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!

Image copyright 123RF

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.

Image copyright 123RF

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

When Your Sales Opportunity Stalls, Do You Call Roadside Assistance?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2021 @ 14:10 PM

flat-tire

We were driving on the highway when the dashboard indicated low pressure in the left rear tire.  That can't be good!  As we exited the highway eight miles later, the tire was flat and we were able to drive another mile to a safe location and call roadside assistance.  Until that moment, I wasn't aware that the car did not have a spare tire but was equipped with a tire inflation repair kit instead.  Roadside assistance told us that the lack of a spare tire meant the car would be towed to their nearest dealer.

There are typically three possibilities when you have a flat tire:

  1. Change the tire if you have a spare and know how to do it or have roadside do it for you
  2. Use the tire inflation repair kit and keep the tire inflated long enough to get to your mechanic
  3. Get towed.

In my opinion, getting towed is the worst possible option and the last thing we want to deal with and in the waning days of a pandemic, they'll take your car but not you, so that doesn't solve anything.  Your car is still broken, you are still stranded, and you are temporarily separated from your beloved vehicle.

When salespeople get into trouble and an opportunity stalls out or goes off the rails, their sales managers are the sales version of roadside assistance.  In the context of a sales opportunity, there are typically three possibilities:

  1. Change the tire - put another salesperson on the opportunity
  2. Repair the tire - the salesperson does enough damage control to keep the opportunity alive until they can get coaching from their sales manager
  3. Call Roadside and the sales manager calls or shows up to get the opportunity back on track if possible

If you agree that a tow would be your last possible option, then it should follow that a rescue from a sales manager would be equally bad.  The prospect loses respect for the salesperson and will only speak with the sales manager after the rescue. Salespeople learn to lean on and use their sales managers as crutches, salespeople never become strong enough to handle these situations on their own, and sales managers fail to develop strong teams.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments on more than two million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, only 18% of all sales managers are well-suited for the role and only 7% are actually good at coaching. We know from this article on being an underdog in sales that the bottom half of all salespeople totally suck.

When you combine those three pathetic data points, there are a few insights that pop to the surface.

Most sales managers are a lot better at selling than they are at managing and coaching and are at their best when salespeople call for roadside assistance.  That explains their universal desire to accept those calls without pushing back, coaching and challenging their salespeople to do better.  Salespeople improve when they have no choice but to improve!

Most sales managers actually believe it's their job to be the hero and that is one of the biggest impediments to developing strong salespeople.

There are far more salespeople whose opportunities go off the rails and need help but who end up following one of three even worse scenarios than calling their sales managers:

  1. At the time, they lacked the situational awareness to realize the opportunity went sideways on them so they follow up as if nothing bad happened.
  2. They realized the opportunity was going sideways but chose to use the tire repair kit instead of calling for roadside assistance
  3. They knew it went sideways but lacked the commitment to call for roadside or use the tire repair kit and simply gave up.

These scenarios play out every day, on every sales team, at every company, all over the world.  Isn't it time to raise the bar on both sales mangers and salespeople, train them up, coach them up, and stop accepting so much mediocrity?

Join me on October 26 for a free 45-minute introduction to Baseline Selling and learn how to avoid the mistakes that most salespeople make, shorten your sales cycle, differentiate from the competition, and improve your win rate.  Register here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales managers, ineffective salespeople, ineffective sales manager, OMG Assessment

Most Salespeople are Underdogs Like the Boston Red Sox

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 @ 16:10 PM

Kiké Hernández's dream postseason continues for Red Sox: 10 things we  learned from ALDS-clinching walk-off win - masslive.com

Anyone who has followed this Blog over the past 15 years knows that other than sales, the only thing I write about nearly as much is baseball.  A Google search from within the Blog yields 605 results, and a search on my son playing baseball over the past twelve years yields 208 results. I haven't really mentioned baseball 605 times, but I have probably written about it 150 times!

For non-baseball fans, the regular season ended last week and two teams - the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees - finished in a tie for the wild-card spot, requiring a one-game playoff.  The Red Sox were the best team in baseball during the first half of the season and one of the worst teams during the second half.  I've been cheering on the Red Sox for 65 years and despite that, was very confident they would succumb to the Yankees in last Tuesday's one-game wild-card playoff.  If they somehow managed to beat the Yankees, which it turns out they did, I was even more certain they would fall to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division series.  I was wrong again and the Red Sox not only won, but they won the best of five series decisively, winning the last three games in a row.  Now they will take on the Houston Astros in the best of seven American League  Championship Series, with the winner moving on to the 2021 World Series.  Despite the fact that the Red Sox are now playing in a manner consistent with their first half identify, they will be underdogs for the rest of the post season because of their second half identify.

How does that tie into sales?  Easy!

