The Baseball Experience That Continues to Generate a 28% Increases in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 09, 2021 @ 19:02 PM

32 years ago, back in the winter of 1989, I experienced one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  I attended Red Sox Fantasy Camp where campers like me, all greater than 30 years old and most a LOT older than that, were treated to an incredible baseball experience. The way we were treated, what we experienced, the uniforms we wore, the schedules we kept, the baseball games we played, the coaching, the practicing, the work, the game against the former Red Sox players, and the off hours camaraderie were all supposed to mirror the life of a professional ballplayer.  The fact that we were not professional baseball players, and some weren't baseball players at all, made it even more enjoyable. Relationships were forged, unforgettable memories were made, and the week was a source for endless, hilarious stories!  And this was fifteen years before I wrote the best-selling book Baseline Selling!

My regular readers are probably thinking, "Huh - a baseball post about Dave instead of Dave's son!"

I brought up the Fantasy Camp experience because it's not all that different from what participants experience when they attend my Sales Leadership Intensive (SLI).  For example, last week I led a private SLI for a company with around a dozen sales leaders.  In their follow-up comments they used words like, "enjoyable," "challenging," "informative," "great sessions," "looking forward to more," "enjoyed tremendously," "lot to absorb," "great content," "good investment," "great examples," "great techniques to adopt," and "very valuable."  Those comments were extracted from their very first sentences and they all had trouble limiting their takeaways to just the ten I requested.

The enthusiasm for the training was not unusual because I used my own Fantasy Camp experience as the model for content creation.  I wondered, "Why can't sales and sales leadership training be just as enjoyable, stimulating, challenging and memorable as my camp experience was?"

The comments I shared were their post-training comments.  The challenge isn't whether or not they'll enjoy and benefit greatly from the training.  The challenge is getting sales leaders to attend the training!  There's a little matter of ego.  Most successful sales leaders have fairly large egos and while their egos helped spur them on to their current roles, now that they're in their current roles, their egos sometimes obstruct their ability to improve, ask for help, and bring professional training into their companies.  The voice in their head whispers thoughts like:

  • "They hired me to do this"
  • "I should be able to do this myself"
  • "I'll look weak if I bring in help"

Many sales leaders also possess a false sense of knowledge. They mistakenly believe they are already doing everything correctly, know everything there is to know about how to optimize their sales process, get salespeople to change, motivate and coach up their salespeople, hold their salespeople accountable, and grow revenue. 

Sales leaders don't always have the proper sense for how much effective training should cost, often worrying that it might be too expensive while often discounting the benefits. Those who attend our Sales Leadership Intensives report an average increase in sales of 28% after applying the strategies and tactics they learn.

As one attendee from last week wrote, "TOP 10 (11) TAKE-AWAYS (other than coaching, then more coaching, then coaching again…):"

I can't promise that you'll enjoy a Fantasy Camp experience as much as I did 32 years ago, but I can promise that if you can overcome your skepticism, ego and fear, you'll love my Sales Leadership Intensive.  I offer one public SLI each year and the next one is a three-day virtual coaching extravaganza on May 19-21.  You can learn more here and register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales leadership, sales management training, sales leadership training, coaching salespeople, Baseball, fantasy camp

Are Sales Managers Coaching More Frequently Now That Everyone is at Their Desks?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 @ 06:01 AM

coach

Nearly a year into the Pandemic, most salespeople have adapted to selling over video.  But how are sales managers doing at adapting to coaching their sales force over video?  Inquiring minds want to know.

We know how sales managers were doing before the pandemic.  It wasn't very good and I wrote about it here.  The data in that November article was for the last 10 years.  What do you think would be different if I filtered the data to show only the last six months of 2020, the time during which sales managers should have already made changes?  Do you think it got better, worse, or stayed the same?

Let's find out.

I won't even show you the data.  It remained the same.  But why?

The data doesn't answer the "why" question but observation can.  I still work with clients so I have some anecdotal observations I can share.  As recently as November, most sales managers were still making excuses for not coaching their salespeople more often despite coaching conditions being better than ever.

When salespeople were out in the field, sales leaders used that as an excuse as to why they didn't coach more frequently. "They are not in the office and I'm not in the field with them this week so it's really hard to coach them."  Last year that changed to, "They are making calls and having Zoom meetings so it's really hard to coach them."

