The Bob Chronicles Part 5 - Bob Can't Win This Argument Over a Sales Core Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 22, 2021 @ 06:06 AM

buycycle

Most of us have strong passion in support of our own beliefs and opinions and the degree to which we are willing to embrace the opinions of others varies wildly.   Allow me to provide two examples where people tend not to change sides:

Boston Red Sox fans "argue" with New York Yankees Fans and in rare cases, the arguments can get nasty.  Personally, I am friendly with a boat load of Yankees fans and have never argued with any of them because I'll never say the words "Yankees suck."  For the rivalry between the two teams to be at its best, both teams need to be good and when one team sucks, the rivalry ceases to exist.

Democrats disagree with Republicans and it goes without saying that liberals disagree with conservatives.  Over the past five years, those differences have become filled with hate.  I don't understand why we can't simply agree to disagree but for some reason, liberals think that all conservatives are racists and conservatives think that all liberals are socialists.  While there is probably some truth to both arguments on both far extremes, most people are much closer to the center than everyone thinks.

I use those two examples as a context for the "argument" I am most likely to have on a daily basis.  As regular readers know, I am the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group. OMG has assessed more than 2 million salespeople and measures their sales capabilities in 21 Sales Core Competencies.  While some might not like their scores, most salespeople agree with our findings because they are extremely accurate.  However, there is one competency of the 21 that causes salespeople to dig in, disagree, and push back.  Today I will explain the competency and share yesterday's conversation with Bob.  For new readers, and those who don't remember, Bob tends to get himself into trouble and is representative of all weak salespeople.

You can read more about Bob here.

The 21 Sales Core Competencies fall into three major categories:

  1. Will to Sell (Grit) - it's the difference between Can sell and Will sell.
  2. Sales DNA - Six major strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategies and sales tactics.
  3. Tactical Selling Competencies - these include the things you know and have heard of, like Hunting, Relationship Building, Consultative Selling, Value Selling, Reaching Decision Makers, Qualifying, Presenting, Closing, Sales Process, and Sales Technology.

The pushback comes from within Sales DNA in a competency called Supportive Buy-Cycle.  Buy-Cycle represents how a salesperson goes about the process of making a major purchase.  Like most of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, it has several attributes:

  • At what amount of money does something become a major purchase?
  • Do you comparison shop or just go to one store/vendor/salesperson?
  • Do you shop for the lowest price, buy value or is price not a consideration?
  • Do you conduct research?
  • When you find what you want do you make a decision or think about it?
  • Do you like or dislike being sold? (coming soon)

The science shows that there is a 100% correlation between how salespeople buy and what they are willing to accept from their prospects.  And that's where the disagreement occurs.  Everyone agrees that yes, what we report about how they buy is how they actually buy.  But a small number of salespeople disagree over whether or not it affects the way they sell.  They usually make their point by saying something along the lines of, "In our business, our buyers must shop around" or "must go with the lowest price" or "won't spend more than x" or "never make decisions before this happens."

And when they say these things they are saying, "This is how I buy so it should be obvious that everyone else buys this way too."

Bob messaged me on LinkedIn yesterday and to his credit, it was not an argument. This is the short conversation we had:

Hi Dave, I’m not sure nor clear on Non Supportive Buy-Cycle? I believe it is smart, normal, wise, fiscally prudent to shop carefully when making large purchases. I believe this for moderate purchases!!! I am not clear on how this would impact my ability to sell another human with the same characteristics? I do not know ONE person that would spend $580K without being prudent and it’s NEW technology. However, part of my role is to also transcend this.

     Dave Kurlan sent the following message at 5:18 PM

Yup - you need to transcend and change your beliefs and your buying behavior. Your beliefs are totally non-supportive and you make the assumption that because you believe this then the people you are selling to must believe this. Sure, companies have processes, guidelines and rules for buying stuff.  But those rules and guidelines are ignored all the time when a true decision maker has a compelling reason to buy from you, and some urgency that would allow for short cuts.

