The Correlation Between Milestones, Sales Process and Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

process

The shit show known as 2020.  Many of us have heard that term used to describe this uniquely strange year.  Despite everything unusual about 2020, there have been some normalcies too.  We celebrated births, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's and Father's Days, and we will all celebrate the upcoming holidays.  The gatherings might be smaller and more localized, but the holiday won't pass by without us.  These are all Milestones.

Objective Management Group (OMG) celebrated some milestones this year too.  In January we celebrated our 30th Anniversary, in August we processed our 2 millionth sales assessment and in September we updated the industry standard 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Milestones are important.  How are they important to sales success?

Milestones are also the most important components of a strong, reliable, predictive sales process. 

Without specific milestones that must be reached in each stage of the sales process, there is no sales process!

Back in the early 90's, in the very early days of OMG, only 9% of all salespeople had and/or followed a sales process.  While that has improved dramatically in the last 30 years, to 45%, it is still way too low.  Check out these findings.

Sales Process is only one of twenty-one Sales Core Competencies yet it correlates perfectly with sales percentile.  As you can see, the best salespeople are 94% more likely to have and follow a sales process while 83% of weak salespeople, the bottom half of all salespeople, are out there winging it!  And when it comes to all salespeople, 55% are winging it.  Hmmm.  That's pretty close to the 57% who don't hit quota, isn't it?

Consider that salespeople who are just winging it usually have milestones.  For example, most lousy salespeople have conceptual milestones for things like:

  • Getting on an approved vendor list
  • Quoting
  • Submitting a Proposal
  • Scheduling a Demo
  • Getting a Prospect to Agree to a Trial

There is nothing wrong with these milestones unless they are the only milestones in a company's or salesperson's sales process. Unfortunately, that's what we usually see, with salespeople looking to achieve late stage milestones without meeting the ten to fifteen crucial milestones that must be achieved PRIOR to the five listed above. A best-practices sales process has at least four stages (think in terms of stages like suspect, prospect, qualified, closable) with each stage having between three and eight measurable milestones.  

Skipping a single milestone can have devastating consequences.  Imagine what can happen when salespeople skip ten to fifteen milestones! 

Very often, companies lacking the appropriate milestones in its sales process have win rates below 15%.  Companies that get their sales processes customized and optimized with predictive scorecards get their win rates up to near 80%!  If yours isn't that high, there's a good chance that sales process is at the top of the list of root causes. 

To get a better sense for what a sales process should look like, and how popular sales processes compare, check out this 11--minute video that I recorded four years ago.

Milestones are important.  One of your milestones should be to make your sales process as structured and predictive as your accounting, operations, manufacturing, programming, legal, shipping or engineering processes.  It is irresponsible for your sales process to not be as solid and well-thought out as each of your other processes. Sales success drives revenue and profit. Why would you allow the single process that drives revenue and profit to suffer from lack of professional attention. 

Sales is not some fluffy art-form that can be molded to the whims of each salesperson!  Sales is more like a software application where the science lies under the hood in its code and the art or personality is infused into the look, feel and easy-to-navigate user interface.  Sales science lies in the sales process and methodology and the art or personality is infused by the salesperson to have a friendly, easy and enticing conversation with the prospect.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales effectiveness, sales success, sales milestones, sales software

The Keys to Fourth Quarter Sales Success in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

You're probably going to hate this article!  I'm going to show you that much of what is transpiring with the Pandemic could be having a greater impact than you realize relative to the future state of your business and you might not like what I have to say.  As always, if you can hang in through some of the preliminary analysis, I'll make the pivot to sales and business.

Each day, the Boston Globe sends an update with metrics that the state of Massachusetts is monitoring with regard to the Pandemic.  The update for October 19, 2020, is shown below:

Notice that the death toll rose by 15. 

