison between Michael's #1 ranked coach and a great sales manager.  Pretend that coach #1 is everything described above except for the screaming and  embarrassing.  If I rewrote the description, it would say: the coach pushed him, challenged him and brought out the best in him.  From the coach's perspective, he knew Michael could take it, saw his potential, and knew he could play even better than he did.  Some of Michael's best games and clutch performances were played under this coach. 

Isn't that what we want our sales managers to accomplish?

Sales Managers:  Stop worrying about whether salespeople like you, and make sure they respect your coaching, trust your intentions, and truly want to improve. Bring out the best in them.  Show them what good sounds like through role-play.  If you do that, your relationship with them will be first rate.

The key is role-playing - the only possible way to demonstrate what good truly sounds like.  Most sales managers don't know how to do this effectively or don't include role-playing in their coaching. If you want to improve your ability to role-play, Kurlan & Associates has a self-directed online course that includes more than 40 unscripted role-plays extracted from live coaching and training conversations.  They cover nearly every scenario, include a layer of realtime coaching during the role plays and ARE EXACTLY WHAT GOOD SOUNDS LIKE.  If you want examples that you can model on how to coach salespeople through role-play, it doesn't get any better than this.  It's just $795 and you get access to the ever-expanding library for a year!  You can see the course topics here.  Have questions? Feel free to email me.  I respond to my emails!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, role playing

10 Steps to Crushing Your Sales Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 18, 2022 @ 12:02 PM

One hundred years ago, most men and women wore hats and dressed up to go everywhere. Sixty years later, Dress for Success was founded and at the same time became somewhat of a thing where if you wanted to be successful, you needed to dress like you were successful.  That was followed by business casual Fridays and then always business casual. Finally, the tech industry ushered in the current movement for business dress, the "who cares?" dress code.  The pandemic changed everything so that "who cares?" temporarily became whatever you were wearing when you woke up this morning!

Times change but one constant is the requirement for monthly, quarterly and annual sales forecasts.  It used to be difficult to come up with that number but with the technology we have today, a single click in our CRM applications should show us the accurate number.  But there is always a lingering question that accompanies that click:  Is that really the accurate number?

Most sales leaders have to perform major tweaks to that number because the opportunities in the CRM aren't up to date, the opportunities don't contain all the information, and the probabilities and dates are likely over stated.  But despite playing with the data, the sales leaders's attempt to settle on a single, more realistic number will usually be incorrect. In my experience, there are three distinct types of CEO reactions to this constant epidemic of missed forecasts:

  1. The revenue is fine and the margins are high regardless as to whether the team does or doesn't hit the forecast number and they simply don't care.  They are in the minority but they are definitely out there.
  2. Some CEOs have become so numb to this monthly ritual that the likelihood of an inaccurate forecast has been baked into their operation.  They expect it to be wrong.
  3. Finally there is the third group. They become more and more pissed off with every blown forecast and don't understand why it continues to occur or what to do about it. 

Watch this 3 minute rant from me to hear what I believe is to blame.

I feel better now that I got that off my chest...

Here are 10 steps to put an end to missed forecasts:

  1. CRM - Cut your losses and move to a salesperson-friendly CRM so that your salespeople will use it and keep it updated. If they see it as a tool to help them sell rather than a replacement for call reports you'll have realtime data and isn't that the primary executive function for CRM?  I recommend Membrain.
  2. Sales Process - Have your trusted sales consultancy customize and optimize your sales process.
  3. Tools - Have your trusted sales consultancy build a predictive scorecard and simple playbooks. 
  4. Integration - integrate the sales process, scorecard and playbook into your CRM.  It should all be working together inside your CRM.
  5. Training - Train your salespeople on how THEY can get the most out of THEIR CRM application and share your expectations as to daily use.
  6. Accountability - Hold salespeople accountable for keeping it updated daily. It's a condition for continued employment, or for releasing their commissions, or for expense reimbursement but under no circumstances is it optional.
  7. Evaluation - Ask your sales consultancy to have your sales team evaluated in all 21 Sales Core Competencies so that you can identify capabilities and gaps and weaknesses and get them fixed.
  8. Training - Get comprehensive training for your sales managers on how to effectively conduct opportunity reviews and coach up your salespeople.  Isn't that one of the primary sales management purposes for CRM?  
  9. Training - Have your sales training company provide comprehensive sales training in all the areas identified in the sales team evaluation.
  10. Annual Review, tweak and repeat.