     Bob sent the following message at 8:01 PM

Hummmm…..I can’t say I think like that or believe like that Dave, sincerely. My buying behavior is to use caution and be a great steward with the money I make. How else is there to be? We may part waters on this one respectfully and the entire Team is chatting about this topic

     Dave Kurlan sent the following message at 8:26 PM

Let me put it another way.  The single biggest differentiator between the top 5% of all salespeople and the bottom 5% is Buy Cycle.  Period. End of story.  The top 5% (67% have it as a strength) are 6700% more likely to have Buy-Cycle as a strength than the bottom 5% (only 1% are strong).  And, those who have it as a weakness usually argue that "everyone buys this way."  Don't know what else to tell you.

 

As I mentioned, I have this very conversation, albeit usually more heated, by phone, email, text, InMail, in the hallway, over Zoom, with at least one person EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

Bob revealed three self-limiting beliefs associated with Buy-Cycle.

You should have read:

  • "it is smart, normal, wise, fiscally prudent to shop carefully"
  • "I do not know ONE person that would spend $580K without being prudent" (Dave's note - prudent has nothing to do with Buy-Cycle.  Bob thinks $580,000 is a lot of money.  But that is NOT a lot of money for the company that is spending it.  A company that spends $580,000 on capital equipment is generating at least tens and probably hundreds of millions or more in revenue and it's money they were going to spend with someone.  It's not new money.)
  • "My buying behavior is to use caution and be a great steward with the money I make. How else is there to be?"

Let's compare Bob's beliefs with how great salespeople think.  I don't usually do this but for this example I'll use myself. 

I've never test-driven a car in my life.  When I see a car on the road that I like I say to myself, "That's my next car."  I call the dealer, order it, and ask when it can be delivered.  I never shop dealers against each other, I never ask for additional discounts over what they offer me, I never think it over and get back to them, and I don't drag out the process.  This is how I buy everything.  Perhaps you can't imagine buying the way that I buy but it's worth noting that I've never had buyer's remorse, I've never felt like I paid too much, and I never felt like I wasn't being "prudent."  For anything.  Ever.  I ordered my last two vehicles before they were even off the production lines!  Not a single 2021 Genesis GV80 had been delivered to the USA when I ordered mine and not a single redesigned for 2019 Lincoln Navigator had been shipped to a dealer when I ordered that SUV.  My process is order it, sign, and then wait for it to be delivered (months later) because shopping is a colossal waste of time unless you are doing it for entertainment, like, "Honey, would you like go to the mall?" 

I understand that MY opinion and behavior may very well be different from YOUR opinion and behavior but the science says that my opinion is shared by the best salespeople in the world. This buying behavior enables the best salespeople to push back, question, hang in, ask more questions and eventually influence or outright change buying criteria and processes so they can sell value, eliminate competitors, and reach decision makers who are typically protected from salespeople.  Decision makers can change rules, take shortcuts, make decisions, and do it all very quickly.  

Let's go back to the science.  The top 5% of all salespeople are 6700% more likely to have Buy-Cycle as a strength than the bottom 10% of all salespeople and the top 5% score 279% higher than the bottom 10% of all salespeople on this component of Sales DNA.  The science backs me up.  Check it out here

Bob and other weak salespeople understand the stated buying process with the keyword being "stated." When Bob follows the stated buying process without questioning it, only buyers have control!  Great salespeople DON'T understand why the prospect is going to talk with five vendors, look for the lowest price, take a month to have six internal meetings, narrow the list, negotiate, send it to legal, and all the other stupidity that takes place.  That enables great salespeople to push back, ask more questions, and get processes changed.  Supportive Buy-Cycles win more business than Non Supportive Buy-Cycles.

