About a year ago, I wrote a very popular article called, Persistence Over Polish, where I discussed the competencies that the top 10% of all salespeople were better at than everyone else. The article identified 5 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that were the biggest difference makers, showed the gap in capabilities, and explained the impact of having these competencies as weaknesses. You should really take 2-minutes and read it. Then, about a week ago, I wrote another popular article called, How the Rubber Band Sabotages Sales Performance. That article discussed six competencies specific to Sales DNA and the impact those six have on performance when they appear as weaknesses. At the end of last week's article, I promised to introduce a solution to you within a week and true to my promise, the solution follows.
Let's begin with two examples of the problem:
Only 2% of elite salespeople (top 5%) have any weaknesses at all in their Sales DNA, while 98% of weak salespeople (the bottom 50%) have weak Sales DNA overall.
Salespeople who need to be liked are 148% less effective, they are 147% less likely to reach the decision maker, and their probability of closing is 151% smaller. That's why elite salespeople are 329% more effective at creating urgency than weak salespeople. Urgency causes action, while a lack of urgency results in an opportunity that gets stuck in the pipeline.
Salespeople who are uncomfortable talking about money are 168% less effective, 129% less likely to reach the decision maker, and their probability of closing is 150% less.
And if salespeople have both of those weaknesses? It's over before they make the call!
All 10 of the tactical selling competencies require salespeople who do not need to be liked. It's most important for effective hunting, consultative selling and selling value. Both selling value and Qualifying require that salespeople be able to have in-depth conversations about finances.
Years ago, Objective Management Group (OMG) had a product called Salesmind. It used self-hypnosis to reprogram a salesperson's limiting beliefs. Beliefs influence behaviors and behaviors impact results. Salesmind was extremely effective, helping salespeople overcome 10 different sales weaknesses, each after just 21 days of use. Compared to coaching and the discomfort associated with change, Salesmind was easy and fast! But Salesmind was a CD and computers stopped shipping with CD drives so the product faded away. Until now!
We have migrated all of the terrific Salesmind programming to an online platform called the Sales DNA Modifier, where it can be used more easily than ever before. We retained the very best content from Salesmind, and added sales affirmations as downloadable audio files for when you are driving in the car.
The 10 best things about the Sales DNA Modifier with Salesmind are:
Apparently, Duracell 9 volt batteries are the picture of consistency.
Last night, all 7 of our upstairs smoke detecters starting squawking within about 30 minutes of each other to indicate that their batteries needed to be replaced. Given that the Duracells were installed in those units on the same day 4 years ago, one would hope that there are more things that we could rely upon to be as consistent and predictable.
One of those things is Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessments.
What could bring more peace of mind to the sales hiring process than knowing that it's already been used on 1,872,733 salespeople, from 28,207 companies, in 200 industries, and in 124 countries to hire 79,784 salespeople. Of the sales candidates who were not recommended by the assessment, but were hired despite the warning, 75% of them failed within the first six months. That's predictive!
Statistics are great, but what you really want to know is, how hard is it to use, how complicated will it make my sales hiring process, what if a candidate I like isn't recommended, what if a candidate I don't like is recommended, and how do you make it fit my world?
The only people that don't love OMG's sales candidate assessments are recruiters - because the assessment makes recruiters work a lot harder to deliver quality sales candidates. And today, with so few sales candidates proactively looking for work, it's even more important that you get it right. After all, you're working from a position of weakness.
Sales leaders, HR directors, CEO's and COO's love the OMG assessments because they are sales specific in that they measure the 21 Sales Core Competencies instead of personality traits and behavioral styles. Traits and styles are nice to know, fun to have, warm and fuzzy, but they are not predictive of success in sales, and especially not any specific sales role.
Because the assessment measures 21 Sales Core Competencies, there is nothing to interpret making it very easy to use. And since you'll assess all of your candidates, not just the ones you like, you can focus your time on the candidates who are most likely to succeed in the sales role for which you are hiring. When it comes to those sales roles, there are 30 variables you can customize to help the assessment identify the right salespeople for the role, and another optional layer of customization allows you to fine-tune another 15-20 requirements.
