What is the Best Sales Model for Your Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 @ 12:01 PM

sales model

This is the 10th article in a January series on the Architecture of the Sales Force.  Here are the others:

Earlier this month, I wrote this article about Sales Methodology and today's article focuses on successful Sales Models.  I previously wrote this article about sales models in 2011.

On its own, the concept of a sales model can be confusing, especially when you mention it in the same breath as sales process and sales methodology.  However, when the word "successful" precedes sales model, it lends more clarity to its purpose.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we have a model that we share with all of our Certified Partners (the companies that provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments to you).  It clearly shows them what is required in order to generate $1 million in annual revenue.  They don't work for us, so they aren't required to follow our model, but many do and some demand that each producer in their firm follow our model to the letter. 

So what are the components of an effective model and how can they be applied to your business?

Target - A useful sales model should start with your ideal customer.  Who are they?  Where can they be found?  What are their unique characteristics?  What size are they?  In what vertical can they be found?  Why are they your targets?

Revenue - Next, the model should identify what a typical customer would spend in the course of a year, as well as the product make-up on which they would typically spend it.

Activity - Finally, the model should specify what is required of a salesperson to close one customer.  You can work the math backwards as you fill in the blanks.  Note that this not only could, but likely is, different for each salesperson in your company:

To get 1 closed, a salesperson would have to generate __ proposals or quotes, conduct 
__ demos or presentations, qualify__ opportunities, gain traction with  __ quality opportunities (possible result of the first meeting), schedule a first meeting with __ potential opportunities, have __ short conversations by phone, the result of making __ attempts/requests to connect from calls, walk-ins, introductions, LinkedIn requests, leads, etc.

While the ratios to complete the "to sell one" model may be different for each salesperson, you should attempt to settle on a set of ratios that define your best salespeople.  Rather than thinking how unrealistic those ratios could be for your less effective salespeople, allow it to raise the bar, set new expectations and allow sales management to coach and hold salespeople accountable to that level of performance.

After you have identified the ratios to sell one, they should be multiplied by the number of accounts, deals or sales that each salesperson must achieve this year in order to hit their quotas or expected revenue.  The yearly model might look like this:

7500 Attempts/Requests
1500 Conversations
150 New Scheduled Meetings/Calls
100 Quality Opportunities
75 Qualified Opportunities
68 Demos/Presentations
54 Proposals/Quotes
18 Closed

Quickly, convert those annual numbers to the daily or weekly version - it looks much less overwhelming!  A weekly version would look like this:

   155 Attempts/Requests
   31 Conversations
   3 New Meetings Scheduled
   2 Quality Opportunities
   1.5 Qualified Opportunities
   1.35 Demos/Presentations
   1 Proposal/Quote
   0.35 Closed

You may be wondering how this is any different from the days of making 40 cold calls/day. This is completely different.  Those days were about the number of dials and connects and that's all they were about.  And everybody was asked to so the same dialing.   The reality today is that this model might not require any cold calls to generate those 31 Conversations each week.  6 conversations per day could be achieved in a number of ways without having to make cold calls.  On the other hand, a new salesperson in a new territory might have to make cold calls in order to quickly make progress.  The most important thing to understand is that this is a complete model and not just an appointment scheduling model!

Also remember that this will be your model for success.  When your sales managers have the discipline to hold their salespeople accountable to consistently execute your model, while using your sales methodology to follow the sales process, you will overachieve your corporate revenue goals without exception as long as you have considered any changes in your assumptions.

A successful 2014 starts with the right model, a well-chosen sales methodology and a customized, optimized sales process.  You can't expect your sales force to succeed while they continue to sell by the seat of their pants and you can't choose only one or two of the three components presented here.  You need all three in much the same way that a baseball pitcher must have good velocity (model), good secondary pitches (methodology), and good command (process).  He can have two out of the three and it still won't be enough for him to reach the major leagues.

If you enjoyed this series of articles, I am leading a panel of experts in a complimentary webinar on February 5 at 11 AM Eastern called Leading the Ideal Sales Force.  Register.

I am leading a webinar introducing OMG's Candidate Analyzer, an awesome web tool available to users of OMG's Sales & Sales Management Candidate Assessments.  I'll be showing everyone how to access the tool and how to use it.  February 26, 11 AM Eastern.  Register.

I will be speaking at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10.  Register.

I will be speaking at the EcSell Sales Summit in Charlotte on April 15.  Register.

