Prediction for Your Company's Sales Force in 2011

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:12 AM

10 Sales Experts were inducted into the Top Sales Hall of Fame at yesterday's Top Sales Awards event.  They include legends, both living and deceased, like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey and Earl Nightingale.  Current legends like Gerhard Gschwandter and Jeffrey Gitomer were honored.  Others who were inducted include Keith Rosen, Bill Brooks, Linda Richardson, Neil Rackham and Dr. Tony Allasandra.

When asked for her prediction for 2011, Linda Richardson said, "Clients won't be looking for sales training.  They want sales force transformation.  They want to know whether they have the right people in the right roles..."

Thank you Linda!  A Hall of Fame sales training company leader saying what I've been saying for 20 years! 

Linda's comments were not really a prediction though.  Jim Collins wrote about how great companies focused on having the right people in the right seats in his 2001 book, "Good to Great". Objective Management Group, founded in 1989, has been helping its partners provide sales force transformations via the insights and findings from its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments for at least 10 years. Years ago I urged all of our partners to provide sales force development instead of sales training so that we could transform sales forces. Perhaps Linda was simply suggesting that she expects to model her business after ours.

This sounds very similar to when mainstream MD's write breakthrough articles and basically say what alternative MD's have been saying for decades.  Three examples are, "Supplement with Omega 3's", "Those prescrtiption drugs will actually kill you", and "Supplement with CoQ10".

Time to take the supplements - I'm against the clock.

Topics: sales training, Sales Force, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey, sales transformation, sales development

Top 5 Interesting Sales Tips

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 @ 08:12 AM

My mother-in-law of nearly 20 years has strong opinions.  Whenever she is shown something, told about something, or experiences something, one of her possible reactions is, "That's interesting."

When your salespeople explain your technology, methods, positioning, value added, warranty, or product differentiation to their prospects, and the prospects respond with "Interesting!"...what do your salespeople do?

Depending on the context of the conversation, weather, personality and the frame of reference of their prospect, here are the top five things that "Interesting" could mean:

  1. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread!
  2. This is so much better than what I've seen elsewhere.
  3. This is interesting - I'd like to learn more to better understand it.
  4. These guys might be on to something.
  5. I hate this but I don't want to hurt their feelings.

It took me about 5 years before I understood my mother-in-law and her use of "Interesting."  Turns out she only used it when she was thinking #5!  But she isn't necessarily representative of anyone else.  There is truly no way of knowing which of the 5 things they mean when they say, "Interesting" and I''ll bet that I hear "Interesting" at least once per day from someone....

I'll share what I do when I hear that...

I ask, "Can you help me out?  You just said this concept was "Interesting".  I'm not exactly sure what you mean.  I know that when my mother-in-law says "interesting" she means she hates it...what do you mean?"

If you want to make sure that your salespeople don't fall victim to happy ears, make sure that they clarify the use of words that can have multiple meanings, words that are vague and can be easily interpreted the wrong way. 

On another subject, The Ceremony for this Thursday's (December 16, 2010) Top Sales Awards will take place from Noon ET - 3 PM ET.  if you would like to attend this online event, you can register here.  Awards will be presented for:

  • Top Sales Article
  • Top Sales Star
  • Top Sales Book
  • Top Sales Blog (My Blog is in 2nd place in the popular vote which is worth 9 pts. The judges in this category will award up to 10 points for their choices and a winner will be determined on Thursday)
  • Top Sales Resource
  • Top CRM Solution
  • Top Sales Tool
  • Top Sales 2.0 Solution
  • Top Social Media Site
  • Top Sales Personality
  • Hall of Fame

You will also here from a number of top sales experts around the world as we share our opinions on dozens of important topics that face companies in the coming months and years.

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, asking questions, salespeople, sales development

How to Get Salespeople to Leave Their Comfort Zone

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 @ 22:11 PM

comfort zoneWe asked our 8-year-old son if he was willing to help out and have a female classmate ride home with him today.  He wasn't sure.  If he didn't do the right thing and said no, he would hurt her feelings.  If he did the right thing, he worried that he would be uncomfortable spending time with her.  When they are eight years old, boys think girls are yucky.

This is the same dilemma that salespeople face every day, in every sales call, in every interaction.  Do the right thing and ask the tough question that the situation calls for; or do what's comfortable and present.

Our son made the right decision and was rewarded for leaving his comfort zone.  They had a great time together. The funny thing is that it was only the decision that was difficult.  Once he had made the decision it was VERY comfortable.

The same will be true for your salespeople.  The only part they will struggle with is THE DECISION to do the right thing by asking the tough question. Once they've made the decision, the actual question they ask will be easy too.

Which of your salespeople get uncomfortable and when?

How can you get them to leave their comfort zone?

Simply role play it with them until it's easy for them and it comes automatically.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, comfort zone, sales development

Tale of Two Clients - Sales Training:) versus SAAAlesTraining:(

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 05, 2010 @ 22:10 PM

changeHere's an interesting comparison for you.

