Are Relationships Important in Sales?

Those of you who know me understand that I am a bit of an analytic: I love data.

That’s one reason I focus on Dave Kurlan and The Objective Management Group articles in my newsletters.

And this month is no exception.

I have said that, today (in contrast to the 60’s, 70’s 80’s, etc.), relationships have never been less important; good for getting an opportunity but not so much for closing business. Is that statement correct?

Well, let’s look more closely.

How does one define “relationship”?

Is it that people buy from people they like: friends?

Is it that salespeople want to build a “relationship” because they like to be liked?

Is it that a sales process should value rapport, listening and effective communication?

Is the relationship a key factor in closing?

Kulan and OMG have data on more than 1.7 million salespeople. He looked at 450,000 salespeople in this analysis of relationships, the need to be liked and it’s impact sales performance. That’s a huge sample size!

This article has some of the graphs that contain the data. I won’t give everything away, but here are a few of key findings:

86% of the weakest salespeople DO need to be liked, but only 42% of them have a relationship-based sales process and 84% – most of them – believe that the relationship is the key factor.

Only 11% of the best salespeople, the top 5%, need to be liked.

And most have a relationship based sales process

Only 1% to the best salespeople believe that relationship is a key factor to closing the business.

The top salespeople DON’T NEED to be liked but are conscious of the importance of developing a relationship during the sales process.  They know how (mechanical) but don’t need to (emotional).

Are relationships important: sure.

Check the link to see lots more detail.

 

Enjoy!

 

To learn more, click here:

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

 

 

 

Long Sales Cycle vs. Delayed Closings?

One of great lessons I learned in my 14 years as a Sandler Trainer was that if you think you have a long sales cycle, you do (or will).

The reason for that long sales cycle is more likely a delayed closing problem: A six month sales cycle becomes a 9 month sales cycle, and so on.

People in a long sales cycle tend to lack a closing urgency. Since they know it takes a “long time to close”, they don’t want to “push” it.

Delayed closings are not unusual. Just unnecessary!

Only 27% of salespeople have and use a Milestone Centric Sales Process and only 30% are savvy enough to track that process with CRM. And less than 30% lack the skills required to effective qualify an opportunity.

One of my ongoing concerns with many CRM systems is that they force salespeople to enter a closing date before it is reasonable to know what that date should be. And if most salespeople don’t have a Milestone Centric Sales Process, how will they know an opportunity is even closable?

This Dave Kurlan article that follows describes how to eliminate delayed closings. Check it out!

Enjoy!

To learn more, click here:

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

Qualifying Too Early Can Kill Opportunities

One of my first steps in working with clients is to develop a clear, defined sales process:

Sales Process:

The macro view of the clear, defined sequence of steps to identify and move an opportunity through discovery, qualified, proposal and close.

Note that sales process is different from a sales methodology:

Sales Methodology:

The micro view of what techniques, “moves”,  systems and skills used within the sales process to identify and move an opportunity through discovery, qualified, proposal and close.

One of the values of a sales process is the ability to conduct a root cause analysis on opportunities that didn’t close. If we understand the root cause, we can take corrective action and fix the issue.

The root cause can be in any area of the sales process. The corrective action could be a tweak to the process, training on methodology, role playing a nuance that must be developed, or something else.

Often the issue is one of qualifying.

Words have meaning, and many words have several meanings. Qualifying is one of them.

If qualifying is an issue, then we must be clear about qualifying what, where, when and by whom.

This Dave Kurlan article below looks at one part of qualifying you’re sure to find interesting.

Enjoy!

To learn more, click here:

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

 

 

The Best Salespeople…

Are salespeople born or made?

Based on my informal surveys of groups I speak to, about 95% of current salespeople never thought they’d end up in sales; they somehow fell into it.

In these same groups, about 95% of those that KNEW they were going into sales had a parent who either was in sales or owned a business.

These two groups got different messages from their parents.

I’m in the first group. My parents made it clear to me that I should become a professional: have letters behind my name. So I did. The only reason I got into sales was to start my first business.

When we assess candidates for sales positions, or evaluate a sales team, there are two data sets we review.

First, we determine what the client company will require their salespeople to do, the kind of prospects they will meet and what their sales process looks like.

Second, we look at the 21 core competencies we know salespeople must have to be successful. (Let me know if you’d like a copy of these core competencies.)

The 21 include sales skills, of course, but also what we call Sales DNA. That is perhaps too strict a term because this DNA isn’t genetic. But it is learned. And things learned become neuropathways that are strong patterns, suborn and difficult to change.

For example, pretend you’re 5 years old and your mother asks you to go out and play: “Have fun, honey, and remember, don’t talk to….” Right, strangers. We all heard that message growing up.

Now you’re in sales. What is your job? Talking to strangers. Who is your subconscious going to listen to: Mom, or your sales manager?

