Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 01, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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Would you believe me if I told you that in a recent sales force evaluation, nearly 50% of the 300 inside salespeople were not in the right role?  Recently, we evaluated a large inside sales force and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the more unusual findings that were responsible for this sales team's inability to achieve the revenue goals that the company expected from them.It isn't uncommon to learn that salespeople are not in a role for which they are best suited, although it isn't as easy to determine in sales forces when there may be only one role - like territory sales.  On the other hand, when we evaluate a company with multiple selling roles, our analysis will identify the best role for each salesperson and, as I mentioned at the outset, most on this sales force were not in the right selling role!

This particular sales force was interesting in other ways too. 100% had strong Outlook (we never see that even in much smaller teams), 92% were Coachable and 82% had strong Desire.   As good as that sounds - and it is very good for a large sales force - 47% lacked Strong Commitment. I wrote an award-winning article about the difference between Desire and Commitment here.

Understanding the huge difference between their Desire and Commitment levels, it should not surprise you that the sales managers mirrored the salespeople with their Desire and Commitment scores.  You won't have any difficulty determining whose teams had most of the salespeople that lacked Commitment.

A big part of almost any inside sales role would require finding new customers and that was true with this company.  I'm going to share one of the most interesting findings from the evaluation. It is symptomatic of the Commitment problem and is one of the reasons as to why so few of their salespeople were in the right role.  In the image below, you'll see that there was a near-even distribution of the four groups into which we categorize salespeople when it comes to finding new business.  And in case you aren't sure, even distribution in this area is not good.

inside-sales-hunting.jpg

  • 21% will hunt for new business without being asked.
  • 30% would hunt for new business if their sales managers held them accountable.
  • 24% will follow up on a lead, but won't engage in proactive hunting.
  • 24% will not hunt, no matter what, ever.

Training and coaching will not change those percentages, but will improve the skills of the 51% that do or would hunt.  The percentages are reflective of their Sales DNA which, in this case, does not support hunting activities.  48% of them lack the Sales DNA which supports hunting for new business!  That explains a lot, doesn't it?  

This company had a well-known value proposition - you've undoubtedly heard it - but they recently changed it.  The image below shows that their salespeople  were generally not using either the old or the new value proposition in their selling!

inside-sales-value-prop.jpgI know we haven't mentioned a single sales competency or selling skill, but suffice to say that this sales force was extremely weak in the area of skills.  So weak, it isn't even worth sharing the scores for competencies like Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Posturing, Account Management, Sales Process, Relationship Building, CRM Savvy, Social Selling, etc.  Instead, let's look at one of the findings that explains why this group was not improving.  In the image below, you'll see that Excuse Makers outnumbered those who take responsibility and the sales managers were even worse than the salespeople.  I'm sure you can guess whose teams most of the excuse makers were on...

inside-excuses.jpg

Here is a link to a very short article and video where I explain the huge impact of excuse making.

I'll share one more of the many interesting findings from this evaluation.  Notice from the image below that despite the fact that this company positions itself as providing value, most of the salespeople are not comfortable with their pricing.  The majority believe that they must have the lowest prices in order to succeed.  The sales force is out of alignment with the company's value proposition!!  Here is a great article that describes how quoting prices undermines selling value.inside-pricing.jpg

These examples are just 5 out of dozens of interesting findings that we shared with their executives.  Without learning about these issues, they would have continued going down the wrong path and expanded the sales team's general ineffectiveness.  Read about the impact of scaling sucky sales.  

What about your sales force?  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles?  Are your salespeople actually capable of executing your plan?  Can they provide the growth that you need them to achieve?  There are two ways to find out.  The first is to wait 12 more months and measure results against expectations. How has that worked out in the past?

