Closing Sales, Process, Hauntings, Training & More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 06:03 AM


Photo Credit: Psychic Library

Today I will explore the least-read articles I have ever written.  That's right.  The least read.  It's very fashionable - and a best practice - to continue promoting the most-read, most-liked, most-favorited, most-shared, most-tweeted and most-commented articles; but I don't think anyone has gathered up their worst work and said, "Look at this!"  It's actually not my worst writing.  It's all every bit as good, and in some cases, better than my best articles.  Sometimes crappy articles spread like wildfire and the good stuff comes out on a day when people aren't paying attention.  So here are the 10 best articles I ever wrote that hardly anyone noticed.

Closing Sales - The Fine Line Between Patience and Pressure  August 2007

The Impact of Sales Training  October 2006

Great Sales Opportunities That Don't Close March 2010

Salespeople - Can Their Work Ethic Be as Good as BB King's?  March 2007

How to be Memorable - Things to Do When You are Selling Yourself  August 2009

What Do Sales Managers Do with Their Time?  May 2007

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice  October 2010

But I'm a Sales Guy! The Story of Motivation and Compensation June 2007

Top 14 Requirements to Perform a Sales Force Makeover April 2009 

Hauntings and Salespeople  November 2006

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales motivation, Sales Tactics, Closing Sales, sales compensation, sales opportunities, bb king, how to be memorable, time management for sales managers, sales methodologies

The App Store Provides Insights into Your Company's Sales Challenges

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 05:11 AM

App StoreLet's look at your company, brands, products and services.  Is there any possibility that someone could go wrong buying from you? 

To answer this question, let's first look at Apples's App Store. Normally I simply find the app I need and download it on the spot but over the holidays I had enough time to actually browse the App store.  When I got to the Book category I browsed by popularity and noticed that THE MOST POPULAR books for the iPad were not the latest romance novels, thrillers or biographies, and they weren't the New York Times bestsellers either.  Ready?

  1. Christmas Tale
  2. Shakespeare
  3. The Bible Reader
  4. Marvel Comics
  5. DC Comics
  6. Twas The Night Before Christmas
  7. Toy Story Read-Along
  8. The Velveteen Rabbit
  9. The Holy Bible - King James Edition
  10. Dr. Seuss's ABC  3.99
  11. Archie Comics
  12. MeeGenius! Children's Books
  13. Alice for the iPad-Lite
  14. NIV Bible
  15. Three Little Pigs
  16. Jingle All the Way
  17. Lesbian Short Stories, Part 1
  18. Children's Bible
  19. The Cat in the Hat 3.99
  20. Comics+

Kids, comics, Bibles, and Freebies pretty much sum it up.  Here's another way of looking at it.  Except for #17, they are all either safe, easy, traditional, low cost or tried and true choices.  You just can't go wrong making those choices.

If we eliminate FREE from the list, the only significant change is that the comics disappear to be replaced by more kids books, bibles and JFK: 50 Days.

If we eliminate the two Christmas books in the top 10, they would simply be replaced with two  non-holiday kids books.  If we eliminate the kids books altogether they would be replaced by more Bibles and Bible readers, and A Tale of Two Cities. And to reach the last of my top 10 paid non holiday, non kids books, Message Bible, we would reach the 166th most popular download.

Back to my opening question. Is there any possibility that someone could go wrong buying from you?  Is buying from your company the safest choice?  Is it the easiest choice?  Is it the traditional choice?  Is it free or very low priced? Is it the tried and true choice?

If it's not any one of those, then your salespeople better be performing in a big way (and I don't mean doing demos, presentations, quotes and proposals either).  Because the only way to achieve and sustain success when you have competition that is a safer, easier, more traditional, lower priced or tried and true choice is for your salespeople to sell their asses off (and I'm not talking about hard work either).

Your salespeople must be smarter, more effective, more strategic and more tactical than ever before.  They must also be more efficient, more capable and more resilient than ever before.  And don't even think about sending them out there without an optimized, formal, structured sales process.

How many of your salespeople qualify?

Don't forget to vote for my Blog for Top Sales Blog of the Year here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales performance, Sales Tactics, Apple, App Store, sales strategy

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 06:10 AM

Our son has this comedy routine by John Pinette down cold.  He heard it once and can now do it for anyone.

There is just one problem.  Our son is 8 and weighs all of 67 pounds so even though the routine is hysterical, it becomes very obvious, very quickly, that it isn't his own material and it isn't about him because it's not in his voice.  It's not credible.

When salespeople go through the sales training process (real sales development, not a seminar), there is a danger that they will extract tactics that worked very effectively in the context of the demonstration, but that might not be appropriate for the context in which the salesperson chooses to use it.  And just as often, when the salesperson applies the tactic it doesn't sound like them. 

It is extremely important for your salespeople to utilize the strategies and tactics in the context of the sales process that was introduced - AND IN THEIR OWN VOICE.  They can't ever stop sounding like themselves!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, salespeople

3 Sales Approaches of Elite Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 08, 2010 @ 10:04 AM

On yesterday's episode of Meet the Sales Experts, my three guests, sales development experts Chris Mott, Frank Belzer and Rick Roberge, discussed the topics behind their upcoming presentations at the MIT Sloan School of Business Sales Club Conference on May 7.