Mom has “helped” you create a neuropathway over your first 12 or so years; your sales manager has only had you for 3 years…

In this Dave Kurlan article, he describes which is more important: sales skills or Sales DNA. Care to guess?

To learn more, click here:

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

 

 

 

 

Measuring Change in Sales Effectiveness

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Hope is not a strategy.”

Yet companies often rely on hope when hiring salespeople, and more importantly, when on-boarding them.

I understand that leaders don’t have time to babysit new sales hires, but lack of effective management is a key reason why new hires fail.

Growing effective salespeople is a key responsibility of leadership. So given that requirement and a lack of time, how can you know you are improving sales effectiveness?

The Dave Kurlan article here is a great reminder of what to measure, when. Here’s a hint: if you’re just measuring revenue results, you are missing out BIG TIME!!

With my clients, I always manage 3 metrics:

Activity/behavior – The productive actions salespeople are actually engaged in

Progress in the pipeline: Salespeople doing the right activity see opportunities in the pipeline grow

Revenue: A lagging metric that doesn’t really help me much, but leaders like to see this grow! And if people are doing #1 and #2 effectively, #3 happens easily.

Kurlan talks about these as well as using role play as a measurement of prospect resistance and improvement in sales performance.

For example, “If they play a nasty prospect, then you know that is how prospects are treating them.  If they play a tough prospect, then you know that prospects are being very tough on them.  If they play an easy prospect, then you know that prospects are being easy and cooperative.

“If you pay attention to the changes in their role-plays over time, salespeople who are improving will play increasingly more cooperative prospects.”

As usual, there’s much more. Enjoy!

To learn more, click here:

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

Predictions for 2018

By now you have your business’s 2018 revenue goals established. Each of your salespeople know the number they have to hit and how they will achieve it. Now it’s time to execute.

A key question for any business is: “Can your current sales team hit the company’s goals; do they have the skills and ability to execute against your plan?”

2018 looks to be a pretty good year. The business climate is strong. But can your sales people succeed in their goals with decade old skills? And do your younger people know how to sell in today’s environment?

Sales has changed since 2009.  People selling only with product knowledge, relationships and price are failing. Can they learn to sell real value?

In Dave Kurlan’s article below, he describes how selling value is just a part of the “sales triad”. “Selling value is extremely challenging for most companies because, on it’s own, it doesn’t translate to a sale. Selling value is an approach in a sales process with a consultative methodology…”

A sales methodology is different than a sales process.  I taught Sandler for 14 years; it is a great methodology; it is not a sales process.

It is not uncommon for me to work with a client who has recognized that how they sold before isn’t working now. In some cases, their long standing customer base has changed, or the referral business that was “always there” is gone, or their salespeople, who relied on relationship selling alone, are struggling.

Dave has some interesting predictions and insights here.

Enjoy!

Don’t Short Change Your Sales Force

Selling has changed in the last 10 years; many sales people haven’t adapted.

The manufacturing company I worked for years ago described itself as a “sales organization”.  As I reflect back on that team, they were independent, resourceful, driven, money motivated with a strong work ethic and outstanding product knowledge. They found a demand and they’d go fill it.

We also happened to have a few world class, innovative, industry changing products. Once the word got out, people would want to see them, and once someone saw them, they would often buy.

So were we a sales organization or a product organization? There was certainly ongoing pressure to develop the next “wonder machine”. Maybe we were both…

In this current era of technology, executives focus on building the next great “wonder product”, so the world will build a path to their company’s door. Like Apple, right? Or the proverbial “better mousetrap”?

(The “Little Nipper” mouse trap, patented in 1897, still holds 60% market share, even with over 4400 competing designs of “better mousetraps”.)

As Dave Kurlan notes, in the article below:

“…We are well aware of the fact that our new features and enhancements won’t sell a single additional sales force evaluation or candidate assessment…“Why?…if for (the buyer), it’s only nice to have, our version 2 years from now won’t be any more desirable than today’s version.”

Executives should broaden their focus from just investing in new products, features and enhancements and include investing in better salespeople with more complete development!

Selling used to be heavily dependent on salespeople being subject matter experts, like in my old company. But now, chances are your prospect has checked you and competitors out online, and they know (or think they know) all about you and your product or service, which they believe might be nice to have or perhaps even should have.

We know people buy emotionally, and those motivations can usually be placed in one of three categories:

Nice to have (Our current solution is okay for now).

Should have (It’s probably time to upgrade; maybe next year).

MUST HAVE (We can’t stay here! We have to change!) (That’s emotion!)

Are your salespeople selling differently than they did 10 years ago, or are they still just subject matter experts? Are they strong enough to understand buyer motivations and know how to sell value to help prospects recognize the MUST make a change?

Check out this Dave Kurlan article. It has great insight into how many company executives might be missing an important element in driving profitable revenue.

 Enjoy!