Image credit: johnkwan / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales model, sales methodology, Sales Force

Baseball's Huge Impact on Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

Process Methodology Model

 I wrote this article on the difference between Sales Process and Sales Methodology and this article on how Sales Models are different from Process and Methodology.   

Do you remember algebra?  One such formula may have read like the following: 4 is to 1 as x is to 3.  It would have looked like the following image.


Let's use Algebra to get a better handle on sales methodology and where it fits in the grand scheme of things.  Consider the following formula:

sports is to selling

Sports is to Selling as Baseball is to Consultative Selling as Pitching and Defense are to Baseline Selling.   

Sports and Selling are both professional activities.  Baseball and Consultative Selling further define the activities with baseball answering the question as to which sport, and consultative answering the question as to which type of selling.

Pitching and Defense are one of many possible methodologies used in baseball as a strategy to win games.  Baseline Selling is the methodology which I recommend in selling as a strategy to win more sales.

Baseline Selling is also a sales process, meaning it has stages, each with a series of steps, milestones and tasks which, if followed according to its design, provide significantly greater odds of repeatable success.  You can use this free tool to measure the effectiveness of your existing sales process.

One of the milestones of the second stage (2nd Base) of Baseline Selling is what I call SOB Quality or, using a baseball term, Speed on the Bases.  I recorded a very short video which explains SOB Quality and how it differentiates your salespeople from the competition.

Dennis Connelly, who writes the Living Sales Excellence Blog, was recently on the phone with a lumber salesperson named Taylor Tankersley.  If you follow baseball, you would know that Taylor is a former Miami Marlins pitcher.  Dennis explained the sales version of SOB Quality to Taylor and had the following interchange:

Dennis: When you were on the mound and there was a guy with great speed on the bases, what were you thinking?

Taylor: I paid more attention to him than anyone else.

Don't you want your prospects giving all of their attention to your salespeople?  Contact me to learn if they have the ability to develop SOB Quality!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales methodology, Baseball, taylor tankersly

Another HBR Article on Sales Leaves Me with Mixed Feelings

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 @ 13:07 PM

I was asked to comment on an article called The End of Solution Selling, which appeared in Harvard Business Review.  The article was generally right on, but it also included several things that irritated me enough to question them and the article.

"The End of Traditional Solution Selling" - The ineffective selling model described by the authors is more aligned with transactional selling than solution selling.  The real issue is that the authors were describing ineffective salespeople who, because of their ineffectiveness when attempting to use solution selling, have sales cycles that are more transactional, an approach that simply doesn't work anymore.

"Reps" - It was difficult for me to accept the authors' use of the word "reps" 81 agonizing times.  They were writing about solution selling being dead and how successful reps use "insight selling".  We don't call salespeople "reps" anymore unless they are independent manufacturers' reps.  They referred to solution selling as a methodology from the 80's, but the term "rep" probably came into use right after the term salesman - probably back in the 50's!

Mobilizers - The article discussed the different people inside an organization who used to coach salespeople on how to get the business.  The authors wrote that a successful salesperson would now coach these people on how to get the company to buy from them.  The authors settled on the term "mobilizers" to refer to a group of skeptics, go-getters and teachers with whom salespeople should align themselves.  I wrote an article about this around 4 years ago and believe it's a much better approach to utilizing people inside the prospect's organization.

Complex Solutions - This article is based on selling complex technology solutions and you and your company are probably outside the boundaries of that focus. 

Major Accounts - As usual, this article is based on research of big company sales forces, selling to other big companies, and has little to do with what most sales forces look like or face.  As a matter of fact, our data on 600,000 salespeople and 8,500 sales forces, significantly larger and more comprehensive than the Corporate Executive Board research data, shows that big company salespeople are among the least effective salespeople anywhere.  They aren't underdogs, they have the welcome mat laid out for them, have the resources to heavily discount the deal to buy the business, and don't face the resistance of smaller, newer or more expensive competition.  

Summary - My first take away from this article is that the "superstars" (the best of all big company, ineffective salespeople) are simply selling the way that modern day salespeople are being taught to sell.  I didn't read anything in that article that was different, controversial, eye-opening or even new.  Everything about which they wrote was simply well-executed consultative selling strategies and tactics and any sales training company worth its fees will teach their own version of that.  Some will do it a lot better than others. 

My final take away from this article is to reinforce this warning, which I issued just two months ago.  If your salespeople aren't effectively utilizing a consultative sales model, you must move to the 2nd decade of the 21st Century or you will continue to climb an uphill battle to win your share of new business.