In companies today, those who hire salespeople using their gut, other assessments, or desperation, tend to get it right about half the time and the cost of getting it wrong has skyrocketed. Companies that use OMG's sales candidate assessments have found that of the candidates who are recommended for the role and eventually hired, 92% move to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.
If you aren't already using OMG, what's holding you back? It's not expensive, it's not difficult, it's not scary, and it's not risky. You'll easily be able to hire better salespeople!
I've written more than 1,400 articles for Understanding the Sales Force and every one of them has been my observation of salespeople, sales managers and sales teams. The observations come from sales force evaluations, sales candidate assessments, sales recruiting projects, sales training and coaching initiatives, and sales leadership training. After 10 years and 1,400 articles and to avoid boredom, we will change things up a bit for this article.
Ken is one of my longtime readers, a former client, and last week he sent this note expressing his frustrations as a buyer of services. I'll add my comments and conclusions at the end of his note.
I just wanted to let you know that your sales training program has ruined me as a buyer. The ineptitude of almost every sales team I have encountered recently is chilling, especially since you have shown me that they can do so much better. I have come to wonder if it would be cost-effective for buyers to provide sales training to their prospective vendors to save us time, effort and aggravation in our purchasing process. Salespeople chasing prospects??? I can’t tell you how much time I spend chasing vendors.
I started a new career in Information Security about 6 years ago and am now Chief Information Security Officer for a fast growing SaaS startup in the expense reporting and expense management space. In my role, I need to purchase compliance services, auditing tools, training products, etc.
Here is the scenario that prompted this email:
A few weeks ago, I got a blast email to participate in a Webinar for a new auditing tool which was being offered by a well-known information security vendor. I attended the Webinar but no salesperson followed up. I went to the company website and filled out the ‘request evaluation’ form. No salesperson followed up. I sent an email to email@example.com requesting a conversation.
About 5 days later I got an email and a voicemail: ‘Would you like to set up a conversation?’ I responded to the email, ‘ I am available tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon.’ The voicemail asked ME to call the rep. There has been no successive follow up. I then reached out to some consultants I know in the industry asking for intros. One gave me a name but no introduction. Finally, my auditor set up a call for today.
The call started out promising, (i.e., I didn’t have to sit through 50 NASCAR slides telling me how great the company was and all the other companies they have done business with.) The rep asked me what I hoped to learn. After I told them, he handed the call off to his Sales Engineer for the ‘demo.’ Unfortunately, the SE had no capacity to show me or discuss with me the auditing tool that I was interested in. After 2 minutes the rep broke in and suggested we re-schedule for another time. We’ll see if I hear back.
This is probably the worst example of about a half dozen similar ones where I have a need, I would like to buy something, and I end up doing all of the work.
Anyway thanks for allowing me to vent.
You're probably thinking, well, that's not what would happen if I was the salesperson or sales manager or sales VP or CEO. Believe it or not, this is fairly common! These are the very same companies that believe they have effective sales processes in place, that their 10% win rates are acceptable, and that they need to get people interested by conducting demos. These are the companies that don't think they need help, have everything under control, have ineffective sales selection and even more ineffective sales management.
If the sales managers were decent, the very first time they debriefed a salesperson, listened to a call, observed a meeting, or discussed an upcoming call, they would have been able to identify ineffective follow-up, ineffective qualifying, ineffective listening and questioning, etc.
It's most likely that the sales managers are former salespeople who, like those they manage, specialized in conducting demos, creating proposals, and finding the 10% that will stick.
Monday, Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, posted a great article on qualifying, why so many salespeople suck at qualifying, and how that ultimately leads back to ineffective sales management (read the comments too).
This article on Linkedin Pulse questions whether it's really sales managers who are to blame or someone else.