Ready to get started?  Let's go!

Topics: sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, evaluation, sales CRM, sales forecast, sales team, opportunity review

When Salespeople Can't Close Closable Business - The Bob Chronicles Part 7

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 14, 2022 @ 13:02 PM

ready

I heard from Bob last week and whenever I hear from him it usually means he got himself into a jam with another sales opportunity.  Regular readers are familiar with Bob, one of the worst salespeople on the planet.  New readers might want to catch up on the six prior articles about Bob.

Part 1 
Part 2 
Part 3 
Part 4 
Part 5 
Part 6 

So what did Bob get himself into this time?

It's a huge opportunity that Bob has been nurturing for years and several months ago his prospect, a top executive that has the influence and authority to make a decision, confided that he would like to find a way to do business and not only that, have this be part of his legacy. 

Good salespeople would discuss the scope of work next but Bob sent samples, conducted demos and walk-throughs, and another two months passed.  Then Bob's prospect said he is retiring and would introduce Bob to his replacement.

Bob's strategy was to keep the opportunity alive until the replacement is in the role.  Is that what you would do?

If he keeps the opportunity alive, what would that actually involve?  Staying in touch with the guy who is retiring?  The guy who no longer has a need to do this because he's leaving and won't be around to see it through?  And then what?  Start from scratch?  Make a cold call to the new person?  Assume that his replacement will be equally interested?  Assume that his replacement won't have his own established relationships who he could work with?  What an awful strategy!

The proper strategy would be to help his current prospect get the initiative started so that his replacement can see it through.  Helping his prospect get this started will help his prospect make this part of his legacy.  There are only two months before his prospect retires so there is urgency that wasn't there before.  Bob should leverage the urgency to get his prospect to pull the trigger - now - so that everything is in place before he leaves.

But Bob isn't comfortable with this strategy.  Why?

Sales DNA.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated 2,181,567 salespeople and has lots of data about the four Sales DNA issues below. While Bob's Sales DNA is sabotaging him, let's not forget that Bob is among the weakest salespeople in the world and he represents the bottom 50%.

  • Low Money Tolerance - as I mentioned, this is a huge opportunity -  for Bob.  It will easily reach six figures  and for Bob, that's a lot of money.  Even though it will be pocket change for this international conglomerate, Bob believes that it's a huge expense that requires many meetings and discussions to approve.  Bob's apprehension over the money is responsible for why he hasn't closed anything in this account - EVER.  The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Low Money Tolerance and Bob is in the weakest 1-25% where 92% of them have this weakness.
  • Need to be Liked - Bob is a nice guy and people find him very likable.  But Bob needs people to like him and in the case of the top executive from this enterprise company, Bob very much needs to be liked and won't say or do anything that he thinks would get his prospect upset and undermine the opportunity.  The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Needing to be Liked and Bob is in the weakest 1-25% where 82% of them have this weakness.
  • Unable to Stay in the Moment - Because Bob is uncomfortable with the potential deal size and is worried about not being liked if he introduces the topic of price, he is unable to stay in the moment and respond appropriately.  Instead, he is worrying about next steps, what might go wrong, is reacting emotionally and is not in control of his thoughts or actions. The table below shows the percentage of salespeople, by proficiency, for Unable to Stay in the Moment and Bob is in the weakest 1-50% where 89% of them have this weakness.


  • Lack of Sales Urgency - Bob's prospect has enough urgency to get this project started but that is not matched by Bob's urgency.  You can read more about that in part 4 above as this is not the first time that Bob's urgency has not been properly aligned with his prospect's.  In the table below, note that the results are reported differently.  The prior tables showed the percentage of salespeople that had the weakness.  This table shows the percentage of salespeople that have the strength.  The top row is the percentage of all salespeople with sales urgency.  The remaining rows are in reverse order, with elite at the top and weak at the bottom. Bob is in the Weak group where 66% (34% strong) have the weakness.

Bob isn't very good but let's not forget that Bob is like 50% of salespeople in world who desperately require a tremendous amount of sales training and coaching, something their sales managers are not very adept at providing.

If you would like to see more OMG data, all 21 Sales Core Competencies can be viewed, and filtered by industry here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, assessments, Sales Coaching, Sales DNA, Closing Sales, sales data

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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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