The second way is to evaluate your sales force and learn how their capabilities align with your goals, expectations and timeline to discover what, if anything, needs to change.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Force, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, new business, OMG Assessment

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 06, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

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I could not believe my eyes when I read this report.  It was during the break between Christmas and New Years, so perhaps I wasn't as sharp as would be during a regular business day.  Maybe I missed something.  So I reread the report and the words amazed me even further.  The report claimed that salespeople don't improve their skills as a result of sales training.  Really?  Let's take a look.Here's the link to the article at KD Nuggets.

The goal of the report is to sell us on the power of talent analytics - being able to predict pre-hire whether the candidate will be a top performer - or not.  I'm all for that.  That's one of the things that Objective Management Group (OMG) does so well, so I am invested in a good report that supports our business.  But there are so many holes in this report that moths wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for more than a day.

The report is based on two studies; more specifically, the outcomes of training programs at two companies.  At one, the salespeople were actually underwriters - so they weren't really salespeople as much as they were the point of contact for agency salespeople.  Think customer service whose job is to find a way to say, "Maybe."  The second sold internet service to consumers.  So neither company sought or hired B2B salespeople.  After the author established who was studied, the report talks only about the underwriters.  So let's focus first on the underwriters and what the report doesn't tell us:

  • Did the underwriters have sales managers?  My guess is no.
  • Were the sales managers providing sales coaching? Ditto.
  • Who provided the training?  Was it an outside company or employees?
  • What were they trained on?  Was the content relevant to their roles?
  • How long were they trained and how frequently?
  • Was the trainer any good?  I would guess not.
  • Were the underwriters trainable and/or coachable?  
  • Did the trainers understand where Sales DNA would interfere with execution of skills?  I know they didn't.

The author states that the only thing you can do with underperformers, once they have been hired, is to devote resources to making them average.  Really?  If a company doesn't purposely hire an underperformer, don't they still have the option to terminate?

The second graph is quite dramatic at the 12-year point, when you learn that they only had 5 years worth of data and the last 7 years are "hypothetical" with assumed "linear growth."

I've been in the sales development business for more than 30 years and I can tell you this.  Training results differ from salesperson to salesperson, from company to company, from industry to industry, and from marketplace to marketplace. The single biggest variable on whether training will be successful is leadership commitment.  When a CEO, President or other senior authority is visibly driving the initiative, the results will be dramatically better than when that commitment is not visible to the salespeople being trained.  The second biggest variable is whether the participants are trainable and coachable.  The third is that sales managers must be trained and coached to do two things consistently and effectively prior to training the salespeople.  They must be able to coach the salespeople to the content; and they must be able to hold the salespeople accountable for applying what they learned. The capability of the trainer and the content itself come in at fourth and fifth.

We were not told how these variables impacted the training of the underwriters in the report.

Can training fail?  Of course.  Does it fail regularly?  Yes.  However, from personal experience, it is a rarity when properly designed and executed professional sales training fails.  The first step should be an OMG sales force evaluation which, in addition to answering 19 important business questions, shows who we are working with, whether or not they are trainable, and the specific nature of their skill and Sales DNA gaps. Then, when one of OMG's 150 partners provides the training - the right way - it is very rare for training to fail.

The reality is that the report we looked at was not really a study at all. I believe that it was a lame attempt to make a case for talent analytics.  And they are completely right.  When you get sales selection right, most of these issues simply go away.

For the fifth consecutive year, OMG was named the Top Sales Assessment Tool on the planet by TopSalesAwards.  Our predictive accuracy is legendary.  You can check it out here.  And be sure to read this short article on LinkedIn Pulse on the key Difference Between Sales Winners and Everyone Else.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales talent, sales assessments

Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

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Yesterday, I noticed a large, furry, dead bug on the hood of my car. It seemed to be attached to the outer lip of the hood - like the edge of a cliff - right where the hood drops down to the grill. I got out of the car to remove the chunk of dead fur and I was shocked to see how wrong I was. It was dead all right, and it was furry. I'm not a tall person, so I wasn't sitting high enough in the car to notice the distance between the bug and the lip of the hood, but my estimate was off by more than 2 feet! What I thought I saw was completely different from reality.