Also notice that under "Related" the link to the article warning about gloom and doom over the next 6-12 weeks.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer tweeted this out today:

Back in May, when Massachusetts began reopening, there were between 10-20 deaths per day, and 100-200 new cases per day.  Over the past 5 months, the number of new cases has risen by more than 100 each month to the 827 new cases reported today.  However, during this entire 5 month period, the daily death toll has not exceeded 10-20, the same as it was back in May.  See the two graphs in the next paragraph on media reporting.

Media Reporting - Unfortunately, most media outlets insist on reporting only the number of new cases, but don't tell you that hospitalizations are down  *dramatically*  and deaths have remained steady after dropping to their current low levels.  Check out the CDC's own graph on hospitalization rates between week 10 (early March) and week 40 (early October):

You are reading this graph correctly.  Even among those over 65, hospitalizations are down to just over 5% of those infected with Covid. 

This is the latest graph of US deaths from Covid.

That's right.  Cases way up.  Deaths way down.  You should also check out this data on death counts - click on the graph to see the entire graph.

You read this table correctly too.  The actual number of deaths did not significantly exceed the expected (normal) number of deaths.  Does this mean that the largely elderly population with comorbidity, who died, might have died anyway?

If deaths and hospitalization rates are so low, despite cases continuing to increase, why isn't the media sharing this great news? 

After all, we all want good news, we all want to be more optimistic, and we all want the economy to thrive.  What's going on? 

There can be only one answer.  The media wants to continue making President Trump the villain so that he does not win reelection.  If you don't agree with that explanation then please explain why the media never shared any of these graphs and tables with you.  Do you have a better explanation?

Impact on Business - The same media that is misleading you about the Pandemic is also telling us that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession in history, with more jobs lost than ever before, and it will become much worse.  Of course, that's not the case.  Unemployment is down to just 7.9% and that's with most of the travel, tourism and restaurant industries still shutdown or operating at very reduced capacity! 

I participated in a government survey on the impact the Pandemic had on my small business and last week they sent a link to view the results. You can see the results for yourself here but I can save you a tremendous amount of time.  I played around with the variables on the site, recorded my results and one thing became crystal clear.  When I didn't include states like California and Michigan, whose Governors are still trying to keep small businesses shuttered, and I didn't include the two NAIC codes from the industries that were devastated, the rest of us have fared pretty well through the past 7 months!  We're doing OK!  It's important for us to know this fact in order to drive home a fantastic 4th quarter to salvage 2020.

Metrics - The pandemic has called attention to the fact that on a daily basis we are surrounded by key metrics for COVID-19. I can't believe how many companies have still not identified the key metrics that will drive their sales results.  There are either no metrics, the metrics are irrelevant or the metrics are backwards looking.  It's 2020.  Forward looking metrics rule the day.  Get with the program!

Tools - I read this article about the best Chrome Extensions for sellers.  I don't want to criticize the article because it's an accurate list of great applications that you can start from within Chrome.  However, the last thing your salespeople need right now is more tools.  It's noise. A distraction.  Technology for the sake of technology.  There are basic tools that every salesperson should be equipped with and everything else is completely unnecessary.

We're trying to grow the economy all the way back and most of the information being pushed at us isn't helping. We've come a long way since March and we can make even more progress in the fourth quarter if we keep our eye on the ball and don't allow the fear-mongering, agenda-driven media to have their way, negatively influence the masses, and cause another slowdown or worse, shutdown.  Here's what the same Boston Globe sent out today, October 20, 2020.

In summary, Simplify.  Focus.  Metrics. Optimism. Hire Salespeople. Sell. Train. Drive. Fight. Engage.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales tools, revenue growth, covid-19, pandemic

The Crucial Step Missing from Most Sales Training Programs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

Most companies don't understand that crappy customer service is really a sales issue.  When a company's customer service is thoughtful, helpful, kind and thorough, that great customer service actually serves the sales organization.  It becomes easier for salespeople to renew accounts, cross-sell, up-sell and succeed.  When a company's customer service sucks, it has the opposite effect, creating objections, resistance, disdain and animosity.