If your company is not the brand leader, market leader, or price leader; if you have a complex sale, a story to tell, a new technology, a new brand, a new product, a much higher price or a much tougher sale, then you are an underdog too.

Brand leaders, Market leaders and price leaders have it easy.  There is no true selling involved.  They show up, write proposals, provide quotes, conduct demos and take orders. They get what they get.

Underdogs must not only sell their way in, but they must also sell their value to justify the higher prices, differentiate themselves to prove their value, and use a consultative approach that supports selling value.  On top of that, they must follow a proper milestone-centric sales process that supports a consultative approach for selling value.

Most salespeople simply can't do this.  The data in the table below, from Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments of more than 2 million salespeople, shows the percentage of salespeople who are strong in the three competencies I just mentioned.  

It's not very difficult to grasp the takeaways from this data.  Even some of the best salespeople struggle to take a consultative approach to sales but compensate with their adherence to sales process and their ability to sell value.  The worst salespeople aren't capable of much more than a transactional sale described earlier in the article.  The best salespeople score, on average, 4823% stronger in these three competencies.  There are actually a total of 21 Sales Core Competencies and you can see the data for all of them right here, play with the data a bit, and filter by industry and company!

The top 5% and the bottom 5% represent only the extreme examples of 10% of all salespeople.  The other 90% are represented in the "All Salespeople" column.  We can filter the numbers some more if we break down the other 90%.  Wait until you see these numbers!

As you can see, there is a significant drop off from the top 5% to the next 15% and an even greater drop off to the 30% after that.  The big takeaway is that in these three competencies  the bottom 50% are nearly as weak as the bottom 5%. They all suck.  As a matter of fact, once you get past the top 20%, the picture is bleak.

What can you do about this? 

Use OMG to Evaluate your sales force so you can see what the capabilities are at your company.

Use OMG to Assess your sales candidates so that you can be assured of hiring only those who will succeed in the role.  

Train, train, train, coach, coach, coach, drill, drill, drill, role-play, role-play, role-play.

Join me on October 26 for a free 45-minute introduction to Baseline Selling and learn how to avoid the mistakes that most salespeople make, shorten your sales cycle, differentiate from the competition, and improve your win rate.  Register here.

Image copyright MassLive.com 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales training, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, value selling,

Salespeople Will Close 50% More Business By Changing This One Thing They Do!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 05, 2021 @ 07:08 AM

expensive

We've gone from don't wear a mask, to wear a mask, to wear 2 masks, back to no need to be masked and now back to wear masks indoors, even if you have been vaccinated. CDC Guidelines change almost weekly, often lack the science to justify their recommendations, don't take local conditions into consideration and are usually very confusing to say the least.  Is it any wonder that there is so much pushback over their latest (as of August 2) guidelines?

At Objective Management Group (OMG), one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies we measure and report on also tends to confuse salespeople, is the cause of frequent pushback, but has thirty-five years of cumulative science to support the finding and our conclusions.  Allow me to introduce you the competency called Supportive BuyCycleTM.

BuyCycleTM represents how salespeople go about the process of making a major purchase and there is a 100% correlation between how they buy and the behavior they accept from their prospects.  For example:

Salespeople who conduct research before they buy are more likely to provide their prospects with all the information they want early in the sales process, without first making sure they are a good, qualified prospect.  This results in A LOT of unqualified quotes that will never be won!

Salespeople who shop for the lowest prices are more likely to understand and help prospects who want the lowest price.  This results in low margin business that can't be retained because it will be lost to the next company to come in with the lowest price.  It's a race to the bottom!

Salespeople who comparison shop are more likely to understand and tolerate prospects who want to talk with them along with 3-5 competitors.  This makes it difficult for salespeople to stand out and differentiate themselves from the others.

Salespeople who think a relatively small amount of money is a lot of money are more likely to understand and cave to prospects who claim that the amount they are asking for is a lot.  As a result, they find it difficult to advocate for themselves, their offering and the value it represents.

Salespeople who need to think things over at closing time allow their prospects to do the same thing, opening the door for other, more aggressive competitors to take the business.  This results in a much lower win-rate.

A new, sixth attribute is about to join the five original attributes of BuyCycleTM. Salespeople who dislike being sold or dislike salespeople in general tend to overcompensate and are terribly ineffective, resulting in prospects being thoroughly unimpressed.  These salespeople don't seem to want the business!

I mentioned that there is a lot of pushback to BuyCycleTM.  Some salespeople, whose BuyCycleTM does not support ideal sales outcomes, become very upset and emphatically deny that the way they buy has any impact on the way they sell.  It does.  It always does.  But it takes time before they allow themselves to see it.  

And the most important fact is that salespeople who do change so that the way they buy supports ideal sales outcomes, close 50% more business!