When salespeople don't call high enough into a company, they experience the exact same thing. What they believe they are seeing and hearing is quite different from what they would see and hear if they were higher up, talking with an executive that can communicate the entire story, rather than the partial view and limited information they get from a middle manager. This is Vertical Reach.

One area where vertical reach has a huge impact is selling value. I wrote a very important article on the role that emotions play in selling value for the Selling Power site last week.  

The ability to truly sell value is one of the competencies that elite salespeople have, but ineffective salespeople don't.  I have data from the nearly 1,000,000 salespeople and sales managers that have been evaluated or assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). Regular readers have read about the elite 6% and the bottom 74%, but today I want to provide some additional eye-opening statistics that differentiate the very good from the not-so-good salespeople. What makes them different?

That's the question that most behavioral scientists and personality assessments don't answer. They usually find traits, styles or qualities that are common among top performers, while failing to realize that bottom performers have those exact same qualities - qualities that brought them into sales in the first place. They don't see that the bug is 2 feet short of the lip.

OMG clearly differentiates the top performers - the studs - from the bottom performers - the duds. Not only are there findings that differentiate top sales performers from those at the bottom, but some of those findings tend to vary by company, industry and selling role.

For example, in one company, top inside sales performers had sales DNA scores of better than 65, while their bottom performers had Sales DNA scores of below 57; top performers had Sales Posturing scores of over 45, while bottom performers all scored below 37; and top performers had qualifying scores of over 60, while bottoms all scored below 50.  Tops had Figure it Out Factor scores of over 75, while bottoms scored below 63; and compatibility scores were over 72 for tops and under 68 for bottoms. These are just a small sampling of the differences.

In another company, top outside sales performers had scores above 78 for being able to stay in the moment, while bottoms were under 67; tops didn't need people to like them, all scoring over 75, while bottoms scored below 62; tops had scores above 83 for Desire for success in sales, while bottoms had scores below 75;  tops had Sales DNA over 63 and bottoms were below 49; tops had closer skills over 33, while bottoms had scores under 22; tops had account management skills of better than 50, while bottoms had scores under 40. Again, these differences are just a small sampling.  

Those two examples are consistent with the variations we find in every sales force evaluation and very useful when it comes to identifying new sales candidates who will succeed in a specific role at their specific company.  And in case you don't think the differences in scores are significant, consider the difference between a baseball player with a batting average of .300 versus one who hits .270.  The .300 hitter is a perennial all-star while the .270 hitter is rarely known outside of his home market.

Returning to the bug on the hood, there is a much larger difference than what you might see with your own eyes when comparing the elite 6% and the bottom 6%.  For instance:

  • 93% of the elite have strong commitment to sales success compared with only 33% of the bottom.
  • 94% of the elite take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses compared with only 20% of the bottom.
  • 78% of the elite don't need their prospects to like them compared to only 6% of the bottom.
  • 98% of the elite are very comfortable talking about finances compared to only 2% of the bottom.
  • 79% of the elite have supportive sales beliefs compared to none at the bottom.
  • 76% of the elite have supportive buying behaviors compared to 8% of the bottom.
  • 95% of the elite are rejection proof compared to 18% of the bottom.
  • 77% of the elite have most of the attributes of a hunter compared with only 31% of the bottom.
  • 100% of the elite have strong desire for sales success compared with none at the bottom.

As you might suspect, there are dozens of additional differences. For example, elite salespeople have, on average, more than 80% of all possible good Sales DNA, while those at the bottom have less than 55%. [Click toTweet] The impact of those 25 points is HUGE! It's the difference between executing a sales process and methodology versus having only the ability to talk about it.

There are many great reasons to evaluate a sales force. Being able to accurately predict which new sales candidates will succeed at your company is only one of them. One of the best reasons to evaluate is to learn which underachievers can become A players, what it will take, how long it will take, and how much improvement you can expect. Of course, you would also learn which underachievers will never get any better than they are today and why.