As an example, I had such an experience with Safelite, whose website claims that they are the #1 auto glass specialist in the country.

I had a ding in my windshield and scheduled Safelite to come to my office to repair the windshield.  Easy!  In the middle of the repair, the technician called to let me know that the windshield had cracked to the bottom and that this happens sometimes with repair attempts.  Frustrating but Okay, so I needed to know, if my repair payment would be applied to a new windshield and how soon I can have that completed.  The technician was vague but he said not to worry - it would be taken care of.  I should have known from his vague response that he knew transitioning from a failed repair to a windshield replacement was not one of Safelite's strengths!

Over the next 24 hours, I didn't hear from Safelite so I reached out to customer service.  I left a voicemail, sent an email, and sent a text.  Nothing!  Frustrated, I looked at the other options for windshield replacement but there weren't any - Safelite had bought up all of the competitors!  I had no choice but to schedule the windshield replacement through Safelite so I did. 

By now the crack created by Safelite (that's one way of up-selling from a repair to a replacement) was quickly expanding in three directions. Time was of the essence but the first available slot was two weeks away but beggars can't be choosers so I booked it.  A week later, customer service finally responded to my email but their response had little to do with what I asked them.  I began receiving reminder emails and texts telling me to be on time at two weeks ahead, 1 week ahead, 2 days ahead, 1 day ahead, 12 hours ahead and 30 minutes ahead.  I pulled into their shop at the scheduled time, having blocked out the morning to get the repair completed.

I was greeted by a man who looked at the car (Lincoln Navigator) and then asked, "Are you the Lincoln Navigator?" 

Wow, that was an intelligent question but I digress.  "Yes."  

"We have a problem."

"What's that?"

"We don't have the windshield for your car."

I said, "You've been texting me non-stop to make sure I was here at 8am.  If you didn't have the glass, couldn't you have let me know last night?"

He replied defensively, "First, I haven't been texting you - that's done from Ohio.  I have nothing to do with that.  Second, the glass is delivered overnight so we wouldn't have known last night and yours wasn't delivered. I'm trying to find it now"

Did you notice how well he diffused the situation and lowered my resistance?  Not.  He basically said, "Hey, it's not my fault!"  How about, "I am so sorry."  Or,  "Wow, we really screwed up."  Or,  "You must be really upset."  Or, "I feel terrible - this was totally unfair to you."

I'll save you from the rest of his ugly conversation with me and fast forward to the call I received later that day.  Brooke was calling to reschedule and she offered me a date two weeks out.  I reminded her that I had scheduled this two weeks earlier - with her - and I didn't understand why they would need another two weeks to get my windshield, especially in light of what had happened earlier that day.  She said, "You probably didn't schedule it with me."

I said, "Yes, it was you, Brooke."

She said, "Well, that doesn't matter."

I was thinking that this arrogant, defensive, ass-covering attitude was part of the culture at Safelite.  I said, "I'm not going to schedule a date two weeks out and have this happen again.  Call me when you have the glass in your possession and then I'll schedule it."

I don't think Safelite has a sales organization or has to worry about up-selling or renewals.  They are the only game in town over much of the country.  Can you imagine what would happen if they actually had competition or had a sales organization worrying about how much business they would lose to those competitors with customer service as bad as theirs?  No wonder they gobbled up their competitors! 

There is a lesson here for those of us in the sales development space.  When we train, coach and develop salespeople, we must demand that customer service get the training and coaching required so as to not sabotage the great work we do with sales organizations.

[UPDATE 9-24 Guy S. from Safelite reached out to me today and made everything right, had my windshield in his possession, scheduled the replacement, apologized for the way this was handled and for how I was treated.  Thanks Guy!]

[UPDATE 9-27 Guy S. From Safelite called again and said the windshield was inspected and he offered to pick up my car, drive it to their shop, and return it to me when finished.  Thanks Guy!]

