How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 @ 07:02 AM

buckets

When it rains it pours, especially when it's coming down in buckets!

Buckets are important, especially when you're attempting to coach up a salesperson or even improve your own sales performance.  If you don't have the OMG evaluation at your fingertips and can't lookup the scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies, or see which attributes need to be improved, you'll need to think in terms of buckets.

When salespeople are struggling, there are five primary buckets to consider:

  1. Pipeline - Their pipeline sucks
  2. Urgency - they haven't been successful uncovering compelling reasons to buy so that urgency can be created
  3. Qualifying - they haven't been able to get their good prospects fully qualified
  4. Closing - they aren't converting their qualified opportunities
  5. Attitude - they lack a positive outlook.

All other issues you might identify should appear in one of those five buckets.

Now let's place the three traditional groups of salespeople into buckets:

  1. A players:  They are the best salespeople in your company and exceed quota and/or expectations, but outside of your company and industry they might not be A or even B players.  Everything is relative.
  2. B players: They're not as good as your A players but they do meet quota and/or expectations.
  3. C players: They are chronic under achievers who fail to meet quota.

Next, let's integrate the buckets of salespeople with the buckets of challenges.

Salesperson to Coach Up Likely Issue(s)
A Player Urgency
B Player Urgency and Qualifying
C Player Pipeline

Let's pretend we're dealing with a C player who has an inadequate pipeline.  We have five more buckets to explore:

  1. Effort - they aren't making enough calls or attempts
  2. Engagement - they aren't getting their contacts engaged in the conversation
  3. Messaging - they aren't using proven, time-tested, positioning statements to get contacts engaged
  4. Delivery - they don't sound very good delivering the message
  5. Conversions - they aren't converting their calls to meetings

In this scenario, you may not be able to identify a single bucket to blame but you have to start somewhere.  If effort is an issue and you don't fix the effort, the other four buckets don't matter. If effort is lacking due to discouragement from past ineffectiveness, you may need to work on the other four buckets before you can return to effort.

It can be overwhelming to identify exactly what you need to work on to improve sales performance.  If you can learn to think in terms of buckets, you'll have a better chance of working on the right end of the problem.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, coaching, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales excellence

Data Shows That Your Sales Team is No Different Than Your Lawn

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 20, 2020 @ 07:11 AM

I just love it when our lawn looks gorgeous - thick, lush, and green, green, green.  Getting it looking that good requires fertilizing, aerating, thatching, over seeding, and frequent mowing, all things better suited to the landscaping company than me. Of course, some sun and water help too. And even with an irrigation system, by the middle of the summer, areas of our lawn begin to look like crap. Not to worry though. By mid fall, the lawn looks its absolute best.  Yup, my lawn never looks better than it does on November 1. Right before it snows and turns brown for the winter!  You have to admit, that's a lot of work and expense for a lawn that looks perfect for all of 6 weeks - 3 weeks in the spring and 3 weeks in the fall!

nice-lawn
                                                         Great looking spring lawn. 

Dead-Lawn-1024x675

                                           Crappy looking summer lawn

Because my lawn looks its worst on August 1 and its best on November 1, it has a lot in common with most sales organizations.  A sales team looks its best on January 1, when every opportunity in the pipeline is a possibility and forecasts predict a banner year.  It looks its worst just a week earlier, when on December 23, sales leaders defend the team's sub-par performance to the CEO and explain why 57% of their salespeople failed to hit quota - again!  It's easy to explain why the lawn fails, as dry, hot summers will do that.  But why do sales teams continue to fail, year after year, regardless of industry, and in every economy?  Why don't the numbers improve?  Why don't more salespeople jump from C's to B's?  From B's to A's?  From D's to C's?  The answers - and there are plenty - are evasive.  But let's try!

We can certainly pin some of the blame on sales managers.  My last two articles explain many of the problems contributing to ineffective sales management.  Read about crappy sales managers and then read the follow-up article about crappy coaching.

We can certainly pin some of the blame on salespeople.  Why don't they try to improve?  Why don't they invest in sales self-development?  Why don't they read more books and articles, watch more videos, listen to more audio and push themselves out from their comfort zone?   Why don't they practice?

