New Movie Has 3 Great Lessons for Salespeople and Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 @ 16:01 PM

The Trial of the Chicago 7' is as timely as ever - The Stanford Daily

Among all the product shortages we have experienced in the past ten months, there has been no shortage of crappy movies.  It's almost like the movie studios decided to release all the movies filmed in the past several years that weren't ready for prime time and hope that people would stream them at home during the pandemic because we had watched everything else.

One exception to the crappiness of 2020 movies is The Trial of the Chicago 7.  This article is not a review of the movie but it was a terrific film and worth the time to watch it.  As good as this movie is, it comes with a bonus because it also provides three exceptional lessons for salespeople and sales managers.  Let's take a look!

It's Decided

How many times have you worked a sales opportunity when at some point late in the process you finally determined that the decision had already been made and it wasn't you? The prospect invited several competitors to engage, went through the motions, and led them to believe they had a chance. You may have been a better overall fit, had a better solution, more of the needed capabilities, a better warranty, been able to deliver more quickly, had better pricing and terms, better references and more. Despite all that, none of it was going to make a bit of difference because the key decision maker, who they wouldn't let you meet, had a relationship with someone at one of your competitors and for optics, your contact was tasked to involve three other companies.  Another version of this occurs when your contact is the decision maker but engages competitors so that the process has the appearances of being fair and objective to anyone who might be checking in on them.  In either scenario, the decision was made before you got involved and nothing that you said or did was going to change that decision.  In the movie, the judge went through the motions of the months-long trial but it didn't matter how much proof of innocence the defense provided because the judge refused to let any of it be heard.  Someone above him had already decided what the outcome of this trial would be. 

The lesson is that if you are going to fail, you must fail early!  That requires thorough qualifying and inspection as to where you stand versus your competitors, questions and statements that most salespeople fail to ask,  like:

  • In my experience, when a potential customer won't let me meet the decision maker it's usually a pretty good indicator that I won't be getting the business
  • Decision makers for our solutions usually have a strong existing relationship with companies like mine, and Jim (the decision-maker) doesn't have a relationship with us, so who does he have a relationship with?
  • I'm getting the feeling that even if we can prove that we have a superior solution, you won't be working with us

According to the data from Objective Management Group (OMG) and the 2,051,794 salespeople they have assessed, 59% of all salespeople can't ask those questions because their need to be liked prevents them from asking a question that could cause their prospect to no longer like them.

See OMG's data here, filter by industry, see how your salespeople compare.

You're a Pawn

How many times have you worked a sales opportunity where your prospect was so interested that they requested a proposal or quote earlier than you expected?  You probably believed that you had a really strong opportunity, thought this would be an easy one and forecast it to close within 30 days.  Unfortunately, your prospect had an incumbent vendor that they planned to retain but needed the extra quotes to either make it appear that they collected three quotes or they were trying to keep the incumbent honest.  Had you quoted the lowest price, the business wouldn't have gone to you; they would have shown the quote to the incumbent and demanded that they match it if they wanted to keep the business.  In this scenario, you were being exploited. In the movie, the first two jurors that were sympathetic to the defense were removed under false pretenses.

The lesson is that when a prospect moves too quickly to a quote or proposal, you need to ask better qualifying questions, like:

  • Who do you usually buy this from? (XYZ)
  • Why didn't you call them?  (We wanted to explore our options)
  • In my experience, companies that are happy with who they are using don't usually take the time to look for options.  (They get defensive)
  • Why did you call us? (You were on the list)

They will probably tell you that yes, they are happy, but if you come in with a better price they would consider moving the business to you.  THAT'S YOUR CUE CARD!  It's not a sign that they're about to buy from you; it's a sign that they're NOT going to buy from you.  You should immediately say, "Based on experience, it sounds like you just need a quote to keep the other guys honest."  If you're face to face I suggest writing a random number on a napkin and handing the napkin to them.  If you are virtual, you can email them the same thing.  The point is, don't take the time to work up a quote, and don't take the time to produce a proposal. Just say, "No thank you." 

