10 Sales Attributes That Don't Differentiate Top Salespeople from Bottom Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 12, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

personality

Here in the US, this Sunday marked the first Sunday of NFL Football.  It's the same (as always) but different (new games).  In their season debut, my New England Patriots did their best impression of my Boston Red Sox and lost 20-7.  Close game.

I've written several articles (same as always) about OMG (Objective Management Group) Tailored Fits/Proofs of Concept where I analyze the differences between a company's top producers and bottom producers to identify the findings/scores that differentiate their tops from their bottoms.  That is the science of sales performance and sales selection and the last time I wrote about it was in this article from February of 2022.  For comparison, the most recent example of a blowhard writing junk science without being scientific about what top salespeople do differently can be found in this article from August of 2022.

Today's article (new article) will go in the opposite direction and discuss strengths and skills that don't differentiate tops from bottoms.  

There are two types of findings we'll discuss here:

1) Findings that don't differentiate tops from bottoms within the same company because the tops and bottoms are equally ineffective (see urgency below);

2) Findings that rarely differentiate tops from bottoms across most companies and salespeople (see social selling below).

Personality:  We'll get personality out of the way right from the beginning.  OMG's data conclusively shows that personality is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople.  It might help some salespeople secure meetings but it does not help them win the business.  We've all seen salespeople with great personalities who consistently fail to meet and exceed their quotas, as well as salespeople who aren't nearly as personable but crush their numbers each month, quarter and year.  Personality is not predictive of sales success.  Never has been.  Never will be.

Reaching Decision Makers: OMG's science shows that salespeople who reach actual decision makers are 341% more likely to close the business, yet just 15% of the bottom half of all salespeople do this effectively.  As important as this Sales Core Competency is, for most companies it fails to differentiate tops from bottoms because neither the tops nor the bottoms consistently get themselves in front of decision makers.

Closing: OMG's science shows that  most salespeople, across the board, suck at closing so in most companies, the closing competency is unable to differentiate top from bottoms.  And as I've written before, closing is overrated.  If a salesperson effectively executes all of the stages and milestones required prior to closing, the business will close.

Friendly:  One of the attributes that OMG measures in the Relationship Building Core Competency, is the Likable attribute which never seems to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople. My friends, employees, clients, partners and coworkers would all testify that my weakest Sales Core Competency by far is Relationship Building but somehow, I am likable.  Despite being likable, I have never closed a deal because I was so likable.

Urgency:  Other than winning the business, the most important outcome in the sales process is the establishment of urgency.  Urgency is a by-product of uncovering a compelling reason to buy from you, quantifying the compelling reason and learning about its impact on your prospect.  The best salespeople are 329% more likely to get prospects beyond "nice to have," establishing urgency, than weak salespeople.  Since only 1% of the bottom half of salespeople are effective at the Consultative Seller Competency, urgency is rarely a differentiator of tops from bottoms within any given company.

Presenting: Most salespeople achieve their highest scores in the Sales Core Competency called Presentation Approach so there isn't much difference between the tops and bottoms in this competency at most companies.  Surprisingly, the bottom salespeople are often better than the top salespeople at Presentation Approach because they rely upon and hone their presentation rather than using a Consultative approach.

Extroverted: The science shows that across the board, extroverted salespeople perform no better than introverted salespeople although introverted salespeople tend to have an edge when it comes to listening and asking questions. I have always liked the definitions of introverted and extroverted which suggest that extroverted salespeople are energized from their social interactions while introverts must use their energy for social interactions.  I'm introverted and I'm always exhausted from my rare socializing.

Integrity: Integrity is important - just ask @Larry Levine! But it is not one of the findings that tends to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.  Unfortunately, there are occurrences of OMG seeing high integrity sellers who struggle to build trust and low integrity sellers who are able to build trust.  What do prospects see?  Salespeople they trust and salespeople they don't trust.

Video Proficiency: In 2020 and 2021 we worked very hard to help salespeople discover, become comfortable with, use and leverage the ability to sell remotely over video, yet this skill does not differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.

Social Selling: Despite the emphasis that has been placed on Social Selling (and in this context we are primarily talking about LinkedIn), this competency is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople.  While salespeople who are visible and active on LinkedIn may get the occasional meeting, they aren't more effective at closing that business.

