4 Critical Changes for Success in Sales

The client I was speaking with yesterday is starting a new business. He began his career, back in the 1980’s, as a top preforming salesperson in the financial arena: always in the top 1% of his peers. His new endeavor is a totally different type of business, and he will be managing, not selling.

His starting belief was that sales is sales and not much has changed since he was active; not an uncommon thought. And couldn’t be further from the truth.

I started my sales development consulting business in 2000. There was no social media or linked in, and faxing was key tactic for prospecting. I made cold calls and was involved in networking at least weekly. And I had a website…if your dialup connection could find it!

Some folks I speak with “get” that things have changed, that sales is very different than it was even 6-7 years ago. And they are making moves within their organizations to leverage those changes to be even more successful.

This Dave Kurlan article below dives into these changes in more detail and outlines 4 key areas where salespeople today must excel, and 3 actions you can take to improve in 2017.

 

Holiday Tradition Improves Sales

I like to keep to one email per month, but this article from Dave Kurlan was so appropriate for this time of year, I can’t resist sharing it with you.

I often say to my clients that what I provide is sheet music and they must play the instrument that represents their personality, style and integrity.  Kurlan compares sales to The Nutcracker, and effectively make this point, as well as how different roles in a complex sales should be understood.

Short and sweet! Enjoy!

To learn more, check these out:

Rocky Mountain Business Forum “Audio Blog” Episode 65: Steve Parry – Five Key Steps to Management: http://rockymountainbusinessforum.com/episode-65/

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

Why Sales Don’t Grow

 Why Sales Don’t Grow

It is hard to believe the year is drawing to a close. This is the time when people look at the past year and plan for the year to come: How can our organization be more effective in 2017?

Many companies simply pronounce that they plan to grow by XX%. They may have missed the goal last year, so it is that much more important they hit it this year!

Most people know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results. There is a corollary that I think applies to numerous organizations:

The systems, processes and tactics currently in use provide

exactly the results they were designed to give.

If you want different, better results you must design and implement new and better systems, processes and tactics.

The article that follows from Dave Kurlan identifies 10 key reason why sales don’t grow. And while that is interesting reading, his 4 reasons WHY these reasons exist is even more telling.

My own 35 + years of experience perhaps may add some detail to Kurlan’s. With regard to change, there are 3 types of companies:

  • Younger companies, having a new experience with an issue, may just want to read a good book and think that will solve the problem
  • Companies that have been around for many years have institutionalized the problem, and think it is the paradigm: it’s just how things are
  • Organizations in-between seem to be more open minded to changing how thing are; they realize that they are responsible for making change and creating an environment and culture that will succeed over time

Enjoy this article and think about where you would position your company…

To learn more, check these out:

Rocky Mountain Business Forum “Audio Blog” Episode 65: Steve Parry – Five Key Steps to Management: http://rockymountainbusinessforum.com/episode-65/

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 Well Can Millennials Sale?

The demand to help companies find and hire great salespeople has caused recruiting to be a much bigger part of my business in 2016. And while the salespeople my clients have hired have been a variety of ages, there are certainly more young people in the mix.

There are reams of articles around the internet about millennials: what makes them great, why they can be frustrating. The question my clients have is: can they sell?

What I’ve seen echoes back to what I learned as a 2nd grade teacher back in the 1970’s: anyone can learn anything – if they want to. I’ve found many younger salespeople to be eager to learn and can be steady employees. I’ve seen older salespeople who are not!

My experiences are anecdotal, the people and companies I have worked with over the years. This Dave Kurlan article is about empiric data: what are things really like!

So, what is the answer?

Like so many things, it depends. Interestingly, the top 10% of millennials tend about as strong as the top 10% of people with 10 years sales experience. One key difference is what we call the “figure it out factor”: how quickly they ramp up. That finding is not surprising.

To learn more, check these out:

 

Rocky Mountain Business Forum “Audio Blog” Episode 65: Steve Parry – Five Key Steps to Management: http://rockymountainbusinessforum.com/episode-65/

 

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 Wrong are Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople?

Last week I met with a CEO ready to hire a new salesperson. I asked what role the salesperson would have. She (and many others I have met with over the years) said, “They have to hunt for new business and take care of all our existing clients.”

That’s a little like asking an outfielder to pitch: they both play baseball but have very different skill sets. If you have a small team, people have to play a variety of roles. But if I can find a great pitcher…

And then our conversation went to compensation: “How should I pay this new person? How can I motivate them?”

Then the conversation got even more complicated. She asked, “I sure can’t pay them as much as I’m paying my top salesperson!”

When I work with companies to find great salespeople, our first step is to gain great clarity on what the role is and isn’t. What experiences, skills, cognitive abilities, results, attitude and habits are required?

When we review the sales process, where in that process is this person working: at the beginning (hunter), at the middle (qualifier and consultative salesperson) or at the end (Closer), or do they work the entire process?

Are they working in a large, current account to get greater penetration (Farmer) or is the goal to maintain current accounts and be sure they are not lost (account managers)? Or is their primary task to drive incremental, new business?