According to more of OMG's data, only 30% of salespeople have selling value as a strength.  Additionally, only 36% are able to control their emotions and at this point the sales conversation calls for staying calm and selling value.  Most salespeople lose the business because of the value selling skill gap and weakness controlling emotions.

See OMG's data here, filter by industry, see how your salespeople compare

For Sales Managers - The Expert Debrief

In one scene of the movie, the defense attorney was cross-examining the assistant to the mayor, a witness who said he was offered $100,000 to issue a permit to protest, and the request was a bribe, not a joke as the attorney suggested.  The attorney asked a bunch of questions that sounded something like this (it's from memory so the words that come after "when you called" might not all be exactly what was said):

  • When you called the US Attorney General what did he say?  (I didn't call him)
  • When you called the FBI what did they say? (I didn't call them)
  • When you called the Attorney General of Illinois what did he say? (I didn't call him)
  • When you called the State Police what did they say? (I didn't call them)
  • When you called the Chicago Police what did they say? (I didn't call them)
  • When you told the mayor what did he say? (I didn't tell him)
  • So if you didn't tell anyone then you must have believed the offer to be a joke.

This is absolutely the most powerful way to debrief salespeople.  Assume they did what they were supposed to do by asking, "When you asked what it was about their current vendor that they were unhappy with what did they say?" Continue to ask questions using, "When you asked..." about everything they should have asked until your salesperson says, "I didn't ask that."  Then you can learn whether it's because the salesperson didn't know to ask that question or knew to ask but was uncomfortable asking.  And finally, why was the salesperson uncomfortable.  Then, and only then, does the coaching actually begin and it begins with a role play! 

More of OMG's data says that only 7% of all sales managers can debrief, coach and role play effectively.

See OMG's data here, filter by industry, see how your salespeople compare

If you want to learn to coach like that - and there are so many examples of how to properly debrief and coach, join me for my annual public (virtual this year) 3-day Sales Leadership Intensive from May 19-21.  Register here. You'll be glad you did!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, asking questions, selling tips, sales lessons, chicago 7

Are Sales Managers Coaching More Frequently Now That Everyone is at Their Desks?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 @ 06:01 AM

coach

Nearly a year into the Pandemic, most salespeople have adapted to selling over video.  But how are sales managers doing at adapting to coaching their sales force over video?  Inquiring minds want to know.

We know how sales managers were doing before the pandemic.  It wasn't very good and I wrote about it here.  The data in that November article was for the last 10 years.  What do you think would be different if I filtered the data to show only the last six months of 2020, the time during which sales managers should have already made changes?  Do you think it got better, worse, or stayed the same?

Let's find out.

I won't even show you the data.  It remained the same.  But why?

The data doesn't answer the "why" question but observation can.  I still work with clients so I have some anecdotal observations I can share.  As recently as November, most sales managers were still making excuses for not coaching their salespeople more often despite coaching conditions being better than ever.

When salespeople were out in the field, sales leaders used that as an excuse as to why they didn't coach more frequently. "They are not in the office and I'm not in the field with them this week so it's really hard to coach them."  Last year that changed to, "They are making calls and having Zoom meetings so it's really hard to coach them."

How difficult is it to join a phone call or a Zoom meeting and then debrief it?  And with coaching platforms like Refract, calls can be made from the platform, recorded into the platform, and sales managers can coach to it later. With sales leaders at their desks too these conditions make it easier than ever to create coaching time! 

Clearly, the time and location excuse no longer works and was never the real issue.  So what is the real issue?

There is no actual data to back up what I'm going to say but I believe that the real issue is that sales managers are petrified of actual coaching.  Oh they'll have conversations about opportunities and suggest strategies but that isn't coaching.  Coaching is when they conduct opportunity reviews as described here.  Or when they role play as described here.  Both scenarios require sales leaders to challenge themselves and their salespeople and the combination of discomfort and ignorance around those two topics is daunting.