There is some very compelling evidence to back this up.  Consider the following science:

Competency Top 5% Strong Bottom 5% Strong
Supportive BuyCycleTM 67% 3%

As you can see, the top 5% of all salespeople are 2200% more likely to have Supportive BuyCycleTM as a strength than the bottom 5% of all salespeople.

Now that I have unmasked the science behind BuyCycleTM, perhaps there should be a mandate that salespeople change the way they buy until their BuyCycleTM supports ideal sales outcomes.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales core competencies, Closing Sales, improve sales performance

Crappy Salespeople and Lack of Urgency Alignment  - The Bob Chronicles Part 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 27, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

urgency2

We shouldn't discuss that time you were in a meeting when, without warning, you had about 10 seconds to get yourself to the nearest restroom or you would need to drive home for a wardrobe change.  Fortunately, you were able to gracefully excuse yourself and run down the hall as fast as you possibly could.  THAT is urgency!

This is the fourth installment in the Bob Chronicles.  Bob is the weak salesperson who represents the bottom 50% of all salespeople. You can read previous installments about Bob below:

The $225,000 Mistake That Most Salespeople Make

Data - The Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople 

Good Bob, Bad Bob, The Stockdale Paradox and Sales Success

You're probably wondering, what did Bob screw up this time?  He screwed up urgency.  You might be asking how a salesperson could possibly screw up urgency but Bob and the rest of the weak salespeople screw up just about everything else so why not urgency too?

As usual, Bob was unaware that Mary, his prospect, was also talking with three other companies.  Mary asked for a proposal and Bob obliged, coming in well over the agreed upon budget and upsetting her in the process.  Mary reminded Bob that the proposal was nearly 25% higher than the budget they had all agreed to.  She asked Bob to stay within the budget and send a revised proposal.  Did Bob follow up appropriately?  No!

A couple of months had passed when Mary notified Bob that they were going with another company.  Bob was crazed and in a panic.  He reached out to Mary and requested a call.  She said she was sorry but had already made her decision.  Bob requested a call again and was told that she had signed a contract with another company.  In the middle of an acute panic attack, Bob decided to send a revised proposal and discounted the original offer by 35%.  Once again, Mary said, "This is too late - we already signed with another company."  Bob said, "But I offered you a 35% discount - that's even better than what you budgeted for!"  Mary disconnected the phone.

This is all about urgency.

Mary had a lot more urgency than Bob was aware of because Bob didn't ask the most important questions, like, "How big is the problem?" and "What is it costing?" and "How soon do you need it solved?" and "What happens if you don't have it solved by then?" and "Who else have you asked about this?"

Bob had a ton of urgency, but not until he realized he had lost the business.  If he had exhibited half the urgency earlier in the process, while uncovering Mary's urgency, their urgency would have been aligned.  Urgency alignment is crucial.  

If the salesperson has urgency but the prospect does not, the perception is that of a pushy salesperson.  If the prospect has urgency but the salesperson does not, the perception is that of an unresponsive salesperson.  When both the salesperson and the prospect have urgency, they will easily work collaboratively to solve a problem.  

Early in the process, Bob was perceived as being unresponsive.  Late in the process, Bob was perceived as being tone deaf and pushy.  However, when salespeople strike that perfect balance, magic happens.  Salespeople who are effective creating urgency AND having urgency are 35% more effective than salespeople who fail to get their prospects to "must have" and lack urgency themselves.

Finally, why did this happen?

Early in the process, Bob didn't listen, didn't ask enough questions and didn't push back on the budget.  By failing to push back, Mary believed that Bob would deliver a needs and cost appropriate solution. Then, when Mary pushed back, Bob was unresponsive.  These two events suggest that Bob wasn't controlling his Emotions and Needed to be Liked.  Those two weaknesses combine to make it difficult to listen, and too uncomfortable for him to push back and ask questions.  As you can see from the table below, the bottom 50% of all salespeople tend to be especially weak in both of these Sales DNA competencies.

When things spiraled out of control, Bob's emotions caused him to panic.  His non-supportive beliefs about pricing kicked in Bob always looks for the lowest price when he buys things for himself. Despite being too late to influence the decision, Bob believed that if he came back with an attractive offer, it would change the outcome.  As you can see in the table below, 26% of weak salespeople need to shop for the lowest price and they mistakenly believe that their prospects behave similarly.

There is so much more that goes into selling than following your sales process and having sales strategies and techniques.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies and salespeople must be strong in all of them, not just some of them.  You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here and while you're there, view, filter and sort the data on nearly a third of the 2,091,766 salespeople that have been evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). If you want an easy-to-use, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to select and hire your new salespeople, check out OMG's award-winning sales candidate assessments here.

Rocky LaGrone added THE BEST COMMENT ever to this post on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright: Scott Betts

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales assessements, sales effectiveness, creating urgency, lost deals

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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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