This article by Dave Kurlan provides some great perspective on how to look at your salespeople, and might change how and who to compensate differently.

Enjoy!

To learn more, check these out:

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

 

What Sales Managers Aren’t Doing

If sales people don’t hit their targets it is usually for one of two reasons:

  • They don’t know what to do
  • They know what to do but can’t or won’t do it

If sales people don’t know what to do they will benefit from training. Training involves helping them gain awareness of selling techniques, increase sales knowledge and developing specific skills. Most salespeople can increase their effectiveness through training.

But most sales people know what to do (or think they do) so the key to really driving superior sales performance is through coaching. Coaching is all about helping people apply the skills and abilities they have, and helping them recognize and address the roadblocks that might be holding them back.

When I read the Dave Kurlan article below thought, not only about my grandson’s baseball games, but about the many sales managers I’ve run across over the past 35 years. They (and many of their CEO bosses) are great at training – telling people what to do – and not so good at assuring they can and will do it!

Have you ever had a moment when you said to yourself, “I told them what to do and how I did it; why aren’t they doing it?” Or, “I’ve told them the same thing 5 times and they just don’t get it!” Training, without solid coaching to apply and reinforce, usually fails.

One of my favorite lines in the communication training I do is: “It is not the responsibility of your prospect (or direct report, or spouse, or child, or dog!) to understand you; your job is to be understood.”

Are you training or coaching or mentoring (a topic for another time)? Do you recognize the difference? If you are telling you are training; if you are asking questions you are probably coaching.

This article develops this thought well. Enjoy!

To learn more, check these out:

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 Golf Can Be Like Recruiting Salespeople

interim sales managementWhile helping organizations find great salespeople is an important part of my business, many company leaders I speak with feel they can do just as well or better on their own.

That’s because they expect the salesperson they hire to be good enough; and, in their experience, it is too expensive to get help. So they will “settle”. (They don’t know I can help for less than 20% of most recruiter’s fees!)

When they settle for an average salesperson, turnover is often a problem.

Many leaders seem to expect less from their sales team than other departments. Perhaps it is because 74% of salespeople are mediocre or worse.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Check out this article by Dave Kurlan to get some insight into recruit self-starting, independent team players who over-achieve sales goals.

77% of Salespeople? Really?

Many of you reading this either know me or have heard me speak. You may remember my story.

I started my career as a 2nd grade teacher in Breckenridge. I’m an introvert by nature; certainly not a “natural” salesperson. I’ve been successful in 4 careers, 3 of them involving selling.

I have a passion to help people recognize their potential; whether a 2nd grader learning to read, a sales manager understanding how to grow their team, or a CEO developing a sales culture in their company.

Anyone can learn anything; if they want to. I believe that completely. I’m am the evidence.

With that perspective, why is this month’s article from Dave Kurlan about how the quality of salespeople has been eroding?

Because it has. Because selling has changed. Because selling is harder now than it was 7 years ago. In an environment where buyers have never been so informed (not always accurately, however), most salespeople haven’t learned to sell value, to differentiate their products/service or to be strong with a prospect.

That 77% of salespeople are weak isn’t all that surprising. They’ve just never been properly developed in the sales discipline!  When I “came up”, young people were trained by IBM or Xerox or some other company. That doesn’t happen now.

If they do get training it is frequently short term skills training which really doesn’t help folks understand the “why” behind their lack of success.

So before your dig into this fascinating article, keep in mind that people can change, they can grow, they can get better. If they want to, and if they have the type of development that is proven to work.

Enjoy!

For years, I’ve been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.

So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren’t doing a great job of taking care of business.

Click here for the rest of the article

Making Hiring Salespeople Successful

I just completed recruiting engagements with two companies. One required a salesperson and the other, a sales manager.

Here are three things I discovered:

  • This year, even with the low unemployment rate, we found more and better candidates.
  • Even though we found more and better candidates, the number of unqualified candidates that applied through our applicant tracking system was disproportionally large.
  • We found a number of strong candidates that were recommended by our OMG sales specific assessment that weren’t right for my client companies. Either they weren’t a good culture fit or their background and experience were a mismatch.

Many companies hire based on a job description. While important, it is one small step in what should be a defined process.

It may be difficult to determine an overall fit if you don’t create a detailed matrix of job responsibilities and the traits, skills, characteristics, attitudes and experience required for success in that job. Because we help our clients create that document, it is much easier to disqualify candidates that may be great in sales, but not for your position.

This article by Dave Kurlan, President of OMG, looks at hiring salespeople from the HR perspective. The lessons are relevant for HR, and any hiring manager.

Sales Productivity Consultants: Capabilities

When it comes to sales force architecture, Sales Productivity Consultants has the tools, data, validation, understanding and track record to optimize your sales force.

While you may not need to resolve all of the issues that make up sales force architecture, most of them will apply:

Optimization – do we have the right number of salespeople and can we do more with less?

Roles – do we have the right salespeople in the right roles and, if not, what are the best roles for them?

