"Spirited" Has So Much in Common with Most Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 29, 2022 @ 07:11 AM

Watch new trailer for holiday comedy 'Spirited,' starring Will Ferrell and  Ryan Reynolds - Good Morning America

Last week we watched Spirited, the new Apple TV Plus take on the old Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.  In this lighthearted film, Will Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Reynolds is the 2022 version of Scrooge.  This Scrooge is a funny, selfish, materialistic, song and dance man, who is irredeemable. Can Will Farrell's character redeem Ryan Reynolds' character?

As usual, the movie got me thinking about salespeople and Understanding the Sales Force.

Ryan Reynold's character, Clint Briggs, is a fabulous showman, salesperson, and marketing consultant rolled into one.  The problem is that he never considers anyone or anything other than himself and his personal success..

There is a correlation between Clint Briggs and salespeople, many of whom are also irredeemable, but for different reasons. 

Most salespeople - 87% - still sell like it's 1975 and fall into one of three buckets:

  1. They sell transactionally. In other words, they talk about their company, their products and services, themselves, their features and benefits, and try to leverage that for a sale.
  2. They rely on demos to generate interest and then try to close.
  3. They rely on having the lowest price and take orders.

Only 13% of all salespeople take a consultative approach to selling and almost none of them can be found in the bottom 50% - the group that fails to meet quota each year.  A coincidence? On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10% of all salespeople are 4300% more likely to have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength!

Are the 87% redeemable?  Can they make the transition from transactional sellers, demo-focused presenters, and price focused order takers to professional, consultative sellers?  Only an OMG (Objective Management Group) sales team evaluation (SEIA) can answer that questionDownload free samples of the sales team evaluation here.

Spirited does have three things in common with prior versions of A Christmas Story and those are the ghosts of Christmas' past, present and future.  That got me thinking about the articles I wrote in 2022, the articles you'll see in December, and what you can look forward to in 2023.

Our ghost of articles past reminds us that we began 2022 talking about whether buying has changed and if salespeople have adapted.  We followed that up with our 6th installment in the popular Bob Chronicles about salespeople who make things your problem.  Then came an article about the 10 Unwritten Rules of Prospects and how to break them.  

February began with an article on how hiring salespeople the right way yields 62% less turnover and 80% higher quotas.  We followed that up with the similarities between cyber thieves, hackers and most salespeople.  No kidding!  Then came this favorite, the 7th installment of the Bob Chronicles about salespeople who can't close closable business.  I love the Bob articles!  Then I provided 10 steps to crush your sales forecasts.  Finally, our last article in February was my review of a prospecting email with some elements that could actually work for salespeople.

March started with an article explaining how salespeople with a high tolerance for money are 4,000 percent better than those with a low tolerance for money.  That's a huge differentiator!  Next was the comparison between great baseball coaches and great sales coaches.  Then I began a new series of my most popular videos and rants.  It started with the top 10 but there are now nearly 2 dozen popular videos and rants to watch! 

April started with another baseball analogy - this one about how the philosophy of great pitching coaches can improve your sales team.  Then I explained how to identify the accurate reason for a salesperson who is not performing.  

May's first article had my 5 simple steps to grow sales by 33%.  Really!  May ended with an article about how to prepare your sales team to thrive in a recession.

In June, I explained how salespeople like to go fast but good salespeople actually go slow and followed that up with an article on the benefits of competency-based assessments.   

In July, I wrote about why you can't afford to lose customers or salespeople right now.  Then I wrote about big company strategies that small and medium businesses can emulate.  The last article of July explained the differences in requirements for success in different selling roles

August began with one of my trademark takedowns of a junk-science article with 20 attributes of successful salespeople. Not. That was followed with an article about how to stop account churn.  Then I explained how my car's qualifying ability is a great example of how salespeople should qualify. Then came the article that explained how salespeople would be impacted by the 15% minimum corporate tax and how difficult it would be for the IRS to hire 80,000 agents.  Sorry if reporting on an actual news story offended some of you.  The post that should have gotten people upset but didn't was when I compared the sorry and pathetic Boston Red Sox to most sales teams.  Not a single complaint about that one!  My final article in August was another baseball analogy where I compared closing a tough sale to hitting a home run.

In September I found and shared an article with a doctor's testimonial about the importance of his salespeople.  Awesome!  Then I wrote about 10 attributes that do not differentiate top from bottom salespeople.  Next up was my tortured message to the masses wondering why more companies don't use OMG.  Then came another takedown of a Harvard Business Review article that appeared online.  The last article in September talked about how you can double your revenue in a recession.  

