7 New Ways to Motivate Salespeople Through 20 Old Hurdles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 07:09 AM

Sales Challenges

Trust me when I say that this is a great article, but before we get to it, I have a few post-vacation links for you.  

This is important!  We want you to be part of our next White Paper on Sales Force Effectiveness.  Would you kindly take no more than 5 minutes to answer some questions about the sales force at your company?  We won't even ask your name or email address!  

Hubspot's Sales Blog published this post with some professional follow-up email templates.  It's worth a look and it has one of mine...

The September issue of Top Sales World was published last week and my article about the Top Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone was named Top Blog Post for August.

Gerhard Gschwandtner interviewed me for SellingPower TV. You can see the 5-minute interview here.

I'll be speaking at Inbound14, September 17, and I'll be talking about How to Hire Great Inbound Sales/Marketing people.  You can register here.

Finally, my article about How to Hire Salespeople That Will be Great Instead of Great Salespeople that Will Fail was posted in EcSell Institute's Coaching Library.  You can hear me speak on this topic there next month.

 

Now for the article.

The ability to motivate salespeople is just as important as it has always been.  However, there are differences today that make it more complicated than it used to be.

In the old days (pre-2008), if salespeople were motivated, then they were probably motivated by money.  According to data from Objective Management Group (OMG), 54% of salespeople were money-motivated during the 1990's and first half of the 2000's.  Today, the data shows that no more than 27% of salespeople are what we now call extrinsically-motivated.  Even the name has changed!

But what about those who are intrinsically-motivated - those who are motivated by satisfaction, fulfillment, praise and recognition.  They want to change the world.  They love what they do and want to achieve mastery.  That motivates them.  OMG is able to differentiate between intrinsically-motivated and extrinsically-motivated salespeople, but how do you manage those who are intrinsically-motivated?  How do you get them to perform when they are interested in things that go beyond a commission check?

Perhaps this will help:

In the next release of OMG's suite of Sales Candidate Assessments, Salesperson Evaluations, and Sales Force Evaluations, we will be able to show you exactly what YOU can do to motivate your existing and new salespeople.  For instance, wouldn't you love to know if a salesperson:

  • Loves to win - or hates to lose?  It's a subtle difference, but you would take a completely different approach to motivate each of these two types of salespeople.
  • Spends money to force performance - or performs and spends the money as a reward?  Just like the first example, the difference is subtle, but your motivational approach would be different.
  • Responds better to being pushed by the sales manager - or prefers to push himself?  If you are familiar with the scene in "Facing the Giants", you'll have a good idea of what it means to be pushed to be the best.  
  • Performs better when closely managed - or when left alone?  Some salespeople cannot function well when left to their own devices.  They don't self-start or self-direct and need to be directed and/or be part of a team.
  • Performs better when competing against others - or when competing against her own expectations?  What if the mediocre salesperson would rise to the next level if the competition and the rewards were compelling enough?
  • Responds better to recognition - or satisfaction after meeting and exceeding goals?  For some, it doesn't get any better than hearing their name called out, receiving an award or plaque, reading about themselves on a website or being listed as the winner.  Others could care less about all of that because the self-satisfaction one gets from knowing they're the best is all they need. 
  • Is motivated by proving someone else wrong - or proving himself right?  There are some salespeople who can be motivated to achieve greatness just because someone told them that they would fail at sales, that they weren't ready for this role, that they couldn't sell that big account, that they wouldn't beat out that particular competitor, or that they could never earn that much money.
Samples Button2

Salespeople are different - very different - and the more you know about what will help them face and overcome the following 20 hurdles, the better:

  1. Adversity
  2. Rejection
  3. Better-Known Competition
  4. Disinterest
  5. Ambivalence
  6. Existing Relationships
  7. Preconceived Motions
  8. Lower Priced Competitors
  9. Insulated Decision Makers
  10. Liars
  11. Assholes
  12. Impossible Political Structures
  13. Unfair Terms
  14. Unwillingness to Answer Questions
  15. No's
  16. Maybe's
  17. Self-Limiting Beliefs
  18. Discomfort with Certain Selling Situations
  19. Fear
  20. Pressure
     

Image Copyright: texelart / 123RF Stock Photo 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales challenges, sales testing, sales assessments, objective management group

Benchmarking Salespeople Sounds Great but Has Many Flaws

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

benchmarkYou want to hire better salespeople, don't you?  And you've been told that if you use a sales assessment, you will be able to select better salespeople, right?  And if you have a strong HR background, you may believe that benchmarking is a good first step.  There are many uses for benchmarking in sales, and while the approach taken by most assessment companies helps them, it doesn't really help you.