[UPDATE 9-29 All's well that ends well.  Guy S picked up my car at 8am, drove it to the Safelite shop, oversaw the windshield replacement and calibration, and returned the car to me a short time later.  This ended the fiasco that began a month earlier on a good note.  Guy, you're the best.  This is Guy with my car and new windshield.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, sales effectiveness, safelite

Why it is so Difficult to Compare Sales Effectiveness from One Salesperson to Another

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 @ 20:07 PM

Tvariables

Today we'll discuss how to measure sales effectiveness of different salespeople despite there being so many variables to confuse the matter.  You can scroll directly to that topic or, if you don't mind, please read my 3 paragraphs of context.

In 1990, I founded Objective Management Group (OMG), and now, thirty years later, we are on the verge of evaluating our two millionth salesperson.  When my leadership team planned for 2020, we predicted that we would reach the two million mark sometime in June. But then the pandemic hit, companies weren't assessing many sales candidates for most of March, April and May, so our celebration will likely be delayed until early August.

Whether we measure our success in units, currency, rows of data, experiences, visibility, or reams of paper used (pre pandemic), achieving two million sales assessments is quite an accomplishment.  On the other hand, if we compare it to where we had hoped to be at this point, (the BHAG we set in 2007 was 14 million) it was a failure of epic proportions.

But there is a more important part to this story than the number of salespeople assessed or whether that number is an achievement or a failure. How can we measure sales success on sales teams, across companies and, most importantly, in sales candidates?

To answer those questions, it's helpful to  know that we built the finest, sales-specific assessment on planet earth.  Our sales force evaluations are amazing and our sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments are incredibly accurate and predictive.  I'm extremely proud of what we built and how we continue to improve it every single day.  That's more important to me than whether or not we hit our BHAG. And that brings us to the question of how to measure sales effectiveness.  It's like the 2 million versus 14 million comparison only different.  

Let's review a few examples:

Compensation varies wildly by industry.  A top industrial salesperson earns close to $100,000 but a mediocre technology salesperson earns $135,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A mediocre regional territory salesperson might inherit a territory generating $15 million per year and watch it contract to $14 million per year while a salesperson building a new local territory might generate $750,000 his first year.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A salesperson makes one huge sale for $1 million while in the same company, one of her colleagues closes 14 sales totaling $650,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable? 

An account manager manages 87 accounts that generate $4 million while in the same company, a sales development rep makes 56 dials a day, books 5 new appointments per week, builds a pipeline worth $2 million and closes 2 new accounts per month.   Who is better?  Who is more valuable?  

We see these contradictions all the time when we evaluate sales forces.  The company judges performance and effectiveness by the amount of revenue next to the salesperson's name but that's only a measure of who is responsible for the most revenue.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a measure of who is the better salesperson, who is contributing most to growing the company, or who is having the most impact.

Let's review some differences that become important when you are recruiting salespeople.  Suppose that all of your candidates claimed to have been the #1 salesperson in their prior companies.  Being #1 has different meanings depending on whether they sold:

  • Snacks - to convenience store managers, grocery chain buyers or Walmart
  • Nuts and bolts - to manufacturing engineers, auto repair shops technicians, or Granger
  • Janitorial supplies -  to small retailer owners, property managers, or Microsoft's facilities VP
  • Windows - to homeowners, builders, lumber dealers or Home Depot
  • Furniture - to consumers, furniture store owners or the Marriott
  • Generators - to power an RV, an entire house, a grocery store or Mass General Hospital
  • Engines - to lawn mower manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers or GMC
  • Software - to a doctor's office, a clinic, a hospital or the Federal Government
  • Audit services - to the owner of a small professional firm, the president of a medium size company or the CFO of Apple

I could go on and on with examples like these where even the same product becomes a very different sale depending on who it's being sold to.  

Fortunately, OMG has a Sales Percentile score which is based on the combined weighted scores of 21 Sales Core Competencies before being compared to those two million other salespeople.  It's the single factor that neutralizes the differences between industries, competition, territories, pricing, complex and simple sales cycles, difficult (cold-calling) and easy (account management) roles, and targeted decision makers.  Sales Percentile allows you  to compare and/or rank sales capabilities!