At the core of all its services, OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as part of both its Sales Team Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  Check them out and see how your salespeople compare with nearly 2.5 million salespeople in and out of your industry.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales personaility, top sales performers, sales attributes

How Closing a Tough Sale is Nearly Identical to Hitting a Home Run

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 25, 2022 @ 18:08 PM

home run

While you don't need to know a single thing about Baseball to read this, it is another article with a baseball analogy. If you don't enjoy reading my baseball analogies, you can ignore this but I must warn you that today's analogy will reveal the two underlying causes for sales opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline and not reaching a close.  If you don't care about that then bye-bye until the next article.

You're watching a baseball game on television and the announcer says, "And here's the pitch and there's a long drive hit deep to left field and it's deep, it's up, it's way back and GONE!!!!!  Home Run Dave Kurlan!"  OK, the announcer never said the Dave Kurlan part. Not even close. I was a singles hitter.  And I never played at a level that had announcers.  So there's that.  For entertainment sake, watch this classic 2-minute clip of Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs hitting the magical home run at the end of the movie, The Natural, one of my all-time favorite baseball movies right up there with The Sandlot and Field of Dreams.

Back to the home run.  A home run is the outcome of a perfect swing but what led to that swing being so perfect?  If we conduct a backwards looking analysis, an upper cut connected with the baseball and drove it at a speed of 110 MPH with a 30 degree launch angle.  The swing was perfectly timed.  The batter waited and exploded, getting every bit of torque into his rotation while using the full power of his legs.  He stayed back and had a nice, short, swing. Those moving parts working to perfection were important to the outcome but the most important thing was that he recognized the pitch, saw the ball and hit it.  All of the mechanics I just described were the result of practice.  He recognized the pitch, made the split-second decision to swing, his mechanics fired up on-demand, and he crushed the ball.

Pivot to selling.  If salespeople had announcers - and that would be so cool - the announcer would say, "And here's the pitch, it's a good one, it's both needs and cost appropriate, and the prospect had already agreed in principal to the price. It's been emailed and reviewed, the prospect liked it, it's signed it and it's SOLD!!! Half a Million dollar sale for Dave Kurlan!"  Like I said, I never had a play-by-play announcer but there is always one talking in my head...

Back to the sale.  The sale was the outcome of that particular opportunity but what led to that opportunity closing so easily?  Deconstructing the sale, we recognized that there was a real opportunity there, quickly built a relationship, uncovered a compelling reason for them to buy from us, developed credibility, created urgency, fully qualified the opportunity and developed a needs and cost appropriate solution.  As with baseball, those were the mechanics of the sales process but the key was creating urgency.

Urgency is the torque that moves an opportunity from nice-to-have to must-have and finally to taking action.  But urgency is also an outcome.  It requires advanced listening and questioning skills, something most salespeople struggle to develop.  But even listening and questioning skills require 2 supporting Sales DNA competencies.

1) You must be able to Stay in the Moment in order to truly listen and formulate the next question.  Staying in the moment or being fully present requires that we do not become emotional.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 2,244,094 assessments of salespeople, only 37% of all salespeople have "Able to Stay in the Moment" as a strength and only 19% of the bottom half of all salespeople are able to do this. 

Last week, Dan Millman, author of more than a dozen spiritual self-help books and novels and best known for his book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, wrote this message in his latest newsletter:

"In this brief newsletter we return to a core life skill — how we perceive and process our emotions. Having previously explored how small changes in the words we use can change our attitudes,  let’s now observe a nearly universal tendency to identify with our emotions when we say (or think or feel) “I’m angry;I’m sad; I’m afraid…”
Instead, given the reality that emotions arise and pass like the weather, and that we have no more control over arising emotions than we do over passing weather, what if we replaced the “I am” with the observation, “Angry weather, sad weather, fearful weather passing through…” 
Noting our changing emotional weather patterns (as we might in meditation) enables us to observe them from a distance. We can acknowledge, even accept and embrace emotional weather without clinging to it.
This emotional skill — this wording and thinking change — is simple but not easy. Old habits die hard until we replace them with new habits as this practice becomes natural. Try it and see."

2) If staying in the moment is crucial for listening, then equally critical for asking questions is  not NEEDING to be liked.  It's OK and even desirable to be likable, but you shouldn't NEED people to like you.  When you need to be liked it will make you uncomfortable or even fearful of asking a lot of questions, asking tough question, or having the difficult conversation with your prospect that nobody else has had with them.  According to OMG, only 40% of all salespeople have "Doesn't Need Approval" and only 15% of the bottom half have this as a strength.

