"Spirited" Has So Much in Common with Most Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 29, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

Watch new trailer for holiday comedy 'Spirited,' starring Will Ferrell and  Ryan Reynolds - Good Morning America

Last week we watched Spirited, the new Apple TV Plus take on the old Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.  In this lighthearted film, Will Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Reynolds is the 2022 version of Scrooge.  This Scrooge is a funny, selfish, materialistic, song and dance man, who is irredeemable. Can Will Farrell's character redeem Ryan Reynolds' character?

As usual, the movie got me thinking about salespeople and Understanding the Sales Force.

Ryan Reynold's character, Clint Briggs, is a fabulous showman, salesperson, and marketing consultant rolled into one.  The problem is that he never considers anyone or anything other than himself and his personal success..

There is a correlation between Clint Briggs and salespeople, many of whom are also irredeemable, but for different reasons. 

Most salespeople - 87% - still sell like it's 1975 and fall into one of three buckets:

  1. They sell transactionally. In other words, they talk about their company, their products and services, themselves, their features and benefits, and try to leverage that for a sale.
  2. They rely on demos to generate interest and then try to close.
  3. They rely on having the lowest price and take orders.

Only 13% of all salespeople take a consultative approach to selling and almost none of them can be found in the bottom 50% - the group that fails to meet quota each year.  A coincidence? On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10% of all salespeople are 4300% more likely to have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength!

Are the 87% redeemable?  Can they make the transition from transactional sellers, demo-focused presenters, and price focused order takers to professional, consultative sellers?  Only an OMG (Objective Management Group) sales team evaluation (SEIA) can answer that questionDownload free samples of the sales team evaluation here.

Spirited does have three things in common with prior versions of A Christmas Story and those are the ghosts of Christmas' past, present and future.  That got me thinking about the articles I wrote in 2022, the articles you'll see in December, and what you can look forward to in 2023.

Our ghost of articles past reminds us that we began 2022 talking about whether buying has changed and if salespeople have adapted.  We followed that up with our 6th installment in the popular Bob Chronicles about salespeople who make things your problem.  Then came an article about the 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and how to break them.  

February began with an article on how hiring salespeople the right way yields 62% less turnover and 80% higher quotas.  We followed that up with the similarities between cyber thieves, hackers and most salespeople.  No kidding!  Then came this favorite, the 7th installment of the Bob Chronicles about salespeople who can't close closable business.  I love the Bob articles!  Then I provided 10 steps to crush your sales forecasts.  Finally, our last article in February was my review of a prospecting email with some elements that could actually work for salespeople.

March started with an article explaining how salespeople with a high tolerance for money are 4,000 percent better than those with a low tolerance for money.  That's a huge differentiator!  Next was the comparison between great baseball coaches and great sales coaches.  Then I began a new series of my most popular videos and rants.  It started with the top 10 but there are now nearly 2 dozen popular videos and rants to watch! 

April started with another baseball analogy - this one about how the philosophy of great pitching coaches can improve your sales team.  Then I explained how to identify the accurate reason for a salesperson who is not performing.  

May's first article had my 5 simple steps to grow sales by 33%.  Really!  May ended with an article about how to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession.

In June, I explained how salespeople like to go fast but good salespeople actually go slow and followed that up with an article on the benefits of competency-based assessments.   

In July, I wrote about why you can't afford to lose customers or salespeople right now.  Then I wrote about big company strategies that small and medium businesses can emulate.  The last article of July explained the differences in requirements for success in different selling roles

August began with one of my trademark takedowns of a junk-science article with 20 attributes of successful salespeople. Not. That was followed with an article about how to stop account churn.  Then I explained how my car's qualifying ability is a great example of how salespeople should qualify. Then came the article that explained how salespeople would be impacted by the 15% minimum corporate tax and how difficult it would be for the IRS to hire 80,000 agents.  Sorry if reporting on an actual news story offended some of you.  The post that should have gotten people upset but didn't was when I compared the sorry and pathetic Boston Red Sox to most sales teams.  Not a single complaint about that one!  My final article in August was another baseball analogy where I compared closing a tough sale to hitting a home run.

In September I found and shared an article with a doctor's testimonial about the importance of his salespeople.  Awesome!  Then I wrote about 10 attributes that do not differentiate top from bottom salespeople.  Next up was my tortured message to the masses wondering why more companies don't use OMG.  Then came another takedown of a Harvard Business Review article that appeared online.  The last article in September talked about how you can double your revenue in a recession.  

