10 Sales Attributes That Don't Differentiate Top Salespeople from Bottom Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 12, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

personality

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.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales personaility, top sales performers, sales attributes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

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

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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