This is useful when you're trying to rank sales candidates who come from varying backgrounds because let's face it - you're just guessing!  Sales Percentile is your answer.  In the sample sales candidate assessment below, this salesperson's sales percentile score of 100 means that this salesperson is better than 100% of the salespeople in the world!  And even with a 100, he still has a weakness!

dashboard

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales cycle, sales effectiveness, #1 salesperson, sales percentile

The Real Reason Why So Many Salespeople are So Bad at Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 08, 2020 @ 12:06 PM

construction

Would you like to start a business?  Can't figure out what business to start?  I have three ideas for you:

In the past four weeks, I have tried and tried and tried to get a glass company to replace the tabletop for a large outdoor patio table after the glass exploded in an early April storm.  Four weeks laster, we still don't have the glass replaced.

One of our garage door openers needs to be replaced because in every five out of six attempts to lower the door, the opener sends it back up again.  After calling six dealers in four weeks, I have not received a single return call. 

We have a double swinging gate at the bottom of our driveway and the electronics are twenty years old and need to be updated.  After four weeks of calling dealers I have not received a single return call.

In case you're thinking that it must be me, I have had success getting plumbers, stone masons, electricians, carpenters, power washers, and painters to the house but those other three categories are the outliers.  Start one of those three businesses today and you'll make a fortune!

In today's article, I will explain why this problem exists and how it relates to a bigger problem in sales.

The people who don't return calls are usually technical in nature.  The garage door openers, gate electronics, and glass people are all entrepreneurs running small businesses and their expertise is not sales or customer service, it's their technical subject matter expertise.  

By and large, "salespeople" like these make up a large portion of the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  They are passionate about what they do, know their product, can answer technical questions, are experts in their industry but don't have a clue about what it means to sell.  They believe that answering questions, explaining their products and producing a quote or proposal constitutes selling.  They have little concept of sales process, sales posturing, messaging, positioning, listening and asking questions, qualifying, or closing, and even less on how to do any of that effectively.  They don't know what they don't know.

A good example of this can be seen at Objective Management Group's (OMG) Statistics site.  Navigate to the site, click the "tell us what industry you are in" button, and expand Construction (23).  Select 238 or Specialty Contractors and then scroll through the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  You'll notice that the industry specific scores are consistently lower than the average scores for all salespeople.  Interestingly, the biggest gap is in the Hunting Competency where you will see that contractor salespeople score 18 points lower than the average for all salespeople.  The reality is that they do little hunting, getting their new business from existing customers and RFQ's.

The good news is that after senior management makes it clear that those in a selling role will be expected to proactively sell, rather than explaining and quoting alone, things do improve.  While some in the role are not well-suited for selling, with exposure to sales process, strategy, tactics and methodology, most will improve, become more comfortable, and more effective.  After an evaluation, introduction to the company's new formal sales process, and appropriate sales training, most of these people become more comfortable, more aware, and as a result, more effective.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales effectiveness

What is the Sales Stack and Do You Need it?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:10 PM

sales-stack-1

You bought a really nice, new, laptop computer and you thought to yourself, "Now I'm all set!"  But are you?  You needed a case to carry it around, a thumb drive for quickly moving files from your laptop to another, and a printer and if you have a Mac notebook, a port that will serve as adapters to your various cables.  These are your accessories.

You'll also need cloud storage, a broadband connection, email, a browser and 20 or so software applications so your computer can help you do the things you purchased it to do.  This is your technology stack.

But now there is a sales stack too.  What is the sales stack, and should you have one for your salespeople?

The sales stack consists of CRM, gamification, lead engagement, pricing and configuration, proposal generation, e-signature, content sharing, video conferencing, video production, video server, broadcast email, social selling tools, calendar scheduling, sales compensation, and more.  These tools, along with sales and sales management training and coaching, keep sales enablement folks busy.