Staying in the Moment and Not Needing to be Liked are 2 out of the 21 Sales Core Competencies required for Sales Success.  If we look at the data differently, and filter on just the top 5% of all salespeople,  the results are quite different. The best salespeople (the top 5%) don't usually have nearly this much difficulty as 65% of them are able to stay in the moment making the top salespeople 342% better at this than the bottom half!  And when it comes to not needing to be liked, 79% of the best salespeople have this as a strength making the top salespeople 527% better at this than the bottom half.

Do you want to hit more home runs and close more sales?  Work to overcome your need to be liked and become more effective staying in the moment.  The Sales DNA Modifier is an inexpensive online course that uses powerful affirmations to help you make dramatic changes and overcome a sales weakness in just 3 weeks. Start with the lesson on Need to be Liked, spend 5-minutes with it twice per day for 3 weeks and then move on to the other weaknesses as needed.

The Sales DNA Modifier is a home run for salespeople.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, Sales DNA, closing tips, objective management group

Can My Car Uncover Sales Qualification Criteria Better Than Most Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 08, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

If your car was manufactured in the last few years, you probably have a rear camera that helps you see your surroundings when you need to back up, back into a parking space, or drive backwards on the interstate at 65 MPH.  Okay, maybe not the last one.  Somehow, my Genesis GV80 always knows to display its rear and overhead cameras when I'm pulling into the garage.  Not backing into the garage, but driving forward into the garage.  That is helpful because I can pull in just far enough to leave the maximum amount of room in front of the car, but still clear the garage threshold enough for the garage door to close without hitting the back of the car.  If the car could speak, it would be saying, "Dave doesn't know what he can't see back there but he needs to see it right now.  So I'm going to turn off the map display and instead, give him the two-camera intelligence he needs."  It's crazy!

Pivot to sales.  Wouldn't it be great if salespeople had the equivalent of two camera intelligence to see what they don't know they need to see?

Two-camera intelligence for salespeople is probably science fiction - a pipe dream - but it would have a bigger impact for sales success than how the view of the garage threshold assists with my parking!

The two-camera rear view would allow salespeople to:

  • Inspect whether the answers provided by prospects truly answered their questions
  • Learn whether there is truly enough budget available and whether the prospect will spend more to do business with them
  • Learn who the real decision-makers are, why they are hiding, and how to get them engaged
  • Uncover the prospect's most compelling reasons to buy from them
  • Learn which of their competitors the prospect is talking with and how they compare
  • Discover the criteria (reasons) on which the prospect will make their decision
  • Discover the process (steps) by which the prospect will come to a decision
  • Uncover the timeline for a decision
  • Determine the prospect's level of commitment to solving their problem and moving forward
  • Understand exactly how they can be a perfect fit for the prospect
  • Determine how to improve their relationship with the prospect
  • Connect the dots to create a perfect needs and cost appropriate solution

Two-camera intelligence for salespeople would provide visibility into the 12 most important qualification criteria.  Interestingly, the best salespeople already have this intelligence in their tool bag.  87% of the top 5% of all salespeople - the very best salespeople - have visibility into these criteria because their high-quality, value-added conversations easily uncover this information. By comparison, only 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have that visibility.  Just 1%.  The group in the 50th-80th percentile aren't much better as only 19% of them have the Qualifier competency as a strength. The Qualifier competency is just one of 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG's sales candidate assessments and sales team evaluations.  You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

All salespeople are told to qualify.  Some are trained to qualify.  Fewer are coached to qualify.  Most don't know how to properly qualify or they skip past it entirely because they fear that their opportunity won't qualify (they'll have to hunt for a new opportunity) or they fear that their prospect will become upset at them for asking the questions (their need to be liked).  If they plan to ask these questions like a survey, or like a game of 50 questions, then they should be afraid.  Qualifying doesn't work that way.  Salespeople must first build a case so that their prospects have an incentive to qualify themselves.  If the case hasn't been built, there isn't a prospect alive that would willingly subject themself to a dozen qualification questions.  The best salespeople know how to simply make this part of a wonderful two-way conversation that won't raise prospects' resistance.

Building a case is accomplished by taking a consultative approach to selling.  While weak salespeople are just as inept at consultative selling as they are at qualifying, only 49% of elite salespeople have mastered this competency.  Taking a consultative approach is clearly the achilles heal of the sales profession. 