I can help.  My annual Sales Leadership Intensive will be held virtually on May 19-21, 2021- three five-hour days - and we focus on one major topic.  Coaching. How to do it correctly, how often, for how long, how to impact deals, how to coach up salespeople, how to role-play effectively, how to get salespeople wanting more, how to pre-call strategize, how to post-call debrief, how to use technology, and more.  Attendees LOVE this training - especially the time we spend listening and dissecting actual coaching conversations!  You can learn more here.  Register here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales coaching summit, sales managerment, sales management course

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 @ 13:08 PM

cnn-fox-news_list

I don't really care whether or not you like, approve of, tolerate, or agree with President Trump and/or the issues he stands for.  Doesn't matter to me.  And you shouldn't care what I think of him or which side of that invisible center line I am on.  Shouldn't matter to you.  While this is an article about coaching salespeople, I am going to use the current divisiveness as an analogy to help you better understand how sales leaders can have a huge impact on your salespeople.

If you're on the side that hates the President and can't wait for him to leave office when Biden gets elected, you might be watching CNN.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for attack.  They will rarely, if ever, share any of his accomplishments, wins or achievements and even lie to make sure he is constantly vilified.  What fun for his critics!

If you're on the side that loves, likes or tolerates the President and you prefer that he be reelected instead of Biden, you might be watching FOX.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for praise.  They will rarely, if ever, share his disappointments, defeats or mistakes and even lie to make sure he is praised (except on their hard news shows which do tend to go right down the middle).  What fun for his fans!

OK, so that should have been detached and objective enough to prevent anyone getting upset with me so far.  Hooray for me because that isn't easy these days.  But you ask, what does all this have to do with coaching salespeople through an opportunity review?

There are two sides to every story.  Trump is rarely as horrific as CNN makes him out to be and rarely as awesome as FOX makes him out to be.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The same holds true for your salespeople when you ask them to tell you about a current opportunity and why it might be in a stage of the pipeline that it's been stalled in for weeks or months.

Your salesperson might explain what a great opportunity this is, how well they have connected with their contact, the good feedback they have received from their conversations, why they expect movement in a week or two, how this is just the tip of the iceberg because there's more where this came from, and they are extremely confident.  Like FOX talking about Trump.

You look in your CRM application and observe that critical milestones have not been met, it's been stuck in stage 2 for 60 days, the salesperson still has not met with the decision maker, doesn't know the compelling reason why they would switch to your company, and noted that their company has been buying from the same incumbent for 8 years yet the salesperson hasn't uncovered a single negative issue about that incumbent.  You begin to think that this is about getting a lower price from you to keep the incumbent honest.  You conclude that this is a terrible opportunity.  Like CNN talking about Trump.

As with the coverage of Trump, an opportunity review with a salesperson is often two tales about the same prospect.  The salesperson's version compared with yours.  FOX compared with CNN.

This is very important!  If you begin to review an opportunity without that difference in mind, without looking for holes, without looking to challenge them, without looking to invalidate or dismiss their optimism, it will be a wasted review.  Your job is to help your salespeople to better understand their own next steps to either move the opportunity forward, justify leaving it where it is, or abort the opportunity altogether.  Often times, your salespeople are way too close to the opportunity to see it clearly and objectively.  This will be especially true when your salespeople don't have enough opportunities in their pipeline, causing them to be even more attached to and hopeful for the few opportunities they do have.

Your salespeople don't know what they don't know and can't do what they can't do.  That's why you're there!

Politics is the business of where different parties stand on various issues.  It's supposed to be about healthy debate.  It's not supposed to be as divisive and nasty as it has become.  Similarly, a solid, thoughtful, helpful opportunity review should be a healthy debate about the opportunity.  The salesperson should not be attacked or made to feel bad.  All criticism should be constructive.

Are you conducting productive and effective opportunity reviews with every salesperson every day?  If not, then today is a great day to start!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, crm, sales opportunities, fox

How Sales Coaching Utilizes a Quid Pro Quo

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 @ 20:10 PM

quid-pro-quo

Quid pro quo is all the rage.  The news networks are pointing to and from quid pro quo and arguing whether it was or wasn't implied.  Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you're on, you've probably heard it plenty more than you need to. 

