4 Critical Changes to Go from Failure to Success in Sales Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 @ 13:07 PM

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Today I'm in Florida, preparing to speak at a company's national meeting.  Like many companies, they have not only realized that selling has changed dramatically, but that their salespeople may not have adapted, developed new skills, and changed the way they sell.  If you're a regular reader, active on LinkedIn or Social Media, then you have certainly read about the many ways that selling has changed.  But most senior executives haven't put two and two together yet.  They know that win rates are down and sales cycles are longer, they know it's more difficult than ever before, they see that their salespeople are struggling to meet quotas, but they don't realize the extent to which things have changed.  There are four critical requirements which, together are the difference between success and failure.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are talking about good salespeople, not bad ones.  There is an elite group of 7% - superstars - a larger group of an additional 16% that are fairly strong, and then the bottom 77% who suck.  We're going to talk about the changes that the top 23% need to make.  While the manner in which the bottom 77% approach selling can significantly change their results, there are issues other than those we will discuss here that limit their success.

1.  Value.  Since there is more competition than ever before and competition puts pressure on margins, it is more important than ever that salespeople have the ability to sell value.  Refer to this article for more on selling value today.  I just analyzed the data from nearly 8,000 OMG (Objective Management Group) sales candidate assessments from earlier this month.  I narrowed it down to 66% who have been in sales for 5 years or more and found that on average, these sales veterans possess only 62% of the attributes of a value seller.

2. Consultative Approach.  It is not possible to sell value unless it is integrated into a consultative approach to selling.  Refer to this article for more on a consultative approach, which helps you to tailor your solution and differentiate you and your company from the competition.  Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of Consultative Sellers.

3. Process.  If you can't sell value without a consultative approach, then the same can be said for the approach.  Value and a consultative approach will not work unless they are integrated into a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process.  Read this great article for more on sales process.  In surveys, most companies say they have a sales process in place. However, our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments reveal that salespeople possess, on average, only 52% of the attributes required for following a Sales Process.

4. Social.  Cold calling isn't dead but it is on life support.  It takes between 10-15 attempts to reach a decision maker and the conversion rates are falling like a piano dropped from the roof of a skyscraper.  Salespeople must be able to leverage their social networks, get introduced, and reach out to prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter and email to supplement the calls that they make.  Salespeople possess, on average, only 38% of the attributes of a Social Seller.  This one is worse than that score.  More than 1/3 of this group scored below 25%!

What Can You Do?  If you want to dramatically change and improve results, there are three things you can do.

  1. Bite the bullet and have a customized, optimized modern, staged, milestone-centric sales process created for you ASAP!
  2. Get your sales force trained and coached on the new process, a consultative approach to selling value, and social selling.
  3. Hire the right salespeople - those who already possess these capabilities!  The best selection tool is OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Check out the free trial!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, social selling, selling value

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 07, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

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Most salespeople can calculate ROI and explain it to their prospects, but many of them find it equally difficult to articulate that same ROI after they have been presented with a price objection.  They become defensive, review features and benefits, and make the situation worse for themselves instead of better.  We are going to review the case history of a salesperson who had an $85,000 solution that would increase company revenue from $10 million to $20 million.  Despite promising a $10 million gain, he was unable to overcome what he heard from his prospect:  "That's too much money!"  In this article, we willl discuss how it's done.

The prospective client had 30 outlets and needed to grow from $10 million to $20 million, the magic number for the CEO.  At $20 million, volume and pre-payment discounts would increase his bottom line by 10 points or an additional $2 million over and above what the $10 million in organic growth would produce.  $20 million was also the key milestone to sell the business to a strategic buyer and get a 10:1 return on EBITDA.  If ever there was a compelling reason to move forward, this CEO had it.  Unfortunately he was looking at the $85,000 cost as a line item rather than an investment to achieve a $10 million return. Rex, the salesperson, was unable to get him to see the $85,000 through that lens, so he turned to me for help.

