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

How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 26, 2021 @ 06:02 AM

It's short article Friday.  Less is more.

My Twitter feed had the funniest 1-minute baseball video I have ever seen.  It was pitcher fielding practice (PFP) and the coach was miked up. It illustrated just how bad most professional major league pitchers are at fielding their position and how a coach can keep it light - even make it funny - when the pitchers are struggling so badly.

Watch the video here.  It's only 1-minute and you don't have to like or even understand baseball to enjoy this.  Even cricket fans from across the pond, soccer enthusiasts from around the world and hockey nuts from up north of the border will understand and love this video.

When professional salespeople are asked to role-play the salesperson's part of a sales conversation they sound every bit as awful as these pitchers look when attempting to field their position.  Role-playing is the sales equivalent of fielding practice in baseball. 

When salespeople role play they skip ahead, think only of the next question they want to ask; miss openings to ask questions because they aren't actively listening; talk only about what's on their own agenda; make it all about themselves; and they rush in an attempt to get it over with.  PFP provides a sneak preview of how a pitcher is likely to field a ball hit to him (yes, HIM is the correct reference) during a game, and role-playing provides a preview of how a salesperson is likely to perform on an actual face-to-face or virtual sales call.

Here's an example of a salesperson being coached (by me) in a 26-minute role-play.  Yes, it's 26 minutes but it's worth it because you'll learn SO MUCH!

It's OK when salespeople are not good when they role-play.  They will improve but only if they continue to role-play.  Pitchers don't stop taking batted balls in practice; they take more and they do it again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  Salespeople can't stop role-playing either!  They must role-play again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  But the other thing that is so important is that their sales managers must keep it light.  It is so easy for constructive criticism to be taken personally when sales managers aren't careful to make sure that their salespeople are OK throughout the process.  It's OK to offer lots of constructive criticism but when it's all over they must be sure to put their salespeople back together again.

Don't avoid role-playing.  Seek it out!

Tom Schaff, a big baseball guy who is also a sales expert, shared this about the pitchers in the video: "A big point of this exercise is no matter how good you are, there's a need to work on your fundamentals. When you look closer, the guys in the clip aren't just ordinary pitchers who fell off a truck. #50, the second guy in the video, is Adam Wainwright, a TWO TIME Golden Glove pitcher, 3x All Star and multiple time top 3 Cy Young Finalist, #22 is Jack Flaherty, and finally, 2x All Star and AL Reliever of the Year, #21 Andrew Miller, not to be confused with OMG's Andy Miller. If that's what happens with All Stars, imagine what it would be like for average major league roster pitchers, college pitchers or high school pitchers!"

I teach sales leaders to coach their salespeople using role-plays like this as well as when they must role-play the sales part.  My next Sales Leadership Intensive is virtual so you can participate on May 19-21.  Learn more here.  It's $1,495 to attend but as a regular reader you can save $100 when you register using this special link.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, role play, Baseball

How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 @ 07:02 AM

buckets

When it rains it pours, especially when it's coming down in buckets!

Buckets are important, especially when you're attempting to coach up a salesperson or even improve your own sales performance.  If you don't have the OMG evaluation at your fingertips and can't lookup the scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies, or see which attributes need to be improved, you'll need to think in terms of buckets.

When salespeople are struggling, there are five primary buckets to consider:

  1. Pipeline - Their pipeline sucks
  2. Urgency - they haven't been successful uncovering compelling reasons to buy so that urgency can be created
  3. Qualifying - they haven't been able to get their good prospects fully qualified
  4. Closing - they aren't converting their qualified opportunities
  5. Attitude - they lack a positive outlook.

All other issues you might identify should appear in one of those five buckets.

Now let's place the three traditional groups of salespeople into buckets:

  1. A players:  They are the best salespeople in your company and exceed quota and/or expectations, but outside of your company and industry they might not be A or even B players.  Everything is relative.
  2. B players: They're not as good as your A players but they do meet quota and/or expectations.
  3. C players: They are chronic under achievers who fail to meet quota.

Next, let's integrate the buckets of salespeople with the buckets of challenges.

Salesperson to Coach Up Likely Issue(s)
A Player Urgency
B Player Urgency and Qualifying
C Player Pipeline

Let's pretend we're dealing with a C player who has an inadequate pipeline.  We have five more buckets to explore:

  1. Effort - they aren't making enough calls or attempts
  2. Engagement - they aren't getting their contacts engaged in the conversation
  3. Messaging - they aren't using proven, time-tested, positioning statements to get contacts engaged
  4. Delivery - they don't sound very good delivering the message
  5. Conversions - they aren't converting their calls to meetings

In this scenario, you may not be able to identify a single bucket to blame but you have to start somewhere.  If effort is an issue and you don't fix the effort, the other four buckets don't matter. If effort is lacking due to discouragement from past ineffectiveness, you may need to work on the other four buckets before you can return to effort.

It can be overwhelming to identify exactly what you need to work on to improve sales performance.  If you can learn to think in terms of buckets, you'll have a better chance of working on the right end of the problem.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, coaching, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales excellence

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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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