Could there be a sales coaching lesson here?

Last week, before I wrote the article about salespeople losing their way, I was in Chicago for a follow up training event with a team of Sales Managers.  It was immediately obvious to me that the group who received the most coaching from me was way ahead of the other sales managers in the room. 

Coaching works.  And the coaching they were providing was working too. I heard so many examples of how they were coaching their salespeople up!  Coaching them to lower resistance, ask better questions, slow down, follow the process, actively listen to their prospects, summarize effectively and hold their salespeople accountable for change.

At the heart of a coaching conversation where a sales manager is coaching a salesperson is a role-play with a lesson learned. In conversations where the coaching is effective, there will be two lessons: While a skill gap is often uncovered and addressed, a sales DNA weakness - the primary reason the salesperson wasn't able to execute a strategy or tactic - should be uncovered as well.

After the lesson learned, an action plan should emerge, so that the salesperson can execute the tactic or strategy, without being held back by the weakness, move the opportunity forward and close the business.

In other words, an effective coaching conversation has an implied quid pro quo.  I'll help you get better and in return, you'll bring me, our team and the company the business you were coached to close. Don't you love quid pro quo's?

You too can master the art of sales coaching.  This is the last chance to participate in 2019.  Our final public Sales Leadership Intensive of the year takes place November 13-14 in Jersey City and as of this writing there are only 2 seats left.

Learn more at here and register here to get a $100 discount.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, dka

Win a Free Coaching Call with Dave Kurlan and 4 More Prizes

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 @ 14:06 PM

contest

By the middle of June each year, we tend to know who the best of the best are.  Super Bowl Champion, NBA Champion, Stanley Cup Winner, Masters Winner, and in baseball, MLB all-stars are being selected.  It's as good a time as any to recognize the best readers of Understanding the Sales Force!

While there are several approaches that can be taken, we will have a competitive, yet winnable contest.

Challenge: Review any 1 or more of the articles that have been published so far this year.   

In the comment section below, enter your best lesson or takeaway from the article(s) you have chosen.  There will be five winners based on the quality of the lessons submitted:

5th place: Complimentary signed copy of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.   $18.49 value

4th place: Complimentary subscription to the Sales DNA Modifier  $119 value

3rd place: Complimentary subscription to the Baseline Selling self-directed course $795 value

Runner Up: Complimentary subscription to the Baseline Selling Advanced course $795 value

Grand Prize: Complimentary coaching call  with Dave Kurlan $1,000 value

What are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, Sales Coaching, best sales blog, dka

The New Salesenomics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 21:05 PM

 SALESENOMICS

Back in the 1960's it made sense for gasoline prices to be discounted down to the nearest 9/10 of a cent because gas prices ranged between 17.9 to 18.9 cents.  But when gas prices are around $3.00 per gallon, how does 9/10 cent continue to make sense?  Some habits die really hard.

I don't know about you but some things just don't make sense to me.  I loved the Leavitt/Dubner series of books on Freakonomics and thought I could share some interesting sales and sales management data that make little sense.

Nearly 50% of salespeople are willing to work on straight commission but only 7% of companies offer such a compensation plan.

Two of the sales metrics tracked most often are margin at 65% and profitability at 51%.  Surprisingly, only 6% of companies track the cost of a sales call.  Why do companies who care about margin and profitability not care about the cost of a sales call?

Only 34% of companies track win rates, 32% track account retention, and 9% track the percentage of meetings that close; yet 57% track the percentage of salespeople under/over goal and 47% track their top opportunities.  Why would they track their top opportunities but not care about meetings that close or win rates?

49% of companies track the number of opportunities in their pipeline yet only 27% track the quality of those opportunities.  That leads to the low win rates that companies are not really tracking and the inaccurate forecasts that drive CEO's crazy!  

Salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Coaching skills have 26% more closable opportunities in their sales pipelines while salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Accountability skills have 18% more closable opportunities in their pipelines.  On the other side of the fence, salespeople with sales managers who have weak coaching and/or accountability skills saw 77% of their late stage opportunities moved back to one of the earliest stages of the pipeline!