Written by Dave Kurlan, Founder of Objective Management Group
Lays Potato Chips. Movie Theater Popcorn. Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. BBQ Ribs. Fudge Brownies. Rolos (a personal favorite from years ago). All junk food which, after having the first one, you just can't stop there. You must have more. Lays even had that as a slogan back in the late 60's - "Bet you can't eat just one." Back then I couldn't stop at one.
Last week I wrote an article that said companies are hiring the wrong salespeople 77% of the time. It was very popular and there was a great discussion on LinkedIn but similar to the junk food, you couldn't read that one article and move to another subject. You need to have some more.
That article was filled with data to illustrate the differences between good salespeople versus those who actually get hired most of the time. It was ugly and there were questions about the 77% like, "Where does that come from?"
Some of the supporting data came from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study. Some of it came from Objective Management Group's evaluations and assessments of 1.8 million salespeople. And I'm going to show you some data that most people never get to see. Take a look at these wild numbers!
In the first graph, you can see the overall recommendation rate from 2014 through mid-November of 2018 from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.
While the overall rate varies by no more than 4 percentage points over the past 5 years, from a low of 37% to a high of 41% the overall rate is very deceiving.
OMG has 5 levels of difficulty and the criteria for a recommendation becomes more rigorous as the difficulty of the role increases. There are as many as 11 second-level customizations that could cause a candidate to be not recommended if their sales DNA doesn't support a required selling activity. And there is a third-level of customization that can override the criteria and customizations above to alter a recommendation.
Between the sliding scale and two additional levels of customization, it's very impressive that the overall rate hasn't varied by more than 4% over the past 5 years. Let's review the recommendation rates for all 5 difficulty levels.
The first two columns on the left show the overall recommendation rates that appeared in the graph above. The overall rates are the averages across all ten columns for each year. There are 2 types of recommendations - recommended (continue with the interview process) and worthy of consideration (continue if there aren't enough candidates that were recommended) - for each difficulty level. So that's 10 ratios to track per year. These are some of the ratios that stand out for me:
Sure, it takes patience and discipline to attract, assess, interview, select and on board salespeople who will succeed in their roles. But patience and discipline aren't strangers to finance, manufacturing, operations, marketing, R & D, engineering, design, fulfillment, quality control, IT, IS, or most of the other functions and departments in a successful business. So isn't it time that we stop fooling ourselves and continuing to believe that sales is different and we have to accept the hand we are dealt? That thinking causes executives to have Cause a Rationalization for Aggravating Performance. CRAP. You can read more about CRAP in sales. More importantly, you can have access to the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet. Named Top Sales Assessment Tool for 7 consecutive years, you can be as confident about the salespeople you select as all of our clients are.
When a great salesperson is recommended by Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment, and this star has a great track record, and great references, should we expect this person to succeed?
Most executives do.
But even though salespeople will tell you that "If you can sell, you can sell anything", that statement is only true some of the time. Here are some examples of salespeople who are successful in one environment, but usually fail in another:
For example, if you go back and take another look at #4, this is where great salespeople, selling the exact same thing, can suddenly fail because they aren't able to succeed when working remotely from a sales manager who doesn't manage her salespeople very closely.
I reviewed OMG's data on a random set of 4,500 recent sales candidate assessments and only 12% were suitable for working remotely. BUT…upon closer look, 12% was not representative of the findings for any one company!
Of the companies that required both a remote seller and had enough candidates to make up an appropriate sample size, the distribution of candidates suitable for working remotely ranged from 2% to 75%. I thought that was rather strange and looked again, but with different filters. I found that the variations in suitability had more to do with the company, and the difficulty level of the role, than anything else. When the role was more difficult and their job postings reflected that difficulty, stronger candidates applied and were assessed. When the role was less difficult and the job postings reflected it, all kinds of qualified and unqualified candidates applied and the assessments reflected that change in candidate quality. For example, look at these 5 companies, their percentage of suitable candidates, and the difficulty level of the role:
CompanyDifficulty LevelSuitable for Remote
A Considerable 75%
B Considerable 67%
C Some 50%
D Moderate 25%
E Moderate 2% If you throw out company E, the average is 60% suitable, but we also lose 75% of the candidates in the sample, so you can’t do that…
When the role is not very difficult, the company will attract lower level salespeople, and they will be much less likely to be suitable for working remotely than their much stronger peers.