Two client companies are on the exact same sales development time line. (Same time line but separate from each other - they don't even know about each other)

Both of their sales forces went through sales force evaluations at the exact same time.

Both of their sales management teams were developed at the same time.

Both of their sales organizations received sales infrastructure help (sales process, sales pipeline, metrics, sales recruiting process, etc).

Now both companies will have their salespeople trained at the same time (but separately).

Company #1 has everyone excited.  They can't wait.  Their sales managers are already coaching to the best practices they learned and holding their salespeople accountable.  They are change ready.

Company #2 has everyone dreading this initiative.  They don't think they need it, even though their sales are off by 45% and their pipeline sucks!  Their sales managers are in whining mode, haven't allocated the time for coaching and aren't holding anybody accountable yet.  They are as far from change-ready as you can get.  Yikes!

So what's the difference?  Leadership.

The CEO is driving the change in company #1 and he did it the right way.  In company #2, the CEO delegated the change to the Sales VP, the second weakest person in the entire company. He is so weak that he didn't want any part of any evaluation, development, coaching or training.  He was afraid that his boss might actually see how weak he was.  Like I said, he was the second weakest person in the company.  Would you like to know who was weaker than him?  Bingo.  The CEO who delegated the whole initiative to him.

You've heard it before. It flows down hill.  Your organization can only be as effective as the weakest leadership link.  When it comes to a sales development initiative, you must start out committed and remain committed to drive the process until the change you demand has been accomplished.  Anything short of that is a formula for failure.

Of course, when you tell that to people who are weak, they don't believe you.  They trust their people.  They have good people.  Their people are committed....

That is such BS.  Strong CEO's see all the flaws their people have and are committed to developing them or upgrading.  Weak CEO's see beauty, and flowers, and blue skies - yes, that's the ticket - blue skies through rose colored glasses.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales results, sales assessments, sales development

Top 10 Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 10, 2009 @ 09:11 AM

Sales Management Core Competencies










These are my Top 10 Sales Management Competencies.  The list, in no particular order is probably different, in many ways, as much for what's not on it as for what is:


The following competencies, which are NOT sales management competencies, do not appear on my list:

  • Personal Sales
  • Account Management
  • Closing Deals for Others

Also not in my top 10 are

  • Territory Management 
  • Paperwork
  • Meetings
  • Travel
  • Trips

Read The Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions - What's Missing?

If you have been reading my blog for any duration over the last 13 years, the list should not be much of a surprise. 

Sales Process Grader

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales training, sales management functions, sales management training, sales development, sales management core competencies

Top 25 Prerequisites for Successful Sales Training and Sales Development

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 05, 2009 @ 07:11 AM

Before an inside or outside expert can help you develop your sales force, there are at least 25 milestones that must take place or the initiative will probably fail.  Development has much less to do with content, curriculum, and methodology than it does with the person, or people who will do the developing.  I am not saying that content, curriculum and methodology are unimportant! They are very important. I am saying that much like everything else you do, the people have more impact on the success or failure of the initiative than the tools being used.

When I, or members of my team are involved in developing a client's salespeople and sales managers, we make certain that the following milestones take place very early on - in our  very first session.  We must:

  1. Help them feel safe

  2. Get them to believe we can help

  3. Get them to want the help

  4. Develop credibility

  5. Understand their challenges

  6. Be viewed as a resource, not a threat

  7. Develop a relationship

  8. Add value through the effective strategies and tactics we share

  9. Encourage them

  10. Challenge them

  11. Question them

  12. Demonstrate, through role-play, exactly how a strategy or tactic plays out

  13. Entertain them

  14. Engage them

  15. Make them want more

  16. Provide them with several perspectives

  17. Give them assignments

  18. Be committed to their success

  19. Get them to commit to their success

  20. Poll them often for their lessons learned

  21. Make sure they understand their assessment results

  22. Prepare sales management to coach to the training

  23. Have systems and processes in place to support the training

  24. Create a no excuses environment

  25. Get them to practice.

There are many more things that take place along the way, but when these things don't take place day 1, it's an uphill climb.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales training, Sales Coaching, sales development

Bench Strength and a Hard Driving Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2009 @ 20:10 PM

Bill Raymond, my guest on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, talked at length about what it means to have bench strength on the sales force.  HINT - it's not having substitutes ready to jump in!

He also spoke at length about the right way for companies to use value to decommoditize their products and services.  Bill elaborated about the difference between real selling and demonstrating and presenting.

His 5 tips for owners, presidents, and CEO's? He said that things really aren't terribly different other than money being tighter.  So he said:

  1. You must have a capable sales tea - not the 20 part of the 80/20 rule.  Assess your sales force.
  2. Develop the people you have - get them performing on all cylinders, selling not demonstrating.
  3. Manage the effort with solid sales management - coaching, motivating, recruiting,  and accountability - things that produce revenue, not administrative stuff.
  4. Hire above the average of what you have - don't be so willing to settle.
  5. Have a hard charging sales team - highly motivated where team performance motivates them to perform.