After 35 years in this business, I still don't understand why sales, as a profession, includes so many ineffective salespeople.  Based on data from Objective Management Group (OMG), who has evaluated and assessed 2,040,355 salespeople, 50% of all salespeople suck.  Take a look at the image below where I have isolated the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  This screen shot represents the percentage of those weak salespeople who have the ten tactical selling competencies as strengths:

After seeing these percentages is it any wonder why half of your salespeople fail to hit quota?  Don't think it could get any worse?  Take a look at what happens when we look at the bottom 10% where it's clear that the only thing some of them are capable of is making friends and presentations:

These ten selling competencies are ten of the twenty-one sales competencies that OMG measures.  You can see them all, filter by industry and sales percentile, and even see how your salespeople compare.  Data on OMG's 21 Sales Core Competencies.

We can pin some of the blame on history. To a certain degree, C Suite executives are conditioned to accept these year-end results and when they are disappointed yet again, they don't raise hell, don't fire the sales leaders, and don't storm out the door.  They simply aren't surprised any more.  Failure is baked in.

You know what it takes to make a lawn look great and from experience I know what it takes for a sales team to become great.  Companies that evaluate their sales teams, provide effective sales training, embrace sales process, train their sales managers to coach, get sales selection right and improve their sales cultures, yield huge gains in sales and profits. Yes, margins increase too. That's what happens when salespeople learn to sell value instead of price.

With that in mind, we can certainly assign a lot of blame on company owners, CEO's and senior sales leaders who don't take those steps and/or don't take those steps seriously. 

The conversation on the LinkedIn post for this article has some fantastic additional reasons why and took my lawn analogy even further.  The best one so far is from Rocky LaGrone who said, "...Don't forget about pesticides for those pesky insects, pre-emergent for unwanted weeds, over watering, and fungus. Those are the same in sales as mediocre sales leaders and salespeople. It's the equivalent to making excuses and accepting them. Add lack of understanding of how to bring value and premature presentation and you have a baron landscape in sales. With zero effective coaching you might as well not mow! The layman landscaper cant see the early warning signs of root damage or infestations of grubs no more than the layman sales executive can't see their rotting sales foundation without measuring the right metrics at the right frequency. Most people react to their grass and don't pay attention to the roots. Healthy roots produce healthy plants and the same is true for sales. The fundamentals never change. It's the application of the fundamentals that make the difference. A professional landscaper will start with a soil sample and analysis. Why wouldn't a sales executive start with an analysis of their salesforce?"

There are a lot more great comments like this one at the LinkedIn post.

There's no excuse for not weaponizing your sales teams and equipping them with every appropriate sales strategy and tool to leverage their ability to close opportunities they have routinely allowed your competitors to retain, steal or close.

As Michael Jackson famously sung in his timeless 1980's hit, Man in the Mirror,  Make a change.  Start with the [person] in the mirror.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales performance, CEO, sales quotas, sales assessments, sales managerment, increase profit

The Problem With Having Crappy Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 11, 2020 @ 15:11 PM

lg-electronics-front-load-washers-wm8100hva-64_1000

The lettering above the dials of our LG washing machine (pictured above when new) have worn off.  I went online believing I could get a replacement decal and while LG does not provide replacements,  they will replace the entire front panel for $125.  While I was researching this stupid, preventable issue, I found that many LG owners have the same problem.  You see, the letters come right off if you are stupid enough to drape a stained baseball uniform (or any stained clothing) over the front of the washer and spray it with a stain remover like Shout.  How can the product managers for this machine be so bad?

They're not the only professionals who are quite bad at what they do.  Sales Managers underperform at a mind boggling level.  Let me show you the degree to which most sales managers are unqualified.

Let's begin our story with sales management candidates - those candidates looking for a sales management gig.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) recommendation rate for sales management candidates is only 14.8% with another 14.1% on the fringes leaving 71% of all candidates not recommended!  More than two out of three candidates for sales management roles don't qualify!

The next question is why not?

One third of all candidates are knocked out for having low scores in Will to Manage Sales.  This group of five sales management competencies includes Desire for Sales Management Success, Commitment to achieving greater sales management success, Outlook, Responsibility and Motivation.