When you look at all 10 of my examples, you should be able to recognize why it is so important to use a sales-specific candidate assessment that is customized to your company's requirements, determines whether candidates possess the required selling skills, digs into the Sales DNA to determine whether candidates will succeed in your business, and in this role, and makes an accurate, predictive recommendation.
Recently, I was asked to explain what a company can do with the bottom 74% that I write about so frequently. It's a great question...and I will share several examples...Depending on the size of your sales force, the relative effectiveness of your sales coaching, the degree to which you embrace sales best practices, and your track record at selecting and hiring only A players, your sales force might not have a top 6%, next 20% and bottom 74%. Nope. It could be better - or worse. Your sales force might have salespeople that are all in the top 26% or all of your salespeople might belong to the bottom 74%. What's interesting is how that plays out.
For example, let's look at a business where the sale is fairly easy, like providing snack food to convenience stores, where salespeople in the bottom 74% can get that job accomplished without a problem. Take another business, where the salesperson must sell a 7-figure consulting deal, to the C-Suite, against formidable competition, with a sales cycle that could take 12 months or more, and a salesperson from the top 26% probably won't be good enough. For this scenario, a person will need to come from the top 6%!
With that as a foundation, let's take a deeper look at the bottom 74%. First, there are two things we need to acknowledge:
Focusing on the data representing the bottom 74% of the 1,854,765 salespeople that we evaluated and studied, it shows that 14% of this group should not be in sales at all. 30% of this group are not trainable, can't be saved and won't ever change - no matter what you do. Take a look at this sample slide below, which has an analysis of one company's non-performing salespeople and you'll see that in this particular company, 70% of the underperforming salespeople can't be saved, while 1 (green check) and perhaps 2 others (yellow flags) are savable.
There is good news though. Statistically, 56% of the bottom 74% can be saved under the following circumstances. The company must have:
Sometimes, talking about the bottom 74% makes the state of sales seem a lot worse than it is. If improved performance is one of the things that you need to achieve, it's entirely possible with salespeople in the bottom 74%. You simply need the data to make a good decision. Learn more about a sales force evaluation by clicking the image below.
As part of my daily routine, I like to start my day with coffee and education. I like to read, watch a documentary or listen to other business experts to keep up with what is happening in the business world. I have consistently heard over the past few weeks of economic experts talking about the recession of 2020. I don’t know if these experts are correct or not, but what I have learned over my 20 plus years in sales, the best time to prepare for a downturn in the economy is when the economy is robust! Does your sales organization have the fortitude to withstand an economic contraction?
It is surprising to me that when I speak to leaders of organizations, they are struggling with their sales business plan in this growth market and are not taking additional steps to recession proof their businesses in the advent of a slowdown in the economy. At the heart of the problem, is a limited understanding of the essential elements of a healthy sales organization. One that can withstand significant market fluctuations and thus is less susceptible to changes in the economy.
Having recently researched over 100 companies across multiple verticals, the following ten challenges continue to manifest and limit the return of the sales infrastructure dollar invested.
Ten Challenges Companies Face
1. Lack of Performance Accountability
2. Poorly Constructed Sales Compensation Plans
3. Inconsistent Sales Team Coaching/Development/On-boarding
4. Focus on Selling Stuff vs. Client Experience and Solving Client Problems
5. Aggressive Growth Targets, No Plan to Get There
6. No Explicit Plan to Manage Sales Team to Higher Levels of Performance
7. Blind Spot Relative to Sales Teams Activities, Sales Data Retrieval and Productivity Reporting
8. Poor Recruiting of the Right Sales Talent for Growth
9. Lack of Leadership Development in Sales and other areas
10. Poor Synergy and Cooperation between Sales & Marketing
It is critical for companies to create a high-impact sales plan across 16 key sales drivers, thus building a high-performance sales infrastructure and team. Leaders must strive to proactively manage their sales team and hire the right salespeople thru best practice and clear sales process definition. Companies taking the time to analyze their sales organization and approach, and then build a targeted sales plan will see a significant sales productivity improvement over time. This improvement will stand the test of toughening economic conditions and ensure improved consistency in achieving results.