October began with my personal life comparison of Jeeps and Infinities and how that analogy holds up when interpreting an OMG sales candidate assessment for hiring salespeople.  My 8th installment of the Bob Chronicles looked at the difference between selling skills and effectiveness.  Then I compared alleged criminals who are released under cashless bail to underperforming salespeople who are released back into the field.   My final October article explored the correlation between motivation and sales compensation.

In November I wondered if salespeople will sell more effectively when sales managers sell and coach and if new sales managers can be difference makers.  Then I wrote a take-down of a Wall Street Journal article about selling to millennials.  My most recent article compared my failing wiper blades to why executives fail to take action when they have underperforming sales teams.

Which of these articles will make the list of the top 10 articles of the year?  Stay tuned for the December reveal as well as my annual Nutcracker post.  In 2023 I'll be focusing even more on how you can use OMG's data to improve sales performance.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, sales performance, sales tips, sales effectiveness, sales assessments, sales team

5 Reasons Sales Teams Underperform Like My Old Wiper Blades

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

The 6 Best Windshield Wipers and Glass Treatments for Your Car of 2022 |  Reviews by Wirecutter

My windshield wipers were no longer getting the job done.  They were underperforming (leaving streaks and smudges), not clearing water from the windshield (failing to meet expectations) and I couldn't see the road properly when it was raining.  It presented a threat to our safety and an upgrade was required.  

I ordered Bosch Icon replacement blades, rated #1 by the NY Times, and after 30 minutes of unintentionally trying to put them on backwards, I finally got them installed. They were freaking awesome.  They exceeded my expectations in the rain, and last night they over performed in the snow.

The wiper blade adventure got me thinking about a few things. My car has 37,000 miles on it but the blades should have been replaced 17,000 miles ago so why did I wait so long? How is this similar to what companies go through when their sales team is underperforming?

I speak with a lot of CEOs and Sales Leaders from companies whose sales teams are underperforming.  One thing they seem to have in common is the mileage problem.  When I ask how long the sales team has been underperforming, it is usually the equivalent of 60,000 miles.  It's not a new problem, the signs have been there for YEARS but something recently changed to the extent that they couldn't tolerate it any longer.  The sales team's performance was finally presenting a threat (safety) whereby one or more of revenue, earnings, sustainability, personal income, stock prices, turnover, market share, morale and more were at risk.

What causes executives to wait so long?  Here are five potential reasons:

Hope - They hope this is the month or quarter that turns things around.  As everyone has heard by now, hope is not a strategy.

Misinformation - Their sales managers/sales leaders provide an overly optimistic narrative about how things are going.  "We have a great pipeline."  "We have some great opportunities." "Our salespeople are having some great meetings."  The keyword is great.  What makes the pipeline, opportunities, and meetings great compared to past months or quarters?

Fear - Sales are not very good right now, but what if we ask for outside help and we swing and miss?  Won't that be even worse?

Patience - They don't want to be guilty of a knee-jerk reaction so they wait a little longer.  After all, cash flow is still positive, so what's the harm in waiting?  Just another day.  Sure, another week.  Maybe another month.  Could we kick it down the road for another year?

Ego - They mistakenly believe that if they ask for help they will appear weak.  Executives don't think twice or worry about bruised egos when they need the advice of attorneys, accountants, bankers, commercial insurance agents, property managers, asset managers, wealth managers, etc.  Why does their ego start trouble when it comes to sales experts and their advice?

For every CEO and Sales Leader that do reach out, a third of them will remain in wait-and-see mode, failing to take action  commensurate with their underperforming sales team. They think that one big sale will solve their problem, but the reality is that one big sale will only further mask the problem.

A Sales Team evaluation helps executives - those who are ready and those who are hesitant - to understand why their teams are underperforming and what can be done about it.  You can learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales performance, evaluation, sales enablement, sales assessments, sales team, OMG Assessment

The Irony of Free Passes for Under Performing Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 21, 2022 @ 08:10 AM

criminal

If you aren't aware of the crime taking place in most of America's big cities, you have either been living in a cave or experiencing willful ignorance. Most of the alleged criminals are repeat offenders and those who are arrested are usually back on the street committing additional crimes later that day due to cashless bail and the presumption of innocence.  

If you think about it, and you don't have to think very long or hard, cashless bail mirrors how companies deal with under-performing salespeople who are also repeat offenders.  Let me explain.

