Connecting the Dots on Sales Management

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 28, 2015 @ 09:05 AM


Copyright / 123RF Stock Photo

Do you remember the morning that you couldn't find your keys, but they were right there on the counter?  Or the time that you couldn't find an article of clothing, but it was hanging right there in your closet the entire time you were looking for it?  Or the time you couldn't find your car in the airport parking garage?  And yes, it was right where you parked it.  Sometimes, things are right in front of you and you don't notice them!  And that brings us to this sales management topic.  

Last week, I wrote about the sales force where half of the salespeople resigned and why that happened.  If you didn't read that, please read that now.

And earlier this week, I wrote about the similarity between the 2 main characters in the movie Whiplash and a salesperson with a difficult prospect.  If you didn't read that article, please read that now.

So it was right in front of me and I missed it completely.  Until now.

The tormentor in Whiplash could have been the sales manager in the first article!  He didn't have relationships, he wasn't trusted, and he wasn't respected.  He may have confused respected with feared - he knew his students feared him and he believed - incorrectly - that it was respect.  He didn't take the time to know what motivated his students, although he assumed, like most sales managers do, that he knew.  In this case, he assumed it was greatness or stardom.  He didn't have any need for his students to like him, he put tremendous pressure on them and was hated!  Fletcher and Jeff are the same person!

Objective Management Group's statistics show that 18% of all sales managers should not be in sales management, 34% of them cannot be trained to become effective sales managers, and only 7% are elite at their role.

You should know by now that half of a sales manager's time - 50% - should be spent coaching their salespeople.  Unfortunately, most sales managers don't allocate that kind of time for coaching and aren't very effective at it.

That's why we hold our annual Sales Leadership Intensive where, among other things, we spend the major parts of two days on how to master sales coaching.  Assuming that you and your sales managers are not among the elite 7%, this two-day event is the fast track to joining that elite group.  Learn more about our August Sales Leadership Intensive right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, training, whiplash

Why Do So Many Salespeople Fail to Make Quota?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

quotaThe statistics are staggering.  In some sectors, fewer than 25% of all salespeople will make quota in 2012. Even best-in-class companies are lucky when fewer than 80% of their salespeople make quota.  Are you OK with it when your own salespeople fail to make quota?  There are a number of possible reasons for this widespread mediocrity and failure and, depending on the company, some or all of them may apply.

Sales Management is a common reason and it transcends industries and sizes.  Jonathan Farrington, CEO of, completed a terrific interview with me for and the resulting 10-minute audio clip does a great job explaining sales management's role in quota-failure.  

Salespeople just aren't very good!  Objective Management Group's statistics show that 74% of all salespeople suck.  Whether it's a result of poor selection, lack of training, ineffective coaching or lack of practice, the causes vary by company and salesperson.  This article by Jason Schwartz provides a great example of one of the many things that salespeople do wrong.

The Quotas themselves are often unrealistic and based not on a salesperson's capabilities, but rather on how much a territory or vertical should grow in the next 12 months, or on what a company needs from each salesperson.  

Sales Strategies can play a role in salespeople failing to make quota.  Positioning a company as a low-cost leader doesn't work if they don't have the best prices every single time.  And, positioning it as a value-added company can be a disaster if its salespeople aren't extremely skilled at selling value via a consultative sale.

For most companies, Sales Models, Methodologies and Processes are outdated and ineffective, causing salespeople to be inefficient and waste tremendous amounts of time with prospects who, in the end, don't buy, and with sales cycles that take much longer than they should.

We can add conditions like complacency, turnover, morale, compensation, product quality, support, reputation and more to the list, but we're out of space and time.  We can even add a reluctance to invest in outside resources like assessments, training, consulting and coaching.

I'll be helping sales leaders with most of the issues discussed in this article and much more at next month's Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston.  Email me if you are interested in attending.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, sales strategies, training, sales quotas, jonathan farrington

Every Sales Assessment Tells a Story - This is Fred's Story

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 @ 22:12 PM

underachieverWhen his boss couldn't understand why Fred wasn't performing, we performed a sales force evaluation and among the things we focused in on was Fred.

Fred's Sales DNA was generally quite good but when it came to his selling skills, there were a few problems that explained everything.

  1. ALL of his skills were top of the funnel skills - in other words, he could prospect and find opportunities but he did not have any skills to gain traction, move the opportunity forward, and get the opportunity closed.
  2. He was not suitable for working independently. He needed to be part of a team.
  3. He was not a self-starter.  He needed a daily prod from a sales manager.
So while the original question was "How come?", the new question is "Is there any hope?"
In Fred's case, the skills can be developed through the appropriate training, the problem with self-starting can be solved with some pro-active sales management - twice daily accountability calls - and the working independently problem can be solved with joint sales calls.
That's Fred's story.
Would you like to hear my story?  Recently I was interviewed by Aaron Ross, for his Predictable Revenue Blog.  This was a little different from most of the interviews of me because we strayed from sales and covered music and fatherhood too.  Click here for the interview.
What's the story behind your non-performers?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, training, sales prospecting, sales assessments

Are You Part of the Problem with your Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 @ 10:11 AM

People Follow YouOne of the things I always stress with sales leadership teams is that before they can coach effectively, before they can really hold people accountable to agreed upon metrics, before they can really motivate people to perform, and before they can develop their people, they must first shape their environment.  That's the hard part.  After that has been accomplished, the actual coaching, motivating, development and accountability can be enjoyable and productive because of the resulting cooperation.

According to Robert Hogan, an international authority on leadership and organizational effectiveness, 75 percent of the workforce feel that their bosses are the most stressful part of their jobs.

My friend Jeb Blount, author of the new book, People Follow You, knows that leadership is personal. “When all else is stripped away,” Jeb says, “people don't work for a company or a paycheck, perks or slogans, people work for you.”

I highly recommend that you take a moment now to read the first chapter here.

Then, buy the book by November 18 and gain access to additional business tips and ideas only available from Jeb’s friends – including me! Click here to learn more now.

I don't recommend many books or experts in this space so when I do, it's because I think it's great. If you didn't hear about the upcoming Sales Leadership Intensive that I'll be hosting in Boston during early February 2012, where I'll include How to Shape Your Environment, and you would like to be notified when details become available, just send me an email and you'll be among the first to know.

P.S. – When you buy Jeb's book, make sure to read “Chapter 4: Put People First” at least twice – you’ll never look at your paycheck or your people the same way again. Go to now to see the bonus business tools from me and Jeb’s other friends.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, training, jeb blount, people follow you

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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