Can Marketing Get Along with Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

It is difficult to have a conversation about sales and marketing without discussing some of the areas where they tend to bump into each other, create friction, and disagree.  This series will discuss some of those scenarios.

Social Selling - I'm a Proponent, Not a Detractor - Look at The Stats

Has the Death of Selling Finally Arrived?

Can You Improve a Kick-Ass Sales Force?

How Marketers Can Help Shorten Sales Cycles & Close More Sales

Aligning and Optimizing Sales and Marketing to Increase Conversions

Who Cares More - Sales or Marketing?

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

What is the Best Sales Process for Increasing Sales?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales, sales leadership, Social Media

Sales Coaching Lessons from the Baseball Files

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 24, 2012 @ 07:05 AM

baseline sellingAs evidenced by one of my book titles, Baseline Selling, I have frequently borrowed from baseball when the analogy is more useful than the sales message.  Although the following stories may appear to be about my son and/or his baseball team, they are actually about coaching and adapting.

Baseball - I brought my son to the batting cage to work out a swing flaw after his line drives had become weak ground balls.  He was bailing out (stepping toward third base instead of the pitcher), causing him to take weak swings at the ball.  After I got him to stop bailing, he began leaning away from the pitch with his upper body, causing him to take an off-balance swing.  When we fixed that, his front shoulder began opening too quickly, the head of the bat moving through the strike zone too slowly for solid contact.  When we finally fixed that, line drives began zipping off his bat again and he was able to carry that into the next game for 2 doubles and 3 RBI's.  

Sales -This sequence of analysis and tweaking works in exactly the same way when coaching salespeople.  You should be able to immediately identify what went wrong, when it went wrong, how it went wrong and demonstrate how to prevent and fix it.  The last two steps must take place through role-play.  Are you doing that effectively?

Baseball - I took some swings for the first time in 20 years.  I immediately realized that I couldn't track the ball with bifocals, so I removed them.  Without the glasses, I could barely see the ball at all!  My son said, "Dad, you don't have it any more."  That's all I needed to hear.  I wasn't going to let my 10-year-old get away with that, so I adapted.  I accepted that I couldn't see the stiches or the spin of the ball anymore, but I could see the fuzzy little round thing heading in my direction and resolved to just see that and hit that.  He said, "I guess you still have it after all."  

Sales - Your salespeople must adapt when the existing approach isn't effective with a prospect.  Instead, most salespeople take one of two actions.  They either continue to do what isn't working (stupid human trick) or they give up (typical human behavior). 

Baseball - As their coach, I offer 1-2 minutes of one-on-one pre-game or in-game coaching to each boy on the team.  They get more from their one-on-one time than they could ever get from a 90-minute practice and we see immediate results in that very game.  

Sales - Sales Managers must provide their salespeople with one-on-one time before upcoming calls and debrief calls that have already taken place.  There is no area that will have more impact on sales than coaching.

Sales and baseball are nearly the same except that far fewer ball players make it to the major leagues, but those who do so get paid a lot more money.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, coaching, sales management, Baseball

Non-Salespeople - Assets or Liabilities When They Face Customers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 21, 2012 @ 12:05 PM

Customer Facing Non-SalespeopleNearly 18 months ago, I posted an article about my experience with National Car Rental.  Please read that for background before reading this article.  Pay particular attention to the comments where Elizabeth, from National Car Rental, reached out to me and provided me with a free rental day.  That changed my impression of National!

I didn't have an opportunity to use that free day until this weekend when, following the instructions on the email they sent prior to arrival, we entered their area of the garage in Orlando.  This time, there wasn't a man in a green booth who didn't want to wait on me.  This time, while browsing the cars from which to choose in the Emerald Club aisle, a miserable lady chased us down and demanded to know what we were doing.  I told her.  She pointed to three cars and started to walk away.  I said, "Thanks, but I reserved a luxury car."  She said, "Why didn't you say so?  Those are in the next row." and she walked away.

On our way out of the garage, I wasn't smart enough to follow all of their exit signs and the twists and turns that went along with them.  I ended up in another rental car's exit lane.  The guy in that booth nicely explained that I was in the wrong place, got out of his booth, helped me back up without injuring anyone, led me back to the correct path and made sure I was headed in the right direction.  Then, I came across another National employee, who should have been directling me to the exit lane, but instead asked, "What do you want?"  I told him I was exiting and he nodded.  Nice touch.

In the end, just like 18 months ago, the man inside the exit booth and the lady, who received my car when we returned it, were both wonderful.

I never would have used National again if they hadn't provided me with a free day.  After another unacceptable experience, I don't plan to use them again even if they provide me with another free day.

This is a tremendous example, and not the least bit unusual, of how non-selling, customer-facing employees, sell.  Despite two effective customer-facing people doing their part on selling us to return, one was horrible and not so subtley sold us on not returning.