Obviously, I won't send my car on my next sales call but most salespeople would fare better if they had my car's intelligence.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, comparison of top salespeople, sales core competencies, qualifying

Not The Top 20 Attributes of Successful Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 01, 2022 @ 07:08 AM

bad-science

Several OMG Partners reached out to ask if I had seen the email that was circulating with the Top 20 Attributes of Successful Salespeople.

"I have," was my response and, "Look for a blistering article on Monday."

The article was 100% junk science and to use the word science would be a disservice to the word junk. Below, you'll find five reasons why this article was so wrong, so bad, so misleading, so pitiful, and just plain stupid:

 

  1. The article listed the top 20 attributes of successful salespeople and the vast majority of those attributes might have something to do with success in general but have very little to do with sales success.  The email says that, "The results revealed the top five attributes are confidence (44%); ambition (33%); adaptability (25%) self-motivation (17%); and honesty (16%)."  None of those are sales-specific! Respondents didn't come up with these attributes on their own, but were given 30 to choose from.  They were asked to select their top 5 responses and the "report" listed the 20 most frequently chosen responses.  Unfortunately, most of these attributes have more to do with personality and behavior and are not even slightly related to OMG's widely accepted 21 Sales Core Competencies and related attributes.
  2. Only 207 people participated in the survey and it came from "conversational intelligence."  Whaaaat?  207 isn't a meaningful sample size and certainly not one to brag about.  Compare that to the more than 2.2 million salespeople that OMG has assessed and a sample size on which I base all of my articles.  And what the F is conversational intelligence?  I searched Google for Conversational Intelligence and found a book by that title.  The description said, "The key to success in life and business is to become a master at Conversational Intelligence. It's not about how smart you are, but how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success."  Maybe.  But what does that have to do with the topic of this article?  I searched some more and found CallTrackingMetrics.com.  They defined Conversational Intelligence as, "The ability to identify and react to signals in verbal communications."  In summary, someone who is smarter than me will have to explain how conversational intelligence can identify the attributes of successful salespeople.
  3. Jiminny, the company behind this survey, claimed to have researched millions of articles and couldn't find a single article that was not opinion based except for a 2011 article in Harvard Business Review.  Not a single one over eleven years?  Wow.  I have published more than 100 scientific articles on the attributes, competencies, and differences between successful salespeople and unsuccessful salespeople during that time period.  It's kind of difficult to miss 100 of them unless of course my articles don't support their narrative! 
  4. It was a survey!  That's not science. In the case of this survey, it was merely 207 opinions from a limited and skewed list of options.
  5. If the author (was there an author?) knew half of what I know about successful salespeople, they would know that the unsuccessful salespeople surveyed possess most of those same attributes.  They aren't differentiators!  And how do we know that unsuccessful salespeople weren't included in the survey?  Geez!

What are the actual top attributes of successful salespeople?  We should begin with the 21 Sales Core Competencies in which top salespeople score exponentially better than weak salespeople. Over the years, I have written many articles that articulate these differences but there have been a few which, from my perspective, stand-out .  If you're interested in how things have evolved over the past 11 years:

This article was from 2009.

This article was from 2015.

This article was from 2015.

These two articles were both written in 2016.   Also 2016 (HBR v OMG)

This article was written in 2018.

Junk science, limited data, tunnel vision, and in this case, a stupid-as-a-bowl-of-jelly analysis continue to appear although not as frequently as the fake news in politics.  But why do we continue to see them?

Today, it's easier than ever to write whatever you can imagine and that's where a lot of the fake news originates.  Someone writes or tweets something, somebody else shares it, an individual with a platform sees it and spreads it more widely and it eventually becomes a headline.

I've had enough - have you?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, sales core competencies, sales enablement, omg

The Many Different Selling Roles and How They Differ - Part 1

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 27, 2022 @ 12:07 PM

car-comparison

When you think about cars, you know there are coupes, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and sports cars.  You also know there are luxury cars, mid-range cars and economy cars.  You also know there are fast cars and slow cars, flashy cars and vanilla cars, big cars and little cars, white cars, black cars and every color in between.  But if you were to think about specific features that differentiate one car from another, you would have to really think about it, wouldn't you?  It used to be easy.  Air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, power windows, power seats, side mirrors and automatic transmissions were standard in the expensive cars but not available in the budget-priced cars.  Today, most cars, in most classes include all of those features as standard.