Today, we sell in very different times than a few years ago. A sales force evaluation helps us understand which of your salespeople have adapted - who is truly selling value instead of price and who can learn? Who is truly taking a consultative approach and who can learn? Whether the sales force has what it takes to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate and why? These are just a handful of popular reasons to evaluate the sales force today. Interested in getting some of your pressing business questions answered? 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, top sales performer

Can the Worst Salespeople be Saved?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

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Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

Recently, I was asked to explain what a company can do with the bottom 74% that I write about so frequently.  It's a great question...and I will share several examples...Depending on the size of your sales force, the relative effectiveness of your sales coaching, the degree to which you embrace sales best practices, and your track record at selecting and hiring only A players, your sales force might not have a top 6%, next 20% and bottom 74%.  Nope.  It could be better - or worse.  Your sales force might have salespeople that are all in the top 26% or all of your salespeople might belong to the bottom 74%.  What's interesting is how that plays out.

For example, let's look at a business where the sale is fairly easy, like providing snack food to convenience stores, where salespeople in the bottom 74% can get that job accomplished without a problem.  Take another business, where the salesperson must sell a 7-figure consulting deal, to the C-Suite, against formidable competition, with a sales cycle that could take 12 months or more, and a salesperson from the top 26% probably won't be good enough.  For this scenario, a person will need to come from the top 6%!

With that as a foundation, let's take a deeper look at the bottom 74%.  First, there are two things we need to acknowledge:

  1. You probably don't know if any of your salespeople are in the bottom 74% unless you have had your sales force evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).  The only accurate observation that you can make without our data is that they are either performing or not performing at your company.  You can guess that the performers are in the top 26% and the non-performers are in the bottom 74%, but both guesses might be very wrong.
  2. You absolutely need to know if your non-performers can be saved.

With that said, let's pretend that you do have some salespeople from the bottom 74% who aren't performing, and that isn't acceptable to you.

Focusing on the data representing the bottom 74% of the  salespeople that we evaluated and studied, it shows that 14% of this group should not be in sales at all.  30% of this group are not trainable, can't be saved and won't ever change - no matter what you do.  Take a look at this sample slide below, which has an analysis of one company's non-performing salespeople and you'll see that in this particular company, 70% of the underperforming salespeople can't be saved, while 1 (green check) and perhaps 2 others (yellow flags) are savable.

 savable

There is good news though.  Statistically, 56% of the bottom 74% can be saved under the following circumstances.  The company must have:

  • The luxury of time
  • Energy to spare
  • Desire to see these people succeed
  • Patience to wait for it
  • Effective sales coaching
  • Financial resources to wait for them to become productive and to pay for their training, coaching and development. 
Plan for it to take around 18-24 months of training and coaching to help these ineffective salespeople become productive.  In comparison, salespeople in the top 26% can improve on their existing skills and strong performance in as little as 4-8 months of the right training and coaching.


Sometimes, talking about the bottom 74% makes the state of sales seem a lot worse than it is.  If improved performance is one of the things that you need to achieve, it's entirely possible with salespeople in the bottom 74%.  You simply need the data to make a good decision.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation by clicking the image below.

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales under achievement, salespeople that don't sell,

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

Every Mac owner knows about the dreaded beach ball of death.  For those who have never experienced the Mac equivalent of a computer crash, a beach ball that won't stop spinning appears on the screen and when it's more than a simple application crash, the death reference implies impending doom to the Mac itself.  This is what it looks like:

spinning-beach-ball

During the summer, beach balls can also be seen floating among fans in the center field bleachers at Fenway Park. This is especially true when the Red Sox are losing or playing a particularly boring game.  Death quickly comes to those beach balls when players, security guards or grounds crew stab the beach balls with a bullpen rake!

floating-beach-ball

And then there is the beach ball I want to share today - the sales beach ball of impending doom.  You might be wondering how there could even be a sales beach ball, never mind one that spells impending doom; but, there is.

