This is How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 06:03 AM

HallOfFameLast week I posted an article that linked to two additional articles I wrote for EcSELL Institute and Top Sales World.  [Speaking of Top Sales World, they just published a page showing all of the greats (I'm honored to be included) that have been inducted into their Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in the past 3 years.]  Apparently there were issues with those links from last week because I got dozens of emails letting me know that you couldn't get to those two articles.  I will share the article I wrote for EcSell below.  Sales Management must spend 50% of their time coaching salespeople like this: 

An enormous part of developing salespeople these days is helping them to differentiate themselves from your competitors.  Effectively applying a consultative sales process helps to accomplish this.  Executed correctly, the salesperson has a conversation with a decision maker that is unlike any conversation the competition has had.  It uncovers the compelling reasons for spending money, changing vendors, buying a product or service and, as important, buying it from you.  That creates urgency, and an incentive for a prospect to self-qualify.  The end-result should be a prospect that is willing to spend more to do business with you, and a sales cycle that is not based on winning the price war.

A salesperson told me he met with a customer that had taken their business to a competitor because of price.  It sounded like they were getting what they were paying for: 

    • Paying more for freight,
    • Finding variations in the product,
    • Stocking more inventory than necessary because of availability problems

The salesperson accomplished enough to uncover some issues and while these aren’t compelling reasons, additional questions would lead us there.  To keep the story short and get to my point, let’s assume that the salesperson did enough correctly to continue moving the opportunity forward.   

The Salesperson Comes to You Having Said This to the Former Customer 

“If you had access to local delivery, through a distributor, and the price was competitive, would you consider looking into this?” 

Step 1 – Can you identify what’s wrong with his outdated trial close?

Step 2 – Can you articulate why it’s wrong?

Step 3-  Can you explain the root cause of why it happened?

Step 4 – Can you role play the solution?

Step 5 – Can you get to lessons learned? 

Coaching – Step 1

Forget for a minute that the call to action was horrible; “Look into this” instead of “Pay a little more for my help solving this problem”.  

That wasn’t the worst of it.  

The horror of the salesperson’s question was that he introduced an unnecessary criterion - competitive pricing - for doing business with him.  

Coaching Step 2 - What’s wrong with that? 

Two things: 

    1. Even if you wanted to be the low priced seller, and you don’t, after that question, if you don’t come back with a competitive price you don’t get the business!
    2. He didn’t need to offer competitive pricing because he sold value!  He identified the problem and has a solution for the problem.  That is the value someone will pay for and he undermined it by bringing the customer’s attention back to price! 

Coaching Step 3 – What’s the Root Cause? 

The salesperson was afraid to ask the customer to pay more so there are 4 potential weaknesses at play, as well as the possibility that he hadn’t remembered the correct way to ask the question.

    • Discomfort talking about money prevented him from addressing it
    • Understanding of Price Sensitivity because that’s the way he buys
    • Need for Approval caused him to believe the customer may not like him anymore if he asks a tough question.
    • Self-Limiting Belief that he needs a competitive price in order to get the business 

Coaching Step 4 – Can You Role Play the Solution? 

Salesperson: “How important is it to have continued availability of quality, local inventory?”

Customer: “Extremely important”. 

Salesperson: “Tell me how that would affect your business. 

Customer: “I’ll have control over costs and availability.” 

Salesperson: “Peace of Mind?” 

Customer: “Exactly.” 

Salesperson:  “And, in order to solve this problem, get local, as needed, quality inventory, eliminate your enormous freight costs, and restore peace of mind, are you willing to pay a little more for my help and solve this problem once and for all?” 

Coaching  Step 5 – Lessons Learned

I hear an awful lot of salespeople complaining that they can’t sell in their business unless they have the best price.  The reality is that there are only four reasons why price becomes an issue:

    • The salesperson made it an issue (experience)
    • The salesperson accepted that it was an issue (non-supportive beliefs)
    • The salesperson didn’t know how to prevent it from being an issue (tactics)
    • The salesperson was foolishly calling on purchasing instead of an actual decision maker who owned a problem or an opportunity. (strategy)

What did you learn?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales skills, sales management, Sales Coaching, EcSELL Institute, sales weaknesses, sales enablement, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World

You Can Help Salespeople Burdened with Sales Weaknesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Advantage that Focused Salespeople Have

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 @ 06:10 AM

I have seen this so many times!