October began with my personal life comparison of Jeeps and Infinities and how that analogy holds up when interpreting an OMG sales candidate assessment for hiring salespeople.  My 8th installment of the Bob Chronicles looked at the difference between selling skills and effectiveness.  Then I compared alleged criminals who are released under cashless bail to underperforming salespeople who are released back into the field.   My final October article explored the correlation between motivation and sales compensation.

In November I wondered if salespeople will sell more effectively when sales managers sell and coach and if new sales managers can be difference makers.  Then I wrote a take-down of a Wall Street Journal article about selling to millennials.  My most recent article compared my failing wiper blades to why executives fail to take action when they have underperforming sales teams.

Which of these articles will make the list of the top 10 articles of the year?  Stay tuned for the December reveal as well as my annual Nutcracker post.  In 2023 I'll be focusing even more on how you can use OMG's data to improve sales performance.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, sales performance, sales tips, sales effectiveness, sales assessments, sales team

How Gas Grills, Gardening, Masks, and Baseball Mimic Your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 03, 2021 @ 13:05 PM

gasgrill

Some random thoughts from the weekend and its impact on sales teams...

We have a twenty-year old gas grill built-in to a stone wall on our back patio and this year I decided to replace all of the components.  New burners, new heat plates, new briquettes, new grates, new ignitor, and new wiring.  All told, it took three-hours of work, much of it with the ignitor and the wiring.  When I got it all reassembled, everything worked except the ignitor despite the fact that I smartly tested it prior to reassembly.  I opened it back up and discovered that the battery had become disconnected.  A tweak later, it was reassembled, the ignitor was sending sparks, but it was still failing to ignite the gas.  After all that work, and despite all the new components, I still must use a hand lighter to light the grill and will have to call a gas grill expert to get the sparks to ignite the gas.

My project corresponds so well with how many executives approach their sales teams. 

They do nothing for years, and then, after growing frustrated with complacency and inability to grow revenue, finally decide to make changes and rebuild their sales teams.  They quickly reassemble the team by terminating the obvious liabilities and hiring replacements.  Then, when the new salespeople don't perform to expectations, they make additional tweaks by adding hiring criteria, and try again.  Lacking a real sense of what good looks like, they continue to get it wrong and are back where they started, needing expert help to select the right salespeople to grow revenue.

We went to an outdoor garden center - outdoors means no masks if you're fully vaccinated so it should be an opportunity to shop mask free!  Not.  Everybody - young and old were masked up because we've learned that if you remove your mask people give you dirty looks and employees refuse to help you. So we must continue to mask up.  What does this have to do with selling?  

The discomfort with removing masks outdoors speaks directly to our discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  After 14 months you would think that people would be excited for the opportunity to go maskless but it's not close to happening in Massachusetts.  You would also think that salespeople would be quick to embrace strategies, tactics and sales processes that will help them dramatically improve their effectiveness, and help them differentiate and close more business. That has great appeal, but most salespeople are typically slow to adapt for the very same reasons.  Discomfort with, resistance to, and fear of change.  It takes time.

Like most spring weekends, we were watching our son play baseball (2 games each day) only this year spectators aren't allowed on college campuses so we were watching live streams.  We wondered how we would handle not being present and cheering for him and his team, how disconnected we might feel watching him on a computer screen, and how much we would miss it.  It was especially difficult this year since it is his freshman, or as they now say, "first year" season.  We adapted.  We had to adapt. The seating and food were both exponentially better at home, we didn't have six hour round trips to campus and back, and the bathrooms were sparkling!  That said, we still missed being there for him and can't wait until we can return to watch him play in person.

This aligns with how sales teams pivoted to virtual selling in the spring of 2020.  It worked, but many of the same differences were in play.  The seating, food and bathrooms were better, but we missed being with our colleagues and customers.  We adapted, although in the case of virtual selling, we didn't adapt as well.  I am still very frustrated with the sales teams I personally train, who week after week, have failed to upgrade their physical appearance, wardrobe, and backgrounds.  I don't want to see bedrooms, closets, kitchens, dens, basements or bathrooms!  The lighting sucks!  You've had 14 months to upgrade how you present yourselves, so read my article on upgrading your virtual presence and get with the program.  Many of you will be selling this way, from home and/or office, for the foreseeable future.

It was a great weekend for gardening and when the baseball games weren't streaming we were in the gardens.  Pulling weeds, grooming the beds replacing perennial flowers and cutting down scrawny, ugly or dead trees were on the list.  It's what we do in May.