A typical US sales team consists of 15 people, including a Sales VP, 2 Regional Sales Managers, and 12 salespeople.  Of course, there are exponentially larger and smaller sales teams, but this is the version that we most frequently encounter.  This team will have no more than 3 performing salespeople, another 3 who sometimes hit their numbers, and 6 who chronically under-perform.

Let's assume that the salespeople who are ranked 10-12 are not just under-performers, but pathetically ineffective salespeople.  At the end of the year, they receive their annual review - the equivalent of an arrest and release - and are back on the street to underperform for another year, making the company both both the victim and the enabler.  This is insanity!

While some could argue that this is happening because it is so difficult to find sales candidates and harder still to find good ones.  The argument doesn't hold up because while the current labor market is consistent with the lack of quality sales candidates, the practice of rewarding sucky salespeople with continued employment has been around as long as I have!

Three contributing factors to this practice are relationships, ego and hope.

Most sales leaders aren't comfortable terminating salespeople with whom they have developed a strong relationship.  Their ego doesn't allow them to terminate ineffective salespeople because it would be an admission of a hiring mistake and ineffective coaching.  And they hope that this will be a breakout year for these salespeople.

OMG's (Objective Management Group) Sales Team Evaluation provides leaders with science-backed data to know which under-performers can be trained and coached up, how much better they can become, what kind of help they will need to achieve those improvements, and how long it will take.  Isn't that better than hope?

While it helps to train and coach up those who can improve and identify those who can't, the other way to address this issue is to fix the sales hiring problem.  It's time to stop using gut instinct, personality assessments that weren't designed for sales, faulty sales recruiting processes, and resumes as a basis for hiring salespeople.  These practices are at best hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, and examples of ego getting in the way of methodically making good sales hiring decisions.  OMG's legendary sales candidate assessments are customizable, accurate and most importantly, predictive of sales success in the specific sales role for which the company is hiring.

Several White Papers on these topics are available as a free download here.

You can request samples here.

You can see the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures here.  Each core competency has an average of 10 attributes for a total of around 200 scores/findings per salesperson.

You can request more information here.

After an OMG evaluation of his sales team, one of the regional sales managers pushed back and said the OMG evaluations were wrong. The scores were not very good for his top salesperson despite the fact that he sold the company's biggest deal last year and just made president's club.  I asked some questions and learned that this salesperson's big deal was his only decent sale in 6 years and his sales manager actually closed the heavily discounted deal.  I asked the sales manager which was more indicative of who his salesperson really was - the 6 years of under-performance or the one deal that his salesperson received the credit for?  After a minute of hemming and hawing, he admitted it was the 6 years.  Then I asked which was a more accurate evaluation of that salesperson - the OMG evaluation or his own evaluation.  After another round of hems and haws and he admitted it was the OMG evaluation. 

The best investment you can make to improve sales performance is to use OMG's suite of sales team evaluations and candidate assessments.  They are the Gold Standard.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales performance, sales excellence, sales enablement, underachieving, sales assessments, sales success

How to Prepare for the Coming Sales Team Super Storm

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 22, 2021 @ 16:09 PM

LittlePawz - Freak summer snowstorm blanketing red maples

What would you do if, in the middle of summer, a big box store said you would really need a snowblower in preparation for the summer snowstorms we were about to get?  Crazy, right?

What if Staples sent out a promo to buy all the printer paper you can in preparation for a printing explosion as we move away from digital?  Wouldn't that be nuts?

What if a professional sports team reached out to your really good 12-year-old and offered them a professional contract?  Is that even possible?

So when a promotion for an upcoming webinar appeared in my Twitter feed last week I was equally astounded by the lack of anticipatory awareness of the sales training firm and online publication promoting it.  It said:

My first reaction was that this must have been something from 2016 - right before the boom that lasted until the pandemic slammed the economy to the ground.  Or, from the 4th quarter of 2020, when we expected the economy to come roaring back.  But it simply can't be something that is remotely relevant to what we are about to experience.  Here's what we know, and how that will impact companies and their sales teams in 2022.  

I'm not an economist, but I can read, seek out trustworthy sources, and have 46 years of business experience. On top of that I am street smart, have good common sense and  can do the math.  

Inflation.  According to Trading Economics, the current inflation rate is running at over 5% compared to 1.2% just a year ago.  That is bound to lead to higher interest rates and a drop in consumer confidence, followed by layoffs, spending freezes and more price increases.