The same kind of thinking is required when thinking about the various roles of salespeople.  We can name them: Account Executive, Territory Manager, Business Development Rep, Sales Development Rep, Account Manager, Key Account Manager, National Account Manager, Channel Manager, Application Engineer, Sales Consultant, Inside Sales, Outside Sales, and more.

To further complicate things, in some companies and industries, Sales Managers function as salespeople and Sales VPs function as Sales Managers.

While the above roles have selling as a primary responsibility, there are as many differences to selling roles as there are differences to the class or style of cars.  Today, we'll explore the difference between an Account Executive and a Business Development Rep.

I collaborated with Joe DiDonato, Chief of Staff at Baker Communications, and together we produced the following comparison.

Role Comparison for 21 Sales Competencies

While both roles overlapped in 10 key competencies, the capabilities in the remaining 11 competencies were very different. 

A successful AE needs to excel at 18 of 21 competencies that OMG assesses, while a successful BDR needs to excel at 13 of the 21 competencies. BDRs perform lead follow-up, send emails and connection requests, and conduct cold-calling. The reality is that most individuals in that role aren’t very good at it, based on the data we've collected. There is a prevailing misconception that those 3 tasks don’t require much selling ability because it’s “all top of the funnel,” but success in the role requires proficiency in 11 different sales competencies.

It’s the nature of each role’s responsibilities - and the prospect’s point of entry into the sales process and funnel - that requires different strengths. A BDR is focused on closing the prospect on initial sales and proof of concept steps at the top of the sales funnel. They’re going to be faced with 9 out of 10 callers rejecting them – if not more - and must be able to shrug that off without taking the rejection personally. As a result, the BDR must be “rejection proof” in addition to having strong hunting and closing capabilities. 

In contrast, the AE role relies on relationship building to move the opportunity down the sales funnel and through the formal sales process. Included in that effort is a strong consultative selling ability, as well as the knowledge of how to convincingly sell value to the prospect – both essential skills in moving the opportunity forward. 

Next comes strong presentation skills as the proposed solution has to be presented to multiple stakeholders, as well as a keen understanding and respect of the formal sales process that successfully moves the opportunity forward. Rounding out the AE's portfolio of skills is that the AE must have a considerably stronger comfort level around discussing money. 

So many opportunities are squandered as a result of an AE's failure to verify that the money is there, it can be spent, they are willing to pay more, and the value of more has been established. AEs who are comfortable having that conversation will outsell those who don’t. When they skip, avoid, or vaguely cover finances, proposals are generated for prospects who either won’t buy or won’t pay the price resulting in price objections, delays, business lost to competitors, or prospects choosing to do nothing. 

One of the most significant differentiators between the most successful AEs and their less successful counterparts can be found in the sales competency called Supportive Buy Cycle (shown in the table above). The attributes in the Buy Cycle competency correlate to how salespeople go about the process of making a major purchase for themselves and salespeople tend to sell in a way that is consistent with how they buy. The best salespeople determine what they want to purchase and simply buy it - without much consideration of price, alternate sources, having to think it over, and more. 

Conversely, the weakest salespeople tend to conduct research, comparison shop, look for the lowest price, think things over, and some of them even hate salespeople and "being sold" something. As you might imagine, the weakest salespeople understand it when their prospects want to buy the same way that they do, while the strongest salespeople don’t understand that buying behavior, push back, and ask questions. 

Strong salespeople have the ability to eliminate competition, shorten the sales cycle, and help prospects buy on value instead of price. It’s difficult for some salespeople to grasp the concept and consequences of this competency. But when salespeople change the way they buy so that it supports ideal sales outcomes, their revenue increases by 50%.

As you can see from the analysis, the skill sets are very different. Many companies treat the BDR role as an entry-level position in preparation for the more demanding AE role at some future date. But as closely aligned as these two roles are in objectives, they require different skills to be successful. As a result, the movement between roles is not as easily accomplished as most sales managers hope.