Last week I saw it for the first time on a slide from a deck that Objective Management Group (OMG) prepares when we evaluate a sales force.  This particular slide answered the question, "Why Aren't We Generating More New Business?"

Here's the slide:

slide-new-business-w-beach-ball
Do you see the beach ball at the bottom in the center of the slide?  If it was all green, that would mean that the salespeople would be capable of finding new business and building a better pipeline.  But it is far from being all green.  There is a lot of red and coral, suggesting that there is an even bigger problem than anything that a change in behavior, strategy or tactics might solve.  Let's take a closer look at that beach ball and the legend that accompanies it:

slide-sales-beach-ball-of-doomThat big red area tells us that 33% of their salespeople are classified as People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects (PETP).  Like their friends at PETA, who protect animals, the members of this group have a strain in their Sales DNA that prevents them from hunting prospects for new business.  In addition, the coral area tells us that 17% are fishermen.  They won't hunt either, but if a prospect bites, they'll reel in the opportunity.  The most a company could hope for is that the coral group of salespeople will follow up on leads.  The light green is represented by another 33% who will prospect if only a sales manager would hold them accountable.  But if you scroll up and look at the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see that sales management's ability to hold their salespeople accountable also falls into the red.  When all is said and done with this question about finding new business, only 17% of their salespeople will voluntarily go out on hunting expeditions. 

As presently constituted, their ability to find new business is extremely limited - a sales growth beach ball of impending doom.

This slide represented only one of more than two-dozen difficult business questions that we answer where we use science to explain why companies get the results they get, whether or not the sales force is capable of improving their results, and to what degree those results can be improved.  Are you interested in learning more about a sales force evaluation?

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales growth, sales prospecting, objective management group, revenue growth, OMG Assessment

Super Bowl 49: Salespeople That Win vs Lose

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 06:02 AM

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We just watched the Patriots and the SeaHawks battle it out in Super Bowl 49.  Just 8 minutes into the game, it was obvious that second efforts would be the rule of the day.  Then, with less than two minutes left to play, we witnessed THE CATCH - requiring a fourth or perhaps even a fifth effort - that put the SeaHawks in a position to win.  It wasn't meant to be, as the Patriots came up big on defense with a key interception to earn the victory.

As I write this, we're expecting yet another 12-18 inches of snow, on top of last week's blizzard.  Tomorrow, in the thick of the storm, I'll be training Objective Management Group's (OMG) 30 newest partners.  Many of them are struggling to reach Boston because the same storm that is bearing down on us is wreaking havoc across the Midwest today.  But one by one, they are getting here.  Second efforts.  And on our end, we needed to make a number of alternate arrangements to get everyone here safely.  Second efforts, and more.  Which brings us to selling.  How many salespeople do you think make appropriate second efforts?  

I'm not talking about when salespeople are pestering prospects who have no interest.  I'm talking about when salespeople are told they lost; or the article from a couple of weeks ago when a salesperson closed the deal and then lost it when the prospect had a change of mind.

OMG has a lot of statistics on second efforts.  All of the elite 6% and many of the next 20% are able to make a second effort.  But the majority of the bottom 74% can't.  And it's not for a lack of skills, it's because of their Sales DNA.  There are several strands of Sales DNA that make it next to impossible for most salespeople to step up, push back and take control of their destiny:

  • 54% of Salespeople have Need for Approval - A salesperson's need to be liked prevents them from asking a lot of questions beyond a no, and especially tough questions or challenging their prospect.
  • 86% of Salespeople are Too Trusting - A salesperson who is too trusting will accept at face value what their prospect says and when they hear it's a "no", they accept that and won't consider a need to push back.
  • 72% of Salespeople Have Difficulty Recovering from Rejection - Salespeople who struggle to overcome being rejected are typically in no kind of shape to quickly bounce back and make a second effort.
  • 18% of Salespeople Lack Commitment - It takes tremendous commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed in sales.  Salespeople who possess only conditional commitment -  the salesperson agrees with what must be done, it's not too difficult, and it's not too scary - will totally bail out after a "no".  It's too difficult for them to overcome.
  • 84% of Salespeople have Self-Limiting Beliefs - When salespeople are told, "No" and they believe that it's "Not polite to push back," that belief will stop most salespeople in their tracks.