Please click on the link below to answer my free, 10-question assessment to gain a glimpse of your current sales execution and receive improvement tips in your areas of weakness.
Link above is to a recent interview explaining what New England Sales Solutions powered by Sales Xceleration does for customers.
Contact us today to have a discussion with your organization to see how we can help you to create strategy, process and execution!
One of the things I love about living in New England is that we have 4 distinct seasons. As many of you have lived or seen on the news recently, we have had 4 large storms this March. Spring really came in like a lion this year!
One thing is true though, Spring will arrive! Mother Nature always wins out! Flower’s will bloom, it will stay light much later, and everything will turn green and new! We humans will become more active and come out of hibernation from our winter!
What about your sales team? Do they have some winter cobwebs from hunkering down for a long winter? Do they need some new energy to blossom and become alive again?
Here are three things you can do to pump some life into your sales team and get them going again!
Execute on any or all three calls to action above and you will see the energy and life flow back into the activities from your sales group. When activities increase with proper structure, your sales will spring to life! We are here at Sales Xceleration to help jump start that sales growth with other ideas and sales infrastructure building expertise. Click on the link to see a quick video or take a free assessment on sales infrastructure: https://www.salesxceleration.com/advisors/scott-yelle/.
When I have the chance to, I love to hire former high school or college athletes for sales positions I may have. I have found that they have some great qualities that help them to become successful sales reps. Let’s explore some of those traits now and see if the sales team that you have currently displays some of the same characteristics!
To be successful on the playing field, high performing athletes have all five of these traits in common:
Drive to be the best – athletes are great at setting goals and going for them! They have a constant drive to be their best! They look to find ways to improve season after season to help their team and themselves. Great sales people have all the same qualities. They set goals, they figure out an action plan to get there and they go for it! They are always trying to figure out a better way to achieve the results they want. They know they are part of a bigger team and when they perform well, it helps everyone around them!
Work ethic – great athletes are not afraid of hard work and to grind it out! They understand that it takes hours of preparation to be able to perform at peak performance when needed to. They set up a work out routine to put them in the best possible position to perform at their highest level when it’s game time! Great sales people do the same! They prepare for their calls with clients, new and old. They understand that they must focus on what they can control, which is their preparation to be in the best possible position to close the opportunity. They repeat the routine, week after week until they change their goals and strategy.
Teamwork – great athletes know that teamwork is critical for them to succeed. Even when you watch individual sports like skiing or golf, they always comment on how special it is to play for and represent their country. They know they need to be supportive of the folks around them and to push each other for greatness. They understand that they all have a role that is important to help the greater good. Great sales people are the same! They understand that they need to work well with the other departments for them to succeed. They understand that they need to support and work well with all the key people at their clients. They understand that today’s dishwasher could be tomorrow’s Executive Chef!
Coachability – great athletes like to be and listen to their coaches. They want feedback from their coaches, so they can improve and to perform better. Great sales reps understand this too! They listen more than they talk. They seek out coaching and input from their managers and peers. They know they need an extra set of eyes to help them achieve their goals!
What does all this really mean for you, the business owner. Let Sales Xceleration help you to assess your sales team. Let us be that coach on the sideline providing feed back for improvement. Let us use our years of experience in leading sales teams to drive a higher performance from your sales force. We have proven practices and methods that allow sales teams to reach their potential! Click on the link for a 5-minute sales assessment for free! www.salesxceleration.com/take-sales-agility-assessment/?gf_advisor_slug=scott-yelle.