How difficult is it to join a phone call or a Zoom meeting and then debrief it?  And with coaching platforms like Refract, calls can be made from the platform, recorded into the platform, and sales managers can coach to it later. With sales leaders at their desks too these conditions make it easier than ever to create coaching time! 

Clearly, the time and location excuse no longer works and was never the real issue.  So what is the real issue?

There is no actual data to back up what I'm going to say but I believe that the real issue is that sales managers are petrified of actual coaching.  Oh they'll have conversations about opportunities and suggest strategies but that isn't coaching.  Coaching is when they conduct opportunity reviews as described here.  Or when they role play as described here.  Both scenarios require sales leaders to challenge themselves and their salespeople and the combination of discomfort and ignorance around those two topics is daunting.

I can help.  My annual Sales Leadership Intensive will be held virtually on May 19-21, 2021- three five-hour days - and we focus on one major topic.  Coaching. How to do it correctly, how often, for how long, how to impact deals, how to coach up salespeople, how to role-play effectively, how to get salespeople wanting more, how to pre-call strategize, how to post-call debrief, how to use technology, and more.  Attendees LOVE this training - especially the time we spend listening and dissecting actual coaching conversations!  You can learn more here.  Register here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales coaching summit, sales managerment, sales management course

Key to Successfully Hiring Salespeople: Getting it Right Versus Getting it Over With

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 @ 08:12 AM

8 Ways You May Be Washing Your Hair Wrong | Shape

I'll get to the content related to the title, but first, some context.

In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and slammed my big toe into a door.  I destroyed the nail. Not wanting to lose it I superglued it back in place and several months after it turned black, it fell off, revealing an emerging new nail that had grown half way to the tip of my toe.  It took 8 months for a new nail to fully replace the old nail but my replacement nail was perfect and clearly an upgrade over my tired, old, destroyed nail.  

Let's discuss what that has to do with hiring salespeople.

There are typically two approaches to hiring salespeople: choosing between getting it over with, or getting it right. 

Getting it over with involves a lot of short cuts, and in more than 50% of the cases, disappointment and frustration because you got it wrong.  If you got it wrong there are two more options: living with it or taking the shampoo approach: rinse and repeat.

It's a vicious cycle of hiring the wrong way, making the wrong decisions, needing to start over, and repeating the process again and again and again. Groundhog day.  It can take months or even years before you get the right salesperson into that role.

On the other hand, what would happen if you took the broken nail approach?  Sure, it might take longer, but instead of just getting it over with and dealing with the consequences of your choice, you choose getting it right and being done for the long term.

What does getting it right involve?

  • A well thought-out repeatable sales recruiting process
  • Role Specific criteria for success
  • Well-worded job posting on the right job sites using the right parameters (like Indeed)
  • Applicant Tracking system (like RecruiterBox for hiring  up to a few or the BigGuys for bigger projects)
  • Accurate and Predictive sales-specific assessment that is customized to your criteria (like OMG)
  • Scoring system (for objectivity)
  • Great interviewing skills (to challenge every claim on their resume)
  • Patience (waiting for the ideal candidate rather than the first one you like enough to hire)
  • Discipline (no skipping steps)
  • Thorough onboarding (a formal 90-day onboarding program)

A sales manager at an OMG client told a candidate they were going to move forward subject to the results of the OMG assessment.  The sales manager's approach was a huge mistake.  He interviewed prior to assessing when he should have assessed first. He fell in love with a candidate, but still had to assess because it was company policy. That suggested to the candidate that the assessment was the defining criteria when in reality, the assessment is one of around a dozen additional data points that all matter, including, but not limited to cover letters, resumes, experience, expertise, fit, phone presence, interviews, references, intelligence, professionalism, respect, employment tenure, and background checks.  The sales manager raised the candidate's expectations only to destroy those expectations and get upset when the assessment did not recommend the candidate.  You must know that BEFORE you waste everyone's time interviewing and getting emotional!  