I asked Rex what the prospect's average project sold for and learned that it was $35,000.

When you put that in context, that is 10 additional projects, per outlet, per year, to capture the additional $10 million.  And if we break it down even further, it's each outlet, selling just 3 additional projects, every 4 months.  At a 30% margin, it requires only 8 projects in total to break-even or 16 for a 100% return on investment.  That can be achieved when half of their outlets sell 1 additional project in a year!  So what does that tell us?

Rex never put this in context or he would have closed this in about 2 minutes flat.

It also means that the prospect had probably not done the math either.  If he had, then he was betting that Rex's solution wouldn't help half of the 30 outlets sell even one additional project over the entire year.  Rex was betting that his solution would help each of the 30 outlets sell ten additional projects over the entire year.

Articulating this particular ROI is simply about having a discussion on the point spread!

Did the prosopect think so little of the solution that he really believed it couldn't help 30 outlets capture 16 additional projects between them in a year, or did the prospect fail to do the math?

Most of the time, selling has little to do with features, benefits, products or services.  It always has a great deal to do with math - the quantification of the compelling reason to buy - in this case $10 million - and the articulation of the value proposition in the context of the prospect's real world situation - 30 outlets capturing a total of 90 additional projects between them over a year.

Selling is all about the math.

For example, the candidates in the 2016 US Presidential primaries have been presenting their plans and much of that revolves around math. I am not making a political statement here; I'm simply providing three examples of math used by the candidates in their attempts to support (or not support) their plans. The challenge for most of them is that their math doesn't always work and that leads to issues with credibilty, but not necessarily their popularity!

Bernie's plan is about free everything, but when you do the math, free will actually cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion per year.  That math doesn't work.  Donald has used the $58 billion trade deficit with Mexico to demonstrate how he will use that as leverage to get Mexico to pay for a wall.  That math works.  Ted wants a 16% flat tax.  I didn't know if that math worked, so I did some research.  I found that the total of American wages paid is around $10 trillion and the total of corporate revenue is about $16 trillion so at 16% that would generate around $4 trillion in revenue to the US Governement.  The 2016 US Federal budget is $3.5 trillion so that would leave $500 billion surplus to pay down the debt.  If that surplus could be sustained, the debt would take 36 years to pay off!  So does that math work?  Only to balance the budget.  

Learn to do the math and you'll make it so much easier for your prospects to understand your value proposition as it pertains to them.

Watch this 45-minute training video on Selling Value to capture the other pieces of the value selling puzzle.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, roi, EBITDA, building value, selling value, Donald Trump, ted cruz, bernie sanders, unique value proposition

Breaking News - More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before (and Why)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

Saturday evening, I was driving my car and listening to the radio when a song played that I hadn't heard since the 70's.  It occurred to me that long before the advent of rap music, Charlie Daniels must have been the accidental originator of rap with his song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia.  If you are too young to have heard it, don't remember it, or just want to hear this white country boy do his thing, watch this awesome YouTube clip.

Thinking of rap got me to thinking of salespeople - who always get a bad rap - and that got me to thinking about Bad Company, and their song, Taking Care of Business.  The only problem with my thinking is that Bad Company didn't record that song; Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO) did as you can see in this YouTube clip recorded at a prison!  If you're like me, you must be wondering where this post is heading...

Salespeople always seem to get a bad rap and obviously that's bad for business. But it's always been that way and nobody has made a very big deal about it, so what has changed? This article details all of the things that have dramatically changed modern selling in just the past several years.  And this article explains why millions of salespeople will lose their jobs and become obsolete.
 
Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed salespeople and while selling has changed and evolved, the data shows that one thing hasn't changed at all.  The following graph shows sales capabilities as measured by OMG's Sales Quotient and how that has changed in the past 15 years.
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For years, I've been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.
 
So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren't doing a great job of taking care of business.
 