This is a great time for weeding out your under-performers and negative, whiny liabilities, upgrading your sales teams, and replacing them with better salespeople who are better fits for the role.  It's what we should do, not only in May but year-round.  A sales force evaluation should come first so that you know who is part of your future, how to develop them, and how much more revenue they can generate. You must also know who is part of your past and whether or not to move on from them.  You must understand why you get the results you get and what needs to change.  You should also use an accurate and predictive, customizable, sales-specific candidate assessment to help select your new salespeople. Ask your sales consultant about Objective Management Group (OMG) for help with both issues.  If you don't have a reliable, magical sales expert you can call, we can recommend one for you.  If you have one, but they don't offer OMG, insist that they either become OMG certified or find one who does offer OMG.  Just email me and I'll get you hooked up with someone who can help in a big way.

Image Copyright: arinahabich

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Salesforce, sales effectiveness, sales hiring tools, objective management group, sales team

31 Conditions That Predict Your Sales Opportunity is in Trouble

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 16, 2021 @ 14:04 PM

Photo Gallery: 2021 Genesis GV80 Luxury SUV - » AutoNXT

Long article for the weekend.

In December I took delivery on my all-time favorite new car and I've been driving my Genesis GV80 for four months now.  You probably saw video of the GV80 that Tiger Woods' destroyed and there wasn't a thing the car could have done to prevent him from crashing it because he had probably disabled the driver assist features and he may have been "disabled" when he got behind the wheel.

Last week, a crazy driver pulled out right in front of me and despite the fact that I anticipated his stupidity and would have been able to stop before smashing into this moron, my car wasn't as certain as I was.  My Genesis took matters into its own hands and went into all out protection mode - making sure nothing happened to it or me.

As advertised, it took over the braking and steering to protect itself, sounded all the alarms to alert me to its strategy and then did two things that really surprised me.  All at once, the seat enveloped me in a cocoon and the seat belt tightened around my shoulders so that there was no chance that I was leaving that seat.  Going through the windshield?  Not a chance unless the whole seat was coming with me!

That was cool. 

And it got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool if salespeople had a sales version of an early warning system/driver assist like my car has?

The car uses cameras and sensors to factor in conditions that would require emergency tactics.  Salespeople have eyes and ears as well as wisdom that can all be used for emergency tactics.  Let's start with the ears.

Prospects say things that are tell-tale signs that something is amiss.  Anytime a salesperson hears any of these comments they could be swaying out of their lane or their opportunity might be about to crash.  They include but aren't limited to:

  • Send me a proposal or get me a quote; both are bad if it happens earlier in the sales process than it should
  • We still have to meet with others
  • I've been tasked to gather information
  • We don't have a budget for this
  • We'll have to find the money
  • We're going with the best price
  • I need to bring this to [the decision maker] for approval
  • This is a future project
  • We're happy with who we're using
  • You don't need to know that
  • I need to get consensus
  • We don't have any real urgency on this
  • Our contract/agreement doesn't expire until [date]

There are things you don't hear but wisdom (experience plus lessons learned) communicates them through your inner voice:

  • They don't seem to have a compelling reason to do anything
  • They are withholding information 
  • You think they're lying about something
  • It seems that this is only "nice to have" but you haven't gotten them to "must have"
  • The decision maker is not engaged
  • They are hesitant about spending the necessary money
  • You don't seem to have their ear because they aren't talking in terms working together
  • They have transitioned to a pricing conversation which suggests you haven't cemented your value
  • They see you a vendor or supplier; not a partner or trusted advisor
  • They have an existing relationship that they don't seem willing to blow up
  • They are not allowing you to follow your sales process
  • They are not allowing you to ask questions and you find yourself in show and tell mode

Then, there are the things you observe:

  • They aren't making eye contact
  • They are distracted
  • They are giving you short answers and not explaining themselves
  • They are in a hurry
  • They're looking at their watch
  • Their RFI/RFQ/RFP reads like it was written by a competitor

Some of the examples listed above are chronic - they occur most of the time to most of the salespeople.  Half of them may not know any better - shame on the training and coaching they are or should be getting!  But the other half have weaknesses in their Sales DNA which cause these things to keep happening to them.  A Sales Force Evaluation can smoke out gaps in their sales competencies and Sales DNA.  OMG measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies plus an additional 11, each with an average of 8 attributes.  That's close to 250 sales specific findings for each salesperson! 

Finally, your sales process which is integrated into your CRM application provides warnings, yellow flags, alerts, incomplete milestones, incomplete stages, time in stage too long, stuck opportunities...You do get those, don't you?  Check out the Baseline Selling instance of Membrain.

Pivoting back to my car which takes matters into its own hands.  The partial listing above is set to "alert-only" without evasive or protective measures.  How can we get salespeople to perform evasive and protective measures?  Evaluate/Train/Coach/Reevaluate.  