42% of all candidates are knocked out for having Sales Management DNA scores that are too low.  Sales Management DNA consists of five competencies which together are a combination of strengths that support a sales manager's ability to coach to and enforce sales process, sales strategies, sales tactics, sales methodology, sales pipeline and CRM compliance.  When the score dips below a certain point, those competencies become weaknesses.

16% of all candidates are knocked out for scoring too low on the Sales Coaching competency and another 61% are on the fringes.  That's another way of saying that only 23% of all candidates have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength and when sales managers are supposed to be spending half of their time on coaching, that's seriously useless.

Ugh.

There are a couple of different ways to look at this.  Companies that are serious about building strong sales cultures and following best practices use OMG's sales management candidate assessments and say, "No big deal.  That's why we use OMG to assess sales and sales management candidates!"  Companies that don't use OMG probably don't even notice because the candidates are probably no worse than most of the sales managers already working there.

That brings us to the bigger problem.  Six out of every seven sales managers SUCK!

What does that mean for you?

Most sales managers don't coach enough, don't coach consistently, don't coach the right way, don't impact their salespeople's opportunities, don't grow their salespeople, don't inspire their salespeople, don't hold their salespeople accountable, suck at recruiting new salespeople, spend too much time on personal sales and compiling reports, and not nearly enough time developing the talent on their teams.  More on this topic.

I spoke with the two senior-most executives of a national company who admitted that they've been trying to build a sales organization for ten years.  They said they "don't know what they don't know."  That doesn't actually differentiate them from most executives.  What does differentiate them is that they admitted it!  Unfortunately, admitting that they don't know what they don't know doesn't solve anything.  They must also be willing to follow advice, follow through and stick with it and that's easier said than done. Building a sales culture that rocks means starting with the right sales manager in place.  Always.

The challenge is to understand the importance of having the right sales managers.  If you run a company with a small sales team, you're lying to yourself if you think that you can manage salespeople in your spare time.  Just. Not. True.  If you run a larger company with a larger sales team, you're lying to yourself if you think that as long as you hire the right sales talent any sales manager will do.  Right up until the good salespeople quit.  If you have multiple sales teams, with more layers between the C Suite and the salespeople, sales managers receive less scrutiny, are more independent, and play an even more important role in executing the company's strategy.  You're lying to yourself if you think that having any sales manager with industry experience will get the job done.

Sales Managers are the LG washing machines of the sales profession and the people they report to are the enablers that allow that inferior product to exist.

Time to towel off.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, sales management, sales performance, sales team, sales management test

New Data Shows an Overlooked Finding Correlates to Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 09:10 AM

compatibility

We use remote deposit, a terrific convenience for depositing checks from the desktop without going to the bank.  The only problem is that the software that runs the check scanner isn't compatible with the Mac OS.  It only runs on Windows so we have to remotely connect to an old Dell that takes up unnecessary space. Oh, if only the software for the check scanner was compatible with the Mac.

My wife and I were friends with a couple that argued ALL the time. They argued when they were alone, they argued when they were with us, they argued when they were with their kids and they were just brutal to each other.  If only they were more compatible.

Compatibility is not only important, it could be one of the most overlooked criteria in hiring sales candidates.  Let's do a deep dive! 

Most sales leaders think that industry experience is the most important criteria for evaluating the fit of a potential sales hire but they couldn't be more wrong.  Compatibility with the selling environment is far more important.  For example, if you sell payroll services, is it more important that the sales candidate came from the payroll industry or is it more important that they have great selling skills and called on the same HR professionals that a payroll salesperson would need to call on?  In other words, is it more important that they know stuff, or is it more important that they have a built-in network of customers to sell to? 

There's more to compatibility than who they sell to.  Factors like the length of the sales cycle, how many calls/meetings that entails, your price point relative to the competition, the amount of money they'll be asking for, the quality of the competitor's offering, the effectiveness of the competition's marketing and sales, whether they've worked for a sales manager with a similar management style, how much pressure they'll be under, whether they'll get the coaching and training they require, if they've worked under a similar compensation plan, and more should be considered.  There are nearly 30 variables that help to determine whether a salesperson is compatible for the role. 