Sales managers with strong coaching skills are 230% more likely to have elite salespeople working for them!  If that doesn't make a case for developing coaching skills, I don't know what does.

Although they should be spending half their time on coaching, Sales Managers spend around half their time split between coaching, accountability and motivation.  How do they spend the other half of their time?  Does it really matter?  Whether it's spent on personal sales, closing reps' deals, putting out fires, or administrative crap, all of it distracts from coaching.

Salespeople with no sales experience – born to sell – have a sales percentile score of 32 with an average Sales DNA score of 61 and an average Will to Sell score of 60.  They fall into the very weak category.  Compare that to salespeople with 5-10 years of experience – trained to sell – who have a sales percentile score of 58 (182% higher) with an average Sales DNA score of 67 (110% higher) and an average Will to Sell score of 66 (110% higher).  Trained to sell beats born to sell.

All of the salesenomics statistics referenced above are from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data warehouse.  OMG has evaluated or assessed 1,863,494 salespeople from companies in countries.

Would you like to see how salespeople score in each of the 21 sales core competencies?  Click here.

Would you like to check out the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment? Click here.

Would you like to discover some more salesenomics?  Check out these articles:

Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving 

Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles

The Wrong Salespeople are Hired 77% of the Time

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

New Data Shows that You Can Double Revenue by Overcoming This One Sales Weakness

Salespeople With This Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

New Data - Are Experienced Sales Managers Better Sales Managers?

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Topics: sales training, Sales Coaching, born to sell, sales metrics, sales data

Why Coaching Causes Some Sales Managers to Hold On for Dear Life

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 04, 2019 @ 05:03 AM

holding-on

Over the past few months I've been coaching 30 sales leaders from 3 companies and while most are trying their hardest to do everything I recommend, apply everything they learn, and coach as instructed, there are several that don't follow through and fail to move the needle for their teams.  A few don't want to be coached.  A few don't think they need to be coached.  A few are too proud to be coached.  A couple are too mentally challenged to be coached.

Avoidance aside, there are six scientifically proven reasons for their struggles and I'll share them with you here.In the table below, you'll see data from Objective Management Group, which has evaluated 1,838,327salespeople and sales managers.  The first three Sales Management Competencies shown in the table are from the category of Sales Management DNA. They are shown below  as weaknesses.

Sales Management Competency

Percentage with Competency as
a Weakness 

Controls Their Emotions 55%
Supportive Beliefs 100%
Supportive Buy-Cycle 65%

100% of sales managers have Self-Limiting Sales Management Beliefs. Let's say that their beliefs include, "coaching won't work" or "my salespeople won't follow a sales process" or "If I hold my salespeople accountable they'll quit" or "If I debrief their calls the way you instruct they'll hate me" or "I could never learn to role-play the way you teach it."  If they have any of those beliefs, what are the chances that they can apply what they're learning from me or anyone else?

65% of sales managers have Non-Supportive Buy-Cycles.  This means that they make their major purchases in a way that will not support ideal sales outcomes.  It could be that they look for the lowest price, comparison shop, think things over, think a relatively small amount of money is a lot of money, they do research, or some combination of those things.  If that's the case, and a salesperson comes back with a put-off, objection or excuse, the sales manager won't be any more effective coaching the salesperson than the salesperson was dealing with it with the prospect.

55% of sales managers become emotional. They're talking to themselves or thinking too much and as a result, their listening skills won't be optimal.  If they attempt a role-play to demonstrate the coaching strategy, they might jump ahead instead of doing a slow, consultative role-play, following up answers with appropriate new questions to ask.

Those aren't the only factors.  Two more come from the category Will to Manage Sales.

Sales Management Competency

Percentage with Competency as
a Weakness 

Commitment 23%
Takes Responsibility 55%
Coaching 90%

23% of sales managers lack Commitment, suggesting that they won't do what it takes when that is outside of their comfort zone.