Not 30 minutes after this article was first published, I received this email from Bill, who wanted to prove my points above. Bill wrote:

Your analogy between buying capital equipment and how you buy cars makes no sense Dave. What if you liked a Yugo you saw while driving down the road and bought one in preproduction. How would you feel if you bought one of the worst cars ever manufactured without one second of research? Heck, you bought one of the most inefficient gas guzzling monster cars that will only ruin the environment for my children and my grandchildren. How do you sleep with that? I guess you don’t care about the future. You only live for ‘now’.

Shopping is a pain in the ass. The Internet has made a lot of that much easier. Buying capital equipment isn’t an Internet purchase in the half million dollar plus category. Getting past the first purchase with a new sales person is a challenge. Are they competent? Are they knowledgeable? Are they fair? Do you have a rapport with them? Can They meet your expectations?

I just put a fence around my horse pen. One guy wanted $13,000. The other guy wanted $8500. I looked at both quotes, materials, workmanship, referrals and completion dates. They were virtually the same. which one would you go for? Is shopping worth $4500? Or is it only worth it with personal money and not corporate money? When I put the next fence up I’ll probably have my guy for all my fence work. But the first purchase, in my estimation, takes research. All the other purchases are based on trust and relationship.

Your thoughts?

I did respond, as I usually do, with this note:

Hi Bill,

Thanks for taking the time to write, make your point and include the personal attack. That’s the point of my article. People get nasty.

You already know my opinion and while it’s different from yours, you’re entitled to your opinion as I’m entitled to mine. The only difference is that when it comes to selling, the science doesn’t lie and while you might not like it, I happen to be the expert on sales science.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying the horse fence the way you did but it does impact the way you sell. It was right there in your first sentence.

No worries. Thanks again for your kind note.

Bill wasn't finished.  He felt the need to get the last words in:

Just adding - They get nasty in politics.  If you get nasty in sales, you’re in the wrong business.  Actually Dave, it doesn’t impact the way I sell at all. You are incorrect. Have I made mistakes in the past selling, absolutely. Will I make them again in the future, absolutely. You may be the expert in sales science. I’m the expert in sales. I do it every day, every week, every month every year for over 20 years and I’ve been exceptionally happy and successful. I like what I do. I like my clients. And I believe Sales is more than boxes in complex sales that I do. Your car is a box. 

 
And by the way, I’m not nasty. I just pointed out a car analogy just like you wrote about a car analogy. Next time I’ll come to you for the $3500 difference when I buy my next fence. I look forward to you writing a check.

Image Copyright 123 RF

Topics: Closing Sales, winning business, sales assessments, improve win rates, 21 sales core competencies

A Properly Constructed Sales Process Can Help You Experience the Euphoria of a Walk-Off Win

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

Devers walk-off wins it for Sox – Sentinel and Enterprise

We attended last night's Red Sox Game.  Unlike most games at Fenway Park, this contest was a pitcher's duel and the Red Sox held a fragile 1-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the top of the 9th inning.  The Red Sox closer, Matt Barnes came in and quickly struck-out the first two batters and that brought up the best hitter in the major leagues, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  Barnes quickly got ahead in the count and was only one strike away from ending the game when Guerrero absolutely crushed a rolling curve ball, blasting it into the light towers in left field to tie the game. The mood in the park immediately changed from celebratory to morbid.  But the game wasn't over. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the first two hitters reached base for the Red Sox and then Raphael Devers smoked a long fly ball off the wall in left-center field to give the Red Sox a walk-off win.  From morbid back to celebratory and beyond to euphoric.  Such is the feeling of a walk-off win.

Regular readers know that right around this point in the article there should be a pivot to sales and I won't disappoint.  The walk-off win in baseball, the buzzer beater in basketball and the field goal with no time on the clock in football are all terrific metaphors for certain types of wins in sales.  Some deals are sure things from the get go and others stand no chance of going your way.  However, some huge opportunities are truly nail-biters and could go either way.  When those opportunities are finally decided and you win, they too are euphoric.