Let's say that you're speaking with a company that provides a personality assessment or a behavioral styles assessment.  The personality assessment can clearly help you with cultural fit and the behavioral styles assessment can certainly help with identifying the best ways to manage an individual.  But, neither assessment is predictive of sales success because their core competency is not sales and their assessment is adapted, not built, for sales.  In this case, adapted means that they change the names of the findings and the descriptions of those findings to sound more like sales findings.  But what they actually measure, and the questions your salespeople actually answer, have nothing to do with selling.

In an effort to combat the lack of sales specificity in their assessments, many of these companies offer to benchmark your top performers.  It sounds terrific - really - and they can always get you engaged by finding traits and styles common to your top performers.  But these benchmarks are flawed - for several reasons:

  • What you consider a top performer in your organization may be very different from an actual top performer in the general sales population, so sometimes they are looking at the wrong people!
  • They don't look at your bottom performers, but know that your underachievers have some of the exact same traits and styles as your top performers.  These commonalities are the traits and styles that caused them to enter sales - not the traits and styles that cause them to succeed at sales!
  • The personality and behavioral styles assessment companies are not experts at selling and don't understand the nuances in marketplace, pricing, selling value, competition, verticals and variations in roles that cause different salespeople to have different results.

Consider Objective Management Group's (OMG) approach.  Back in 1990, OMG developed the very first assessment specifically for sales.  OMG's sales assessment is an executional sales assessment and scientifically shows not only if a sales candidate can sell, but whether or not they will sell and succeed - for your company, in a specific sales role, against your competition, at your price points, calling into your market, and from the challenges they'll face.  It is not based on personality traits or behavioral styles, and we don't need to run a benchmark in order to figure out what causes salespeople to be successful because we already know.  We have done this times!  And we customize every role configuration to marry our criteria for sales success at various levels of difficulty with a client's requirements for the role.  However, companies that are used to running these benchmarks still ask for them and we take a completely different approach:

  • We look at both groups - top performers AND bottom performers.
  • We know that both the top and bottom groups will have some common findings, usually indicative of what the hiring managers were looking for, like motivated salespeople.   
  • We identify the differences between the top and bottom performers, not the commonalities of the top performers.  For example, members of both groups may have a particular finding as a strength, but only the top performers have a score in a certain range.  Or only the top performers have a particular finding as a strength and the bottom performers have it as a weakness.
  • We can usually identify 10-15 findings that are unique to the top performers and, more importantly, predictive of sales success in their particular role at their company.
  • We build a third layer of customization to identify candidates that will not only succeed, but perform at an elite level.

Benchmarking can be useful when it comes to training your salespeople.  If you have two regions that are performing similarly, selling the exact same products or services to the exact same types of customers, against the exact same competitors, you can benchmark the training.  Group 1 is your control group and receives no more help than they received previously.  Group 2 is the training group and they get the optimized sales process, their sales managers are trained to coach, and the salespeople are trained on both sales process and methodology.  At the end of the agreed upon time period, compare the before and after results of the two groups in the following areas:

  • pipeline quantity and quality,
  • conversion ratios,
  • pipeline velocity or sales cycle length,
  • opportunity size,
  • time wasted with prospects who don't buy,
  • percentage of new accounts,
  • growth of existing accounts,
  • average margin,
  • ratio of proposals per opportunity, and
  • win rate.

Benchmarking can be quite useful, as long as it doesn't cause you to look at the wrong data, send you down the wrong path, or make the wrong decisions.  When it comes to sales selection, make sure science is on your side.

Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Benchmarking, sales testing, objective management group

Rejection - Why it is the #1 Enemy in Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:04 AM

rejectionFor a change, rather than contributing to all the noise about inbound replacing outbound, inside replacing outside, insights replacing sales steps, buyers' process replacing sales process, let's talk about something that has a huge, relevant impact on selling, regardless of how the opportunity came to be.