Recruiting salespeople doesn't need to be difficult or complicated, but it is a process and needs to be completed thoroughly and correctly.  Ask yourself this question: eighteen months from now, would you prefer to have spent five months to get it right and have a productive new salesperson, or three months getting it over with, only to have to do it again four months later, and again four months after that.  Choose getting it right over getting it over with.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales leadership, hiring salespeople, sales assessements

Is Your Sales Force More Like a Dunkin', Starbucks or Panera Drive Thru?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

starbucks

On a frigid New England morning, I pulled into a Dunkin' drive thru and noticed that there were only ten cars ahead of me and that meant that it shouldn't take more than five minutes to get through the fast-moving line.  Contrast that to the Starbucks drive thru.  There were five cars ahead of me and that could take from ten to fifteen minutes because of how long it takes to prepare beverages at Starbucks.  That ten to fifteen minutes is a freakin' dream come true compared to Panera Bread.  I don't know if you have Panera Bread where you are but I love the food at Panera.  However, if there was ever a restaurant chain that shouldn't have a drive thru window, Panera, at least the one in my town, fits the bill.  When I pull into the Panera line, I see that there are two cars ahead of me and I know for certain that it's going to take twenty minutes to get through their line.  At lunch time I order ahead using their app but on that cold New England morning I'm not getting out of the car so I'm going to live or die by the drive thru.  Yet despite the intolerable wait times and ridiculously bad customer service, I return time and time again.  All it takes is to reset my expectations so that I no longer get upset with the twenty-minute wait.

This all begs the question, is the sales force at your company more like the Dunkin', Starbucks, or Panera drive-thru?  Today's article will explain how to answer that question.

If your sales force meets or exceeds budget and the revenue flows through the pipeline easily and consistently, then you have a Dunkin'-like sales force.  It only seems to take a couple of people to make a Dunkin' line zip right along so your sales force is mean and lean and gets the job done.

If your sales force meets budget, but it takes a lot of hand-holding, pressure, accountability, hard work and additional reps to do it, you have a Starbucks-like sales force.  It seems to take at least four baristas to move a Starbucks line along but they make it happen.

If you have to lower your expectations, and the sales force still fails to meet budget, then you have a Panera-like sales force.  You don't have enough reps, those you do have under-perform, most projected closes are delayed, and your win rate is very low.  It seems that Panera has a single employee taking drive thru orders, making the food, packaging the order, collecting the money and handing over the order before miserably taking the next order.

The reality is that those three drive thru lines perfectly describe most sales forces.  

Do you remember the old ads for the car rental companies?  Hertz advertised that "We're number one."  Avis marketed that because they were number two, "We try harder."

I would say the same is true for the Starbucks-like sales force.  While Dunkin' is like the Apple sales force selling iPhones, with people waiting in line to place their orders, the Starbucks-like sales force tries harder.  They have to work for every order and since their products are more expensive, they must utilize the more difficult consultative approach, and sell value to generate revenue.

Consultative selling is more difficult because it depends on the two skills that most salespeople have not come close to mastering; listening and questioning.

As you can see below from ten of the twenty-one selling competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) measures, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  Only the Closing competency has a smaller percentage of salespeople who are strong in the competency.  And this isn't from some small sample size.  This is data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,937,474

selling-competencies-1

Let's drill down into a few of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency.  We find that only:

  • 27% of salespeople have listening skills as a strength
  • 24% have Asks Enough Questions as a strength
  • 41% have Asks Good Questions as a strength.

It's pretty ugly.

The Starbucks-like sales force has mastered the consultative approach but most sales forces have not.  What does it take to move from "have not" to "have mastered?"

Lots and lots of training and coaching on consultative selling in the context of a consultative sales process.  And you should have your sales force evaluated by an OMG-Certified sales expert to properly set expectations as to how long it will take, who can improve, how much improvement to expect, and how much more revenue you should expect.  And that's just on the Consultative competency.  You should want to know that about all twenty-one sales core competencies!

Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales, sales process, sales leadership, panera, dunkin, starbucks

How Sales Coaching Utilizes a Quid Pro Quo

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 @ 20:10 PM

quid-pro-quo

Quid pro quo is all the rage.  The news networks are pointing to and from quid pro quo and arguing whether it was or wasn't implied.  Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you're on, you've probably heard it plenty more than you need to. 

Could there be a sales coaching lesson here?

Last week, before I wrote the article about salespeople losing their way, I was in Chicago for a follow up training event with a team of Sales Managers.  It was immediately obvious to me that the group who received the most coaching from me was way ahead of the other sales managers in the room. 

Coaching works.  And the coaching they were providing was working too. I heard so many examples of how they were coaching their salespeople up!  Coaching them to lower resistance, ask better questions, slow down, follow the process, actively listen to their prospects, summarize effectively and hold their salespeople accountable for change.

At the heart of a coaching conversation where a sales manager is coaching a salesperson is a role-play with a lesson learned. In conversations where the coaching is effective, there will be two lessons: While a skill gap is often uncovered and addressed, a sales DNA weakness - the primary reason the salesperson wasn't able to execute a strategy or tactic - should be uncovered as well.