Models – which of our salespeople can make the two most desirable sales transitions of the 21st century? Who will be able to transition from behaving like an account manager to being more proactive at hunting for new opportunities and new business? And who will be able to make the transition from presenting/proposing/quoting to more customer focused consultative selling?

Process – do we currently have an effective sales process or do we need a more formalized, structured, optimized sales process?

Selection Criteria and Recruiting – have we been selecting the right people for our sales organization and, if not, how should our selection criteria change?

Alignment – is our sales leadership/management team aligned on strategy?

Execution – is the current sales force capable of executing our changing strategies?

Sales Management – how effective is our sales management team at coaching, motivating, recruiting, developing and driving accountability? Is their success or lack thereof a result of their people or their sales management skills?

Development – Which of the B’s, C’s and D players can step up and become A’s and B’s and who can’t be developed? What will it take? How long will it take? How much improvement is possible? What will the ROI be?

Compensation – Is our current compensation plan effective and are our people motivated by it? if not, what must change?

Our pioneering, world-class suite of sales force assessment tools will take the guess work out of the equation and provide answers to all of these questions, along with insights, recommendations and action steps to make the redesign of your sales force as effortless, efficient, cost-effective and time-saving as possible.

Traits of a Great Sales Organization

  • Clear and defined business strategy and plan
  • Clear and defined strategic marketing plan
  • Sales support systems and processes in place
  • There is top level alignment with strategy, marketing and systems.
  • Personal goals are married to company sales goals.
  • Strong, consistent sales management and coaching
  • Traits and characteristics of a perfect salesperson, able to execute company strategy, are known and documented
  • Always recruiting/upgrading to the right number of people required
  • Defined on boarding process
  • Defined sales plan with appropriate daily behaviors and accountability
  • Defined and universally recognized sales process
  • Defined and universally recognized sales methodology
  • Defined and measured stages of the pipeline, used for accurate forecasts
  • Defined development process for salespeople
  • CRM System in place
  • Appropriate compensation plan
  • Motivating regular sales meetings

Making Hiring Salespeople Successful

I just completed recruiting engagements with two companies. One required a salesperson and the other, a sales manager.

Here are three things I discovered:

  • This year, even with the low unemployment rate, we found more and better candidates.
  • Even though we found more and better candidates, the number of unqualified candidates that applied through our applicant tracking system was disproportionally large.
  • We found a number of strong candidates that were recommended by our OMG sales specific assessment that weren’t right for my client companies. Either they weren’t a good culture fit or their background and experience were a mismatch.

Many companies hire based on a job description. While important, it is one small step in what should be a defined process.

It may be difficult to determine an overall fit if you don’t create a detailed matrix of job responsibilities and the traits, skills, characteristics, attitudes and experience required for success in that job. Because we help our clients create that document, it is much easier to disqualify candidates that may be great in sales, but not for your position.

This article by Dave Kurlan, President of OMG, looks at hiring salespeople from the HR perspective. The lessons are relevant for HR, and any hiring manager.

 

77% of Salespeople? Really?

Many of you reading this either know me or have heard me speak. You may remember my story.

I started my career as a 2nd grade teacher in Breckenridge. I’m an introvert by nature; certainly not a “natural” salesperson. I’ve been successful in 4 careers, 3 of them involving selling.

I have a passion to help people recognize their potential; whether a 2nd grader learning to read, a sales manager understanding how to grow their team, or a CEO developing a sales culture in their company.

Anyone can learn anything; if they want to. I believe that completely. I’m am the evidence.

With that perspective, why is this month’s article from Dave Kurlan about how the quality of salespeople has been eroding?

Because it has. Because selling has changed. Because selling is harder now than it was 7 years ago. In an environment where buyers have never been so informed (not always accurately, however), most salespeople haven’t learned to sell value, to differentiate their products/service or to be strong with a prospect.

That 77% of salespeople are weak isn’t all that surprising. They’ve just never been properly developed in the sales discipline!  When I “came up”, young people were trained by IBM or Xerox or some other company. That doesn’t happen now.

If they do get training it is frequently short term skills training which really doesn’t help folks understand the “why” behind their lack of success.

So before your dig into this fascinating article, keep in mind that people can change, they can grow, they can get better. If they want to, and if they have the type of development that is proven to work.

Enjoy!

For years, I’ve been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.

So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren’t doing a great job of taking care of business.

Click here for the rest of the article

 

How Golf Can Be Like Recruiting Salespeople

While helping organizations find great salespeople is an important part of my business, many company leaders I speak with feel they can do just as well or better on their own.

That’s because they expect the salesperson they hire to be good enough; and, in their experience, it is too expensive to get help. So they will “settle”. (They don’t know I can help for less than 20% of most recruiter’s fees!)

When they settle for an average salesperson, turnover is often a problem.

Many leaders seem to expect less from their sales team than other departments. Perhaps it is because 74% of salespeople are mediocre or worse.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Check out this article by Dave Kurlan to get some insight into recruit self-starting, independent team players who over-achieve sales goals.