The evaluation tells us what they're allowing to happen and why.  Training provides them with the strategy and tactics to use evasive action and protect the opportunity.  Coaching helps them master the strategies and tactics.

Improving sales effectiveness does not happen in isolation, automatically over time, or by magic.  Improved sales effectiveness and the resulting increase in revenue requires proactive, purposeful intervention as described above. 

By the fourth quarter of 2021, we will encounter some of the most difficult selling conditions since November of 2008 when, without warning, the revenue spigot was turned completely off.  It remained partially closed through 2016 but from 2017 until the pandemic hit we were in full open fire hydrant mode.  Business was booming and for most companies, quickly returned to booming by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Now we are faced with some huge impending corporate income tax and payroll tax increases and they will be larger than what has been stated on the news.  Those large tax increases do one thing - they cause layoffs.  After the layoffs, consumer spending and confidence drop.  Then we see buying freezes and their related ripple effect where the companies that sell to those big companies experience cash reserve issues, initiate  buying freezes of their own, which work their way down to businesses of all sizes.  

This time around you've been warned.  You have no more than eight months to prepare your sales team for some of the toughest selling ever and most salespeople have never experienced selling as difficult as what we will see in 2022.  On top of that, you'll have more, not fewer competitors because when everyone is selling virtually, every competitor is just as close or just as far away as the next.  And if you're not in the USA, don't think you won't be affected.  What happens here affects you wherever you are.

Now is the time to install early warning systems, sales force evaluations, targeted training and coaching, and more.  Prepare your sales teams now or pay the price in 2022!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, sales objections, sales assessements, sales effectiveness, sales team, tax increase

10 Critical Best Practices for Your Sales Force in This Crisis

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 27, 2020 @ 11:04 AM

superman

We are in week 6 of lockdown, week 8 of voluntary work-from-home, while adapting, guiding and directing companies who still need to sell their products and services to generate revenue.  At this point sales is about so much more than generating revenue for profit or to keep employees working.  For most companies, sales is now about generating revenue to survive, as we stare down a whole new way of doing business.  Forget uncertainty!  Where we are right now is downright scary.  But if the past 6 weeks have taught us anything, it's that with the right tools, strategies, mindset and tactics, we can adapt and even thrive.  For those who may read this after May 1, 2020, the following best practices are based on where we are as I write this on April 27, 2020.  

Everyone Has a Remote Sales Team - It's not just the geographically distributed sales teams anymore; it's everyone, and we need to consider the biggest challenges of leading remote sales teams:

  • Not everyone is tech savvy, especially in some old-school industries like building products, industrial distribution, and historical face-to-face selling environments.  You must set proper expectations about using phone and video, require all meetings to be virtual instead of phone, and provide proper training on using video technology.
  • Not everyone is well-suited for working from home.  I'm not talking about the ability to focus without distraction.  I'm talking about whether your salespeople have the DNA for working from home, independent of their team, and without supervision; whether they are self-starters and have the necessary time and organizational skills to work on their own for an extended period of time.  Working from home is not temporary.  This will continue even after the lockdown is in the rear view mirror because as long as kids are at home (no school, no summer camp), parents will be at home too and customers may not be ready to have outsiders visiting their offices and plants.  Also consider that some salespeople aren't able to handle the emotional disconnect from being isolated from friends, co-workers, families and customers.
  • Daily Huddles - Despite years of yelling from the rooftops that sales leaders must lead a quick daily huddle with their teams, it didn't happen.  It just wasn't convenient - for the leaders!  And despite the proven benefits of such huddles, most resisted while some compromised and ran weekly huddles.  The resistance and compromises must end.  You must huddle with your team twice per day to keep them connected, share success stories and demonstrate that we are in this together.
  • Coverage - salespeople will be able to cover their territories more efficiently than ever before.
  • Cost - Having your salespeople sell remotely is much more cost-effective.

Motivation - Your salespeople are scared.  They are looking to you for reassurance, positivity, motivation, success stories, support, guidance, direction and hope.  They are afraid:

  • Will they be able to make calls without offending people?
  • Will they be able to schedule virtual meetings?
  • Will they be able to sell over video/phone?
  • Will they be able to close anything in the short term?
  • Will they be able to keep their jobs?

Call Reports - I can't think of a single reason why you would waste salespeople's time by having them complete call reports.  Consider:

  • They use same piece of hardware for virtual meetings and emails as they do to access your CRM application.  Gone are the days where they were on the road, on site with a customer, on sales calls, in a hotel or airport or home too late without enough time to update CRM.  No more excuse making.
  • They must update CRM in real time,  as they complete each conversation, virtual meeting and call.  
  • You must make real time updates a condition of continued employment.  In the current environment of 15% unemployment, this requirement has teeth.
  • It's like spaghetti sauce - it's in there.  Everything you could possible ask for in a call report will be in the dashboard and/or reporting section of your CRM application.  Ditch the call reports.