After the lesson learned, an action plan should emerge, so that the salesperson can execute the tactic or strategy, without being held back by the weakness, move the opportunity forward and close the business.

In other words, an effective coaching conversation has an implied quid pro quo.  I'll help you get better and in return, you'll bring me, our team and the company the business you were coached to close. Don't you love quid pro quo's?

You too can master the art of sales coaching.  This is the last chance to participate in 2019.  Our final public Sales Leadership Intensive of the year takes place November 13-14 in Jersey City and as of this writing there are only 2 seats left.

Learn more at here and register here to get a $100 discount.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, dka

Popularity Polls are Just Like Sales Management Tracking Metrics!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 07, 2019 @ 21:01 PM

polls

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Have you ever watched a news program where they presented poll results, like the number of people in favor of legalizing marijuana?  The poll shows popular opinion, but not the facts, logic, or impact on arrests, the economy, traffic accidents, unemployment, addiction, death rates, etc.  There is a huge difference between people's often uninformed opinions, versus what the facts might suggest.  That's the problem with the statistics I'm going to share in this article.  The stats show what sales managers are doing but those managers are largely uninformed. They don't know what's good for them, haven't been asked or held accountable to doing it differently, and aren't in any way shape or form following best practices.  John Pattison, Objective Management Group's COO, mined some data on salespeople who report to sales managers.  I was appalled by what I saw.  Check this out!

I reviewed data from 17,000 salespeople who reported to 4,000 managers in companies across more than 100 industries and here are some of the most interesting findings (see how 500,000 salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies here):

Tracking, Reporting and Pipeline:

  • Margins are the metric tracked most frequently. 65% of sales managers track that because they need that metric to calculate commissions!
  • 3% of sales managers don't track or report on anything
  • Only 6% of sales managers track cost per sales call
  • Of the 5 pipeline metrics that could be tracked, an average of only 32% of sales managers track 1 or more of them
  • Only 33% of sales managers track closing percentage
  • Only 41% track average order size

I have news for you.  If you don't track closing percentage or average order size, you can't identify the number of opportunities that are required to be added to the first stage of the pipeline each month!

Coaching Environment

The data shows that it's more important that sales managers believe their salespeople trust their intentions, and have strong relationships with their salespeople than what the reality might be.  When sales managers believe there is mutual trust and a strong relationship, it is 300% more likely that their salespeople will be strong or elite.  That's because sales managers with these beliefs coach more frequently, coach longer, and coach more effectively.  See this article for the data that shows that how sales managers who coach frequently and effectively see a 27% increase in revenue.

If you want to become super effective at coaching salespeople, register to attend my Sales Leadership Intensive on March 19-20.  If you want to attend, use DKSLIMAY17 at checkout to receive a $100 discount.  Seating is extremely limited (only 20 seats remaining). If you're like the hundreds of other sales leaders that have attended this event over the past 8 years, you'll quickly recognize that it's the finest training you've ever received.

Sales Leadership CoverSpeaking of sales leadership and coaching, order Keith Rosen's terrific new book, Sales Leadership, from Amazon.com.  You won't be disappointed.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, self-limting beliefs, sales metrics, tracking

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 06:02 AM

glue.jpg

I still conduct a limited amount of training with some of my personal clients. We work with companies in more than 200 industries, from startups to multi-billion dollar corporations, that call on every possible vertical and decision maker, in nearly every geography across the globe.  I find that even the most seasoned and resistant of salespeople get to this point: When they realize how much more there is to selling, how much more effective they can be, how much more business they could generate, how they don't need to have the best price, and how much easier selling can be, they become eager learners.  That brings us to the question to be answered in today's article: If most salespeople become eager learners and embrace good sales training, why don't all companies experience equally tremendous revenue growth from sales training?

Some companies simply don't experience an increase in sales from sales training.  The difference between the those that do and those that don't usually lies with leadership.  When sales training is driven by leadership, revenue grows.  When the training is simply approved, but not driven by leadership, revenue rarely improves. 

The symptom of this is how seriously sales management takes its role of supporting the training.  When sales managers hold their salespeople accountable to change and consistently coach to the sales process and content, even mediocre sales training will have a positive impact.  However, when sales managers fail to hold their salespeople accountable for change and don't consistently coach to the process and content, even the best sales training in the world won't have as much impact as it should.