When I was a young salesperson in the 1970's, the very first professional sales training video (actually film back then) that I watched starred the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.  The topic?  Second Efforts.  Tonight I found a 1:15 second clip from that timeless video on YouTube.

Second Efforts can be the difference between a loss and a win.  Would you like to know which of your salespeople are capable second efforts?  It's part of a sales force evaluation from OMG!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales weaknesses, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, second efforts, vince lombardi, green bay packers

Fix Your Mediocre Pipeline for Accurate Sales Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 13:01 PM

Most salespeople don't pay too much attention to this.  Even though we perform a pipeline analysis and restage the pipeline with every individual sales evaluation and comprehensive sales force evaluation we conduct, we typically discuss this exclusively at the executive level.  So imagine my surprise when a salesperson sent along his lessons learned from a session on closing deals and included this...

He said, "I went back to your evaluation to see exactly how you restaged my pipeline...You said the quality of my pipeline opportunities was:
U-Toronto - Medium 
Mt. Sinai - High
New York Genome - Medium 
Columbia - Low

If this is how your method determined the order - then it was spot on...On both the low and high ends. Columbia has fallen completely off the radar while Mt. Sinai has progressed to the proposal and closable stage.  U-Toronto and NY Genome are still progressing forward slowly - with additional presentations required and much more qualifying work needed by me. 
I staged the pipeline today and:
Columbia is a only a suspect
U-Toronto is a prospect  
New York Genome is qualified and
Mt. Sinai is closable" 
So what exactly took place?  Two months ago, this salesperson answered 19 questions about each of 4 late stage opportunities that were - and this is the key - considered to be proposal ready and closable.  After we analyzed the data, we rated the quality of those 4 opportunities as you saw above, and then restaged them as you can see below.  Keep in mind that if they were truly late stage - proposal ready and closable - his pipeline would have looked like an umbrella stand base:
pipeline1-1
However, based on what we learned from our analysis of his answers, instead of his pipeline looking like an umbrella stand base, it looked more like a top!  The image below is what his supposedly late stage pipeline really should have looked like:
pipeline2-2
Obviously, that's quite a difference!
The ability to place your opportunities in the proper stage of the pipeline is the key to a predictive pipeline and accurate forecast.  Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power Magazine recently interviewed me about this very topic and you can watch the 5-minute video right here.
"Is your pipeline a reliable predictor of future revenue?" is just one of 19 important questions we answer when we evaluate a sales force.  And while it's quite helpful to see the actual quality and restaging of your pipeline, the additional 18 questions/answers/insights are usually even more important to most clients.  You can learn more about a sales force evaluation by clicking the image below.
evals .

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales pipeline, sales assessments, objective management group, sales forecast

Leading a Sales Force is Even More Like Baseball

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

baseball

I miss baseball already.  Although I can't watch it right now, I still think about it.  I look forward to next season when, together with my wife, we'll watch our son strike out other kids, hit lots of home runs, and improve his baseball skills while playing close to 100 games!  I don't look forward to the seats...  

I've written plenty about the similarity betwen baseball and selling, but today I'm writing about the similarity between baseball and sales leadership.  If you're not a baseball person, you might not see the same things that I see, most of which can be applied to leading a sales force.  For example,

there are five levels of professional baseball:  a short season A team, a full-season A team, and then, as the player becomes adjusted and ready for the two higher levels in the minor leagues; AA and AAA.  Then, if and when he's good enough, he'll be promoted to the Majors.  