Companies must be certain that ALL of their customer-facing employees, not only salespeople, always create favorable impressions that sell their customers on returning.  National Car Rental still fails to do this.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, customer service, non selling, customer facing

Getting Deals Closed - End of Quarter Sales Gone Mad

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 02, 2011 @ 21:03 PM

In the 26 years that I've been helping companies grow and develop sales and revenue, I have rarely met with an executive for the first time and not heard about ---it.

It all begins around week 11 of the quarter.  A frenzy of calls, increased activity, sales management and sometimes C-Level intervention, discounts, offers that can't be refused, and more.  For 3 weeks every quarter, the entire sales force - hell, the entire company - takes on a do whatever it takes attitude to bring those deals in house.

Is this necessary?  It is when your sales force can't bring in the business in a logical, optimized, predictable fashion.

Can it be stopped?  Of course.  But you're the only one who can stop it.  And if you stopped it, what would have to change so that the revenue still came in?

Can you make things normal?  if the 3 week frenzy occurs at your company each quarter, then that IS normal - for you.  You can't change that until you agree that it shouldn't be that way, doesn't need to be that way, and it isn't healthy, scalable or even desirable for your company's long-term future.

Do you have to give it away to get people to buy it?  If you're selling a product or service that sucks in comparison to your competition, then yes, you'll probably have to offer heavy discounts or improve your quality.  But if you provide something of value, then you should be able to get value for it.

Stopping the madness, getting the business closed when it is forecast to close, getting your asking price, and doing without end of quarter interventions requires having the right salespeople, having a customized, optimized, formal, structured sales process, great sales management, and the belief that normal doesn't look like weeks 11-13 of every quarter.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales process, sales management, selling, Sales Coaching, closing strategies

Did Your Salespeople Choose to Be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 05, 2011 @ 07:01 AM

Even if you reviewed as many resumes as I do each week you might not notice this:  Most sales candidates did not have a sales position as their first job after college.  Most started as something else and then, out of the blue, they were in sales, sales management, marketing, or business development.  I always get suspicious when somewhere back in time a candidate went from Purchasing to Sales Management and never sold along the way...

So what happened?  Did they think salespeople had a more exciting life/role and wish to become one?  Were they given ultimatums to accept commission sales positions as a way of keeping their jobs during a recession?  Did they lose a job in their chosen profession and then take a sales position out of desperation?

Of more interest is why, after the transition, they remained in sales...After all, only a small percentage (26%) of them are reasonably good at it. 

The small percentage of people who chose sales as a career (if I had a resume, it would show sales as the first position but it was less a matter of choosing and more a realization that I wasn't qualified to do anything else!) aren't any more successful than those who didn't.

Let's conduct an informal poll/exercise.  After reading this, ask your most effective and least effective salespeople if they chose sales as a career or simply ended up in a sales career.  Then report your findings by commenting below.  We would be very interested in your findings!

Your comments might read something like:

"Our most effective salesperson was forced into sales 10 years ago.  Our least effective salesperson started in sales 20 years ago because it was the only job he could get."


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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales recruiting, selling, sales candidates, sales career, sales effectiveness, salespeople

Relationships - 7th of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 @ 07:11 AM

This is the 7th in my series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.


There isn't a person in the company who must work more on developing relationships than an individual in a sales management role, whether it be a line level sales manager or the World Wide VP of Sales.  But developing a relationship does not mean that one should become friends.  Wikipedia says that an interpersonal relationship is an association between two individuals. While it is inevitable that a friendship will evolve here and there, that is not and should not be the goal.  Friendship compromises rather than enhances your ability to be effective in the other sales management functions.

In most sales management roles, relationships must be developed throughout the organization with:

  • Sales managers;
  • Salespeople;
  • Sales Leadership; 
  • Finance and Accounting;
  • Manufacturing;
  • IT
  • Executive Team;
  • Customer Service;
  • Technical Support;
  • IS
  • HR.

It's important to build and maintain relationships with every department in the company so that they all support the effort to acquire, maintain and grow the customer base.  You wouldn't want anyone getting in the way of that effort and you must have them willing to do what it takes to help accomplish your goals.

In addition to your internal relationships, it is equally important to develop relationships with all of your key customers.  Not just the big customers, but the accounts that could become big, the centers of influence, and the ones you simply couldn't bare to lose.  Your relationships with these customers are crucial in the event that the customer's salesperson leaves the company.  Your relationship with that account may be the only power you have to retain that business!

But all of the relationship building stops here.  You don't want these relationships to become deep friendships which can compromise your ability to effectively do your job. Read this article about what happens when you need your salespeople to love and respect you.

Instead, your relationships should be like the one I have with my dry cleaner.  When Chris sees me pull up, he immediately drops everything, gets all of the cleaned clothes from the prior week, brings them to the car, and hangs them.  He opens the trunk, takes out the laundry bag with the current week's dirty clothes and brings them inside. He grabs a couple of Tootsie Rolls for our son and chats with him if he's in the car. We don't sort and count items of clothing, we don't exchange slips and receipts, and I never have to wait.  He knows our preferences without having to consult a computer, gives me the accessories I might need, and will do anything in his power to make sure I'm happy.  We have a great relationship, we are happy to see each other, and we know about each others' families .  But we aren't in a relationship.  We don't have meals together, hang out, go out for drinks, or visit each others' homes and we're not friends. We simply have a strong relationship.