At my weekly meeting with Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, we discussed compatibility in the context of another finding we call FIOF or "Figure it Out Factor."  Candidates that have a FIOF score of 75 or better ramp up more quickly than other candidates.  Compatibility is weighted pretty heavily in the FIOF finding because of how it influences the ramp-up time of new salespeople.  The more compatible a salesperson is with your selling environment, the more quickly they should ramp up because they've "done this before."

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as 9 other competencies that are important but not core.  An additional finding is a score for compatibility.  

Out of curiosity, we wondered what the average score for compatibility was because we haven't looked at that before.  He asked me to guess and I said "somewhere between 60 and 80."  It turns out that the average compatibility score for all sales candidates is 70.  Not bad!  For kicks, we ran the analysis for the four levels of Sales Percentile which include Elite (top 5%), Strong (the next 15%), Serviceable (the next 30%), and Weak (everyone else - the bottom 50%).  This is what the analysis showed:

Who knew that compatibility would correlate to Sales Percentile? I certainly didn't think that the distribution of scores would show this kind of correlation.  After all, when we score compatibility, we aren't measuring any of the sales competencies that make up Sales Percentile; only prior selling environments. The top 5% of all salespeople are 41% more compatible with their selling roles than the bottom 50% and it left me wondering, "Why?"

Three theories came to mind and perhaps you can add some additional theories!

Theory 1: The best salespeople naturally identify good fits for themselves so that they can thrive.  We could guess that elite salespeople seek out the greatest selling challenges - something beyond their comfort zone - but perhaps they are simply too smart to sabotage themselves.

Theory 2: The worst salespeople don't pay any attention to fit because to them, selling is just spouting off features and benefits, doing demos, generating quotes and proposals, and taking orders.  Maybe they simply gravitate to wherever they are wanted?

Theory 3: The best sales leaders, in hiring only the best salespeople, are rewarded with salespeople that can handle their selling environment. It's worth noting that the best sales leaders hire salespeople who are more talented than they are while average and weak sales leaders hire salespeople who are weaker than they are.

I haven't written about compatibility before but it's worth spending a few minutes to understand the role it plays in sales success.

What plays an even more important role in sales success than compatibility?  It's the 21 Sales Core Competencies and configuring OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to recommend those candidates that score well in the competencies that are crucial to success in the role you are hiring for.  Learn more about the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales performance, Personality Tests, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test

New Data Reveals a Finding That Correlates to Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

sales-success

We had a request for some data from one of our longtime partners.  My knee-jerk reaction to her request was that it would be a big nothing burger.  She asked for data that would show the difference between salespeople who are goal oriented and those who are not.  I did not expect much of a difference except in the area of Motivation but I was wrong.  Very wrong!  Check out some of the profound differences this data mining uncovered!

Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales-specific Core Competencies. You can see them all here.  We have data from our evaluations and assessments of 1,940,502 salespeople. Can you guess which of the 21 sales competencies shows the most profound difference between those who are goal-oriented and those who are not?

Hunting.  That's what you guessed, right?  The average score for the Hunting Competency for goal-oriented salespeople is 82% while those who are not goal oriented have an average score of only 68%.  Goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at Hunting!  If you think about it, this makes sense because without goals or a plan, the need to prospect for new business is not as obvious or urgent.  "Prospects consistently" and "Maintains full pipeline" are 2 of the10 attributes of the Hunter competency.  Are you looking to hire new salespeople that will grow your business?  Use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to help select ideal salespeople for your selling role.

Motivation.  This one was a no brainer as "Has written personal goals" and "Has a plan to achieve goals" are 2 of the attributes of the Motivation competency.  Those who are goal oriented have an average score of 81 versus the average score of 61 for those who are not.

Revenue.  This isn't a competency but this finding was screaming for my attention.  Those who are goal oriented have average revenue of $3.8 million while those who are not saw averages of only $2.7 million.

Sales Percentile.  This score places salespeople in a range from 0-100.  A Sales Percentile score of 100 would mean that a salesperson is better than 100% of all salespeople while a Sales Percentile score of 0 would mean that 100% of all salespeople are better than this salesperson.  Goal oriented salespeople have an average Sales Percentile of 64 while those who are not goal oriented have an average Sales Percentile of only 45.  Goal oriented salespeople score 42% better!