When a change in the way that people buy is taking place at a faster rate than a change in the way that people sell, we see results like these.  Richardson just published their 2016 Selling Challenges Report.  I typically don't care for surveys - especially those with a small sample size like this one, and those whose respondents are primarily from large companies. But in this case, the findings are correct; especially the top 3 issues that salespeople are struggling with:
  1. Creating value and insight during the client conversation
  2. Uncovering complete information regarding the decision making process
  3. Exploring client issues and challenges

The 3 topics are identical to those I write about most frequently because they correlate to the issues we uncover when we evaluate sales forces.  Why are salespeople struggling so much with these issues?

  • Their sales managers aren't capable of helping them.
  • The majority of companies fail to bring in expert help from the outside.
  • A lot of the training doesn't focus on the cause - only the symptoms.
  • Salespeople tend to not practice and when they do practice, they practice doing it the wrong way.
  • Those 3 issues are the core of Value Selling and a Consultative approach - the 2 most difficult competencies out of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.
  • A lot of the training either isn't very good, isn't reinforced, or isn't enforced.  Sales leaders and CEO's are not holding salespeople accountable for change.
  • The starting point for any effective training is a customized, formal, structured, milestone-centric sales process and that is missing from many well-known training programs.  Last week I received a call from an Israeli company that wanted Kurlan & Associates to teach their 200 salespeople to sell based on the video tools they created.  Their products were cutting edge 21st century products, but the selling approach they created on their own was vintage 1970's.  I told them that they would have to either allow us to completely change their sales process and approach, or they would have to find another company to help them.
  • Sales DNA plays a huge part in the difficulties that salespeople have when attempting to sell value or use a consultative approach.  Sales DNA is the combination of strengths that support skills and when the strengths are actually weaknesses, salespeople are uncomfortable and/or unable to execute the process, strategies, tactics and achieve milestones.
Today, if salespeople do not learn to master the consultative approach, a prerequisite for Value Selling, they won't be able to differentiate themselves in the field.  Without differentiation strongly grounded in value, buyers will ultimately make their decisions based on price.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, objective management group, selling value, Richardson, OMG Assessment, charlie daniels, bachman turner overdrive

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 06:10 AM

Last week, I was training a sales force to sell value - an absolutely revolutionary concept - when the unthinkable happened, not once, but twice in the same training.  As incredible as it was to me, it clearly illustrates why it is so darn hard for companies to get their salespeople to sell value.

We had just spent an hour demonstrating a consultative approach to selling, a prerequisite for selling value.  We then spent another hour on the 4 keys to selling value.  We were in the middle of a role-play when Dick asked, "Why do I need to ask all those questions when all he wants is a price?  Isn't there a scenario where I can just quote him a price?"

Sure there is, Dick!  If you are prepared to be entirely obsolete - right now - then go ahead, skip the questions and the whole conversation, and quote your precious price.  Because we don't actually need you if all you're going to do is quote a price.  Your prospects and customers can get that online - and quicker than you can come up with an answer for them.  Today, prospects and customers have zero use for a salesperson whose value is limited to knowing prices and technical specifications.

It got even better after I was done with Dick.  Bob told me about Tom, a customer who can't buy from him because Tom has to buy from his brother-in-law.  Apparently, Bob's wife will kill him if he doesn't buy from Tom... Anyway, there was a scenario where Tom couldn't get what he needed from his brother-in-law, so he called Bob and asked, "How much?"

Of course, Bob wanted to quote a price, but I suggested that we role-play because there was probably another way to handle the call.  I played Bob's part in the role-play and wanted to take the call in a completely different direction.  Instead of quoting a price, I asked, "Tom, does your wife know you called me?" and "Why can't Tom deliver this for you?" and "You only want to make a one-time purchase?" and "Why should I do that?"

While Bob was thinking transactionally about the small order he might easily get, I was thinking about how we can leverage this turn of events and convert this into Bob doing a favor for Tom instead of Tom doing a favor for Bob.

The one thing that always gets in the way of selling value, is when salespeople want to quote prices!  Stop-quoting-prices!  There will be plenty of time - LATER - to let them know how much they will pay you when they decide to buy from you! 