Most people can see the differences in the caliber of play when comparing a Little League game to a high school game, or a college game to a professional game.  Most people aren't able to recognize the differences between each of the 5 professional levels.  They may be watching a minor league game, but it sure looks like professional baseball to them - without the 35,000 people in the stands rooting for their team.  Pitchers make the pitches, hitters hit the ball, run the bases, and everyone make the plays.  It is professional baseball, but in the minor leagues, pitchers don't command their secondary pitches.  While they already have a major league-ready fast ball, they have not yet mastered the ability to throw their curve ball, change up or slider to the exact spot it needs to go.  Hitters in the minor leagues are able to hit a fastball with authority, but may not be  able to recognize, adjust to, and hammer breaking pitches.

The exact same difference exists between sales experts like me and sales leaders like you.

Most sales leaders can easily differentiate between salespeople who are awful and those who are not awful.  They have difficulty differentiating one awful salesperson from another.  If you're asking yourself why I'm placing this in the context of awful, rather than good, it's because 74% of the sales population is awful!

Based on Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics, a sales force of 10 would typically have:

  • 0 elite salespeople who make up the top 6%,
  • 2 good salespeople who make up the top 26%, and
  • 8 salespeople who are awful, making up the remaining 74%.

A typical sales leader looks at the sales force and can differentiate between the 2 good and 8 bad, but isn't able to explain why.  Sure, they can point to sales numbers and activity, but those aren't reasons, as much as differing results.

It's very difficult to coach someone up when you don't know the cause of their ineffectiveness.

For example, let's take 3 awful salespeople who are each underperforming at a company we recently evaluated:

  • Bob has a full pipeline, but despite all of the opportunities, his win-rate is pathetic.
  • Mary has a nearly empty pipeline, but closes most of the opportunities she does uncover.
  • Bill has a poor pipeline - half way between Bob and Mary - but most opportunities get stuck and don't move through to closure.

You can easily determine that Bob is a successful hunter, but an awful closer.

You can easily determine that Mary is a successful closer, but an awful hunter.

You can easily determine that Bill isn't very good at anything.

Now let's pretend that they are your salespeople.  That shouldn't be a stretch because you probably have 3 salespeople who look like this.  

Do you know why this is happening?  Do you know how to figure out why it is happening?  Do you know that a seminar on prospecting or closing won't change anything?  Do you know what is in their Sales DNA, their Will to Sell, or their Sales Skill Sets that are responsible for these outcomes?  Do you know if they're even trainable?  Do you know if they're really coachable?  Do you know if you're any good at developing salespeople with these mysterious issues?

Of course you don't know.  You're not even supposed to know.  If you did know, they would each have been either fixed (because you knew what to fix and how to fix it) or replaced (because you knew it couldn't be fixed or you weren't capable of fixing it).  Right?

That example is only one of the reasons to evaluate your sales force.  Here are some more.

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales force evaluation, Baseball, sales development

Did our Sales Evaluation Uncover Part-Time Job Selling Drugs?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 09:10 AM

pot

A salesperson was arrested for growing pot and selling it. Can you believe it?

Recently, the same man participated in OMG's Sales Force Evaluation at the company where he worked.  The evaluation showed that he was a very strong salesperson with tremendous selling skills, but it also identified a few telling issues:

  • He wasn't motivated to earn additional money;
  • He didn't enjoy the selling that he was doing for this company;
  • He wasn't committed to his sales success;
  • He wasn't trainable or coachable;
  • He was unlikely to stick around.

The salesperson was terminated following his arrest. 

If you read a sales evaluation with findings like these on a successful salesperson that worked for you, would you discount them?  Disagree with them?  Challenge the evaluation?  Challenge the individual?  After all, it's not that unusual for a successful salesperson to no longer be motivated by earning more money, but it is very unusual when a successful salesperson no longer enjoys selling and isn't committed to sales success.