Responsibility.  Interestingly, goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at taking responsibility and as a result, are far less likely to make excuses for their lack of performance.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics.  However, when Sales DNA is weak, it sabotages rather than supports.  Sales DNA isn't learned.  Sales DNA isn't skills.  So it blew my mind to see the correlation between goal oriented and stronger Sales DNA.  The difference is profound.  Generally speaking, as the difficulty of the selling role increases, the minimum Sales DNA score required for success increases with it.  For example, if you sell 7-figure capital equipment to the C-Suite of Enterprise sized companies against huge competitors where the incumbent is difficult to replace, that level of difficulty requires a minimum Sales DNA of 82.  If you're selling SaaS to small businesses, you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 72.  If you're selling commercial batteries to fleet parts managers you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 66.  Goal oriented salespeople have Sales DNA that is 6 points higher and when it comes to Sales DNA, that's a huge difference maker!

Selling Competencies.  10 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure are pure selling competencies, like:

  • Hunting
  • Relationship Building
  • Consultative Selling
  • Value Selling
  • Qualifying
  • Presentation Approach
  • Closing
  • Sales Process
  • CRM Savvy
  • Social Selling Mastery

When we combine the average scores of the 10 selling competencies above, goal oriented salespeople are 20% stronger with an average score of 60, compared to an average score of 50 for those who aren't goal oriented.

Goal oriented salespeople score higher in every single competency.

Here's the biggest takeaway.

83% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have written personal goals while only 44% of weak salespeople (the bottom 50%) have written personal goals.  That's an 89% difference!

76% of elite salespeople have a plan for reaching their goals while only 25% of weak salespeople have a plan for reaching their personal goals.  That's a 304% difference!

Together those two findings make up the goal oriented finding and while it alone is not predictive of sales success. However, goal oriented is an attribute of the Motivation Competency and that does correlate perfectly with sales success as you can read in this article.

Those who have written personal goals and a plan are far more likely to be top performers than those who don't. Goal setting is low-hanging fruit so why aren't more companies providing their salespeople with professional goal setting programs?

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales performance, top salespeople, goal setting

The Science Behind One Company's Top Sales Performers and Why They're So Much Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 08:01 AM

apples-to-oranges

There are comparisons of apples to oranges, red or green, black or white, stop and go, and the most relevant and current of all, liberals to conservatives.

In today's article, I'll share a hot/cold comparison of my own, but this one is about sales candidates.  Back on January 9, my article about why 3 good salespeople failed and 3 so-so candidates succeeded, used the results of a top/bottom analysis to identify the reasons why.  

Those results were unusual because many of  the differentiators came from outside the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  What does it look like when the differentiators come from within the 21 Sales Core Competencies?  Take a look at this top/bottom analysis and you'll quickly see the difference!

The screen shot below shows that we identified 21 major differentiators.

Jan14TailoredFit

Their three tops are far better and stronger salespeople than the tops in the previous analysis.  Even their bottoms are stronger than the tops and bottoms of the previous analysis.  But the differentiations are very clear.  Consider:

  • Desire for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >87.  The normal cutoff is 60 so even the three bottoms scored well in Desire but the tops had even more Desire.
  • Motivation for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >74.  The normal cutoff is 50 so as with Desire, even the bottoms had good scores.
  • Sales Percentile is the overall score.  Greater than 79 means that their tops are stronger than 79% of the sales population.  And if that's what it takes to succeed in this particular role at this particular company, then the sales candidates that OMG will recommend to them must be in the top 20%.
  • Figure-it-Out-Factor or FIOF is a roll-up of 10 findings that predict whether or not a salesperson will ramp-up more quickly than a typical candidate.  Those who are succeeding at this company have FIOF scores of greater than 66.
  • The Sales DNA Competencies are the overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  These are the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics and sales methodology.  The tops have tremendous Sales DNA Scores of >81 while the bottoms have Sales DNA more consistent with weak salespeople.
  • Supportive Sales Beliefs (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >86. You could say that everything begins with beliefs!  Their top salespeople have scores for beliefs that are only a few points better than their bottoms so a score of 86 or better is an important differentiator.
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >70.   There is  a huge difference in how the tops score compared with the bottoms for this competency!
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >82. 
  • Handles Rejection (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >77. 
  • Hunting (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >92.  These are really good  scores so it  should come as no surprise that their tops are filling the pipeline!
  • Consultative Seller (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >49.  This is the second lowest cutoff score of all  the  differentiators we identified. The company overall is still selling transactionally and this is an area for improvement.
  • Qualifying (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >59.  This is another significant differentiator between  their  tops and bottoms.
  • Presentation Approach (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >81.
  • Closing (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >33.  Did you see the scores for the bottoms?
  • Sales Process (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >77. Another  huge differentiation.  It's included twice in this analysis to give it twice the weight because it's that important.
  • Compatibility with their Selling  Environment >71
  • Maintains Full Pipeline (part of the Hunter competency)
  • Self-Starter
  • Decision Maker (part of the Buy Cycle Competency)