Federal Debt.  According to Statista, the federal debt is over 28 trillion dollars, more than four times what it was 20 years ago.  On top of that, Congress is debating on two bills, which together, would add another 5 trillion dollars to the debt. Regardless of what anyone in the US government says, it can only lead to higher taxes. One of the bills being debated right now has provisions for significant tax hikes.  According to the NY Times, the corporate tax rate could increase by more than 30% and the rate for the wealthiest Americans could double! According to Tax Policy Center, senior fellow, Howard Gleckman, "95% of all federal taxes are paid by households in the top two quintiles — those making about $98,000 or more." 

No matter how you cut it, higher taxes lead to layoffs and spending freezes. The wealthy will have less disposable income to inject into the economy and the businesses they run must layoff staff to compensate for profits being redirected to pay additional corporate income taxes.

Don't get me wrong. If multi-billion dollar companies aren't paying any taxes they should pay their share but this won't affect them.  According to the US Treasury30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs. This will affect them and their employees.

Immigration.  You don't have to live in a cave to see what's happening on the southern border and with the Afghanistan immigrants.  Millions of people streaming into the US means millions more low wage workers.  According to George Borjas, professor of Economics at Harvard University, "Immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants—from the employee to the employer." 

As wages go down, disposable income vanishes and that negatively impacts the economy.

Stock Market.  Wall Street has the jitters right now because they don't like what they are seeing.  According to Morgan Stanley's Chief Investment Officer, Mike Wilson, stocks could be in for a 20% correction. 

That's a devaluation of 20%! 

According to BTIG's Juilian Emanuel, the markets are mimicking 1999 and for those of us who were around back then, it's not good news.  As a matter of fact, that's the kind of news that causes companies to stop spending money in a hurry.

If you've been reading anything in the news, you know there's a lot more going on but these four issues directly impact our economy.  And you don't have to live in the US to be affected by the US Economy because according to the NY Times, as the USA goes, so goes the global economy.  

These four issues don't suggest a coming boom, they warn of a serious recession, with high inflation, high interest rates, and high taxes, coming soon to a city near you.  In other words, an economic disaster.  Not as bad as the complete shutdown we saw in 2020, but probably as bad as the economic crisis we faced in 2009.

So how will that impact companies and their sales teams?

When large companies enact spending freezes, it has a trickle down effect.  For B2B, think cancellations, PO's that aren't issued, layoffs, fear and most especially, real challenges to getting products and services sold unless companies can't do without them.  And even then, there will be more competition and a race to the bottom as companies demand lower prices. Salespeople are ill-equipped and will be scared, while the companies they work for will be too risk-averse to rely on order takers to suddenly sell value in hopes of maintaining margins. 

"Selling value will be the key to survival but
selling value does not occur in a vacuum".
 

It requires strong consultative selling skills (listening and questioning) in the context of a sales process that supports a consultative approach.

Selling value assumes that your salespeople actually got themselves a meeting!  While getting meetings aren't that difficult with good lead generation efforts, meeting with a decision maker is.  46% of all salespeople believe they are reaching decision makers while Objective Management Group's (OMG) data shows that only 13% are actually doing that.  And if the economy tanks the way I expect it to, watch what will happen to those lead generation efforts!

From 2017 to the pandemic, most salespeople were successful in spite of themselves because there was more business than capacity to deliver.  Yet 50% of reps still failed to meet quota.  What will happen to the bottom half of your sales team when there will no longer be orders to take and each opportunity will need to be found and properly sold?  It doesn't sound very exciting.

Now is the time to take control of what lurks ahead.

The. Single. Most. Important. Thing. You. Can. Do. Right. Now. is to have your sales team professionally evaluated.  You must:

  • Learn who is part of your future and who was part of your past
  • Whether sales management is up to the task of coaching up your salespeople
  • Who has the ability to become effective taking a consultative rather than transactional approach to sales?
  • Who has the ability to sell value instead of price?
  • Is your sales process ready to support a consultative, value based approach?
  • How effective are your salespeople at reaching actual decision makers?
  • How effective is your team at gettin prospects past nice-to-have and getting them to must-have?
  • How much better can your salespeople become?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is required?

Those are the first ten things that came to mind but there are hundreds of other questions that could be and should be answered as part of a sales force evaluation.  What do you need to know about your sales team to navigate what I expect will be a very difficult 2022?

Learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Explore OMG's data from more than 2 million salespeople in the 21 Sales Core Competencies we measure.

Request a sample from a sales team evaluation. Check off the following boxes on your sample request:

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, sales performance, economic crisis, recession, closing deals, 2022

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

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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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