Available Now and Coming Soon

I can't believe it, but it's already the 10th Anniversary of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball - and still relevant 10 years later!  If you haven't read this best-seller, order it today or get it for your Kindle!

Free Download - 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales - my new eBook

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Free Webinar by Handshake - October 21 at 1PM ET - Register for The Best Way to Coach Sales Reps 

Free Webinar by Objective Management Group - October 28 at 11 AM ET - Register for Benchmarking, EEOC Compliance and Predictive Sales Selection.  Speaking of Sales Selection, don't miss the popular article I published on LinkedIn Pulse - Why Most Big Companies Hire the Wrong Salespeople and How to Get it Right

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, selling value

How Dramatically Has Selling Changed?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 06:02 AM

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Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Yesterday, I was listening to a radio promotion when they said, "Take a selfie with a standie and then, using your smartphone or tablet, upload it to Facebook, or tweet your image using hashtag [something I can't remember]."

Now, pretend it's 1995, and reread the quotation.  Twenty years ago, would you have recognized any of the words other than "take", "and", "then", "using", "your", "or" and "to?"  In 1995, selfie, standie, smartphone, tablet, tweet, hashtag, upload, and Facebook would have had you believing that you were listening to a foreign language.  That's just one example of how dramatically some things have changed in the past 20 years.

Let's take selling.  How dramatically has that changed in 20 years?

There are some obvious changes that most people in sales will recognize, like:

  • Salespeople are no longer sources of product knowledge or pricing, both of which are readily available online.
  • Salespeople enter the sales cycle only to find their prospects much further along in their buying cycle.
  • Salespeople utilize Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, email marketing, blogging, and the web for knowledge and to connect with prospects, before they speak for the first time.
  • Personal online networks, like Facebook, Google+, and LInkedIn are exponentially larger than the physical networks of twenty years ago.
  • Salespeople with transactional products and services, like tickets, travel, commodities and most retail items have found themselves being replaced by online sales.
  • Many salespeople who once worked in a territory or vertical, now find themselves doing the exact same thing by phone.
  • Video conferences and phone calls are replacing face-to-face visits.
  • Inbound, Lead-Gen, and Appointment Setting Teams are recent additions to Inside Sales.
  • Value Propositions and Added Value have given way to salespeople who must now be the value.
  • A vast array of productivity tools, especially those that sync between devices, make selling not only more efficient, but more fun.
  • National and global competitors are making it more difficult to win the business.
  • Demos can be easily conducted online.
  • There are vast amounts of free, online resources that individuals can use to improve themselves.

And then there are the changes which are not as obvious, like:

So my question is, are these changes good or bad?  Have you made any or all of these changes?  If you have ignored any of the changes, was it due to ignorance, discomfort, or arrogance?

What is the next change that will rock your world?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, close more sales, twitter, linkedin, selling value, long sales cycle, sales win rates, google plus

Did You Lose a Deal You Had Already Closed? This is Why!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

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You closed a nice deal, you shared the news with everyone else at the office, you entered it into your CRM, you provided the information to get the deal invoiced, you went home and calculated your commission and before you could collect the money, it got taken away.  Ouch!  This story should explain exactly what actually happens nearly every time you take business away from another company.

I made a decision to follow my banker to his new bank.  I hate having to reeducate new bankers so it was an easy decision, especially after the new banker at the old bank started emailing his questions.  Yesterday, I called to get the payoff for our line of credit and that caused me to receive calls from three of the bankers at the old bank.

First I heard from the new loan officer.  He wanted to know what they could do to keep our business.

Then I heard from his new boss.  He told me he was brought there after 30 years with Bank of America to stabilize the turnover in the department and that he assures me that, moving forward, there would be stability.  He wanted to know when he could meet me to begin to develop our relationship.

Then I got a call from the underwriter who approved our line 5 years ago.  He asked, "if we can sweeten the pot and match the deal you got at the new bank, can we get you to stay?"  I told him that I didn't leave because of a better rate, but I got a better rate when I left.  I explained that matching the rate was a nice gesture, but it wasn't the reason I left.  I thought he was going to cry.  Then came the guilt trip.  "After all we did for you when you needed us, how can you leave us like that?  I thought there would be more loyalty than what you are showing us."  I expected the guilt trip but I didn't expect him to make stuff up!  I told him again it wasn't about the rate.  I was being loyal - to my banker - and thanked him for trying.  After he sent a few parting shots the way of my old banker, he hung up and I think he was actually crying.

When you close a deal to replace an incumbent, for any reason, you must expect that the incumbent will attempt to retain that customer and pull out all the stops to succeed.  If your new customer is moving their business to you only because you were able to beat the price they were paying, you will certainly be hanging over the cliff, ready to fall, because they will match or beat your price to keep their customer.  It costs a lot of money to acquire and replace a lost customer.  On the other hand, if this customer is moving to you because you uncovered their compelling reason to buy from you and you are uniquely qualified to solve their problem, all the begging and pleading in the world won't cause your customer to return to their old vendor, the one that was not able to solve their problem.

If you know that the incumbent will be calling to undo what just got done, what can you do to prevent an unhappy ending?  Prepare your new customer for the call!  Ask, "So what will you say when ABC calls and offers to match our price?"  "What if they lay a guilt trip on you?"  "What if they start to beg?"

What can you learn from this beyond the importance of selling the value instead of selling on price?

You had better be sure that all of your customers are happy with you or you may find yourself in the same position as my old bank.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing tips, selling value, lost a deal, after the close

Approaching 2015 From a Sales Perspective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

You’ve made your New Years resolutions to exercise, lay off the carbs, lose weight, be kind, leave the cell phone in another room at night, close the laptop by 7PM, and be an all-around better person. You may have even set your goals for 2015. But what can you do to kick-off the New Year so that 2015 is your best sales year ever? Here are my top 10 tips: 

  1. Go All In on Your Goals and Write a Plan. If you know how much money you want to earn in 2015 and have a compelling reason to earn it, the next step is to figure out how. Subtract your salary as well as commissions on booked and/or residual business to determine the remaining required income. Based on your existing commission or bonus plan, how much new business must you close? How many new sales or accounts are required? What are the metrics to close one – in other words, how many proposals, demos, qualified opportunities, prospects and suspects does it take? Multiply that by the number of new sales or accounts required. You now have the activity required. Divide that by the number of selling days in the year. That gives you your daily metrics. Chapter 3 in my Baseline Selling Field Guide will step you through this entire process. Finally, where will that business come from? How much of that is already in your pipeline and how much of it must be found?
  2. Live in Your CRM. Resolve to begin each day from inside your CRM and specifically, in your pipeline. I love the ready-to-use Baseline Selling version of Membrain for this purpose. From the exercise above, you should know how many opportunities are required for each of four stages of the pipeline. A pipeline with typical conversion ratios might have 12 Suspects, 6 Prospects, 3 Qualified and 2 Closable. Determine how many opportunities must be added to your pipeline, which opportunities need your attention to move forward, and which opportunities are ready to be closed. Use email as a tool to make your pipeline work; not the other way around.
  3. Use the Phone. Use email to confirm dates, times and numbers and exchange agreed upon information. Do what old-school salespeople do and have ALL of your non face-to-face meetings over the phone. Follow my lead and conduct video conferences. Quickly create a page like this one that I built in Postwire for a professional, slick, and impressive way to share necessary documents, collateral and content instead of sending via email.
  4. Improve Your Sales Capability. Skills are only a part of what can make you effective. The truth is that your Sales DNA is an even more critical part of a salesperson’s makeup than skills. Sales DNA is represented by strengths that support your ability to execute, or weaknesses that interfere. My SalesMind CD uses powerful self-hypnosis and affirmations to help you quickly overcome your weaknesses and strengthen your Sales DNA. Quickly improve your ability to ask great questions, push back, talk about money, become rejection-proof, overcome call-reluctance, control your thoughts and emotions, reprogram your self-limiting beliefs, become a better decision maker and much more.
  5. Be Productive. Use powerful web applications or device-specific apps that sync across all of your devices so that you can get more done. I like Wunderlist for tasks, Google Calendar, Evernote for notes, Schedule Once (Membrain users have our own version of this) to make it easy for people to schedule a meeting with you, ToutApp for managing email lists and templates, Hubspot for my Blog and inbound analytics, Google Drive for documents and spreadsheets, Wistia for video, and Dropbox for file storage. Shufflr is great for sharing PowerPoint files with my team as well as quickly and easily building presentations from slides you’ve already used in other presentations. I use Zoom for HD video conferencing and AdobeConnect for my Webinar/Video Broadcast platform. It’s only with email that I use different applications on different devices. On my Mac desktop and laptop, I use Outlook for Mac. On my Android phone, I use MailDroid, and on my iPad, I use Acompli. So while the emails apps are all different, they still sync across all of my devices.
  6. Become a Consultative Seller. I’ve written about this enough. You know what it means. It’s time. Be like Nike. Just do it.
  7. Become a Value Seller. I’ve written a lot about this recently. Check out this series of value selling articles on my Blog.
  8. Follow a Proven, Milestone-Centric Sales Process. Check out this series of articles on Sales Process from my Blog.
  9. Look at that - You skipped over tip #1 – it’s so easy to skip that; I included it twice because it’s really the first thing you need to do in January!
  10. Be More Productive. Use ConnectAndSell to reach more prospects by phone than you ever believed possible. Using their service, you can connect with 7-8 prospects per hour instead of per week.

There you have it.  Follow my 10 tips for getting 2015 off to a good start and this could be your best year ever!  I wish you Happy Holidays and a safe New Year.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, postwire, sales CRM, membrain, selling value

Selling Value - Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 23:12 PM

value

Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Some news stories just don't go away.  Today those stories include Ferguson, Bill Cosby, ISIS and The NFL's Domestic Abuse Problem.  There is also Obamacare, Immigration and Ebola.  They remain in the news more because the media continues to milk these stories then readers demand to know more.

When we look at the sales stories of the recent past, the topics that sales experts continue writing about are Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM and Lead Nurturing.  They remain in the news more because the writers are attempting to sell their own services that happen to support those topics more than readers demanding to read more about it.  There's nothing wrong with these topics of course, but sales experts should be addressing topics more closely aligned with helping sellers sell, instead of so much space being devoted to what takes place at the top and above the top of the sales funnel.

So if not those topics, then what should we all be writing about - all the time - that would be a real difference maker for salespeople?

I believe that it's the importance of and ability to sell value.  Why, you ask? 

Selling value is the one thing that all salespeople, operating without benefit of the lowest price, absolutely, positively, must be able to do well in order to consistently earn the business.  

Despite the need to effectively sell value, it happens to be one of things that salespeople do very poorly. The importance of selling value isn't going away, but sales experts are not spending enough time talking about it, writing about it, explaining it, or providing training on it.  The most critical aspect of this topic is understanding the many factors that support a salesperson's ability to sell value.  Selling value isn't a specific thing that one says or does, as much as it's an outcome of several other things.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics (close to one million salespeople assessed), of the 6 most important factors required to sell value, most salespeople have, on average, only 2 of them as strengths or skills.

This is such an important topic that last week I hosted a broadcast on Selling Value in Modern Times.  If you would like to watch it, run time is 46 minutes.

According to a Google search on my blog, I've written about or mentioned selling value, in some way, shape or form, 766 times in the past 10 years.  Here are 10 of my favorite articles on selling value and when you extract the major points from each, it provides a very nice collection of guidelines for selling value:

Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Sales 102 - The Pitch Deck, the Price Reduction and the Data

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

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

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Let Price Drive the Sale

How to Add Value to Your Sales Offering

New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Boston Ballet and Money Tolerance - What it Means to Your Sales Force

As I mentioned above, selling value does not stand on its own.  You should now understand that from the value selling broadcast and the articles above,  there are several other factors that contribute to selling value.  Unless salespeople are able to effectively integrate all of the necessary factors (Sales DNA, sales process, strategy and tactics), then the end result will always be salespeople that are only able to talk about value, instead of actually becoming the value.

I'll be hosting a webinar on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.  We'll be discussing the 5 Hidden Factors that Determine the Fate of Every Sales Force.  Selling Value is certainly one of those factors!  It will run for about 45 minutes.  If you would like to attend you can register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, crm, twitter, Pipeline, linkedin, social selling, selling value, Lead Nurturing, top of the funnel, Bill Cosby, Value Proposition

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

manning

Did you ever watch Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers have a bad day at Quarterback?  Did you notice that the following day, everyone was saying that he sucked?  While it's possible that these three Quarterbacks could have a bad day, most of their bad days are less about them and more about whether or not their offensive lines gave them the time and protection they needed to find an open man and make a good pass.  It could also have something to do with whether or not their receivers were able to quickly get open.  Give a good Quarterback enough time and they will make you pay.  Put enough pressure on them and they can look as bad as anyone else.  In football, it's all about cause and effect.  Bad quarterbacking by a good Quarterback is usually the effect, not the cause of the bad performance.

The same thing is true in sales.  We get calls and emails here all day long from busy executives of growing companies who mistakenly believe that they know what they need help with.  The Top 5 Requests are:

  1. Selling Value
  2. Negotiating Skills
  3. Presentation Skills
  4. Forecasting
  5. Closing Skills

In fairness, most salespeople could stand to improve in these areas, but these are not root causes as much as they are effects.  These five items are the sales equivalent to Quarterbacks having a difficult day.  What we really need to know are, what are the sales equivalents to the offensive line's ability to protect and the receiver's ability to get open?  Let's review these one by one.

Selling Value

Establishing indisputable value to a customer is an outcome based on a collection of capabilities.  It requires that a salesperson have supportive Sales DNA, specifically in the areas of being comfortable talking about money, having a high money tolerance, being a value buyer and not needing to be liked.  It requires that salespeople have consultative selling skills in order to differentiate, uncover compelling reasons to buy from them, and conduct the conversation nobody else is having.  It requires having the ability to connect all the dots, in just the right way, at just the right time.  And finally, there must be a philosophy about selling value and related strategy in place.  To learn more about selling value, join me on November 25 for our presentation on How to Sell Value in Modern Times.  Click here to register.

Negotiating

Negotiating is a trap door that salespeople fall through when, as with value selling, they lack the complete collection of capabilities required to avoid negotiating.  Negotiating is not something in which salespeople should strive to improve.  It's something they can completely avoid.  They must have supportive Sales DNA, specifically, an ability to stay in the moment, be rejection-proof, and not need to be liked.  Even more than with selling value, salespeople must be able to uncover that compelling reason to do business with them and differentiate better than anyone else to have the conversation that nobody else is having with their prospects.  It requires that they have the ability to quantify, cost-justify, and provide a compelling argument for ROI.  Finally, avoiding negotiation requires salespeople to possess excellent qualifiying skills!

Presentation Skills

A presentation is only as good as what was presented, why it was presented, who it was presented to and when it was presented.  Most salespeople present features and benefits instead of solutions, present too early in the sales process, present to the wrong people, and present for the wrong reasons.  The real cause here is a faulty sales process, with demos and presentations mistakenly being sequenced as a milestone to gain interest, instead of a milestone to seal the deal.