We know how accurate the evaluations are, so we urge our clients to challenge the individuals in question.  However, since the evaluations uncover hidden issues and the clients weren't previously aware of those issues, quite often they will challenge the evaluation since they "know" the person and the findings "just couldn't be accurate".

This doesn't happen very frequently, but it does happen.  Why do you suppose managers prefer to push back on the findings rather than the person?  Do they know their salespeople that well or are they blinded by that person's results?  Is the performance even a result of that person's efforts or are they reaping the benefits of the hard work of the company, the prior rep, lucrative existing accounts or some other factor they aren't responsible for?

It's fine to push back on findings and evaluations, but when the evaluation is as accurate as OMG's, one needs to push back on the salesperson too.

Topics: sales assessment, sales force evaluation, enjoys selling, sales assessment testing, money motivated, sales development, personality assessment

Are Salespeople Also Joggers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

jogger

As I drove to work today, I passed 4 joggers, all with different styles, paces and appearances.  As usual, I saw the similarities between what I observed and the sales profession.

Jogger #1 was an overweight man, in his 50's, working very hard, but not going very fast or far.  He had lots of unnecessary motion and wasted energy, was wearing himself out, and showing little in the way of results.  He instantly reminded me of the salesperson who works lots of hours, always seems to have enough to keep quite busy, but never seems to get his opportunities moved through the pipeline to closure.

Jogger #2 was a middle-aged woman who was moving in slow motion.  Until that moment, I did not believe anyone could run that slowly!  She reminded me of salespeople who never seem to get new opportunities into their pipelines because they lack the urgency necessary to get on the phone and make calls. 

Jogger #3 was the model of efficiency, with good speed, pace and motion.  He reminded me of a salesperson who has a purpose, stays focused, and accomplishes his goals.

Jogger #4 was actually sprinting.  He was pushing it to the limit, exhibiting good form and clearly able to outrun the field.  He reminded me of an elite salesperson - the top 6% - that start out fast in the morning, quickly get their calls made, get results from those calls, and then conduct effective sales calls, meetings and presentations.  These salespeople have consultative selling skills, make it look easy, and close the majority of their fully-qualified opportunities, crashing through goals and quotas.

What kind of salespeople/joggers populate your sales force?

Most sales organizations, regardless of size, lack enough #4s and that's not even the real problem.  The actual problem is that most sales leaders and their CEO's are OK with that!  They accept it as part of business.  Think about how many other sales problems must frustrate executives like that.  How many of those issues would go away if they hired better salespeople?

It's never too late to change perspectives.  It's never too late to start hiring the right salespeople.  Consider OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  Yesterday, I led a tour that discussed The Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  You can view the 20-minute presentation here.

It's never too late to learn about your existing salespeople either.  Wouldn't you like to know whether or not you have future #4s that simply need to be better trained and coached?  It's never too late to learn whether your #1s and #2s will never change.  And don't you want to know why, as a sales organization, you aren't finding and closing more business?

You need sales force intelligence.  Not intelligence that you get for your sales force, like Hoovers, but intelligence on your sales force, like Objective Management Group.  That's where a sales force evaluation comes in.  Can your underperformers be saved?  Can your performers improve?  Have you been selecting the right people?  How must that change?

evals

How can your salespeople more effectively find, convince, qualify and close more new business?  Your ability to impact sales through improvement and change is dependent on having the right answers to the right questions.  Objective Management Group asks and answers 19 critical business questions about your sales force to provide you with the needed intelligence on your sales force that leads to better decisions, increased sales and improved win-rates, sales cycles and selection.

Executives tend to be just like those joggers too.  Only a small percentage make use of the available intelligence to improve revenue generation and profit.  The rest make a lot of noise, vary between the status quo and constant change, and exert lots of wasted efforts for minimal gain.  Which type are you?

Image Copyright: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, sales candidate assessments, OMG Assessment, top sales performers, jogging,

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

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