The key to successful sales training has less to do with the sales training itself but everything to do with two other things:  (1) Leadership's engagement; and (2) training and coaching sales managers to help them expertly execute the coaching and accountability of their salespeople.  Sales Managers are the glue that holds everything together.

Let's go to my two favorite analogies - my son and baseball - to provide examples for what we are discussing.

My son has been the subject of dozens of analogies for my articles, and lessons from his baseball experiences are always my favorites.  You can read 30 of those analogies in my ebook, 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.

He's a high school sophomore and in addition to his varsity baseball team and the college showcase team he will play for this summer, he has a hitting coach who works with him for 3 hours each Saturday and a New York Mets minor league catcher works with him for 30 minutes each week.  The coaching holds him accountable for applying and practicing the adjustments that are unique to him. With the coaching, he's a super star.  Without the coaching, he would be progressing like every other player on the roster. 

We take the sales management element and the importance of great coaching, very seriously.  That's one of the reasons we offer our corporate sales leadership training to non clients each year.  This year's annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching.  It's May 22-23, outside of Boston, and even though it is still almost 90 days away, I have just 2 seats remaining.  If you/and or your sales leaders would like to become great sales coaches, coach up your salespeople, and grow revenue, this is the even where you can make that happen. [Update - this training is sold out as of March 5, 2018]

And in the shorter term, you can join a panel of experts on this subject on a TopSalesWorld roundtable tomorrow, February 27 at Noon Eastern.  Register here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales management role

B2B Salespeople Send 16,000+ Unqualified Proposals Each Day!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 @ 21:11 PM

unqualified.jpg

If you have a role in sales or sales leadership then what could be better than knowing exactly how you and/or your salespeople REALLY compare with the other salespeople in your industry or in the world?  Could anything be more fascinating than a visual or infographic depicting how effective your sales force is at various aspects of selling?  And what if these visuals could demonstrate that B2B salespeople create and send more than 16,000 inappropriately timed proposals each day?  Cool, huh?  More on that data in a minute.

Earlier this year we introduced a free public site where you could actually see how your salespeople compared in each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Recently, we improved the site so that in addition to average scores and comparisons in each competency, you can see the percentage of salespeople that have each competency as a strength.  Check it out here!

I love some of the new infographics we have developed to show clients the capabilities of their sales force.  For example, check out this slide that visually tells the story of how their sales force sells.  The number in each pie chart is the average score in each competency and the colors indicate the percentage of salespeople that have that competency as a strength, weakness or in between.  For example, the highest average score for this sales force is for the value seller competency but only 1/3 of the sales force has value seller as a strength.

sales-story.png

This is a cool slide.  It shows the 8 sales leadership competencies that we measure in the outer ring and his tendency by rank outside the ring. When a tendency is not aligned with a strength we have a problem.  For example, in this slide, strategic thinking is green - a strength - but strategy is ranked 6th out of 8 as a tendency and recruiting - a weakness - is ranked 1st out of 8 in his tendencies.  Those are both problems!  Gene should be spending much more time on strategy and much less time on recruiting.

leadership-slide.png

We reevaluate a sales team after a year or so and this is how we show the change in a particular competency.  In this slide the average score increased from 39 to 47 in the Consultative Competency and there were improvements in most of the attributes and half of the salespeople now had this competency as a strength.

checkpoint-slide.png

My favorite slide is the one where we restage the company's pipeline according to what's real.  In the slide below,  we looked at 717 late stage proposal ready opportunities.  If they were all truly late stage, the visual would have looked like the umbrella stand in the middle image.  However, our analysis caused 36% of the opportunities to move back to the suspect stage and 33% of the opportunities back to the prospect stage.  Only 27% were actually closable and another 4% were qualified.  This company prematurely sent 494 unqualified proposals!

pipeline2.png

This company is not unusual.  If their 239 salespeople produced 494 unqualified proposals, then how many inappropriately timed proposals do 4.5 million B2B salespeople produce?  A little more half are in inside sales roles that handle the top of the funnel.  That leaves around 2 million B2B salespeople who are making 4,133,891 premature unqualified proposals per year or 16,535 per day!

We have around 50 more infographics like these that help to visually show how well equipped a sales force is to compete, win more business and grow revenue.  We identify all of the gaps and issues to be addressed and recommend a plan of action to accelerate sales effectiveness. 