Pipeline The one thing that every salesperson can do right now is build pipeline.  My conversations with CEOs reveal two problems:  Delayed closes and insufficient pipelines to compensate so:

  • Go on offense! Every salesperson - even account managers and farmers, should be all in, all hands on deck pipeline building mode right now.  If they won't do it you don't need them!  25 million people have already filed for unemployment in the US so 2.5 million are probably salespeople.  Unlike just three months ago when your salespeople were in the driver's seat, your salespeople can be replaced!
  • Phones - They're being used as talking devices again!  We haven't witnessed this kind of reconnection with the phone since administrative assistants were replaced by automated voicemail systems.  Executives are taking and returning calls and you should not allow your salespeople to hide behind their monitors using emails to reach out when people are answering their cell phones!
  • Viability - You need a comprehensive viability analysis of your pipeline to determine how much is high quality, how much is properly staged, and how much you will realistically win.  Without the viability analysis your forecast is a complete fabrication.

Coaching - Forget 50% of your time coaching!  It needs to be 75% of your time.  You have the time, even if you are responsible for personal accounts.  Every salesperson, every day, for a minimum of 30-minutes of one-on-one coaching to:

  • Coach them up
  • Coach them through opportunities
  • Debrief completed calls
  • Join them on calls (easier than ever)

KPI's -  It's time to rethink your KPI's:

  • Focus on Pipeline Building KPI's!  Dials, Conversations and Virtual Meetings Scheduled. 
  • Add KPI's for opportunities that advanced to the next stage, opportunities that were pushed back to a prior stage, and opportunities that are no longer valid.  Counting only the good stuff is head-in-the-sand leadership.

Targeting - It's more important than ever! 

  • You may have lost entire Verticals (like travel/tourism), Segments (small specialty retail is a segment of retail) or Audiences (sales enablement and learning and development have been casualties). 
  • Target the verticals, segments and audiences that you can sell to now, that are continuing to do business.
  • Consider selling something different than what you usually sell to existing customers and seeking new customers for what you typically sell.
  • Your competition may not have been affected in the same way that you were, especially if they have other channels, verticals, products and services than what you offer.  Will they be concentrating more or less of their efforts on your target market?
  • Hard to Reach Opportunities are no longer hard to reach for territory salespeople.  They can reach them virtually!

Critical SkillsI can't be more clear about this and you have no option but to do something about this. If your salespeople continue to take a present/demo/quote/proposal-based approach to selling they will fail and the only business you will get will be low-margin business.  Only 15% of all salespeople have all four of the critical skills below as a strength: 

  • A Consultative approach, based on listening and asking questions, is the only way to differentiate your salespeople from your competitors
  • Value-Based selling, where your salespeople are the value, is the only way to maintain margins.  If you attempt to be competitive your only revenue will be low to no margin revenue and you will fail.  This is not talking about value; this is being the value.
  • Thorough qualifying.  You can't afford for your salespeople to be wasting time on opportunities that are no longer viable; but they will if you don't require thorough qualifying and justification for pursuit, and add verification and accountability.
  • Staged, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process that supports the consultative, value-based, approach.

Right-Sizing - I'm sorry but you can't put this off.  There is no way around this.  You must do this today, unless you got PPP funding, in which case you must do this at 60 days post-funding!  You must be able to generate more revenue with fewer salespeople

  • Consider factors other than revenue and performance. 
  • Also consider overhead (sales expenses other than commissions)
  • Suitability for the role they are in (half of all salespeople are not well-suited for the roles they are in
  • Suitability for working from home (see remote sales team above - 41% of all salespeople are not well-suited for working from home)
  • Pipeline viability (see Pipeline above - 43% of all salespeople lack viable pipelines right now) 
  • Critical skills for selling in this environment - (See critical skills above - 85% of all salespeople are lacking these skills)
  • OMG's SmartSizing tool allows you to run a complete viability analysis on your sales organization to right-size it today.

Hire Salespeople - If you have the cash flow to hire salespeople, do it now.  This is the first time in about five years that good candidates are available and actively looking for their next home.  Just make sure:

  • Don't make any mistakes in your rush to hire
  • Use OMG's trusted, accurate, customizable (for the role) and predictive sales candidate assessment.
  • Rework your sales recruiting process for the current times.  You need to get every aspect right from the ad you post to your onboarding.