Like I always say, these are different for every role at every company selling into every market.  No two analyses are the same and these analyses become the second layer of customization for our sales candidate assessments.  That's what makes them so accurate and predictive.

For brand new users, our top/bottom analyses also serve as proof of concept.  We're able to prove that we can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms to give them confidence that our award-winning sales candidate assessments will work for them.

Where can you get your hands on our sales candidate assessments?  Click here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales performance, assessment, omg

The Top 15 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2019

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 04, 2019 @ 13:12 PM

best-of-2019

Just when it seems that I don't have any more articles to write, another year has passed and I've now surpassed 1,800 articles on my Blog.  As with any other year, some are really good and some aren't as good but I try to inject my style of using analogies because everywhere I look I see a correlation to sales and sales leadership.

For example, as I look out the window, Dinger, our Golden Doodle, is trying to find a good place to do his business in the snow.  He picks a spot, rejects it, chooses another, rejects it, and circles around and gets distracted, and asks to come back inside without having done what he went out there to do.

To me, that sounds like a lot of salespeople!  They sit at their desk, open their list of prospects, come up with reasons not to call or follow up, finally choose a prospect they feel good about calling, get distracted by an incoming email, get a cup of coffee, go back to the computer, choose another contact, get distracted again, this time by social media, and leave for lunch without having done what they were supposed to do.

After reviewing the 50 or so 2019 articles, I have chosen the top 10 articles based on views, comments here and comments and likes on LinkedIn and Twitter..  Most of these articles rely on statistics from Objective Management Group and/or correlate to strong analogies.  Enjoy!

10 Most Popular Articles (Views, Comments and Likes)

1. The 14 Lies Preventing Salespeople from Getting Their Prospects into a Buying State of Mind

2. Change in Approach Leads to 304% Increase in Sales Effectiveness

3. The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

4. How Big of a Role Does Age Play in Sales Effectiveness

5. The Best Salespeople are 2733% More Likely to Have This Than the Worst Salespeople

6. How All Those Trucks on the Road Can Help You Stop Discounting

7. New Data Shows That Top Salespeople are 2800% Better at Disrupting the Flow

8. Sales Process and Why So Many Salespeople Lose Their Way

9. How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

10. The Best Salespeople are 791% Better at This Than Weak Salespeople

The Red Sox are my favorite baseball team but they didn't make the playoffs this year.  It doesn't always work out that my favorite teams are champions!  Similarly, five of my favorite articles from 2019 failed to make it into this year's top 10.  

My Favorites from 2019

1. The New Salesenomics

2. Did You Know That the Beatles Taught us about Selling

3. Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

4. A Tale of Three Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

5. New Data Reveals a Powerful New Score for Sales Effectiveness 

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, sales performance, sales effectivnes

What Sales Organizations Must Learn from the Impeachment Hearings

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 @ 11:11 AM

impeachment

This is not a political article but I will use the impeachment hearings as an example to set the stage for my insights.  Currently in the USA there are 3 major schools of thought relative to the impeachment hearings:

Most Democrats and Liberals: "We hate Trump and we want to see him impeached."

Most Republicans and Conservatives: "We love Trump and hate what they are trying to do to him."

