Here in the US, this Sunday marked the first Sunday of NFL Football. It's the same (as always) but different (new games). In their season debut, my New England Patriots did their best impression of my Boston Red Sox and lost 20-7. Close game.
I've written several articles (same as always) about OMG (Objective Management Group) Tailored Fits/Proofs of Concept where I analyze the differences between a company's top producers and bottom producers to identify the findings/scores that differentiate their tops from their bottoms. That is the science of sales performance and sales selection and the last time I wrote about it was in this article from February of 2022. For comparison, the most recent example of a blowhard writing junk science without being scientific about what top salespeople do differently can be found in this article from August of 2022.
Today's article (new article) will go in the opposite direction and discuss strengths and skills that don't differentiate tops from bottoms.
There are two types of findings we'll discuss here:
1) Findings that don't differentiate tops from bottoms within the same company because the tops and bottoms are equally ineffective (see urgency below);
2) Findings that rarely differentiate tops from bottoms across most companies and salespeople (see social selling below).
Personality: We'll get personality out of the way right from the beginning. OMG's data conclusively shows that personality is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople. It might help some salespeople secure meetings but it does not help them win the business. We've all seen salespeople with great personalities who consistently fail to meet and exceed their quotas, as well as salespeople who aren't nearly as personable but crush their numbers each month, quarter and year. Personality is not predictive of sales success. Never has been. Never will be.
Reaching Decision Makers: OMG's science shows that salespeople who reach actual decision makers are 341% more likely to close the business, yet just 15% of the bottom half of all salespeople do this effectively. As important as this Sales Core Competency is, for most companies it fails to differentiate tops from bottoms because neither the tops nor the bottoms consistently get themselves in front of decision makers.
Closing: OMG's science shows that most salespeople, across the board, suck at closing so in most companies, the closing competency is unable to differentiate top from bottoms. And as I've written before, closing is overrated. If a salesperson effectively executes all of the stages and milestones required prior to closing, the business will close.
Friendly: One of the attributes that OMG measures in the Relationship Building Core Competency, is the Likable attribute which never seems to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople. My friends, employees, clients, partners and coworkers would all testify that my weakest Sales Core Competency by far is Relationship Building but somehow, I am likable. Despite being likable, I have never closed a deal because I was so likable.
Urgency: Other than winning the business, the most important outcome in the sales process is the establishment of urgency. Urgency is a by-product of uncovering a compelling reason to buy from you, quantifying the compelling reason and learning about its impact on your prospect. The best salespeople are 329% more likely to get prospects beyond "nice to have," establishing urgency, than weak salespeople. Since only 1% of the bottom half of salespeople are effective at the Consultative Seller Competency, urgency is rarely a differentiator of tops from bottoms within any given company.
Presenting: Most salespeople achieve their highest scores in the Sales Core Competency called Presentation Approach so there isn't much difference between the tops and bottoms in this competency at most companies. Surprisingly, the bottom salespeople are often better than the top salespeople at Presentation Approach because they rely upon and hone their presentation rather than using a Consultative approach.
Extroverted: The science shows that across the board, extroverted salespeople perform no better than introverted salespeople although introverted salespeople tend to have an edge when it comes to listening and asking questions. I have always liked the definitions of introverted and extroverted which suggest that extroverted salespeople are energized from their social interactions while introverts must use their energy for social interactions. I'm introverted and I'm always exhausted from my rare socializing.
Integrity: Integrity is important - just ask @Larry Levine! But it is not one of the findings that tends to differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople. Unfortunately, there are occurrences of OMG seeing high integrity sellers who struggle to build trust and low integrity sellers who are able to build trust. What do prospects see? Salespeople they trust and salespeople they don't trust.
Video Proficiency: In 2020 and 2021 we worked very hard to help salespeople discover, become comfortable with, use and leverage the ability to sell remotely over video, yet this skill does not differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.
Social Selling: Despite the emphasis that has been placed on Social Selling (and in this context we are primarily talking about LinkedIn), this competency is not a differentiator between top and bottom salespeople. While salespeople who are visible and active on LinkedIn may get the occasional meeting, they aren't more effective at closing that business.
At the core of all its services, OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as part of both its Sales Team Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments. Check them out and see how your salespeople compare with nearly 2.5 million salespeople in and out of your industry.
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