Get Help!  Sure you want to be a superhero but Kryptonite brought Superman to his knees and the enemy we are fighting today is our version of Kryptonite. Don't be embarrassed to ask an expert for help.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, sales pipeline, b2b sales, best practices, remote selling

3 Steps You Must Take Today to Save Your Company From This Economic Downturn

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

3-steps

You know the stories of the Three Stooges, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, and baseball fans have just heard about The Three Batter Minimum (how stupid!).  We're not going to discuss any of those threes today but we will talk about the three things companies must do, right now, in this quickly disintegrating economy, to drive revenue.

First, I'll share my Three Rants.

In the past couple of weeks, I recorded three, very powerful, very important and very relevant 2-minute video rants.

Rant #1 - Less is More So Don't Talk So Much

Rant #2 - What's Wrong with Value Propositions and Elevator Pitches

Rant #3 - Why You Can't Wait Another Day to Change the Way You Sell

With those three rants digested, let's discuss business  The economy is in trouble - not forever, but for now - and things will unravel in this order.

  • Large companies will enact spending freezes, stop issuing PO's and hold up payments on orders in progress
  • Those spending freezes will trickle down through the shipping industry, the suppliers that sell to large companies and those firms who sell to them
  • The consequences of bullets 1 and 2 will quickly hit consumers in the form of layoffs

Salespeople, who just yesterday were crushing their numbers, won't.  Those who were missing quotas will be unable to sell anything.  Transactional selling (why you should buy it from us/me instead of them) will stop working all together.  Consultative Selling (why you should buy this despite the lack of funding) is the only approach that will work at all.  

Here's the problem with that.  According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,958,990 salespeople, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  And that number is misleading because most of those 15% make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  60% of the top 5% have Consultative Selling as a strength but only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople do.  And bad news, most of your salespeople are in the bottom 50%!

There are three things you must absolutely do, right now, today, to have any chance of getting out in front of what's coming.

1.  Have OMG evaluate your sales force.  While the findings and insights are incredible, the specific findings and insights that should be important today are:

  1. How to make the right decisions to right-size or down-size your sales organization.  Who is most well-suited to grow the business in each of your selling roles and who isn't?
  2. How big is the gap that your salespeople must overcome to become proficient at a sales process that supports both consultative and value based selling, who will be able to make the transition, how long will it take, and how much training and coaching will be required?
  3. How big is the gap that your sales managers must overcome to become proficient at sales coaching to support those salespeople?

There are dozens of other relevant, useful and important insights and findings but those are the three that you must have the answers for today.

2. Optimize your Sales Infrastructure. 

  1. Your sales process must be optimized to support this kind of selling
  2. The sales process must be milestone-centric and it must build upon itself. 
  3. Eliminate the dead wood on the sales force - less is more.  
  4. Replace them with great salespeople who will suddenly be available but make sure you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment to select them.  Now is not the time to lose 8-12 months because you value gut instinct over science!
  5. Now is the time to dump the CRM tool your salespeople refuse to live in (bye-bye salesforce-dot-com) and replace it with one that integrates your optimized sales process and pipeline, has built-in playbooks and focuses on sales opportunities instead of data entry (hello Membrain.com.  
  6. Eliminate unnecessary layers of management and right-size the reporting structure.  Ideal=6-8 reps reporting to a sales manager and 3-5 sales managers reporting to a Regional sales manager.

3. Train, Train, Train, Drill, Drill, Drill, Coach, Coach, Coach

  1. Get the proper sales management training that will turn your sales managers into coaching machines
  2. Get the proper sales training that will turn your salespeople into consultative sellers
  3. Run daily drills so that they can practice on someone other than their prospects!

You really can get out in front of this and continue to drive revenue if your salespeople can effectively side-step the resistance, create urgency, properly differentiate, sell value instead of price, and not become discouraged over all of the rejection they will be facing in the coming months.

Or you can put your head in the sand, believe that what worked last month will work next month, and wait until your cash flow is upside down and by then it will be too late.

Your choice.

Comments?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, selling in the recession

Does Efficiency or DNA Help to Increase Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

efficiencyThe Salesforce Blog published a new article of mine today - Read How to Create Perfect Sales Conditions.  It's really an article about how to use tools and efficiency to increase your focus and sales.  Speaking of efficiency, Kyle Dougherty, from Prialto, sent me this very cool video today.  Talk about a tool that helps you to be efficient!

Some people have efficiency in their DNA.  Matt Heinz wrote this article for the Hubspot Inbound Sales Blog, asking whether great salespeople are born.  I usually like what Matt writes, but I take issue with this particular article because the science just isn't there for what he wrote.