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

The 5 Biggest Sales Hiring Mistakes And Resume Claims That are Fake

 

Recruiting salespeople and sales managers is an important part of my business. Most of the leaders I work with have had a failure in recruiting salespeople, usually their first hire. Why?

Salespeople are different, and they must overcome different challenges.

A newly hired Salesperson is provided with a job description and management’s expectations for success. The salesperson understands what must be done, the related deadlines and how he will be measured. In order to succeed, he must hit his numbers while overcoming the following challenges:

Competition – While he attempts to persuade people to purchase his company’s products or services, others will be attempting to get those same people to buy from them instead. Some of the additional obstacles the new salesperson must be able to overcome are complacency, satisfaction with the status-quo and resistance to change.

Rejection – There is no selling without rejection and the new salesperson will get more than his fair share as he attempts to book appointments for new opportunities.

Hostility – Since most prospects don’t have the time to even speak with salespeople by phone, new salespeople must call into a marketplace where prospects are very busy. The busy prospect might sound rushed, irritated, cold, disinterested or even hostile.

Lack of Control – Even when the salesperson does everything correctly, in the end he has limited control over whether the prospect will do business with him.

Resistance – As the economy struggles to recover from crisis, even prospects who have decided to buy – from someone – are taking longer to decide, and resistant to spending money.

Timing – Salespeople are entering the sales cycle later in the buying process and unless they are superior at asking questions, have difficulty getting control. Instead they are baited into presenting, proposing and chasing business that seems very difficult to close.

Compare that with the challenges of the office administrator:

The newly hired office administrator is also provided with a job description and management’s expectations for success. The office administrator understands what must be done, the related deadlines and how he will be measured. In order to succeed he must follow the guidelines, instructions and policies, and meet his deadlines.

No one, from either inside or outside of the company, will attempt to prevent him from performing his duties.  The office equipment may fail on occasion but it won’t fight back.

He will have a staff upon whom he can call to get help on big projects.  The staff does not have the authority to say “no” to his requests. There won’t be any competition preventing him from accomplishing his tasks.

It takes a special individual to persevere in the face of adversity. Do you know how to recognize that person?

This Dave Kurlan article provides some insight, with 5 common hiring mistakes and 5 resume lies.

Enjoy!

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

How to Get New Salespeople to Ramp Up Quickly

Finding sales people that have the potentially exceed quota is easier than successfully on boarding them. And they won’t exceed quotas if they are not thoroughly on boarded.

We are able to find people who pass a very complete and stringent sales assessment, interview them on the phone and in person-with more than one manager, validate their resume, verify they fit our culture, and that they aren’t drug addicts, etc.

But if they aren’t managed they will fail.

It seems that some leaders don’t understand how to manage sales people or the importance. An assumption is made that they are in sales, therefore they know what to do.

But like any other employee who doesn’t know your software or your product they needs some basic education in your company and how to interact with a potential prospect (I have an on boarding list I’m happy to share, just let me know).

There are a few basic management concepts to understand. The simplest is that the new salesperson should do the activity they committed to do: the calls, networking, walk-ins, emails, Linkedin, etc., in the amount they committed to do! If they aren’t/won’t/can’t do that, then find another candidate who will.

Assuming they will do what you are paying them to do, some kind of classroom training with self-directed online training and coaching will help transfer knowledge. Shadowing an experienced salesperson can bring all that book learning home!

This Dave Kurlan article does a great job of helping to understand how shadowing can work, the 4 best practices to be sure it can help ramp up your new people.  Quickly!

Enjoy!

How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

EBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More about OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans

 

Reasons for Poor Sales Performance

When working with sales people and organizations on questioning skills I always teach a technique developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used within the Toyota car company. As Wikipedia defines it, “5 Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationship underlying a particular problem.”

I teach this to help people understand the root cause of an issue. If one understand the root cause, or real issue, they can question deeper and more effectively to find the right solution.

Of course this works in a manufacturing setting, and it is just as valuable in sales. But sometimes people don’t want to accept what has been determined to be true.

Company and sales leaders may experience this with the results (or lack thereof) from their salespeople:

The great salesperson that can’t/won’t manage

The great account manager that can’t/won’t hunt

The energetic sales team now complacent

I evaluate sales teams with OMG’s Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) to basically conduct an MRI into the sales team, sales management and the company systems and processes. It isn’t a behavioral or personality evaluation but a true assessment of the organization’s ability to achieve strategic revenue goals. We can determine if they will, and what is required if they currently can’t.

And I have heard, “That wasn’t what I expected!”

This Dave Kurlan article is about helping leaders look into the mirror, and what some say about what they see.

Enjoy!

 How do your salespeople measure up?

White Paper – The Modern Science behind Sales Force Excellence

Tool – Sales Force Grader

Tool – Sales Process Grader

Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments

eBook – 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales

White Paper – The Challenger Style and its Impact on Sales Selection

White Paper – The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection

Learn More About OMG’s Sales Force Evaluation

Candidate Assessment Subscription Plans