Show me a focused salesperson - one who isn't aware of what else is taking place in the office this very moment because he is so focused on getting his sales work completed; one who won't stop to take a break until she makes all of the required calls; one who won't go to sleep at night until all of the appropriate follow ups, responses,  CRM updates, paperwork and details have been finished - and I'll show you a good salesperson.

Salespeople like these are usually more successful, regardless of how effectively they may have developed their skills.  When they all possess strong Desire and Commitment for success in sales, they are likely to be equally intent on making sure they execute their sales process as intended.

Salespeople who are easily distracted can become distracted within the actual sales process, navigating by the look of the scenery rather than following the map.  Distractable salespeople also tend to find themselves working on other, less important activities while falling behind on the business development side of sales - the stuff you are paying them to do and expecting them to accomplish.

So what can you do if you have salespeople who are more distracted than focused?

  1. Manage them much more closely
  2. Replace them
  3. Make sure their priorities for each day are the correct priorities
  4. Develop more appropriate daily KPI's for those salespeople
  5. Make focus a condition for continued employment
  6. Call them out when they get distracted
  7. Remove distractions
  8. Provide an assistant so they have fewer distractions
And if you have focused salespeople who are not as successful as they should be, there are issues with either their skills, will, DNA or sales process.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales skills, Sales Coaching

10 Steps to Record-Breaking Sales Revenues

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 @ 06:06 AM

When things loosen up (and things will loosen up) and companies and consumers both begin spending money again, you could be in for a significant windfall.  You may even have some record breaking revenue months if, and it's a big if, you have your sales force doing all of the right things, even while companies and consumers aren't spending money.

Here are ten requirements for having and continuing to have record-breaking months in the not-too-distant future:

1) Over stuff the pipeline.  Just because opportunities are being placed on hold, doesn't mean that you shouldn't put more opportunities into the pipeline.  The sales pipeline is not like your stomach, you know.  It will expand infinitely.

2) Focus on a different metric. The metric that reports closing percentage is skewed right now so ignore it.  Instead, focus on the metrics that tell you how many opportunities are entering the first stage of your pipeline as well as those moving to the second stage of your pipeline.

3) Tighten up the criteria. As long as you're going to pay attention to the percentage of opportunities that move to the second stage of your pipeline, now is the time to make sure everyone understands the criteria for placing an opportunity in the second stage and make those criteria more difficult to meet.

4) Modify your incentive/reward program.  If you have decided to focus on pipeline building rather than closing, reward that behavior with recognition, awards and bonuses!

5) Don't look back.  The tendency will still be to look at closing.  The problem is that once you start looking at it, you'll want to do something about it and there may not be anything you can do. Remain focused on pipeline stuffing.

6) Two - two - two closables in one. The closable stage of your pipeline will have two types of opportunities in it today.  Closable now and closable later.  What they have in common is that for both types of closable opportunities, you have been told that they will do business.  The difference is only in the when.  The later closables need to be nurtured while the current closables need to be closed.  It's OK, even good, to make sure that the current closables don't become later closables.

7)  Diversify.  There is money out there and it is being spent.  The question is whether your target customers are the ones doing the spending.  This is a great time to move laterally into new markets.  Let's suppose you sell trade show exhibits to small and medium sized businesses.  The small size businesses not only don't have any money but they aren't even participating in shows.  The mediums have money but aren't spending it on upgrades to their look.  You can wait it out or you can target a new market segment by moving up to larger companies than your traditional sweet spot, or you can target specific industries that haven't been impacted as negatively, like food or health care.

8) Be a non-profit. When the money isn't rolling in like it's being printed just for you, there is almost a sense that you've become a non-profit. what the non-profits are doing right now and ask for money!  You have all of those existing customers that you used to take for granted.  Put the full court press on them, find out how they're coping, learn what's changed in their business and figure out what you can do to help. And ask for money!

9)  Develop sales processes, competencies, strategies and tactics for the tough times.  Selling is not the same as it once was.  You can no longer count on success from glorified order taking and account management. Got a sales force?  You must make it strong enough and effective enough to succeed in these times, not wait for a return to the good times.  We may not see those times again. Invest in a sales development expert and let them help you now!