Compare that article with this article on the same subject.  Or this article, or even this article.

Science has a lot to say about sales selection!  And there's plenty of science available for us to make sales selection more effective, more consistent and more efficient.  

whitepaper banner

And that returns us to where we began this article - efficiency.

Efficiency and effectiveness are choices.  Do things the same way as always and sometimes get it right; or do things in the best possible way and nearly always get it right.  As always, the choice is yours.

 

Image Copyright: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Salesforce, Sales DNA, born to sell, sales assessments

Top 16 Problems with CRM

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 05:10 AM

Yesterday, I wrote about solving the sales performance problem.  Today, I'll write about solving the CRM problem.  CRM is very problematic, not because there aren't choices, but more because companies make bad decisions.  Just a few of the problems with CRM are listed here:

        • Company has no CRM.
        • Company has archaic CRM.
        • Salespeople won't use the existing CRM.
        • CRM doesn't provide management with an accurate forecast.
        • Management doesn't hold salespeople accountable for using/maintaining CRM.
        • CRM requires too much information input.
        • CRM is too slow to respond.
        • CRM is focused on data and accounts rather than opportunities.
        • CRM is not consistent with sales process.
        • CRM is viewed as busy work rather than a tool.
        • CRM is too expensive.
        • CRM can't be accessed via mobile devices.
        • Company wants too much unnecessary information about opportunities.
        • CRM allows salespeople to place prospects in the wrong pipeline stage.
        • CRM is too difficult to customize.
OK, so that wasn't just a few, but you get the idea.  Yesterday, I spent 90 minutes on a conference call with a client (the president, IT guy and 2 sales leaders) and their CRM provider (salesperson, regional sales manager and technical specialist) as they attempted to customize the application, so that it would follow the sales process which I developed for them, and provide an accurate forecast.  That shouldn't be necessary.
Last week, I spent 90 minutes with another client (8 people from operations, sales, customer service and marketing) showing them how CRM could be the answer to their inaccurate forecasts and pipeline reports.  All had different ideas of how much the CRM application should be required to do versus how simple it could really be.
CRM doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, difficult to customize or slow.  It doesn't need to require much data, give salespeople too much leeway or provide inaccurate forecasts.  Simply put, CRM can be everything your company needs it to be and more.  You just have to make a few good decisions:
        • You must already have a customized, formal, structured and optimized sales process in place and, if you don't, have a sales consultant create that for you.
        • You must choose the right CRM application (fast, salesperson-friendly, opportunity-focused using your new or existing sales process; excellent pipeline and forecasting tools, easy to set up, customize and use, etc.) as opposed to choosing a CRM application simply because you recognize the name.
        • Salespeople must understand what's in it for them and why they should embrace it.
        • Hold salespeople accountable for providing real-time updates.
I've reviewed 15 CRM applications (Landslide, Sugar, Oracle, Sales Logix, Microsoft Dynamics, Membrain, Fortuit, FunnelSource, Podio, OppTuna, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals, Act, Goldmine and Zoho) which aren't named Salesforce.com and because clients have had some of these applications installed, they've had to use many of them.  My feeling is that clients need to cut their losses and switch to a productive application, rather than sticking with a failed initiative, just because the money has been invested.  The Boston Red Sox dumped approximately $140 million in contracts this summer so that they could start from scratch in building a winning roster.  You should do the same thing with CRM!
Some things that CRM should be are:
        • An extension of the sales conversation, 
        • Salespeople should live inside the application rather than on email,
        • Salespeople should love it for the visual references which it provides,
        • Management should love it for the pipeline and forecast,
        • The best coaching tool on the planet,
        • Reports should be easy to coax from it and
        • Customizable without extra costs or fees.
So, you now have my 3 lists of bullets.  But what about the explanations and details?  What about examples?  For that I invite you to attend a 45-Minute Webinar on: 
How to Solve the CRM Problem
November 13
10 AM ET
Henrik Öquist, of Membrain, and
We will present the details, explanations and examples to help you implement CRM in a simple way where everyone - salespeople and management - get exactly what they need from CRM.  Please join us! CRM doesn't have to be complicated, difficult or undesirable; CRM can be the single most exciting tool in the sales organization.  You simply have to make the right decisions!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, crm, membrain

Kindle - Lessons Applied to the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 @ 06:02 AM

Readers who have purchased the Kindle have totally embraced that device.  Some think it's the Kindle, not online sellers, that is the biggest threat to brick and mortar book stores.  Those of us who own a Kindle are reading more books, and reading them more easily and conveniently than before we had the device. So why have sales forces, especially in smaller companies, been so resistant to technologies that make it simpler and more convenient to record, share, track, manage, forecast and see, in real time, the who, what, when, where, and how of selling? There are many applications available and you've heard of those like ACT!, Goldmine, Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM.  I've written on more than one occasion that I like Landslide.com the best.  If you want ease of use, salespeople who embrace rather than resist using it, little to no data entry (you can call it in) powerful out-of-the-box dashboards, and your choice of sales processes built-in, including Baseline Selling, Landslide is the only choice.