And therein lies the problem.

You don't need all of these tools!  They are a distraction.  They create busy work.  They take time to learn and integrate.  Very few of them actually help you sell.  But you are told by the people that develop them that you must have these tools.  And you are told by sales enablement folks that you will be getting these tools.  After all, if you are the VP of sales enablement and you don't keep the flow of tools, applications, integration, training and implementation of these tools coming, there isn't much of a need for you to be there.  In order to justify your existence, you "keep 'em coming!"  Sales Enablement is the sales stack's best friend.

The question is, if we didn't have a sales enablement function, how many of these tools would we acquire based on the following criteria?

  • They help salespeople follow their sales process
  • They help salespeople stay organized in their efforts to close business
  • They provide sales leadership with important, realtime data
  • They provide insight and visualization into the sales pipeline
  • They give salespeople more time to sell and less time doing paperwork
  • They make salespeople more efficient

You would have CRM, but it probably wouldn't be Salesforce.com.  If you have a complex sale or a 1 month or longer sales cycle I would advise you to choose Membrain.

You would have an e-signature application to streamline getting your agreements signed.  I like AdobeSign.

If your salespeople aren't in the field or in a territory you would probably have video conferencing.  I like Zoom.

To avoid sending emails back and forth you would have a calendar scheduling application.  I like Youcanbook.me

If you run a company or lead the sales organization, those 4 tools would help your salespeople be more efficient, more effective and more focused.  Add anything else to that "stack" and you are taking away efficiency and effectiveness.

The stack won't sell for you.  The stack won't make your salespeople better.  You don't want the stack for the sake of having the stack.

That's my story and I'm "stacking" to it.  Leave your comments in the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, crm, sales effectiveness, sales stack

How Big of a Role Does Age Play in Sales Effectiveness?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

young-v-old-image

I'll be 64 in November which means that just like everyone else, I'm getting older. 

There are certain things that younger people do that change when they get older.  For example, younger adults :

  • go to bars and night clubs but tend to choose dinners out or nights at home binge watching TV when they become more mature
  • go to concerts but tend to choose movies when they get older
  • backpack across the US or Europe but tend to choose cruises as they age
  • want freedom at work but are more open to structure and accountability when they become more mature
  • focus on themselves but tend to focus on their children and then their grandchildren when they become older

The same applies to salespeople.  Young salespeople (0-2 years experience) tend to wing it, while older salespeople (20 or more years experience) tend to be more skilled and structured.  Want proof?  Let's dig into the data.

young-v-old

On average, older salespeople are 105% more likely to be strong and effective than young salespeople.

But let's dig even deeper.  The biggest differentiator between younger and older salespeople is the Qualifier competency.  Older salespeople know that if they don't qualify, they may be wasting their time, while younger salespeople are so thankful for the interest, they might skip qualifying altogether.  Look at the specific attributes of the Qualifier competency below. 

young-v-old-qualifier-1

Notice that as we keep digging, one finding stands out as a difference maker and in the case of the Qualifier competency, it's self-limiting beliefs where older salespeople are 213% more likely to have supportive beliefs around qualifying than their younger counterparts.

If we dig in on self-limiting beliefs, we'll find that two self-limiting beliefs that stand out:

  • It's not polite to talk about people's money
  • I need my prospects to like me.

Those two self-limiting beliefs alone show that older salespeople are  on average 55% more effective than younger salespeople.  I wrote much more about self-limiting beliefs last month in this article.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies that Objective Management Group measures.  You can see them here and learn how you compare.

It's not surprising to find that old salespeople are more effective than young salespeople but it is very surprising to learn that the biggest differentiators are not skill related. They are Self-Limiting Beliefs which are part of Sales DNA.  If you look at the attributes that make up the Qualifier competency, you'll see that there isn't much difference between young and old salespeople on the skill-related attributes where young and old suck equally:

  • Meets with Decision Maker
  • Uncovers Actual Budget
  • Knows the Decision making process
  • Knows the Decision making criteria
  • Asks about Everything

On average, there is only an 8% difference between old and young on the 5 skill-related attributes.  That doesn't say much for the older salespeople who simply didn't improve over their 20 plus years in sales.

