I Admit it - Why Words in Selling Really Are Important

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 05, 2016 @ 06:10 AM


In the past I've written about how words aren't that important.  Here are two such articles:



But today, I'll play politician, reverse my position, and talk about why words are very important.  I've written about the importance of words before too.  http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/101263/Specific-Words-are-So-Crucial-to-a-Sales-Conversation.aspx 

When it comes to words, there was probably nobody more clever than the comedic genius George Carlin.  The video below is the funniest and best example of his use of words.  Watch that and then we'll talk about how the same premise applies to sales.

It seems to me that the same thing that George talks about has happened in sales.  Today we have phrases like:

  • Sales Velocity
  • Sales Enablement
  • Chief Sales Officer
  • Chief Revenue Officer
  • Unique Value Proposition
  • Buyer Journey
  • Sales Process
  • Sales Methodology
  • CRM
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Positioning Statements
  • RFP's and RFQ's
  • Scope of Work
  • Consultative Selling
  • Sales Model
  • Quantification
  • Qualification

Have we complicated this process or what!  Salespeople are now called any one of the following:

  • Sales Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Major Account Executive
  • VP Major Accounts
  • Representative
  • National Account Manager
  • Distribution Manager
  • Manufacturer's Representative
  • Product Specialist
  • Inside Sales Representative
  • Field Sales Manager
  • Territory Sales Manager

Things were much simpler when we were all peddlers!  We sell.  Some of us are better than others.  Some of us have a more difficult sale than others.  Some of us have a more complicated sale than others.  Some of us enjoy the challenge more than others.  But when it comes right down to it, all of us are peddlers.

"The more you can simplify what you are saying, the better your chance that prospects will understand what you are selling." Dave Kurlan

Don't miss these:

Barb Giamanco interviewed me for the first edition of this fall's Sales Hardtalk series.  You can listen to the podcast on selling value here.  Shimon Abouzaglo, President of the Value Selling and Realization Council, also interviewed me about selling value and specifically, how you can develop salespeople to become value sellers and hire salespeople who already have the ability to sell value.  You can listen to that presentation here.

The October issue of Top Sales World is available today.  You can download your issue here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales interview, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World, words in sales, george carlin

Sales Assessment Findings - Another Preview of the Interview

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 02, 2012 @ 23:10 PM

business relationshipsJohn Musser, an OMG Partner in Atlanta, recently shared an observation with me.  He found that when his clients didn't care for a candidate who was recommended by our Sales Candidate Assessment, he was able to correlate his client's perception to a single finding: Won't Develop Relationships Quickly.

A number of clients misinterpret this finding, thinking it means that the candidate won't develop relationships at all.  But it's not that they won't develop relationships, it's that it won't happen quickly during the first meeting.  When the client is left feeling indifferent, it's often because the candidate wasn't successful at making a connection in that first interview.

There are two ways in which one could look at this:

  1. Knowing that the candidate is a bit slow to warm up, cut him some slack, bring him back for a second interview, give him another chance and overlook his performance from the first interview.
  2. Know that what you see is what you'll get and his inability to quickly develop a relationship will prevent him from making prospects comfortable enough to answer the types of good, tough, timely questions which are the hallmark of effective consultative selling.
Obviously, you'll want to follow option #2.
Observing assessment findings manifested during an interview is a very common occurance, but it's more likely to occur when a candidate has some of the following findings:
Finding What You'll See
Tendency to Become Emotional Defensiveness, panic, louder volume,
rash, sweat, etc.
Need for Approval Saying what you want to hear, fear of 
pushing back, fear of tough questions, trying to make friends
Too Trusting Optimistic when you give the candidate a put-off like, 
"We'll be back to you next week." 
Uncomfortable Talking About Money Stuttering, lack of confidence when asked about earnings history

Of course there are many more, but this gives you a sense of it.  If you would like to see more examples or read more, click for some assessment case histories.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales management, Sales Candidate, sales interview, sales assessment findings, sales assessment test

After Accepting the Sales Job Will the Salesperson Back Out?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 23:01 PM

Did a sales candidate ever accept your job offer only to backout prior to the agreed upon start date because the individual decided to stay with the current employer?

This happened to a client and it had a tremendous ripple effect.