Speaking of the Kindle, many of you have been asking for me to do this so:

Dave Kurlan is now on the Kindle.

Receive my Understanding the Sales Force Blog on your Kindle.

You can receive my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball on your Kindle.

And you can help me out.  The Blogs are listed by Kindle popularity and since mine just went live, I assume it will show up last out of 1500 or so business Blogs currently available on the Kindle.  Please forward this article to your Kindle toting friends who might care or it may never be discovered on the Kindle device. And if you are like me, and you prefer to read your favorite Blogs on the Kindle at the same time you read your favorite newspaper on the Kindle, then why not subscribe to the Kindle edition?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, Landslide, kindle, ACT, Goldmine, salesforce.com, microsoft crm

Key Account Sales - More Than Just Important Accounts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 02, 2009 @ 09:11 AM

Over the last several months I have engaged in several on line disagreements about the importance of asking questions early in the sales process.  More than one sales expert has claimed that asking questions violates trust.  More than one marketing expert has claimed that asking questions is offensive.  My position is that unless your salespeople are asking lots of good, tough, timely questions, they won't uncover their prospects' compelling reasons to buy and buy from you instead of your competition. In addition, you won't create the urgency you need to move the opportunity forward and prevent delays, put-offs and ambivalence.

My guest on last week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts was Sales Development Expert Hal Thorsvig.  We were talking about psychology, the art of asking questions and listening and he said that "when people are sharing their emotional reasons for buying they are into the highest level of rapport there is!"  He added that you should "ask questions with a true sense of wonderment and curiosity".

Hal also had some interesting thoughts on Key Account Sales where, according to Hal, there is much more to it than just identifying important accounts and assigning account managers to them.  He said you must have:

  • strategy to ward off competition
  • ability to deal with multiple buying influences
  • great control/understanding of the needs of each of those influences 
  • ability to maintain the account (maintain should be interpreted as retain)
  • ability to grow the account

Are you or your salespeople struggling with ways to justify pricing that is being attacked with unrealistically low prices from your competition?  Listen to the show for the great Uncle Charlie story that Hal told. Hal's story is bound to put an end to that problem!

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

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, pricing, key account sales, hal thorsvig, price objections

3rd of the 10 Sales Competencies that are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 @ 06:10 AM

I went out of order in my last post  and presented #6 from my list of 10 Sales Competencies That are Key to Building Sales Cultures.

In this post I present the real #2, The Enemy is Resistance.  I've written about this before too.

The gist of Resistance is this: Selling would be far more simply for many more of your salespeople if they would focus on recognizing the resistance rather than attempting to overcome the many forms it takes:

  • lack of interest
  • happy with who they're using
  • price
  • quality
  • features
  • benefits
  • claims
  • satisfaction
  • problems
  • reputation
  • service
  • questions
  • put-offs
  • timing
  • perceived need

Rather than dealing with these objections individually, if your salespeople could just recognize the earliest stages of resistance...

  • a certain look
  • a change in posture
  • a nod
  • "well..."
  • "maybe..."
  • "I'm not sure..."
  • "but..."
  • a shoulder shrug
  • a stated objection
  • a loaded question
  • etc.

...and deal with it right then and there - at the earliest stage - by simply:

  • agreeing ("Yeah, I would have reacted that way too" or "You're right" or "You didn't react too well to what I just said...")
  • acknowledging ("I understand")
  • questioning ("Out of curiosity, why do you feel that way?")
  • questioning ("Can you explain?")
  • questioning ("What if it (or I) could?")
  • etc.

Resistance itself is pretty easy to deal with because you can lower it very quickly.  But if your salespeople aren't able to recognize it early, or worse, they ignore it, then they'll have to deal with the objections.  When they deal with objections, as soon as they attempt to overcome them, by using:

  • reason
  • logic
  • facts
  • figures
  • features
  • benefits
  • selling points
  • explanations
  • validation
  • rationalizations
  • charts
  • graphs
  • testimonials
  • defending

...they will be seen as putting on the hard sell, resistance will go up, not down, and their position will worsen!

Make sure your salespeople become masters at overcoming resistance.  Speaking of which, I am presenting a Sales Master Class on the very subject on behalf of The Sales Experts on October 15.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, overcoming resistance

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