Before we conclude the article, it's important to note that for each of these 21 Sales Core Competencies, OMG includes 8-10 attributes (64 on one of them) for a total of around 275 specific sales findings and scores.  We have a site that shows the following data for each competency:

  • Average score for all salespeople
  • Average score for the top 10%
  • Average score for the bottom 10%
  • Average score in your industry
  • Average score for your company (you'll need some of your salespeople to take the evaluation to populate this bar on the graph - it's free for them to take it and populate the bar graph with your aggregate scores but you'll have to pay for the 30-page reports if you want them)

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, relationship building, prospecting, sales core competencies, sales CRM, top of the funnel

Hidden Sales Competition and Why it Could Happen to You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 27, 2021 @ 14:09 PM

I recently took these pictures of mushrooms on our property that I had not seen prior to this year.  Bright reds, bright oranges, whites and more.  After living on this property for the past twenty years, it really surprised me that these bright colored mushrooms appeared out of nowhere.  Then again, my wife and I have cut down a lot of trees and cleared a lot of brush in the last twelve months.  Could they have been growing there right along and we simply didn't see them?

Can you guess where this is going?

Have you ever had a sales opportunity that was completely under control, you were following your sales process, everything was looking great, and then, from out of nowhere and without warning, surprise competitors appeared?  

Yes, the magic mushroom competitors! 

Were those competitors competing for the business the entire time and the prospect didn't share that important piece of information?  Did you neglect to ask if they were talking with or looking at anyone else? Or, and this is important, were they eleventh hour additions to the game?  

The late-to-the-game addition is the easiest to deal with because we have the most clarity on this scenario.  Prospects invite additional competition when they are not 100% sold on one or more of the following 15 possibilities:

  1. your offering
  2. your price
  3. your company
  4. your timing
  5. your delivery
  6. your options
  7. your responsiveness
  8. your testimonials
  9. your quality
  10. your track record
  11. your politics
  12. your sense of humor
  13. your location
  14. your customer service
  15. your technical service

Prospects generally don't want to compromise so it only takes one thing that was either not covered, not explained, not handled, not offered, or not included and they may look elsewhere.  So what can you do to make sure that never happens to you (again)?

You need to more thoroughly qualify your opportunities!!! 

EVERYTHING that could go wrong must be anticipated and discussed during your qualification stage. That's why you should never, ever, ever rely on a proposal or a quote or a Scope of Work to explain your offering, prices or fees.  Those documents merely formalize in writing what you have already agreed to!  YOU close and if they want to move forward WITH YOU, then you can send it. 

Prior to that you should discuss EVERYTHING from fees, to terms, to timelines, to alignment, to expectations, to fit, to yes, competition.  And if there is competition, discuss it, ask why, ask how they feel about them, who they are leaning towards, why, and what you can do about it?  And when it comes to what you can do about it, DO NOT EVER LET IT BE ABOUT LOWERING YOUR PRICE.  NEVER.  If they ask you to match or lower your fees, ask, "other than pricing, what can I do?"

Qualifying is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that Objective Management Group measures in both its sales force evaluations and its accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

When it comes to hidden competition, don't act like you've been taking the magic mushrooms and developing happy ears.  ASK QUESTIONS!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales qualifying, selling against competition

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

You're Normal and Your Sucky Salespeople are Probably Normal Too!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 03, 2019 @ 16:09 PM

normal

Do salespeople report up to you?  Do you get frustrated with half to three quarters of them?  

Is it a good day when a new opportunity is added to the pipeline?  Is it a better day when they close a new piece of business?  Do you wish you could double or triple the amount of activity, number of opportunities and deals that close?

Are they generally good people and you feel like they don't deserve to be terminated?  Do you like them too much to give them an ultimatum?  

When you try to coach them, do you get frustrated because they say they understand but when they talk with a prospect or customer they don't do what you coached them to do? 

Do you think it's you?

Have you resigned yourself to the fact that they aren't going to improve?  When you look at it objectively, are they helping your competition more than they are helping you and your company?  

You're not crazy and it's not you - at least it's not your fault that you haven't been able to fix them.  The data from Objective Management Group proves that from the 1,894,193 salespeople that have been assessed and/or evaluated in 21 Sales Core Competencies, 50% of them just plain suck and another 25% are merely serviceable.  In other words, it's exactly what you probably have on your sales force today.

One of the reasons your salespeople can't do the things you ask and suggest is their Sales DNA.  If it's weak, and it probably is, there can be as many as six major weaknesses that prevent them from executing sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics.  That makes it nearly impossible for sales managers who don't know or understand the role of Sales DNA to coach up their salespeople.