Develop relationships like those with everyone I mentioned and you'll be free to effectively work on the other 9 Sales Management Functions.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Sales Force, sales management functions, relationships

5 Steps to Coaching Your Salespeople Beyond Happy Ears

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I posted this article about Diagnosing and Overcoming Happy Ears on the Baseline Selling web site.  And last week I wrote this article about Happy Ears and an empty pipeline.

Following are my thoughts about how you, the leader of your salespeople, can help them overcome Happy Ears. Slip into these five roles to help them be more realistic about and more comprehensive with their opportunities.

  1. Be their Doubting Thomas - Be more pessimistic than them. 
  2. Be their Carpenter - punch holes in everything they tell you by asking, "how do you know?" or "did they actually say that or is that what you think?"
  3. Be their Elephant - remind them of the last time they told you this - and what happened late when they were caught by surprise.
  4. Be their Show Director - rehearse them for what they must ask - before the call - through role play.
  5. Be their Coach - Do less cheerleading and more challenging.

Upcoming Events

Baseline Selling Webinar Series - begins next week - for Owners and Solopreneurs Only

Defeating the Enemy and Dominating Your Market - 10/15 - a Top Sales Experts Master Class

Close More Sales by Shortening Your Sales Cycle - 10/8 - a Business Experts Webinar

After the Cutting - How Successful Companies are Selling Their Way Back to the Top 11/3 - Top Executives only use Discount Code DK1103 to avoid paying fees.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management, selling, sales tips, sales management coaching, happy ears

Understanding the Sales Force - Top 100 Blogs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 @ 05:09 AM

It's been a pretty good week for getting honored.  Thursday my book, Baseline Selling was named Cool Book of the Day and today, my Blog, Understanding the Sales Force was named to the Top 100 Blogs.  Thank you all for reading!


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management, selling, Sales Force, Top 100 Blogs

Quote 85% Less - Sell 300% More!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 @ 16:09 PM

Back in December I posted this article to my Blog on the concept of less being more. You should read that first.

This week, Al Strauss, my guest on Meet the Sales Experts, provided a case history on the subject.

He had a client who, when he met them, closed 4 deals for every 100 quotes they prepared and submitted.  Not only that, it took their highly paid engineers anywhere from 1 hour to 1 week to complete those quotes.  After he worked with them, they were quoting only 18 of those 100 opportunities and closing 12 of them.  That's an 85% reduction in quotes in return for triple the sales.  Truly a case of less is more.  Would you like to hear how he did this?  Listen to the show.

Al also said that right now is the perfect time to figure out who will go out and hunt because, right now, there aren't many salespeople actually calling on your prospects, especially in the industrial and consumer segments.  He also said this is the time to terminate your non-producers and use that money to improve the capabilities of your sales force.

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Al.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, increasing sales, sales tips, al strauss, qualifying

The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I received an email from Selling Power promoting their latest webinar, The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm is Dead

In 2007 we had to deal with writers proclaiming that sales and the sales force were dead.  The reality of all of that talk was that the people writing about it weren't close enough to sales to know what they were talking about.  Companies with transactional sales don't need salespeople selling their transactional items, but they do need salespeople persuading companies to choose them in the first place.  Then the transactions can be placed via Internet or an inside sales group. That's about the only scenario where the "dead" proclamation even comes close to being accurate.  

Companies selling complex products, design engineered, custom, capital intensive, and higher priced than competition absolutely need salespeople to find opportunities, develop the need, provide value, qualify the opportunity, present the right solution and close the business.  Companies that are underdogs, those that sell professional services, and those with a story to tell absolutely need salespeople.

And today we have more attention grabbing headlines.  While it is Selling Power that is hosting this promotional webinar, it's actually a sales training company that is conducting it.  They go on to say that, "today's economy demands that you leverage all of your available sales talent by helping your sales reps both farm and hunt productively."

That's fine in theory.  It's optimal.  But the reality is that Objective Management Group has statistics from evaluating 450,000 salespeople and it's just not possible.  Here are the facts:

You want all of your salespeople to find new business but 24% of them will never be able to do that.  All of the training that they can provide won't change those people.  They'll have new words and will learn new skills but they still won't actually do it.

You want all of your salespeople to farm but some of them will never be able to do that either.  22% of them can't be trained.  And 45% of them will not close.  Again, they can train them until they're blue in the face but aside from the new words they'll learn, nothing will change for that group of salespeople.

So in a perfect world, where we can be anything we want to be, athletes aren't wired to be scientists, artists aren't wired to be software programmers, and ballet dancers aren't wired to be weight lifters.  Some salespeople aren't wired to prospect - they should be account managers - and some people aren't wired to close - they should be account managers too!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, closing, prospecting, Action Selling, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments, objective management group, selling power

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six 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.

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