When addressing a listener's question about skeptical prospects, it was interesting to listen, not only to their answers, but to HOW they answered.

Frank was strategic.

Rick was tactical.

Chris asked questions to further clarify.

Great salespeople must be able to easily use all three approaches on their sales calls.  Salespeople that struggle tend to have just one approach and it won't work all the time.  A salesperson who defaults to tactics may lack the ability to strategically set the context for those tactics.  A salesperson who defaults to strategy may not be able to dive down deep and wide enough to ask concrete questions and provide specific examples.  And a salesperson who doesn't first ask a bunch of quality questions to identify the real issue will waste their time talking about the wrong solutions.

How effective are your salespeople with these three approaches?

Click here to listen to yesterday's show.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Tactics, sales strategy, sales technique

Sales Tactics - 10th of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 03, 2009 @ 09:12 AM

This is the 10th in my series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.


Sales managers tend to be very challenged in the area of tactics.  There are two varieties of sales managers:

  1. Those who were great salespeople - they have the ability to recognize scenarios where they have been there and done that, but their success in those scenarios often had more to do with them than their tactics.  There is a huge difference between saying, "This is what I would do", as opposed to saying, "Here are the (time-tested, transferable) tactics to use in this situation.  Let's role play."
  2. Those who were not great salespeople - They have difficulty:
  • recognizing the scenarios where tactics will make a difference;
  • identifying the right tactics to use;
  • role-playing to effectively demonstrate their use;
  • teaching as they go;
  • identifying lessons;
  • creating plans of action.

Tactics are the primary knowledge and experience components of sales coaching and without a wealth of simple, effective, current and transferable sales tactics, a sales manager's ability to coach is neutralized.  Although this sales manager can mentor and strategize, those roles are more appropriate for a VP of Sales. 

So how does a Sales Manager who is challenged on Tactics develop these important skills?

One option is to enroll in some comprehensive sales and sales management training where the emphasis will be on sales tactics and sales coaching.

My guest on yesterday's edition of Meet the Sales Experts was Steve Taback. Steve has another option. He is the publisher of the Email TACTICS Program, a tool that reinforces effective sales and people skills for successful sales and sales management.

A third option is to hire a sales coach, like Steve, who is well-versed in both sales tactics and sales management coaching.

Steve has 4 suggestions for becoming more effective:

  1. Develop an ownership mentality as it relates to taking the time to build a business
  2. Be a student of what you're doing - in this case, be a student of tactics
  3. Resiliency - fail and bounce back without quitting
  4. Take Responsibility - for both the good and the bad outcomes
Listen to this episode.  Contact Steve.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, Sales Tactics, steve taback, sales mangagement functions

Top 6 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn't Work

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 @ 21:06 PM

If you invest in sales training, especially now, you also need it to work now, not in 12 months.  Why does it take so long for most sales training to make a difference and why does most sales training fail to make the difference you expect? There are a lot of possible reasons and I'll attempt to explain them here.

  • Sales trainers want to sell sales training so they skip or gloss over the more important issues like
This is why it's so important to work with a sales development expert - someone who takes an integrated, thoughtful approach to the sales force.
  • Sales training is too difficult to understand and apply and trainers make it even more difficult with their complicated processes, non-intuitive tactics and tricks. Instead, they should make it as simple as possible by making it memorable, intuitive, and easy to apply. 
  • They tend to demonstrate their strategies and tactics through role play, which is fine, but their role plays demonstrate more tactics than what they have already taught.  They should never include more in the role play than their audience has learned from them.  Here is an example.  You take a seven year old to the movies.  If it's an age appropriate movie, rated G or PG, all of the previews are age appropriate and the seven year-old gets it - all of it.  However, if you take the seven year-old to a PG-13 movie, then the previews are a bit overwhelming. The seven year-old can tell you whether it seems exciting, funny or scary, but the seven year-old doesn't understand the theme, content or mature dialog. They haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.  Same thing with your salespeople.  If the trainer has already exposed them to the basics, and includes only the basics in role play, the salespeople get it.  It's age appropriate.  But if the trainer includes material that the salespeople haven't been exposed to, they can only tell you whether they like it or it seems scary.  The role play is a bit overwhelming because they haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.
  • Some of the sales trainers just aren't that good. They fail to relate, engage, understand, entertain and change the salespeople they are training.
  • Much of the content isn't that good.  Some of it is just plain outdated while much of the other content around isn't complete, only focusing on certain parts of the sales cycle.
  • Some of them only know strategies and tactics but they don't understand the laws of cause and effect.  They can't get to the real reasons why salespeople fail to execute the strategies and tactics.

There are at least as many more reasons but this article is already longer than it should be.  We'll just call it part 1 and I'll circle back with part 2 at a later date.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales leadership, Sales Tactics, sales management training, sales evaluation, sales trainers, Selling System, sales strategy, selling skills, sales test

Rules of Sales Engagement for the Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 @ 13:06 PM

On the June 16 episode of Meet the Sales Experts, I answered listener questions - live.  There were some fantastic questions and I provided some fair answers.