Most of the sales bloggers don't touch on rejection, but when it does comes up, it's usually in the context of fear, as in fear of rejection.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures something a bit different: difficulty recovering from rejection.  Fear is real, but it's more telling to understand whether a salesperson jumps right back on the phone, is completely stable for the next meeting, or requires 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 weeks to fully recover.  When viewed as fear, we can assume that a salesperson will avoid scenarios where rejection is possible, but fear makes all salespeople with that weakness identical.  Looking at recovery, instead of fear, allows us to see the difference between short and long recovery periods.

In the past 6 years, rejection has become an even more impactful weakness than it already was.  Today, prospects are much less inclined to take a salesperson's call, return a voicemail or an email message, engage in a conversation, schedule a call or meeting, share important information, return calls to salespeople toward the end of the sales process or make a decision.  That's an awful lot of misery for a salesperson who finds it difficult to recover from rejection!

But rejection isn't that well understood by salespeople, their sales managers or even their sales VP's.  Do you know which of your salespeople have this problem and how severe it is?  Do you know which activities, questions and steps they are unable to execute as a result of their rejection weakness?  Do you know when their rejection problems will get in the way?

Rejection is relative.  The greater the risk, the more likely it is that an individual will avoid the possibility of rejection.  My longtime readers are familiar with our son, who stars in this great series of 32 articles called Salespeople are Like Children.  It's my favorite series, and I've been adding to it since the inception of this blog in 2005 when he was 3.

He is relentless, fearless and passionate about anything he wants from us.  Nothing will stop him.  Ever.  What if Mom and Dad say "No"?  No problem.  I'll ask again.  Another way.  I'll beg.  I'll threaten.  I'll cry.  I'll use logic.  I'll use emotion.  I'll keep at it.  

However, raise the stakes, and everything changes.

When it comes to a certain boy showing interest for the first time in a certain girl, it took weeks for him to gather the courage to ask the question even with the aid of today's technology where he could text the question instead of actually getting on the phone or asking face-to-face.  

What if she says "No"? 

Even worse.  What if she doesn't respond?

In my opinion, not knowing is even worse than the finality of a "no" and that's why salespeople are finding it very difficult to cope with unresponsive prospects and prospects who go into hiding after expressing a desire to do business.

Further relating this example to sales, the stakes go up for some salespeople relative to:

  • the title of the decision maker or contact,
  • the revenue of the prospect company,
  • the name brand of the company,
  • the size of the opportunity,
  • the existence of resistance, 
  • the size of the carrot being dangled, and
  • the increasing likelihood of a sale.

Sales training will not make rejection-related weaknesses disappear.  With most training, the salespeople are given new words to use, but still have the weakness.  As a result, they fail to use their new words, continuing to do what's comfortable, rather than what's most effective.  Even though effective sales coaching can help, you must first know who is susceptible, how severe it is, how often it occurs and exactly when it will get in the way.

A sales force evaluation provides the answers to those questions.

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales evaluation, sales testing, sales assessments, fear of rejection

The Sales Assessment that Dave Kurlan Developed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 08, 2010 @ 21:02 PM

I am often asked how I can write so many articles.  I have a few answers for that:

  • Compared to the demands of writing my two books, Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling, writing a couple of paragraphs every day is a piece of cake;
  • From my unique vantage point as a thought leader in two industries - the Sales Development Industry and the Assessment Industry, there is more article material than I will ever have time to write about;
  • I usually choose topics that are bothering me at that particular moment in time.

This is my 600th article since the inception of the Understanding the Sales Force Blog 4 years ago.  It seems that around every 66 articles or so I write an article to explain how inferior all of those other assessments are when it comes to the sales force.  The last time I made an attempt like this was four months and 115 articles ago.  So it basically comes down to a formula where I provide 65 articles with great content, and in return, you read about how our Sales Assessments blow the lid off of any other assessment you place along side them.

I have already written a series of articles on the subject of how assessments compare.

Let me begin with some questions.

If you sell high end business services and your salespeople earn in excess of $250,000 annually, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria that they use to hire salespeople that sell long-distance telephone services to anyone who will listen?

If you have a complex technical product with a long sales cycle, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire life insurance salespeople who call on married couples?

If you require your salespeople to call on C-Level executives, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire office supply salespeople who spend all day calling on administrators?

If you are hiring hunters, do you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire account managers?