Would you like to comment?  Leave it on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales qualification, sales effectiveness, age difference

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 @ 17:08 PM

sales-team

We all see the effects that strong leaders have when they surround themselves with either strong, mediocre or weak people.  What happens when strong leaders inherit a mixed team?  What happens when they hire a mixed team?  What happens when we ask the same questions about weak leaders?

I dug into a subset of data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of the salespeople who report to more than 15,000 sales managers to determine whether the best sales managers actually have the best salespeople.  I was surprised and disappointed by what I found.  Check this out!

In the first table, you'll notice that salespeople reporting to elite sales managers are 14% stronger overall than those who report to weak sales managers.  That's good, but why isn't there a larger gap?  I'll answer that question shortly.

mgrs-to-sp-comparison

The second table clearly shows that strong sales managers have 25% more elite and strong salespeople reporting to them than elite sales managers. How can that be explained? And the relatively small gap from the first table?

mgrs-w-elite-spI have a simple explanation that you may or may not agree with.  Elite sales managers have so much confidence in their abilities, that they refuse to give up on mediocre salespeople.  They believe that given enough time they can coach everyone up.  Along the same line of thinking, elite sales managers also tend to believe that they don't have to hire A players because as long as the salespeople they select have a great personality and industry knowledge, they believe they can train and coach them to become strong performers. Because of that, elite sales managers tend to take shortcuts at hiring time as evidenced by their lower scores for recruiting.  Without a doubt, they should be using an accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessment like OMG's award-winning tool.

While the best sales managers do tend to have better salespeople, the contrast is not nearly as sharp as most of us would expect it to be, but explains why leaders don't understand when strong sales manager's teams are not significantly more effective than weak sales manager's teams.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales performance, hunting, sales effectiveness, objective management group

How Salespeople Must Run Stop Signs and Red Lights - Legally

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 05, 2017 @ 09:09 AM

selftalk.jpg
Image Copyright iStock Photos

There is one simple thing you can do each day that will dramatically improve your sales effectiveness.

But you don't think it's possible to do what the title says, do you?

Well, it is not only possible, it's crucial - and not only that you do it, but that you do it often and start doing it today.

Okay, so maybe I'm not talking about driving a car.  Maybe the stop signs and red lights I'm talking about are in your head.  But that doesn't make them any less real.  As a matter of fact, you probably stop at more signs each day because of what you think, than you ever encounter when you're behind the wheel.

I'll explain.

About five weeks ago my wife and I watched a movie called What the Health.  The movie scared her into becoming Vegan and convinced me to try it too.  The thought of me and a plant based diet was terrifying!  But I agreed to do it for two weeks and for those two weeks I pushed through.  It wasn't awful but I simply didn't enjoy a lot of the food I was eating.  That was one part.  The other part is that I lost 10 pounds, I had more energy and I felt better.

In other words, I ignored all of the self-limiting talk in my head:

  • It's gonna taste like crap.
  • I'll gag.
  • I won't be able to eat it.
  • I'll throw up.
  • I'll hate it.
  • I won't be able to do it for more than one meal.
  • I won't be getting any real nutrition.
  • Real men don't live on plants.
  • I can't live without ice cream!
  • I should be able to eat organic or grass fed - this isn't fair.

Yes, I ignored all of the stop signs and red lights and good things happened!

It is exactly the same in sales.

If you would simply ignore all of the self-limiting talk in your head:

  • They won't answer the phone
  • They won't want to speak with me
  • They'll be upset if I interrupt
  • I can't ask too many questions
  • I can't push back
  • I have to talk about the company and the product
  • I must provide a quote or proposal
  • I need them to like me
  • It's OK if they think it over
  • I need to sound like I know what I'm talking about
  • It's OK if they talk with my competitors
  • I need to have the best price in order to win the busine
  • I can't call on the final decision maker
  • I need to begin with purchasing

Of course that isn't the complete list - there are 50 more like that - but you get the point.  What would happen if you ignored all of the self-limiting noise in your head and pushed through like I did with food? 