Topics: sales culture, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales model, sales methodology, sales training, harvard business review, solution selling, hbr blog

You Can Help Salespeople Burdened with Sales Weaknesses

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jan 22, 2012 @ 23:01 PM

If you have been reading my Blog for a while you know that there is more to selling than just utilizing skills to execute the sales process, sales model, and sales methodology.  The big, hidden, 600 pound gorilla in all this is the combination of hidden weaknesses that prevent salespeople from executing.

Objective Management Group identifies five big ones and a dozen or so additional weaknesses that cause problems for salespeople.  Most salespeople have at least 3 of the big ones and average a total of 9 weaknesses all together.Sales Weaknesses are a heavy burdern

Sadly, most sales training and sales trainers are unable to help salespeople overcome these weaknesses because their focus is primarly the sales skills and methodology that they teach.  That puts tremendous pressure on sales managers who are simply not equipped to help salespeople overcome things like:

  • Need for Approval (prevents them from asking lots of good, tough, timely questions)
  • Non Supportive Buy Cycle (causes them to empathize with stalls, put-offs and objections)
  • Self-Limting Record Collection (negative self-talk that sobotages sales outcomes)
  • Uncomfortable Talking about Money (not able to have an in-depth financial discussion)
  • Tendency to Become Emotional (temporary panic when things don't go as planned)
  • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection (takes too long to get back on the horse)
  • Being Too Trusting of What Prospects Say (they believe the stalls and put-offs)
  • Not Being Goal Orientated (they lack purpose and incentive)
  • many more
Is there anything you can do?
Yes, there is.  Have you heard of SalesMind?
You can have your salespeople work with the SalesMind CD. It helps them overcome these weaknesses - and more - through subliminal programming.  Even better?  It works!  I've been using SalesMind with salespeople for years and it always does the trick.
It works like magic, it works quickly (usually within 3 weeks) and effortlessly.  Your salespeople simply put the CD in the computer, watch the screen, and listen to the audio (only one program at a time) twice daily for 21 days.  And poof.  The weakness is gone.  Salesmind sells for just $99.
If you are interested in getting SalesMind for your and/or your salespeople you can email me.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales model, sales methodology, sales skills, sales weaknesses, salesmind

Effective Sales Models

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 @ 06:09 AM

modelBack in June I wrote this article about the difference between sales process and sales methodology.  In addition to those two sales infrastructure components, companies should have a sales model.  How is the model different from the other two key components of an effective sales organization?

Where processes contain the sequence of customized/optimized steps, milestones and tasks in your sales cycle, and methodologies are the sales approaches or styles, the model is the success formula.  The model is presented to new salespeople during orientation and it demonstrates what they must do in order to succeed.  Models often include the target customer/client, some application of what they would typically purchase, a revenue goal per customer/client/account and a summary of how many of those it takes to achieve quota/goal/income.  In sumary, the model is a blueprint for what your successful salespeople do in order to succeed.

When companies are able to easily and successfully plug-in new salespeople, have predictable ramp-ups and few hicups, it is because they usually have all three crucial pieces of sales infrastructure in place.

Do you have a customized, optimized, formal, structured sales process that delivers consistent predictable results and everyone follows it?

Do you have a sales methodology and everyone is able to effectively utilize it?

Do you have a sales model that everyone understands and they all use it to achieve success?

If you are missing any or all of these components, or have them but people aren't locked in to them, think of the consequences in terms of each component having the potential to provide a 33% gain in revenue over the course of 1-3 years!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, complex sale

The Complex Sale - Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 19, 2011 @ 08:05 AM

Yesterday, we discussed the elements of the complex sale and the factors that make it so challenging.  I also asked whether you should you attempt to incorporate some of the elements of the complex sale in order to outsell your competitors.

Today, we will revisit the factors that make it so challenging and discuss how various selling weaknesses interact with those factors.

There are several common selling weaknesses that cause salespeople to become ineffective in various selling scenarios.

Need for Approval, or the need to be liked, prevents them from asking tough questions, challenging, and pushing back.

Those who have Difficulty Recovering from Rejection avoid questions or statements that carry the perceived risk of evoking a "No".

Salespeople who have a Discomfort Talking About Money aren't able to have an in-depth conversation about finances - finding the money that isn't there.

A Non-Supportive Buy Cycle causes salespeople to empathize with various stalls, put-offs, excuses and objections rather than asking questions to overcome them.

A Self-Limiting Record Collection has salespeople listening to their greatest fears and self-limiting beliefs, affecting outcomes before they have left their offices.

Salespeople who easily Become Emotionally Involved on calls go into reaction mode rather than calmly and systematically continuing to ask questions.