Most  Independents: "They should follow the facts and make an informed decision."

Suppose that instead of the impeachment hearings we are analyzing a sales opportunity where we substitute "You" (Bob) and "Your Company" (ABC) for Trump, and substitute Your Customer or Prospect for "We".

You'll quickly see how one of the same three scenarios plays out for each  opportunity. 


The Love Scenario: If it's your customer, you had better hope they're saying. "We love Bob and ABC and we would never leave."  Perfect.  But it could just as easily be your competitor's (XYZ) existing customer and they love XYZ and would never leave.  As with the impeachment hearings, whether they love you or your competitor they will dig in their heels to defend their position.

The Hate Scenario: If it's your customer and they hate you and ABC they will be leaving you no matter what you do or say. While there may be nothing you can do to stop their departure, there is plenty you can do to prevent scenarios like that.  If they are XYZ's customer and they hate XYZ then they are leaving XYZ no matter what and this becomes your low hanging fruit.   You can leverage this growth opportunity when you stop talking about your company and products, and instead learn what your prospect doesn't like about XYZ and encourage them to spell out all of it.  If you take this consultative approach, you will win this business! 

If they are truly independent then you're operating on a level playing field.  Your consultative approach will help you differentiate from your competition as long as you take your time, don't rush through it, and find their compelling reason to do business with you.

If you work as hard as you can to get your customers to love you and your company they'll dig in their heels to defend you and never leave.  Leverage the low hanging fruit to grow your business.

The other insight from the hearings has to do with the ambassadors and diplomats who disagree with Trump's foreign policy.  We learned that the career diplomats serve at the pleasure of the president and are to carry out the president's foreign policy regardless of whether they agree with it or it's the proper policy.  Agree or disagree as we might, that's how it's supposed to work.

We see the exact same thing in sales organizations where sales managers and salespeople are not executing the sales strategy, sales plan and sales process laid out by the executive team.  There are always goals, targets, metrics, expectations and timelines.  When these fail to be met, it's either because we've chosen the wrong people, haven't properly set expectations, haven't provided the proper coaching, or they don't agree with your "policy."  These can be fairly difficult to decipher, differentiate and fix so a little help from an OMG sales force evaluation can help.

evals

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, Donald Trump, key to growing revenue, retention

The Top 10 Sales Articles of 2018

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 @ 07:12 AM

top-10

Many of us love traditions, some of us have rituals or superstitions and most of us find comfort in a routine.  Routines are familiar, we don't have to think about it, and it's predictable.

In December I have two traditions with my Blog.  The first is to repost my Nutcracker article - one of my most popular articles and by far, the most read article each December.  I first wrote the Nutcracker article in 2010 and have reposted it for each of the past 8 years. This year I'm simply providing you with the link to the 2016 version, hoping you read one of my all-time favorites.

My other tradition is to list the top articles of 2018 by popularity (views), engagement (comments), and my personal favorites so here we go:

These were the top 5 articles of 2018 by popularity

Salespeople with this Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

The Biggest Reason Salespeople Don't Close More Sales

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better at These Competencies

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if They Worked in Accounting

 

These were the top 5 articles of 2018 by the number of comments about it on LinkedIn.  You'll notice some repeats...

Latest Data on Sales Coaching is Worse Than Pathetic

Salespeople with this Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

New Data Shows Some Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

 

And finally, these are my 10 favorite articles from 2018.  Interestingly, only 2 of these 10 can be found on the popularity or engagement lists and the most popular and talked about articles weren't my favorites.  Go figure!

Would Henry Ford be Able to Sell Cars Today?

How I Realized That Selling is Just a Bunch of Crap

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility with Their Prospects

How the Cheesecake Factory Menu Can Make You a Better Closer

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

10 Reasons Why Parents of Toddlers Make Better Sales Coaches Than Sales Managers

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Persistence Over Polish - What the Top 10% of All Salespeople Do Better

Would You Like to be Selling Guns Right Now?

Predictions for 2018 - The Sales Triad Will Provide Record Sales Growth

Happy Holidays!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales excellence, Nutcracker, sales science

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

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

sales-team

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

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

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

mgrs-to-sp-comparison

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

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

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

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

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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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