Good things would happen.

Would that be so bad?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales excellence, self-limiting sales beliefs, sales effectiveness

How Executives Fail to Understand the Reasons for Poor Sales and Revenue Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 @ 09:08 AM

transformers.jpg

"That wasn't what I expected!"  

You might say that after reading an awesome book, waiting for months and years in anticipation of the movie version, only to be extremely disappointed when the much hyped film failed to live up to what you remembered feeling when turning the pages.

You might also feel let down after leaving a great, but expensive restaurant, but the meal, service or ambiance was quite different from what you had imagined when you heard about the business.

And from experience, I can tell you that once in a blue moon, after we evaluate a sales force and present our findings, a rare CEO can become defensive and react poorly to the results.  When it happens, it's usually a sign that the CEO is out of touch with the sales force.  I'll share some of the things to which they sometimes react badly:

The top 5 findings that a CEO might react poorly to are:

  1. An executive sales leader appears to be weak on OMG's Sales Leadership Evaluation.  The CEO might say, "Well, the only reason we landed that multi-million dollar contract with that billion dollar company is because of Bob.  He sold it himself.  So how do you explain that?" 

    The CEO didn't recognize that the company took a great major account salesperson, place him in the Sales VP role, and instead of leading the sales force and functioning as a Sales VP should, he still wants to be the rainmaker and the star of the show. That definitely makes him a weak Sales VP!

  2. The entire sales team is weak.  The CEO might say, "Then how do you explain our double digit growth over the last 5 years?"  

    The CEO doesn't recognize that the company's success has more to do with great marketing and desirable products than the salespeople who represent them because their salespeople just plain suck!  This is an example of Mediocrity winning out over excellence. If the company grew at double digit rates with this group, then they would be growing by leaps and bounds with stronger salespeople!  

  3. The salespeople have issues around the Will to Sell.  Many of the salespeople lack the kind of commitment to sales success that is required to get to the next level.  The CEO might say, "I can't understand how that can possibly be and I certainly don't know how to fix it."  

    The problem is that the company was hiring the wrong salespeople, focusing on technical skills instead of sales core competencies and in doing so, created a culture of complacency.

  4. With the proper training and coaching, the existing sales force can generate 75% more revenue but it will take 24 months.  The CEO might say, "That's a considerable increase.  I don't believe that's possible.  Why is it so large and why will it take so long?"  

    The problem is that the existing sales force is so weak that they are leaving letting large numbers of opportunities slip through their fingers without any ability to capture it.  It will take 24 months because the gaps are so wide and deep and there is a lengthy sales cycle.

  5. Some of the top account managers evaluated as weak salespeople.  The CEO might say, "They are the top 3 salespeople so they can't be that weak!"  

    The problem is that those 3 account managers manage more revenue than anyone else and they're extremely important to your success.  However, they aren't your top 3 salespeople and we can prove it.  If you took their existing accounts away - which they probably inherited and didn't close themselves -  and asked them to build a pipeline, close some new accounts and generate new business, they would fail in dramatic fashion.

Our eyes can be wide open yet still fail to see what we don't want to see.  When expectations aren't met it causes the three D's - discomfort, disappointment and disaster.  Sometimes you can't see the reality of your own sales force until you have the actual data and use it to look at your people, systems, processes and strategies through a different lens.  Companies that fight the data don't change.  Companies that are afraid of the data remain clueless.  And companies that embrace the data grow by leaps and bounds.

The sales force evaluation is the most important and powerful thing you can implement at your company.  It leads to better decisions, changes based on science instead of hunches, and improvements based on necessity instead of opportunity.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales effectiveness, Drive Revenue

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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 eight 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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