 Most importantly, we provide answers to the questions that companies cannot answer on their own.  If this interests you, excites you or is something you want us to do at your company, just email me and I'll forward it to the appropriate person.

Image Copyright iStock

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales force evaluation, sales leadership, sales core competencies, OMG Assessment, sales proposal

How to Simplify Coaching Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 19, 2017 @ 11:05 AM

baseball.jpg
Image Copyright ColorCarnival

We just completed a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive and that's always a great experience for the sales leaders who attend.  The focus is on coaching salespeople for impact and everyone learns what it takes to become so effective at coaching salespeople that they ask for more. 

It's been a long time since I have written an article that mentioned our son, the baseball player.  He's really good, and we have dozens of video clips of him performing at a high level. But baseball doesn't always produce highlights.  Failure is a part of baseball too and if he struggles at the plate, the very first thing he does is watch the video to see what he did wrong.  We study the video together and when that isn't enough to fix the issue, we head outside and I pitch to him until he makes the necessary adjustments to get back on track.  

When you take sales coaching, baseball, watching video and put it all together, what do you get?

You get the post-call debrief - the most powerful tool for great sales coaching.

The post-call debrief is a structured coaching conversation where we compare the outcome to the goal and work backwards to determine when the call or meeting went off the tracks and why.  We identify the skill gaps and/or weaknesses that were responsible, and capture lessons learned.  Next we strategize getting the opportunity back on track, if possible,  and role play what the next conversation should sound like.

When Michael and I review video together it is very much like the post-call debrief.  We slow down the at-bat, analyze his approach, pick apart the swing, identify the thing or things that caused an undesirable outcome, and determine what must change so that it doesn't happen again.  Then we go out and practice it.  This is a good swing

When I review a sales call with a salesperson, it is the same as studying baseball video.  We slow down the call or meeting, analyze the approach, pick apart the conversation, identify the thing or things that caused the undesirable outcome, and determine what must change so that it doesn't happen again.  Then we role-play it, or in other words, practice it.  

The problem is that most sales managers do not really coach and those who do, don't do it often enough or well enough.  Shouldn't professional salespeople get the same quality and frequency of coaching that amateur and professional athletes get?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, Baseball

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Millennials or Veteran Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

Photo Apr 16, 5 49 45 PM-2.jpg

We brought home a puppy and we had him completely housebroken in 4 days.  He's really smart and we've done this before, a combination that makes it nearly impossible to screw up.  To see him go to the door and touch it with his little paw, whimper when he is in his crate, go outside and do his business, and run back to the door is great. But it got me wondering, why is training a puppy relatively fast and easy while it is so much harder and takes so much longer to train salespeople?

The puppy only has to learn a handful of behaviors that he can repeat without the variables that affect salespeople.  There's no resistance, objections, competition, fear, rejection, budget or decision-making issues and the puppy is eager to learn and please.  Millennials are eager to learn and tend to be less resistant to change while veteran salespeople must first be sold on why they need to change.  Even then they may resist for a while.  And what they must learn in order to become more effective is quite comprehensive.

I was comparing the average scores in 6 Sales DNA Core Competencies and was very surprised to discover that the scores for sales candidates were a few points higher than the scores for salespeople at companies where we conducted a sales force evaluation.  Millennials make up a good portion of the candidates. Typically, they are recent college graduates with no sales experience and applying for BDR roles.  My first thought was that if sales candidates had higher scores and millennials were part of that group, then the non-millennials surely have scores that are even higher.

After considering that for a while another thought came to mind.

Most companies complain that there aren't enough sales candidates out there and most who are looking for sales positions suck.  The reality is that they aren't all bad and a large percentage of the salespeople who are applying for new positions are passive candidates. They were recruited. It seems that while there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now, they don't take the assessment when prompted, but the good sales candidates do!

An unintended benefit of having your sales candidates take OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment is that it is not only accurate and predictive, many of the the bottom 77% filter themselves out by not even completing it. And the millennials?  Many of those who apply for sales positions actually have Sales DNA that supports selling even though their scores in the 7 tactical Sales Core Competencies are low.  You can always teach the tactical competencies!

You can learn more about the sales candidate assessment here.  Once there you can check out samples, start a free trial and sign up.

If you're not hiring salespeople right now but you're interested in learning how your salespeople measure up in the 21 Sales Core Competencies, or you just want to see how salespeople score in each competency, you can check out our data here.  Warning:  The stats site is very cool and you might not want to leave.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales leadership, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment

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About Dave

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

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