Salespeople who are Too Trusting don't challenge or push back on conventional buyer thinking, put-offs or stalls because they take everything they hear at face value.

The table below places the 16 challenges from yesterday's article in a matrix with the 7 common sales weaknesses and illustrates which weaknesses impact each of those 16 challenges.  

Copmplex Weaknesses

It's OK if you don't immediately understand how the weaknesses cause problems for each challenge.  Just be aware that based on 1831617 salespeople that Objective Management Group has assessed, the data is there to back it up.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, selling weaknesses, complex sale

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 18, 2011 @ 08:05 AM

complexThe Complex Sale - it's so----complex!

Today we will simplify the complex sale and even ask if you should have a complex sale.

First, what makes a sale complex?

In most cases, a sale is complex when it:

  • is expensive
  • has a technical component
  • has a long sales cycle
  • involves multiple roles and titles from both buyer and seller sides
  • requires that you build and sell value
  • includes selling "why buy at all?", as opposed to "why buy from me?"
  • involves buyer side resistance

While these elements can be more challenging than other sales models, they don't have to be.  Why do companies find it so difficult when faced with a complex sale?  Their salespeople must be able to handle additional challenges, like being able to:

  • use their rolodex to get an audience with a C-Level Decision Maker;
  • get and maintain that executive's attention without being sent down;
  • work with others in the company that have a role in the process;
  • speak the same language as the various executives;
  • build trusted advisor status with the executives;
  • sell consultatively
  • identify issues that are a drain on company resources;
  • identify compelling reasons for the company to buy;
  • build a case for your solution (the unique value proposition);
  • understand the technical nature of the problem and match a potential solution;
  • remain comfortable with the large dollar value of the opportunity;
  • have patience while all of the pieces are fit into place;
  • be strong enough to push back when buyer side thinking runs off the track;
  • leverage company resources only when and where appropriate;
  • negotiate terms of the deal;
  • close.

No single one of the 16 elements is daunting, but what makes it so difficult is that there aren't many salespeople that can effectively execute all 16 criteria.  That is what makes the complex sale so challenging.

On the other side of the argument is this question:  What would happen if you repositioned your offering as a complex sale?  If you apply as many of the above elements as possible, wouldn't you more effectively and consistently outsell your competitors?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, complex sale

Is Your Selling Model Effective? Know your Salesforce's ABC's

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Nov 16, 2008 @ 20:11 PM

Every company, with or without a salesforce, has a selling model.  I know of one company whose model is "we don't believe in sales". It works for them, but it won't work for many others.

What happens when you force yourself into a model?  My wife did that with her company.  She is a very driven, gifted, caring, giving, talented, brilliant, effective, successful leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and marketer.  Because of that rare combination of attributes and talents, she is in demand as a speaker, board member, fund-raiser, volunteer, and champion.  In addition to being the CEO of her company, she is also the chair of the non-profit she founded, the incoming chair of a non-profit on whose board she sits and the vice-chair of the local chamber of commerce board.

She is a terrific wife and mom to our son, who is frequently mentioned in this Blog. When you add up all of those important responsibilities and learn that she is also the only salesperson for her company, how much time do you suppose that leaves for selling?  Exactly.  So her selling model is a combination of self-imposed time limitations, along with a strong need to be selective and effective.  When she meets with a potential client, there is business to be done!

What happens when you compare a model like Deborah's - if you're gonna go hunting you'd better come back with dinner - with a model that has its salespeople making 3 sales calls per day, or around 60 per month? Do you think those salespeople come back with 60 new customers or orders per month?  No chance! They probably sell 10.  That's why they're on so many calls. 

What would happen if you told those salespeople that you only wanted them to go on 30 calls per month, but you want them to be a lot more selective, and you expected them to close 50% instead of 10%?

I'll tell you what would happen, your A players would close 50% of them and your B's would probably get 33% (the original 10 deals with half the work and half the resources). Your C's?  Same as today - they'd still fail to get the 10 you needed.

You need to develop your B's and replace your C's.  The only problem is that you aren't really able to identify who your A's, B's and C's are.  You think you can but you're measuring them by the dollars they produce, the worst possible measurement of potential, because the dollars are not necessarily the result of their efforts today as much as the dollars may be the result of their previous efforts or the efforts of others over time.

If you want to learn how to truly learn your ABC's, engage me, send me an email or leave me a comment.  We'll talk.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales model, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, closing percentage, improve sales, sales evaluation, FLIC, sales personaility, PENTA

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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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