And if you are hiring A players, do you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire office workers?

When I write this type of article, I don't usually get into everything that makes our assessment so much better.  Today I made an exception and got a bit more aggressive.

This is what is available when it comes to assessments:

Personality Assessments - they identify personality traits - these are never role specific and the questions are asked in a social context therefore the findings are not necessarily applicable to a sales environment.  As a result, personality assessments are not predictive and are ineffective as a sales selection, development or coaching tool.

Behavioral Styles Assessments - behavioral tendencies, much like traits above, but can also include cultural needs and wants to identify fit and management requirements. Questions are asked in a social context therefore the findings are not necessarily applicable to a sales environment.  As a result, these assessments are not predictive either and are ineffective as a sales selection, development or coaching tool.

Both of the above assessment types are marketed by their various companies as sales assessments but the only thing about them that is actually sales specific is the language used in their marketing material. See the next category.

Sales Assessments -  there are so many of these now that I can't keep up with them anymore but nearly everyone of them, despite the literature, web sites and white papers they produce, are based on an underlying personality or behavioral styles instrument. They are not accurate or predictive within the sales context no matter what their marketing claims.

Sales Aptitude Assessments - Think knowledge, not ability.  In other words, you know how a computer works but you can't build one.  You know what it takes to play winning, professional sports, but you aren't able to actually perform at that level.  The aptitude test measures what salespeople know about selling, not what they're actually capable of accomplishing.

Objective Management Group - We invented and pioneered the space.  Before OMG came along, nobody ever talked about evaluating a sales force.  Our accuracy is legendary yet we are never content with our world-class, industry leading sales force assessments.  Our sales force evaluations go so wide and deep that we can answer any question that you can imagine about the performance - past, present or future - of a sales force.  Our sales candidate assessments are so predictive that the statistics are nearly unbelievable.  Check this out:

When clients hire candidates that we don't recommend (silly clients), 75% of those salespeople fail inside of six months.

When clients hire candidates that we do recommend (smart clients), 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales force within the first 12 months.

How do we do it?  Our assessments are not based on somebody else's personality or behavioral styles instrument and they aren't modified to make them appear sales specific.  We built ours from the ground up - purposely for sales - and we continue to expand, evolve and refine it today - 20 years later.  It's a work in progress and that's one of the reasons that it's so good.  We are always working to make it even better.  It wasn't designed using antiquated test publishing guidelines, and it wasn't intended for use in schools or the military. Instead, it was designed by a very successful sales expert who happened to be a great sales diagnostician and researcher. How do I know?  I used to be that guy! 

Our data on salespeople and the 8,500 sales forces that have used our assessments provides us with rich sources of information to identify trends and make comparisons.  We recognize true success markers and reliable failure indicators.  We can sort by industry,  role or finding.  Simply put, we know what it takes for a salesperson to succeed in sales and you know what it takes for a salesperson to succeed in your business (and if you don't we can help you figure it out!).  When we combine the two sets of criteria and adjust for difficulty (complexity times resistance), we will either not recommend a candidate, or provide one of four recommendations:

  1. Hirable - Less Than Ideal
  2. Hirable
  3. Hirable with Ideal Ramp Up Skills
  4. Hirable Perfect

Watch out for all of the assessments that pretend to provide sales findings but report only what they can actually measure.  See examples here.

Questions?

Leave a comment and I'll answer it.

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales testing, caliper, predictive index, chally, sales evaluations, sales assessments

Get Out of the Way and 8 Tips for Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 09, 2009 @ 14:06 PM

On today's (June 9, 2009) episode of Meet the Sales Experts I interviewed Chris Mott.  This was a very interesting, fast-moving show where Chris shared his 8 tips for sales success, talked about sales management's role in growing sales, the biggest obstacle he had to overcome in order to succeed, how to succeed in this economy, and much, much more.  One of his 8 tips?  Get out of the way!  Listen in to hear him elaborate on how to get out of the way.

On Friday's episode (June 12, 2009 at 12 Noon ET) of  Meet the Sales Experts, I will interview Bill Murray, who, among other things, will talk about taking strategies from 50,000 feet and turning them into actionable, real world sales tactics.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, sales competenices, chris mott, sales testing, bill murray, sales assessments, Meet the Sales Experts, sales radio

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,800 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader