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

Surprising Social Selling Secret Drives Sales Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

Social-Selling-Secret

Today I learned that an article I wrote back in November of 2013, Increase in Social Selling Yields No Increase in KPI's, was named Top Sales Article of the Month for October 2014 by Top Sales World.  While I'm always honored to win awards for my Blog, this time around I don't really deserve it. The findings in my November 2013 article were correct based on what I knew in 2013, but based on what I know to be true today, it is no longer accurate.  If you've been reading my Blog, then you are probably aware of OMG's big Sales Force Effectiveness Study that we've been working on for the past three months.  One of the things we studied is the impact of Social Selling. At face value, one might come to the exact same conclusion as we did in 2013, that it's having limited impact on sales.  However, this time we looked wider and deeper and beyond the obvious and we were extremely surprised by what we found.  We discovered that

companies are experiencing tremendous sales results with Social Selling, but not because of Social Selling.  We found the same thing to be true of Inbound Marketing/Sales.  Companies are experiencing tremendous results with Inbound Marketing/Sales but not because of Inbound Marketing/Sales.  The report will be released next week and I don't want to spoil the fun but I will share one snippet.

One of the many differentiators between the companies succeeding with Social Selling and/or Inbound Marketing/Sales, and those that aren't might surprise you.  Companies that are succeeding with Social Selling and/or Inbound have shorter sales cycles, higher win-rates, and significant increases in sales when...

wait for it...scroll down...

 

...scroll further...

 

...scroll some more...

 

...the CEO is involved, committed, and driving best practices throughout the sales organization.  Companies are twice as likely to experience this kind of success when the CEO is part of this picture.

Look for insights like these and dozens more when we release our study on November 11.  Want to be notified?  Just subscribe to the Blog  and/or follow OMG on Twitter.

 

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales effectiveness study, social selling

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 1 of 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

social selling

This is the first in a four-part series that will run this week.

If you are like most folks, you were away for at least part of the summer, took as many long weekends as you could, and worked fewer hours on the days you actually did work.  As part of getting the work done, you deleted as many emails as you could where a reply wasn't required and visited fewer websites and blogs.

That means you misssed a lot of what we were discussing this summer.  This series will catch you up in a hurry.

Four days, four categories, with related articles.  Easy.

 

Day 1 - The Social Selling Articles

You don't have to know a thing about social selling.  Just go to Google Images and type in social selling or click this link and you'll see just what an industry it has become.  While it does provide a myriad of new ways to connect with potential buyers and customers, most who are providing the tips, steps, methods, tools and opinions are selling those very services that support the existance of a social selling industry.  Take it all with a grain of salt and review these articles first.

Getting Emotional at Dunkin Donuts, and Over Social Selling 

Top 10 Reasons Why Inbound Cannot Replace Sales (includes video)

Leads are Making Salespeople Lazier Than Old Golden Retrievers 

One Thing Missing from The New Way of Selling - Part 2 

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling - Part 1 (includes video)

These articles were very popular, very polarizing and should cause you to think.  Read them, enjoy them, and add your opinions where appropriate.  We would love to hear what you think!

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Personality Tests, new sales core competencies, social selling, sales assessments, objective management group

Getting Emotional at Dunkin Donuts, and Over Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

daydream

As I approached the window of my local Dunkin' Donuts, the woman said, "How are you today?"  I paid her and then replied, "I'm fine, and you?"  My response had an extreme delay.  Then she asked if I needed a tray, to which I replied, "No....Sorry, yes."  I was faster this time - with a trick question like whether or not I needed a tray, I had to be quick on my feet!  But I gave her the wrong answer.  Of course, I needed a tray for 3 coffees.

What happened to me?  Was I experiencing symptoms of the early stage of dementia?

My sudden inability to comprehend what was taking place is what happens when your mind is elsewhere.  It happens to salespeople when they aren't able to stay in the moment, maintain complete focus on what their prospects are saying, and respond without thinking several moves ahead or, more typically, about what they want to say.  It's a form of being emotional.

I wrote about becoming emotional last week in this very popular articleThe Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Under Pressure.  While both are examples of becoming emotional, we get there in two very different ways!  If you are daydreaming, you are in your own head, and if you are getting frustrated, you are in your own head.  Neither scenario bodes well for selling.  For that matter, it's extremely difficult to coach a salesperson if you are in your own head.

Speaking of coaching salespeople, my annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching!  It's just 3 weeks away.

September 10 - 11 |  Boston Area  |  2 Days of intense sales leadership training  

If you have any interest in attending, please send me an email and I'll make special arrangements for you.

You might have missed the article that I wrote on Friday last week.  (I never got so many "out of office" messages!)  It was an important article on Why Inbound Cannot Replace Selling and you should read it before the next paragraph.

Not too long ago, the only options for prospecting were either to pick up the phone or knock on a door.  In the 70's and 80's, I would do almost anything to knock on a door rather than call on the phone.  It wasn't very efficient but, back then, I was more comfortable and more effective face-to-face.  Times change and today I would choose the phone over door knocking 100% of the time.  But while there were only 2 options in the 70's and 80's, today there are many more.  Social Selling allows us to connect using Twitter, LinkedIn, email, blogs, Facebook,Google and more.  The problem occurs when people use the newest 6 options instead of the phone.  Ideally, they should be using the newest 6 options in conjunction with the phone.

When people find something they like or an approach that is more comfortable for them, they tend to embrace it to the point of obsession.  But effective selling has never been about what is most comfortable or popular.  Successful selling is about what works most effectively, most of the time, for most people.  They call it Best Practices.

Image Copyright: dundanim / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales best practices, emotional, social selling, sales prospecting

The 21 New Sales Core Competencies for Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

core competencies image

Image Copyright Kheng Guan Toh via Shutterstock.com

[Note - While you may still wish to read this, the 10 Competencies were updated again in 2020 and this article has the latest lists as well as a link that allows you to see the data behind those competencies.]

Can you name 10 Core Competencies of a great salesperson?  Let's see, there's prospecting, qualifying and closing, and then there's....wow, this is difficult!

For the past 20 years, every Objective Management Group (OMG) sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment has been tied to 21 Sales Core Competencies.  We constantly improve, update, enhance and perfect the science of evaluating sales forces and candidates.  For all that we do though, I found it disheartening that we had not updated the Core Competencies to reflect the changes that have taken place in selling over the past 8 years.

Today, I'm relieved to report that this summer, for the first time in 20 years, OMG will integrate my revised and updated, new and improved, better than ever, much more relevant, 21 Sales Core Competencies.  

Here you go:

Core Competencies

Each competency is populated by several or more attributes.  The biggest changes, since our original set of 21 Core Competencies in 1994, are the addition of categories that compliment our dashboards as well as the inclusion of Sales Posturing and Social Selling.  

It's worth noting that social selling skills are one of the attributes of Hunting - the ability to find new opportunities - but mastery of the various social selling tools themselves is now a competency.  I'm sure this will cause outrage and debate from those who so strongly promote social selling, but when you look at an entire sales cycle, social selling takes place PRIOR to a first call or meeting, before we can consider whether or not to enter an opportunity into the funnel or pipeline.  

My next statement will cause even more outrage.  In its essence, social selling is really a component of marketing for which many more salespeople are now taking individual responsibility.  They are marketing themselves.

Intrigued?  

Click here for samples.  

Click here to check out our accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  

Click here for a free trial of our Sales Candidate Assessment. 

[Note: this article is from 2014 and the 21 Sales Core Competencies were updated again in March of 2017]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Personality Tests, new sales core competencies, social selling, sales assessments, objective management group

My Top 21 Keys to Help Your Sales Force Dominate Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 08, 2014 @ 07:07 AM

dominateI've seen this happen in youth baseball so many times.  Let's say it's a ground ball and the third baseman boots it for an error.  Of course, the next ball is hit right at the third baseman again and this time he fields it cleanly, but makes an error on the throw.  And just as if it were programmed to happen, the third baseman is suddenly a target, balls coming at him and him alone, as he appears helpless and unable to make a clean play to put a merciful end to an inning.  You could say he has been busy, but not very successful.

Are there sales versions of this?  Do you have salespeople who are busy, but struggling to succeed?  Do you have salespeople who are putting in long hours, but don't generate enough business in relation to the time invested?  Do you have salespeople who find enough opportunities, but struggle to get them closed?  In my experience, there isn't a correlation between busy and successful.  Oh sure, successful salespeople may be busy and busy salespeople might be successful, but one being true does not necessarily mean that the other is true as well. 

An example of a successful, but not necessarily busy salesperson, would be the one whose two whale-sized deals generated three times more business than the rest of the sales force combined.  I'm not saying she didn't work hard to land those two huge accounts, but she can't be as busy as the salesperson who sold 80% less to 50 new accounts.  In the process, our rock star salesperson reset the bar for what would now be considered successful, automatically making salesperson #2, with his 50 new accounts, unsuccessful, despite how hard he worked and how busy he was.  Everything is relative.

Here are my top 5 examples of salespeople who are busy, but not very successful:

  1. They spend long hours researching companies and prospects, reach out on LinkedIn, send InMails, emails and make calls, but have few takers for meetings.
  2. They spend long hours making cold calls, reach very few people, and most of those people are completely disinterested in talking or meeting.
  3. They find a few opportunities and spend hours writing and delivering proposals, presenting, following up and chasing closable prospects with little to show for it.
  4. They spend a lot of time calling on and visiting accounts with great potential, who are doing business with your competition, but have very little success capturing that business for you.
  5. They attend every networking event they can, participate in networking groups, invest a lot of time talking each day with people in their network, but rarely get introduced to a quality opportunity.  Everyone knows them, but people aren't buying from them.

What can we do about the salespeople who are so busy, but have so little to show for their effort?

First and foremost, we must determine whether there is hope for them.  Can they be saved?  Can they be trained to do things more effectively or, if necessary, in a completely different way?  Can they be coached up or not?

Don't rush to an answer.  The two mistakes that so many executives make are:

  1. The belief that their hardworking, but unsuccessful salespeople can be saved.  They remain hopeful, but without any science on which to base their hope.
  2. The belief that their unsuccessful salespeople cannot be saved.  They give up, but don't make changes.

Statistically, about 30% of the 1831614 salespeople who Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated, aren't trainable.  Some of those are successful salespeople, but if we look only at the unsuccessful salespeople, or the bottom 74%, we'll see that some of them can be saved.  The magic is being able to identify which ones.  Let's say that you have 10 salespeople and 2 of them are A players.  You have 2 B players and you have 6 C's.  When the science can show you which of the 6 can be saved, trained and coached up to be A players, and which can mercifully be replaced with A players, you have the power to completely transform your sales force in one year's time.

 
  evals
 

After evaluating, it's helpful to make sure that these salespeople are following the guidelines for where they should be spending their time, how much time should be spent there, and how to do those things more efficiently and effectively.  This is sales infrastructure, or systems and processes.

Next comes training, and how to follow a customized, milestone-centric sales process that will steer them in the right direction, advance them on the path, govern their time, and help them disqualify those who will not buy.  Additionally, they must learn to have the conversations that make today's salespeople successful.  For those with difficulty at the top of the funnel, we would need to emphasize strategies to improve engagement and tonality.  For those having difficulty at the bottom of the funnel, we would need to emphasize the multiple strategies and milestones that precede closing and how the conversation changes along the way.

Along with evaluating, recruiting and training, sales managers must be trained and coached to support the training in such a way that they can coach to it and hold salespeople accountable to executing it.  Nothing changes without effective sales managers spending half of their time coaching and growing their salespeople and impacting their opportunities!

  Sales Leadership Intensive

Don't mistake busy for smart.

Don't mistake effort for commitment.

Don't mistake proposals for effectiveness.

Here are My Top 21 Keys to Help Your Sales Force Dominate Today:

To succeed in today's world of selling, you must have (1) smart, (2) motivated, (3) savvy, (4) well-trained and coached sales managers, (5) committed to spending most of their time (6) coaching (7) smart, (8) motivated, (9) savvy, (10) well-trained and coached salespeople. They in turn must approach selling in a (11) strategic, (12) social, (13) relationship-based, (14) milestone-centric way, with an emphasis on the (15) conversation, an eye on (16) quantification and (17) qualification, and a (18) commitment to getting their opportunities closed in an (19) efficient, (20) pleasant, and (21) helpful way.

Image Credit Lightspring via Shutterstock.com

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, selling tips, Closing Sales, keys to sales success, relationship based selling, social selling

One Thing Missing from The New Way of Selling - Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

missing in salesYesterday, I read an article that was very consistent with what I was complaining about last week when I wrote The One Thing Missing From the New Way of Selling.  I have tremendous respect for the article's author, Mark Roberge, who has built a great sales force over at Hubspot.  They use Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments to identify the new kind of salespeople who will succeed there.  

Samples Button2

Mark and I go back a long way.  I worked for his dad back in 1973 and his dad worked for me earlier in the current century.  OMG became one of Hubspot's very first customers in 2006 and all of my articles are hosted on their terrific platform.  

I loved Mark's article about the 4 Habits of a New Generation of Salespeople.  You should read the article!  It's a great description of how their salespeople and many inside salespeople operate. It describes mostly young, social salespeople, who sell inside and to marketers who are also mostly social sellers.  

On the other hand, while many inside sales experts are writing terrific articles, they are at the same time attempting to get the entire sales population to do what works so well for inside/inbound sales (and sell their inside/inbound services).  And it does work if you have a suitable product, price range, technology, target market and sales cycle.  It works if you have a dedicated team of top-of-the-funnel inbound marketers.  However, for every company and product where this makes sense, I can name three where it doesn't.  I love the new way of selling.  Just don't proclaim that the new way is the only way.  That's like saying, now that we have developed a spaceship that can take private citizens to outer space, everyone shall commute to work that way.  When commercial airlines made flying affordable enough for everyone, it didn't eliminate buses, trains and cars.  It simply became a better choice for long-distance trips.  We still use our cars to drive 120 miles!

While we are on the subject of old and new, I wrote an article that appears in the new issue of Top Sales Magazine.  You can download the magazine here.  The article, What is the Big Secret That Powers Baseline Selling? includes some video and some terrific explanations of what continues to make the process and methodology work so well for so many salespeople, 10 years after it was written.  And guess which book their salespeople read over at Hubspot?  Yeah, once they have a prospect, they still have to sell...

 

Baseline Selling

 

Selling is still selling and while a lot has changed in the last 10 years, a lot of it hasn't.  I'm a social seller.  Social sellers get found, find prospects and connect using a myriad of social selling tools.  But once a meeting has been scheduled, the social must be dropped in favor of the selling.   A prospect should only be aware of a terrific conversation, but process and methodology must be hidden backstage.

Image Copyright: lianna2013 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales selection tool, social selling, Mark Roberge, objective management group

Global Warming, Social Selling and The Sales Force of Tomorrow

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 08, 2014 @ 04:01 AM

global warmingGlobal Warming is a trend.  Its impact on our future and the role that humans played are both hot topics and subjects of great debate.  In my opinion, the globe has been warming since the end of the ice age.  Humans, with their man-made factories and ozone-depleting products, had nothing to do with the origins of global warming.

The origins of Social Selling go back to early human life too, although, the tools that have given social selling its name are relatively new.  Social Selling is also a trend.  The role it plays and its impact on the future of selling are also hot topics and subjects of great debate.

For example, you only need to read this article and the links within it to get a sense for how strong the opinions are and how much passion is driving those opinions.

Proving that social selling is having a positive effect on results is one of our greatest challenges.  In my opinion, the challenge is the data iself.  Social selling experts use data from the marketing, inbound and inside sales groups with whom they work.  As you might expect from groups who spend all of their time at the top of the sales funnel, there has been a positive impact on their ability to add opportunities to the pipeline.  If every other ratio remains the same, then more opportunities will translate to more sales and greater revenue.  

Experts who work with traditionally built sales forces look at their data and don't see the same impact, especially on win rates and sales cycle length.  The obvious takeaway is that social selling's greatest early success is not only its ability to help sellers move more opportunities into the pipeline, but to do it more passively compared with more traditional methods.

That doesn't mean that social selling has no place or impact on the traditional sales force.   Let's look at the impact from a different perspective.  How does Social Selling affect A's differently from how it affects B's and C's?

Let's start with A players which, according to our data at Objective Management Group (OMG), represent the top 6%.  They are great salespeople, performing at elite levels, and if you provide them with great new tools, they still will be performing at an elite level.  There won't be a statistically significant difference.  

How about the C players which OMG defines as the bottom 74%?  These salespeople are mediocre at best and that's being polite.  When I'm not being as kind, I would say that the bottom 74% just plain suck!  If you provide this group with great new tools and direct them to make use of the tools and methods, they would still be crappy salespeople.  Most prospects would decline to engage (just as they would with their traditional approaches) and the impact of social selling would be statistically insignificant.

That leaves the B's.  OMG defines them as the 20% of salespeople who rank between the elite and the crappy.  They are very good salespeople.  This is the group where we would see the most significant change in results from social selling.  These salespeople understand that Social Selling, used effectively, gives them an edge and this group will leverage anything and everything to improve their results.

Some might say that while this makes sense, it represents such a small percentage of salespeople that it can't have a significant impact.  That is short-sighted thinking.  It only represents a small percentage of salespeople when a company has a poor track record with recruiting and sales selection.  If more focus and attention were given to this aspect of building a kick-ass sales force, the entire team would have ONLY A's and B's.  There would be no tolerance for C's!

As with nearly every sales metric, results are directly correlated to the caliber of the salespeople.  When companies emphasize selecting the right people, most challenges (from the use of CRM, to following a sales process, to meeting and exceeding quotas) fade away.

In 2014, focus on upgrading your sales force, not on integration of tools.  The correct salespeople won't need to be led to the promised land.  They already work there!  The more immediate question is, how do you know whether or not you have accurately graded your salespeople?  After all, the only salespeople you can compare them with are those that have worked for you.  How would they compare with the other 650,000 salespeople that OMG has evaluated and scored?  Of even more importance, what will you do if you learn that the salespeople you thought to be A's and B's are really B's and C's?  We have sophisticated algorithms that tell us which C's can be saved and developed and which C's can't.  Isn't it time to learn the truth about your sales force?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales recruiting, sales candidates, social selling, sales selection, sales assessments, objective management group

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

The battle that I inadvertently started with this post moved here where it took on a life of its own.  As of this writing, there were 36 comments, some more pointed than others.  Gerhard Gschwandtner added this post to the ongoing discussion.  Earlier this week, I wrote this post to address most of the confusion that's out there.  Yesterday, this post appeared on the Sales Thought Leaders Blog to add fuel to the fire.

I think it's all quite funny that so many have so much difficulty letting go of their positions and take things so personally.

I'm actually a proponent of social selling, not a detractor.  I proactively and consistently use LinkedIn, ToutApp, Hubspot, YouTube, Wistia, Postwire, HootSuite, MeetMe, Eventbrite and more.  Both of my companies have Twitter accounts that tweet Blog posts, news and retweet many of the tweets from other sales thought leaders.  

Bob Thompson left several comments on the article at the CustomerThink site.  In his last comment, he asked what the stats would look like if we only reported on what the best salespeople did with social media.  I think that's a terrific idea, Bob, and while it's much more difficult to isolate those statistics, I did the research and report on it here.

One important thing to remember when making these comparisons is that the most successful reps don't make cold calls, so we need to compare their social media successes to the alternative which, for them, is referral/introduction selling.

I looked at 1,921 leads that were assigned to a group of top salespeople.

They closed 69% of the leads that were customer/client referrals/introductions.

On the other hand, they closed only 5% of the leads from social selling.  WOW!!

However, I looked more closely and found that we can identify something different altogether.

If we isolate the leads that were either call-ins or emails generated from Blog Posts or videos, the closing rate shot up to 29%.  It's not the 69% of referrals, but it sure beats the hell out of cold calls and the rest of the social selling leads.  How did the top salespeople fare on those?

They closed only 3% of the "leads" that were from White Paper downloads, Sample Requests, Webinar views, and the like.

In summary, top salespeople closed less than half as many quality social selling leads as they did with all referral/introduction leads.  That's not bad.  But the 3% suggests that the "leads" from other sources should never go to salespeople.  Those leads waste time and should remain with marketing.

One question this leaves me with is who would have been better at following up on the quality social selling leads?  The top salespeople (who never cold call and rarely get resistance) or the newer and/or less successful salespeople who regularly deal with such annoyances?

Are these findings more encouraging?

I believe they are.  They suggest that with the existance of two variables, social selling can be effective.  

We must be able to differentiate between quality and other leads.

We must have a method for getting only the best quality leads directly to the salespeople.

We must funnel those leads to the salespeople who are most capable of closing them.  That last statement is different from traditional lead distribution at most companies.  Aren't you sick and tired of giving leads to salespeople who don't follow up on a timely basis?  Who don't convert them?  Who don't close them?  I believe that leads should go only to the salespeople who prove they can be effective with them and follow up on a timely basis.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, Gerhard Gschwandtner, lead follow up, lead conversion, KPI, social selling, statistics

Insider Opinion - Why Sales Experts Can't Agree on Anything

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 @ 17:11 PM

debateI recently published, Increase in Social Selling Yields No Improvement in KPI's.  In addition to my blog, this article appeared on at least 5 other websites leading to many interesting comments and very strong opinions.  The discussions, comments and opinions, especially at CustomerThink.com, helped me realize why so many experts are arguing - not only about the future of selling, but about what's taking place today, right now.  Among the things being debated are:

  • The migration from outside to inside sales - Yes, it's happening and it's good; but, it won't happen in every company, to every salesperson or necessarily soon.
  • The rise of inbound marketing - Yes, it's happening, and yes, it helps generate leads; but, it's not the be-all, end-all that inbound marketing folks make it out to be.  Salespeople are not being replaced.
  • The integration of social selling tools (the topic of the aforementioned article) - Yes, it's happening and it's helpful; but, it hasn't changed the results  - no measurable change in KPI's at all.
  • The death of selling - Yes, marketing people are predictably predicting this; and no, it's not going to happen.
  • The change in how selling will be conducted - Yes, it's changing; but, some of that change is for the wrong reasons and could be change for the sake of inbound marketing.

I wrote the following response to 12 conflicting comments on my article on CustomerThink.com:

Thank you all for contributing to the discussion and in both challenging and adding your own results and evidence for and against. I'm sure we're not done yet...
It's clear that everyone is approaching this from their own perspective, using their own experience, anecdotal evidence, surveys, studies, clients and subscribers, in the industries in which they work and the marketing and/or sales teams with whom they communicate.
I'll repeat the essence of the article because it already seems to be getting lost or twisted.
The data I used was a selection of around 10,000 Objective Management Group sales assessments (not a survey) completed in the month of June 2013. The results show us that usage of these tools is way up. The companies that these salespeople worked for were reporting no change, or worsening of KPI's. The conclusion is what you had the problem with: Lack of correlation between use of the tools and key sales metrics. That's it - nothing more and nothing less. How could you conclude anything else from this particular set of data?
The 10,000 assessments were taken in a cross-section of industries (companies in more than 200 industries use our assessments) so that is part of the problem. Most of you who are surprised with these results are working with companies and industries that are more likely to see results than the overall population of 15 million plus salespeople.