In today's article we'll use the walk-off win to show how a properly constructed sales process and scorecard will help you win the deals you are supposed to win, help you lose early on the deals you are guaranteed to lose, and give you a much better chance to win the nail biters that could go either way.

Coincidentally, today I will be working to improve a client's existing sales process. Their sales force evaluation results from Objective Management Group (OMG) pointed to three major reasons why they are losing business to their competition: 

  1. They aren't creating urgency,
  2. They are failing to reach decision makers
  3. Both crucial milestones are nowhere to be seen in their existing formal sales process.

Most companies don't have a formal sales process, so in that regard they are very much ahead of the game but let me be clear.  Having a sales process does not mean that the process is any good, was well thought-out, properly staged, or sequenced so that it builds upon itself.  Having a process does not necessarily mean that the process is predictive or effective.  With or without a process, it's very likely that your salespeople don't follow the process and your sales managers aren't coaching to the process.  In those cases your process has been neutered!  You must have an optimized sales process which is formalized, staged, milestone-centric, customer focused and properly sequenced. That sales process must also have within it a properly built and tested scorecard that will accurately predict wins and losses.  And, sales leadership must be diligent about four things:

  1. The process and related pipeline must be fully integrated into the CRM application
  2. This isn't optional.  Every kick-ass sales team has this in place.
  3. Every salesperson must follow it to the letter and keep it up-to-date in real time in CRM.
  4. Every sales manager must coach to the sales process and conduct opportunity reviews in the context of sales process and pipeline.

An optimized sales process will all but guarantee that your salespeople don't miss anything when it comes to winning all the opportunities that should be won.  An optimized/integrated sales process will sound the alarm to all but guarantee that your resources are not wasted on an opportunity that you have little chance of winning.  And finally, to experience the euphoria of a walk-off win, you must rely on that optimized sales process integrated into your CRM application - and we love Membrain for this - to help you win the nail biters because nothing feels as good as a walk-off win.

Image is copyright by the Sentinal Enterprise.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Sales, CRM Application, membrain, winning business

Is Selling Difficult or Easy? It All Depends on Your Definitions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 02, 2013 @ 18:04 PM

confusedPeople are easily confused.  Take selling for example.  

If I state that selling is difficult, the top 26% of your salespeople will agree.They are very aware of their sales process, as well as the importance of following it and achieving the milestones that must be accomplished along the way.  This requires discipline, consistency, superior skills, and strong DNA.  For top performers, the process of selling is difficult but because they are disciplined about staying true to the sales process, their outcomes are easily achieved.  

On the other hand, the bottom 74% (the rest) of all salespeople would disagree with my claim and might even suggest that selling is easy.  And it is easy if they aren't concerned with following a challenging sales process, meeting milestones, or achieving desired outcomes.  By doing what most salespeople do - making friends, presenting, proposing and hoping - their lack of adherence to a sales process causes them to believe that selling is easy while it makes achieving the desired outcomes quite difficult.

And that's the confusing part.  Difficult selling, with its challenges, gives way to easy-to-achieve outcomes.  Easy selling, while avoiding challenges, causes difficult-to-achieve outcomes.  See my definitions below...

Difficult selling:

  • Getting to the right people, 
  • Overcoming resistance, 
  • Differentiating yourself and company from the competition, 
  • Building a case, 
  • Selling value, 
  • Doing what it takes to get business closed .

Easy selling:

  • Getting to the wrong people,
  • Presenting, 
  • Selling on price, 
  • Sending proposals and quotes 
  • Chasing prospects that don't respond.
It's a lot like health and fitness.  It's difficult to consistently eat right but those who overcome the challenge and make disciplined choices easily maintain a good weight and remain healthy.  Those who eat what they want -  making easy but poor choices - find it difficult to maintain a good weight and remain healthy.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, winning business, top sales, sales effectiveness, sales presentations, selling value

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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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