55% of sales managers are Excuse Makers and when they rationalize why coaching won't change anything, why some salespeople can't be coached, why coaching them the way I recommend won't work, nothing will change.  Excuse making must be snuffed out from the top down.

The five competencies we discussed above don't even take into consideration the actual Coaching Competency shown above.  Unfortunately, 90% of sales managers are weak in the coaching competency.

When you put all of this together, it's easy to understand why some sales managers struggle so much when it comes to coaching.

I can help!  Each year I host the top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive where, for two long days, we help sales managers develop their ability to consistently and effectively coach up their salespeople.  As of this writing we had around 5 seats left for March 19-20 so if you can make it I promise it will be life-changing. This is the best coaching-specific training you will get anywhere!  You can learn more here

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management competencies, OMG Assessment

Top 13 Requirements to Help You Soar as a Sales Manager

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 @ 12:01 PM

top-13-requirements

In my last article I shared the top 8 requirements for becoming a great salesperson.  Wow, did that resonate with people and there was a great discussion about it on LinkedIn.  In addition to that, I received a number of emails asking, what are the requirements for becoming a great sales manager?

I'll share those in a moment but first, since they were so popular, a few more "do you remember the first time" questions:

Do you remember your first cell phone that didn't need to be plugged into a roof-mounted antenna or, a little later, the first cordless phones for your home?  Do you remember the first car that allowed you to use Bluetooth instead of holding the handset?

Do you remember your first "portable" computer?  For most people it was a laptop but mine was a Kaypro CP/M based transportable computer that weighed about 15 pounds circa 1984 which I replaced with a Panasonic laptop, with 20 MB of storage circa 1987.

Now for sales management.  Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson and they told you how helpful your coaching was? Do you remember the first time they asked how soon they could come back for more coaching?  Do you remember when all of your salespeople felt the same way about your coaching?  Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson on an opportunity they were unlikely to win and they won it because of your coaching?  Do you remember how the rush from coaching a salesperson to a win was greater than the rush you used to get from your own wins?

Of course you don't.  92% of sales managers simply aren't that far along yet.  After all, it's been less than a decade since it became fashionable for sales managers to spend at least 50% of their time on coaching.  For comparison, consultative selling was introduced in the 1960's, was mainstreamed in the 1980's, and is the foundation of most sales training being delivered today. Despite that, only 17% of all salespeople have the consultative selling competency as a strength.  See OMG's statistics for all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

What are the 8 most important requirements for being a great sales manager?

You might be surprised but they are the exact same 8 that I shared for salespeople because you can't become a great coach of salespeople without those 8.  Sure, coaching requires some additional skills but if you can execute on the 8 already listed, you can learn to become a great sales coach.

What else do you need?  Here is my bonus list of 5 additional requirements to become great at coaching salespeople:

  1. Post-Call Debrief - this is a structured debriefing of a call or meeting that has already taken place with the goal of determining why it ended the way it did, which skill gap was was involved, and what in the salesperson's Sales DNA might have caused the skill gap.  This is followed by lessons learned and an action plan
  2. Pre-Call Strategy - this is a structured discussion of an upcoming call or meeting where the salesperson must identify goals for the call, desired outcomes, potential challenges, how those challenges will be addressed, and share how that conversation will sound.
  3. Joint Sales Calls - where the sales manager observes the salesperson and provides real-time feedback.  
  4. Role-play - this is the scariest and most difficult part of coaching and without a willingness to jump and and play any scenario in any stage of the pipeline with any level of decision maker against any competition with any objections is key.  Read more about my thoughts on role-playing.
  5. Patience - Development occurs one day at a time.  You can't and won't coach your salespeople up overnight.  But you should be able to make them incrementally better each and every time you coach them.

So if you're not in the top 8% of sales managers who excel at these 5 bonus requirements, how can you develop mastery of them?