You might be one of the sales managers or sales leaders who fall into the 93% that don't coach enough and don't coach as effectively as required.  Since you're in the majority, there's nothing to feel bad about.  You simply haven't been shown how to make coaching salespeople a magical experience.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  There is help available and I would like to personally invite you to attend the magical two-day event that will change everything, show you how to fix your salespeople, change your life and increase your earnings.

Attending this program will get you a 28% increase in sales - quickly and easily - by applying what we teach and demonstrate.  We will show you the magic ingredients to effectively coach your salespeople each day.  What would a 28% increase in revenue mean for your budget, earnings and career?  Watch this video.

 

Follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of sales leaders who came before you and join us for two days on November 13 and 14 in Jersey City.  Learn more here.

We hope to see you there!   Bonus for my readers! Use this link to register and save $100!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales management training, sales leadership training, sale leadership, OMG Assessment

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 @ 01:09 AM

Maybe you drink the finest wines, stay at the most luxurious hotels, dine at the best restaurants, purchase the best brands and drive the fanciest cars. Or not.  Either way, you'll at least want to know where you can find the best salespeople in the world, right?

To accomplish this I looked at data from the most recent 435,000 sales evaluations and assessments from Objective Management Group (OMG) and broke it down into 6 regions of the world. See the image below.

world-sales-dataWhen I ranked the regions of the world by the largest percentage of elite salespeople and the smallest percentage of weak salespeople, the results show the regions ranked in the following order:

  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. Oceana
  4. Africa
  5. Latin America
  6. Asia

Breaking it down a little further using the same criteria, the USA comes out on top in North America and within the USA, Colorado has the most elite salespeople and Alaska has the largest percentage of weak salespeople.  You can look at some of this data on our public site and see how salespeople score in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

In Western Europe, Switzerland has the best salespeople and Greece has the worst.  In Eastern Europe, Poland has the best salespeople and Russia has the worst.

I also took a look at the same criteria by industry and found that the best salespeople overall can be found in information services while the worst salespeople overall work in financial services.

The important lesson from this is that even in the land of great salespeople, most are still very weak while in the land of horrible salespeople you can still find the occasional strong ones.  Resumes from strong and weak salespeople are nearly indistinguishable and in an interview a weak salesperson might even be better at getting you to like her than a strong salesperson.  The challenge for most then, is how can you tell the great salespeople from the weak ones?  It's pretty easy if you use the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, selling skills, best salespeople

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 @ 13:09 PM

improve

I've written extensively about how salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies. Typically, both the articles and data are shared in the context of the difference between top salespeople and weak salespeople but rarely have I written about what happens after salespeople have been evaluated.

Here's how it usually works.  A company asks their outside sales expert for help growing sales.  As a first step, the expert suggests evaluating the sales force using OMG's incredible suite of tools.  The results are shared and reviewed with the client and anonymous data from the evaluation is added to our nearly 1.8 million rows of data.  That is the data I so often write about and you can see the aggregate scores, sorted by sales percentile, industry or region, at our public statistics site.

Post evaluation, the expert will likely help the company by providing some combination of training, coaching, consulting, recruiting, systems and processes updates in the areas that need to be improved.  As a result, do salespeople actually get better?  That's a direct result of the trainer's/consultant's effectiveness, the company's commitment to change, and the sales managers' ability to coach to the sales process and methodology, all well out of OMG's hands.  However, we do have some insight into how much their salespeople improve.

Approximately one year after the initial sales force evaluation, OMG offers to conduct a checkpoint where change can be measured and now I have the data.

I looked at the before and after scores for eight of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as the Reaches Decision Makers, Account Manager and Farmer competencies for a total of 11.  See the table below:

checkpoint-changes

One of the first things you might notice is that scores went down in 2 competencies - Relationship Building and Account Management.  Many salespeople believe that selling is simply having relationships and showing up. Then, when training and coaching targets the more impactful competencies, it's not unusual to see scores actually get worse in the two competencies they previously took for granted.

Another thing you might notice is the significance of change for Closing, Reaching Decision Makers, and Selling Value, a bi-product of what I assume the training and coaching would have been focused on post evaluation.

Twelve months later, there is an overall 18% improvement in scores.  We know that just a 10% improvement creates a 33% increase ins sales.  Don't believe me?  Check out this table:

10-percent-improvementIf a 10% improvement creates a 33% improvement in revenue, what does an 18% improvement create?  Math is a really important tool in creating value and in this case, math tell us we can expect a 59% increase in revenue.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Closing Skills, sales core competencies, sales data

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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