  1. They had already let the former inside salesperson go - now instead of an ineffective salesperson, they have nobody in the role.
  2. They must restart the sales recruiting process.  Ideal candidates are more difficult to find compared with a year ago so this could take another 60-90 days.
  3. The president is the primary outside salesperson and now must cover the inside salesperson's role.
  4. Covering the inside sales role and recruiting for a new inside salesperson will cause sales and management of the company to suffer.
  5. Others in the company who need his attention will not get as much of it as they need.
There are two scenarios when this problem can occur.  
  1. Their prior company offers, and they accept more money.
  2. Their prior company apologizes and promises to pay more attention, give them a promotion, reward their loyalty, provide more recognition, etc.
If you don't mind getting into a bidding war, a larger offer takes care of the first scenario.
But the second scenario is not money driven.  Is there anything you can do and is there a way to be prepared for it happening to you?
Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment has two findings that can help you flag the potential for this frustrating scenario.  The person in the second scenario is not money motivated, also known as not extrinsically motivated.  Instead, this person is intrinsically motivated.  A person who will return to a company they were disgruntled with has Need for Approval.  When the Need for Approval is strong enough, that individual is vulnerable to staying with the current employer if that employer performs the big apology and does the "I promise to treat you better" act.  So if the candidate you make an offer to has a high intrinsic score along with a high severity level for Approval, then you best be prepared for the scenario mentioned above.  So what can you do about it?
After making your offer you can say something like, "When you give notice at your current company, what would you do if they apologize, promise to treat you better, recognize your contributions, provide better hours, and qualify you for a promotion down the road?"  The candidate doesn't even need to answer.  You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice.
Then you can say, "For you to be looking for a new position, they must have failed to show you the love.  Why would you go back when the track record says nothing will change?"
The key, as always, is to deal with the potential issue up-front, before it happens, when there is little pressure and less chance of resistance.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales interview, sales assessments

The Sales Interview - When One Candidate is Actually Two?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 @ 12:09 PM

sales candidate showing mixed signalsSuppose you are interviewing a candidate and there is a whole lot to like.  On the other hand, you observe and hear some things that you don't like.  

Suppose you have a great first interview with a candidate but you interview the same person, who seems to be a completely different candidate in the second interview?  

What if you conducted the great first interview and the person who conducted the second interview did not feel the same way as you did?  

What if someone else conducted a great first interview and you did not feel the same way as the other person?

You can overlook what you like and discount the candidate.  

You can overlook what you don't like and hire the candidate - a compromise.  

Or you can play best 2 out of 3.

Call the candidate - it has to be spontaneous to catch him/her off guard - and explain what you liked.  Then tell the candidate that there were several things that concerned you, explain what those things are, and shut up.

Allow the candidate address the issues.  If it was a crucial gap in expertise you will obviously have to find another candidate.  If it is a question as to how hungry, skilled, capable, personable, presentable or connected the candidate might be, provide them with an opportunity to change your mind.  If they say, "Yeah, you're right", or "I understand", the no's have it.  If they push back, attempt to change your mind, explain a misunderstanding, correct a fact or otherwise attempt to resurrect your perception of them, ask them to "prove it".  

You should pay more attention to HOW they respond (whether they apologize, keep their cool, provide a simple, concise explanation, are credible; or whether they make excuses, become defensive, stutter, become uncomfortable, etc.), than what they say.

It's best 2 out of 3 so whether they duplicate the favorable or unfavorable impression, it's the final impression that counts.



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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, sales interview

Don't Make Assumptions About Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 @ 14:03 PM

I have previously shared many instances of sales candidate assessments coming to life with their email, voice mails and interview antics following the taking of our assessment.  While the following email is another example of that, it is an even better example of what happens when a skeptical client finally realizes it:

The client wrote:

"...You'll recall I questioned the criteria we were screening for, and asked you if I had missed the mark, principally because we received a "no" recommendation on [the] rep one of our partners was considering hiring.  ...His e-mail note to me is a terrific example of what one should never do, particularly when irritated. It gives me newfound credence in the validity of your test, and sound evidence that with this guy they probably got it right.  The test said he has trouble controlling his emotions. I felt this was an odd evaluation based on the fact that this guy is a former Army Ranger, and ought to be disciplined and controlled. The test said he didn't take rejection well. I don't believe anyone takes it well, but I figured a 17 year sales professional had probably learned to deal with it. The test said he was prone to inappropriate follow ups with prospects. His e-mail to me is about as inappropriate as any I have ever seen. Finally the test said the candidate isn't as strong as he thinks he is. I concur. I am copying his e-mail here:"

Next came the candidate's email:

"I answered a survey for you at least three to four weeks ago and received no further information. Is your follow up usually this unprofessional and non existent or is this just an aberration?  If you have the courage to call you know how to reach me."

So the candidate's tendency to become emotional was triggered by the rejection he felt.  While his follow up was, in fact, inappropriate, the finding of "Inappropriate Follow Up" really refers to getting into chase mode because the candidate didn't close when the closing opportunity presented itself or attempted to close too early.

The more important lessons come from the two assumptions made by the client:

  • Trained military men don't become emotional - Sure they learn to take orders and dodge bullets without reacting.  However, when things go wrong, they are as vulnerable to becoming as emotional as anyone else. 
  • Veteran salespeople don't feel rejection.  If all it took to develop the ability to quickly recover from rejection was time on the job, the insurance companies and copier companies, industries that historically choose young people for their new salespeople, would hire veteran salespeople instead.
  • We shouldn't make any assumptions about any salespeople other than those that appear in black and white on Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment.  If we do, we are very likely to make a hiring mistake.
  • Track record is not a likely indicator of success in sales unless you are duplicating all of the candidate's prior conditions including existing customers, target customer by title, external competition, internal competition, pricing policy, resistance to overcome, economy, industry, product quality, sales management, and company reputation.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales evaluation, sales interview, sales test

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

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