10) Hire great salespeople.  All of your salespeople will not be able to make this transition and this isn't the time for charity.  Replace the salespeople who won't be able to step up and aggressively hunt for new opportunities.  Replace the salespeople who won't be able to skillfully move those opportunities through the steps of your sales cycle with good questioning and listening skills.  Replace the salespeople that aren't closers. Good ones are out there and you must make the commitment to settle for nothing less.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales, sales skills, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, hiring salespeople, Economy, sales revenue

The Secret - The Ancient Scrolls and its Impact on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:03 PM

Al Turrisi was kind enough to give me a book called the Power of the Kabbalah.  Its ancient scrolls originated around 4,000 years ago, inspired The Secret and predates Moses and the Bible!  Since this book is not the Kabbalah itself, rather a Cliff Notes version, it tends to read more like a self-help book. It is far more powerful than a self-help book though as it points to a number of rules that will cause a transformation in one's life.

Seven of the desired behaviors are consistent with the philosophies in Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball as well as Objective Management Group's Sales Assessments:

The importance of Desire. Read the Top 10 Factors for Salespeople to Overachieve.

It's not about you.  Over the past several months I have found myself telling an awful lot of salespeople and sales managers that it's not about them.  It's even become a finding in Objective Management Group's Sales Manager's Evaluation - The It's All About Me finding.

Need for Approval or what happens when you need people to like you.  This is the second most powerful weakness in all of selling. Here's an article about that.

Becoming Emotionally Involvedor reacting instead of proacting.This is the third most powerful weakness in all of selling. I wrote an article about this.

Resistance or the great challenge that presents itself rather than an obstacle.  I wrote a an article about this earlier this month and another one a couple of years ago.

Certainty or having faith that what you say, ask, or do will get the desired outcome.

Doing What's Uncomfortable.  I wrote an article about this a while back too.

Many of the articles I linked to were Baseline Selling Tips.  Speaking of Baseline Selling, this is the third anniversary of the publish date of the book, a good reason to reread or order it.

So in summary, simply by having your salespeople overcome their sales weaknesses, doing the very things they are uncomfortable doing, having faith in their abilities and having a strong desire for success will cause those very same people to experience life changing experiences.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan



Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Baseline Selling, assessments, sales skills, Salesforce, Sales Force, Changing_Behavior, over achievement, sales weaknesses, Motivation, sales core competencies, assessment, sales evaluation, over achieve, improve sales performance, sales winners, overachievers, sales assessment test, Baseline_Selling, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

Former IBM Pro Lashes Out Over Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 @ 06:02 AM

A CEO of a fairly large-sized but under-performing OEM asked us to evaluate his sales force.  One of the three regional managers, who assessed as poorly as any regional manager could, called to complain about his results.  In addition to calling me a toad, Bob said that in the eighties he used to sell and manage at IBM and he led the top performing team.  He finished by letting me know that we didn't know what we were talking about and, by the way, he would be picking me up at the airport for the kick-off of their national training initiative.

It was a quiet ride (his choice) to the site of the training, where, for the first three hours, Bob stood in the back of the room, stoic, arms folded, attempting to intimidate me through his thick, black glasses. (I don't think it's possible to accomplish the intimidation thing with me but he did try really hard!)

At the lunch break Bob approached me and said, "You know, I've learned more about sales and sales management in the last three hours than I ever learned at IBM.  I've reconsidered what I said to you on the phone.  Your assessment was right on.  I don't have the skills or the strengths you've been talking about.  At IBM, we were the market leader, people wanted to buy from us and all I had to do was leverage our position in the marketplace.  I apologize for giving you a hard time.  But you're still a toad."

Even today, brand leaders, price leaders, and technology leaders all have a false sense of sales and sales management competency.  Are they truly succeeding because of their sales and sales management effectiveness?  The true tests always come when these successful sales executives leave to take a position at a company that is under performing.  Can they repeat the magic?  Can they extend their track record?  Can they add another success to their resume? 

Most find out, and rather quickly, that it ain't so easy to join an underdog and succeed without a deep set of sales competencies, disciplines, strategies and tactics.  Sadly, the executives that hire them find out too, that when they hire a sales or sales management star from a well-known company, their expectations will often fail to be met.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales skills, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, sales evaluation, IBM, OEM, sales manager, regional sales manager, sales disciplines, sales assessment test, sales test

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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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