Each year, I open the door to non-clients so that sales leaders like you can attend my top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive.  We spend the better part of 2 days on the 5 bonus requirements listed above.  You will learn how to coach effectively.  You will learn how to coach with impact.  You will do some coaching while you're with us and receive constructive feedback on your efforts.  When you return to your office, you will be able to coach up your salespeople and can expect a 27% increase in revenue!  The secret to our success?  We teach you how to use role play as the primary method of demonstrating the conversation you expect your salespeople to have. We accomplish that by sharing 8case studies - powerful, recorded, real coaching conversations that we dissect, discuss, model and use those to help you develop mastery. If you would like to join us on March 19-20, outside of Boston, there are only 10 seats left as of this writing. You can learn more here.  If you wish to register, use the discount code DKSLIMAY17 at checkout to receive a $100 discount or follow this link to automatically apply the discount code.

Add your comment and join the discussion on LinkedIn.

Watch Selling Power publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner interview me about coaching in this 7-minute video.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales competenices, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales best practices, sales management competencies

How Getting Feedback and Making Adjustments are the Keys to Sales Improvement

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 04, 2018 @ 22:12 PM

feedback

Becoming great at selling - or anything else for that matter - is about making adjustments. In order to make an adjustment you need feedback - something you see, hear or feel that informs your ability to adjust.  Take Baseball for example.  When I watch my son hit he receives instant feedback from every swing of the bat.  He usually crushes the ball and that suggests that no adjustment is needed.  If he tops the ball or pops it up it is probably an issue with timing.  If he peels the ball to the right, he probably opened his front shoulder too early. If he squares the ball up but doesn't drive it he probably failed to use his legs. He also has 5 private coaches who coach him or, in other words, provide feedback. 

That brings us back to selling.  Salespeople need feedback too.

Suppose a salesperson completes a sales call and the prospect says, "Thank you for your time" or "It was nice meeting you" or "We'll let you know."  Those are examples of lack of feedback.

What would it sound like if they did get feedback?  A prospect who is not responding or reacting might be providing tremendous feedback.  While it is surely negative feedback, it is very useful feedback.  It suggests that the salesperson failed to get the prospect engaged and the required adjustment would be to ask more effective questions. 

An engaged prospect is also a form of feedback, suggesting that the questions were effective and the prospect is interested.  A prospect who says, "We're not interested" is providing feedback too.  Again, it's negative feedback but a salesperson can work with that.  The adjustment requires changing the questions that are being asked.  A prospect who is very interested is also providing feedback - that the salesperson got close but isn't quite there yet.  Perhaps some additional questions are required.  A prospect who asks, "What are the next steps?" is providing feedback that they are ready to do business and the salesperson was effective in their call or meeting.

The feedback above is positive.  Compare that with a meeting that you think went well because you had a nice conversation.  If you didn't get specific positive feedback, then there aren't any positives to take away from that meeting.  For example, in the last 3 months my son has been showcasing his baseball talent at colleges.In the first 4 showcases he didn't get any specific feedback.  No feedback is negative feedback. In the 4 most recent events, coaches have taken time to tell him how much they liked his skills and how well he performed.  Positive feedback.  

Another powerful form of feedback happens when salespeople record their phone calls and listen to the recordings.  They'll hear several coaching moments as they identify openings where they could have asked great questions, where they failed to listen, where they jumped ahead with their own agenda,  or where they simply said stuff that sounded stupid.  Salespeople tend to respond more effectively to self-identified coaching moments because they own those moments.

This is an example of a salesperson getting coached (feedback) by me.  It's 26 minutes but it will be 26 minutes of coaching that you will definitely learn from and will be well worth your time.

Only 10% of all sales managers are both consistent and effective with their coaching.  For salespeople who wish to improve and become great, most of them will need to accomplish some or all of that work on their own, either by recording calls, signing up for training or getting a sales coach.

Salespeople will go through several transitions if they pay attention to feedback: 

  • They aren't very good.
  • They are just like everyone else
  • They are a vendor
  • They are adding value
  • They are a resource
  • They are a trusted advisor

What is your feedback on article?  Join the discussion and leave your comment here on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Baseline Selling, Sales Coaching, Baseball, debriefing sales calls

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

gold-nuggets

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

Join the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, sales opportunities, cso insights, sales recruiting failure

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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