Listen to the show here.  Contact Bill.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, bill raymond, bench strength, sales development

Articles on Sales Training Impact

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:09 AM

I've written a number of articles on the issue of maximizing and optimizing sales training, as well as some of the reasons why sales training won't work.  The following articles deal with this topic:

A Salesperson's Terrible Reaction to Good Sales Training

3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

Improve Your Sales Force Despite Veteran Salespeople

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Why Accidental Sales Training Works More Effectively

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Are Women in Sales Less Trainable?

What It Really Means When CRM Isn't a Sales Force Priority

Top 10 Sales Training Realities versus What You Believed

How Frequently Do Your Salespeople Practice Selling?

Secrets of Effective Sales Development

Top 25 Prerequisites for Successful Sales Training and Development 

A Toasted Bagel and 5 Minutes to Understand the Impact of Sales Training

The Impact of Sales Training

Teaching Sales in School is Like Learning to Play Golf on the Wii

Why Corporate Sales Training Often Fails to Achieve the Desired Result

Building a Sales Culture - 10 Rules for Success

Creating a Sales Culture

SPIN Selling and Miller-Heiman

Sales Force Development - Is it Training?

What It Takes to Make Your Sales Pipeline Accurate and Predictive 

The Key to Significantly Improve Sales Training Results

Consultative Selling, Commitment and Training Like Oil and Water

What's Missing from the Report That Says Sales Training Doesn't Make Reps Better?

The Common Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden 

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales force development, Salesforce, sales development

Sales Are Probably Down if You're Doing These Three Things...

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:06 PM

"When your market isn't growing, it is not business as usual and holding your breath and hoping is not the right strategy."  This according to Casey Coffman, my guest on the most recent episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  He went on to say that if you sell the same thing, to the same people, the same way that you did 16 months ago, he would be shocked if your sales aren't down.

Casey talked about the importance of confidence, courage and conviction, especially in this economy and he shed some light on CEO's who are still stuck in hunker down mode - paralyzed - not doing anything to reverse flat or declining revenues. He said, "Employees leave when they don't see a way they are going to win.  If we do this we will win, versus, simply staying busy."

Coffman suggested that companies use this period to trim fat, hire, and retool a best in class sales force so that they can take advantage of being able to make changes that in good times they wouldn't be able to make, where in these times you must.  He suggested new approaches, new systems, new strategies, new tactics.  He suggested thinking six months out, and putting pressure on your process instead of your people.

Great advice from a great expert.  Listen to the show hereContact Casey here.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, sales evaluation, sales expert, casey coffman, sandler, sales trainer, sales assessments, sales development

Media is to Fuel as the Recession is to Fire - How Does it Impact the Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2009 @ 08:03 AM

The media - they didn't cause the banking crisis but they have surely capitalized on it, dramatized it, chronically reported every devastating development and turned a serious but contained fire into a wildfire.

I don't want to hear how many jobs have been lost.  Who does that help?  I don't want to hear what happened to the Dow - I can look it up if I want to know how much money I lost.  I don't want to hear who is going into bankruptcy.  It doesn't affect me.  I don't want to know the latest store closings, whose sales are off for the quarter, how lousy the auto makers are doing or whose house is being foreclosed.  The point is, it doesn't help me, it doesn't help you and it doesn't help anybody, anywhere, to listen to this never-ending, negative drama.  In fact, it hurts.  It depresses people, it scares people and it causes people to stop buying things. It is causing businesses to lay-off employees, not because they have to, but because they have an excuse to, and it's causing people to wonder if it's ever going to improve.

I don't want to know who was murdered last night either.  And I don't want to know who got killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. This doesn't impact me either.

In fact, let's roll the news back to just 30 minutes, let's give the meteorologist and sports anchor a few more minutes, and let's hear some news that is really news.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average isn't news.  A company's earnings shouldn't be news.

Let's hear about the good that companies are doing. Let's hear about the good that people are doing.  Let's hear about the things organizations are doing to improve our economy.  Let's hear about the things being done to improve health care, the environment, our lives, our world, our universe.

Tell us about the latest developments in space, under water, in remote places.  Tell us something good.  Tell us something positive.  Tell us something to take our minds OFF of what's going on and help us to put some normalcy back into our lives.

For those of us who consult, train, coach, evaluate and motivate executive teams and sales organizations, this would surely help us to help them.  We need to get people buying and nothing gets people buying like good salespeople who aren't selling into the most resistant marketplace in the history of selling.

I will tell 250 sales development experts, 10,000 subscribers to Baseline Selling, and the thousands who visit this blog to boycott the news.  And if they each tell someone, who tells someone, who tells someone we could actually have an impact. How about calling this initiative something like 3M2P -  Media Motivating the Masses 2 Prosper?  Seriously, it's not an initiative, it's not an organization, it's not more than one person's frustration. But what if it was?

I've never asked for my articles to be forwarded but I think this is the one I have been saving that request for.  Please forward the link to anyone you think will agree with this.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Salesforce, sales motivation, economic crisis, Sales Advice, sales development

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About Dave

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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