Listen to the show to learn how you can shorten your sales cycle by taking advantage of the window of opportunity...

Listen to hear about sales coaching - how often, what kind, with whom, and how...

Listen to discover the single biggest mistake salespeople make...

Listen to some opportunity specific advice.

We also discussed the economy - of course - and right now, there are some new rules of engagement.  You simply have to work three times harder, three times smarter, find three times more opportunities and be three times more effective just to sell what you used to sell.  That's it?  No.  In order to be three times more effective you must refine your strategies and expand upon your tactics.  You must be more creative, quicker on your feet, more resourceful and more persuasive.  You must ask better questions and more of them.  You must be more powerful than ever before.  Do that and you will survive.  Do that consistently and you will thrive when the economy turns around and money loosens up.  In the mean time, no short cuts!

(c) 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Sales Tactics, improve sales, sales mistakes, sales tips, sales cycle, Sales Experts, sales strategy

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

10 Types of Sales Advisers and How to Choose the One That's Best For You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 09, 2008 @ 12:10 PM

I'll bet you know plenty about agreements, contracts, and legal compliance in your industry. You probably know enough about accounting, taxes and audits to get by too.  And I bet you know your way around insurance, investments and real estate.

Despite all of that knowledge, I'm certain you have a great corporate attorney, corporate accountant, insurance advisers for commercial, benefits and personal lines, and a Realtor.  Some of these people may even sit on your board.

Do you have a sales expert on your board? On retainer? Working with your sales team?  Your sales management team? On your sales infrastructure? On compensation and incentives?

The question shouldn't be whether you should or shouldn't include a sales expert in your group of inside advisers, the question should be which kind of sales expert you should rely on for advice.

There are several types of sales advisers and I wanted to discuss their various areas of expertise today.

  1. Sales Trainers - Deliver training, usually canned, and regardless of their content, the training is only as good as they are at engaging the group and getting into lively role-plays. Focus on skills training.
  2. Sales Consultants - Out of work former Sales VP's whose primary  focus is on territories, strategy, roles, infrastructure, compensation, systems and processes.
  3. Sales Strategists - Primarily focus on the sales force's ability to execute the strategy and provide necessary services to enable more effective execution.
  4. Sales Coaches - Usually skip most of the above and focus on one-on-one coaching of salespeople.
  5. Sales Gurus - Out of work former Sales VP's who use marketing to differentiate themselves from Sales Consultants.
  6. Sales Authors - Those who can write with authority about various sales topics. 
  7. Sales Management Consultants - Same as sales strategists.
  8. Sales Speakers - Can speak with authority and entertainment value on sales topics of their choosing.
  9. Sales Development Experts - Focus more on the development of the sales organization as a whole rather than one particular area.
  10. Integrated Sales Development Experts - Able to perform all of the above quite well, from comprehensive diagnostics to comprehensive integrated solutions.

All sales advisers are not created equal.  They usually have the most expertise in the industries from which they came and their ability to help you is in direct proportion to the number of diversified clients, industries, challenges and scenarios they have dealt with.  Also quite important is their understanding of your issues and challenges, and their ability to effectively solve any and all of the problems associated with those issues and challenges.  You don't solve an infrastructure problem with training and you don't solve a skills problem with consulting.

Unless you're very insecure, you won't want a "yes man" because you'll end up with a facilitator.  You'll want someone who will push back and point out the errors in your thinking, even if you don't believe your thinking needs to be revised.  You'll want someone who asks more questions than you're comfortable answering and you'll want someone who can differentiate the real issues from the symptoms you provide.  For example, it's not unusual for a client to say, "We need some training on closing skills".  That's the symptom.  Your sales adviser must be able to identify why closing is an issue in your company and that should involve asking questions about the company, management, systems, processes and each individual salesperson to differentiate between cause and effect.  Skills training alone will rarely solve any of the problems that you bring to one of us.

There you have it.  If you don't already have a sales adviser, add a great one to your team.  If you have someone, make sure that you get their input on everything related to their expertise.

For example, most clients include me on all their important account strategy emails so that I can contribute when something doesn't look right. Most clients won't hire a salesperson, sales manager or sales director without my direct involvement.  Most clients won't discuss company strategy without me.  Most clients won't install systems and processes without my advice. Sales advisers know what they're doing in much the same way as your lawyers and accountants do. Take advantage of it and stop guessing at what the best possible approach might be.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales training, sales management, selling, Sales Tactics, sales strategy, sales assessments, sales development

Winning Sales Strategies Communicate Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 07, 2008 @ 16:10 PM

Last week I was a seminar panelist that took place in a Virtual Trade Show - very cool!  I was joined by Mike McCue, Editor in Chief of Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, and Lee Salz, CEO of  The seminar was called Why Winning Sales Strategies Communicate Value and Losers Cut Price.

I thought the seminar was quite good. Mark covered trends, Lee covered positioning/strategy and I covered tactics/process. It was almost as if we had planned it that way, even though we never even compared notes.

The seminar ran 60 minutes and you can watch it on demand right here.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales process, Sales Tactics, sales strategy, selling value, upholding price

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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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