Forecasting

A forecast is a human prediction being made by software applications.  The problem is not with the software, as much as it's with the humans that enter the data and override the variables.  The real blame must be given to sales process and qualification. Sales processes that have been inappropriately staged and sequenced will always cause forecasting nightmares.  When it comes to qualification, there are usually two issues.  The first is that salespeople regularly fail to thoroughly qualify because they have chronic cases of Happy Ears.  The second issue is that qualification frequently occurs at the wrong time - either much too early in the sales process, before a prospect has a compelling reason to participate in qualification, or way too late in the process, when salespeople finally learn why a deal hasn't yet closed.

Closing Skills

It appears to many that closing skills are perhaps the most important set of skills a salesperson could have, but the science says otherwise.  Closing is an outcome that occurs naturally and easily after salespeople have thoroughly and effectively navigated all of the prior milestones and stages in their sales process.  Therefore, an apparent lack closing skills is really caused by an ineffective sales process, insufficient Sales DNA, a large skill gap, and most importantly, an inability to sell consultatively and thoroughly qualify.

Do you like my Blog?  Support it by voting for Understanding the Sales Force as Top Sales Blog at Top Sales Awards.

Register for the Top 5 Hidden Factors That Determine the Fate of Your Sales Force - a 45-minute presentation on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.

Read my article over at the Hubspot Blog - What Effective Role Playing Sounds Like.

Topics: sales process, negotiating, sales forecast, selling value, sales presentation skills

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

the-one-thing-salespeople-can't-do

Can you guess what it is - the one thing most salespeople are unable to do?

Based on what I most frequently write about, you might think that it would be consultative selling, but that's not it.  You might also guess that it's the sales equivalent of eating right - not doing demos and presentations so early in the sales process. But that's not it either.

However, there really is one thing that all but the most elite salespeople are unable to do.  It is partly a result of their inability to sell consultatively while continuing to demo, present, quote and propose too early.  Can you guess what it is now?

Most salespeople can talk about their value proposition, and they can certainly add something of value, but they are unable to provide value - enough value so that their prospects will pay more to do business with them.  I'm not just talking about salespeople selling value, I'm talking about salespeople being the value!

How huge is this problem and how hot is this topic right now?

In just the past week, it has been the host's topic of choice on 2 radio shows on which I was the guest, the topic of 2 articles I was asked to write, the topic of two keynotes I was asked to give, and the topic of an upcoming presentation my team will conduct (you're invited!) later this month.  Is this a hot topic or what?

The inability to sell value is nothing new though...it has been going on for decades.  What's different now is that so many people care so much about it.  Why do you suppose that it's suddenly so important?

[Insert your answer in the comments below.]  I'll give you my answer right here.

Only one company in each product category can be the low price leader and they have to sell shit-loads of their stuff to make any money.  Everyone else must fight for the business that may not go to the low price leader.  Some try to get the business by competing on price, while others try to get the business by attempting to justify a higher price.  That's where it's essential for companies and their salespeople to sell value.  And most aren't very good at it.  So companies are getting fed up with making very short money on the business they are winning, while losing a much larger number of opportunities than they care to admit.  For most, this is a losing battle that can't continue.  Therefore, one of three things will occur:

  1. They will give up, shut the doors, and go away.
  2. They will give in, lower their prices, and try to make it up on volume.
  3. They will give us (or someone else) a call and get some help selling value.

If only it was that easy.

There are many reasons why salespeople aren't able to sell value.  The categories include, but aren't limited to:

  • Lack of alignment on Philosophy,
  • Unclear, ineffective and/or inconsistent Strategy,
  • Useless and ineffective Tactics,
  • The mission can't be supported by salespeople's Sales DNA,
  • Salespeople have Sales Skill Gaps, and/or
  • The Sales Process does not support and/or reinforce a value sale.

I don't have the space to write in detail about each of these categories in this article, but there are some things you can do that will help:

Buyers will continue to drive prices down until salespeople learn how to stop it, or companies start dropping like flies.  The time has come to stop the squeezing.  Won't you join me in putting an end to the madness?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling value, overcoming price objections, value selling,, Evan Carmichael

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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.

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