To summarize, most of the disagreements, arguments, challenges, and strong opinions occur when experts feel threatened by an opposing viewpoint or simply aren't in a position to have a similar viewpoint.  Many of the viewpoints, that are in opposition to what I write about, are from people who just don't have as broad a vantage point .  I am very fortunate to have unique access to data, science and business that isn't available to anyone else:

  • 200 Industries!  That's industries, not companies.  Most of the survey data being used out there is extremely limited by comparison.  Only big companies, only small companies, only SaaS companies, only companies that use inbound marketing, only marketing people responding, etc.
  • 700,000 salespeople!  That's a huge sample size and I can mine it for anything I need to find.  Not only that; but, the population has grown over the years so we can track changes to the data.
  • Salespeople!  We only look at three roles - sales, sales management and sales leadership.  Our data is validated, relevant and impressive.
  • Companies with sales organizations!  Due to the way we go to market, I have access, through our partners, to almost any company, anywhere; and as such, trends across those 200 industries, not just the companies I might personally be working with.
  • Manufacturing!  My colleagues, that limit themselves to technology companies or financial institutions or insurance companies, don't know what they're missing.  When I work with the executives of manufacturing companies, I get to see things before they happen.  Manufacturers are the first to experience increases, decreases and even global spending freezes (these occurred prior to November 2008), allowing me to see the trends before they happen.  These are forward-looking indicators and when the same things happen to multiple companies at the same time, we can predict shifts and changes in the economy.
  • Evaluations and Assessments!  Not surveys.  Anyone can use SurveyMonkey to ask questions, populate drop-down lists and incorporate radio buttons, send the survey to some companies and collect the data.  Surveys are typically a collection of questions and answers gathering opinions, aren't validated, and typically aren't representative of all people reading the results.  The data, that comes from our evaluations and assessments, is always based on science.  Validated.  Accurate.  Predictive.

Today there are a tremendous number of blogs on sales.  There are 85 of them featured on AllTop.com.  TopSalesWorld.com lists the top 50 sales blogs.  I counted 240 different people writing on the subject of sales at EvanCarmichael.com.  You should always consider the author's context, industry, background, experience and bias when reading their sales articles.  Ask yourself, "For this author to have this opinion, are they pushing an agenda, reporting on a trend within a particular industry, expressing an opinion formed only from their personal experience, selling something (I'm sometimes guilty of this), sharing the results of a skewed survey, talking about something that isn't globally applicable, suggesting something that isn't scalable, promoting something that isn't duplicable, talking about something that isn't even sound?"  Some would suggest that if someone causes someone to adopt something so outdated and ineffective in today's world, that they should be found guilty of malpractice.  And finally, the best of all; the experts that only post-attack comments on other experts' blogs.  Do I love them...

As with any industry, ours has some pretty smart, forward-thinking experts who can help any company with any challenge.  I know most of them.  Some of them partner with Objective Management Group.  But the number of really good ones is not 240 or 85 or even 50. Remember, that was the top 50 blogs - not the top 50 sales experts.  Some of the really good experts are included there and some aren't.  Some of the really good blogs are written by people you may not want helping you.  A blog does not make the top 50 list because the author is a brilliant sales mind.  Most of those rankings are based on number of posts, consistency in their posting, and number of readers.  I know a few great sales minds that don't have blogs and vice versa.

I've gone a bit off the track and probably pissed off a lot of people.  But what else is new?  I apologize.

Good things are happening in the world of sales and some of those things are coming your way.  Just keep both eyes open, your nose to the ground and your antenna up.  You'll intuitively know whether or not what you are reading is a bunch of bunk or the real deal.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales consulting, top sales blog, sales results, top sales expert, KPI, social selling

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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 nine 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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