Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dave Kurlan's Blog Has Moved


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, has a new address. Please see all the posts since September at http://www.omghub.com Thanks for reading. Dave Kurlan

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sales Role Models


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

When you hire new salespeople, who will their role models be? Do you point them to the veterans who are responsible for more revenue than anyone else? No, because they are usually not very good examples of what a new salesperson should do. They may have the biggest or best accounts or territories, but are they out there looking for new business every day? Probably not. Do you introduce them to the people who are struggling? No, that too sets a bad example. What about you? Well if you're doing your job well, you're spending most of your time managing and developing your people, not selling. So who do you point them to? There must (as in essential, not probably) be a salesperson who is out there doing all of the right things every day, looking for new business, building the pipeline, closing new accounts, and building his/your business. He may not lead the team in revenue but he will someday. This is the person around which you build a sales team. The others, keep them busy and keep your new salespeople away from them! Many good, new salespeople quit before they can become successful because of the environment, because management allows mediocrity, because they allow uncommitted and unsuccessful salespeople to hang around. Good salespeople want to perform on a team where they are surrounded by other good salespeople who will push them and pull them. Team momentum. That's the ticket.Do you know which of your salespeople can be the ones around which to build a team? Are you recruiting strong salespeople? OMG can help you on both counts.
© Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

When you hire new salespeople, who will their role models be? Do you point them to the veterans who are responsible for more revenue than anyone else? No, because they are usually not very good examples of what a new salesperson should do. They may have the biggest or best accounts or territories, but are they out there looking for new business every day? Probably not. Do you introduce them to the people who are struggling? No, that too sets a bad example. What about you? Well if you're doing your job well, you're spending most of your time managing and developing your people, not selling. So who do you point them to?There must (as in essential, not probably) be a salesperson who is out there doing all of the right things every day, looking for new business, building the pipeline, closing new accounts, and building his/your business. He may not lead the team in revenue but he will someday. This is the person around which you build a sales team. The others, keep them busy and keep your new salespeople away from them! Many good, new salespeople quit before they can become successful because of the environment, because management allows mediocrity, because they allow uncommitted and unsuccessful salespeople to hang around. Good salespeople want to perform on a team where they are surrounded by other good salespeople who will push them and pull them. Team momentum. That's the ticket.Do you know which of your salespeople can be the ones around which to build a team? Are you recruiting strong salespeople? OMG can help you on both counts.
© Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Death of the Sales Force Part 5 - Will Selling Live On?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I promised to fill you in on the outcome of the business symposium where the "Death of the Sales Force" was discussed by a panel of business experts. The panel included a Banker, an owner of a 40 year-old Insurance Agency, a Partner in a successful regional IT Consulting Firm, a partner in an Accounting Firm, a Turnaround Expert/Financial Consultant, a Manager of VOIP from Verizon, me and the five person management team from the company that began this all. We began by commenting on the speaker who so impressed this management team with his prediction that all products and services will be bought, salespeople will no longer be needed, relationships were unimportant, and the only way to compete was to lower costs. When all was said and done, we agreed that lowering costs was important, but all of the examples provided by the speaker were for products that had been commodities for years and most were always bought rather than sold. In effect, nothing was really new here. I created a document for this meeting that illustrates a wide array of products and services, and a comparison of which are transactional (bought) versus those which are either solution driven, complex or expensive (sold). In the end, the sales force will live on forever, but it will require that your salespeople be stronger, better at selling value, much better at differentiating themselves from the competition, and even better at building relationships. How capable are your salespeople in these areas? Have your sales force evaluated and find out!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Assessments - When is Knowledge Helpful?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Some clients want to learn as much as they can regarding how the assessments work; what makes a candidate hirable, where the findings come from, how their profile impacts the hiring decision, what is the OMG criteria, etc. Some clients crave this information because of their need to know stuff. Others want it to figure out how they manipulate the test to get more hirable candidates. One group wants to know if they can deploy candidates that aren't recommended in some other meaningful way. For instance, we've recently seen several very strong candidates that weren't recommended because the clients were hiring for remote offices and the candidates were not recommended for remote locations because of either their inability to self-start, work independently, work without supervision and/or take responsibility for their results. However, a client who understands that this is the only reason a strong candidate wasn't recommended, can assign this salesperson to an office where there is a manager. A strong candidate could not be recommended if it's clear he/she won't prospect for new business. However, a client who has a strong existing customer base can use this strong salesperson to grow the existing business. Knowledge in the wrong hands can be deadly but to the person who can use the information in a meaningful way, this knowledge can be priceless.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Using the Assessment without the Process


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

The bigger they are the harder they fall. We have a huge client that recently purchased a license to hire 100 salespeople. Historically, as many as 2000 candidates could be assessed as part of this process. 600 would probably be hirable and 200 would probably be interviewed. The technology giant had mixed results when it comes to hiring salespeople, succeeding less than 50% of the time. Of course, being big, they think they know better than anyone else and decided to stick with their dysfunctional process, choosing to use our assessment and ignoring the proven, proprietary, world-class recruiting process that we provide with the assessment. They assessed only 14 people. Their two inside candidates, both with solid track records, recorded the highest scores of the 14. They were very strong and met OMG's criteria for sales success at the specified experience level. However, they failed to meet the tech giant's tough new criteria. They didn't understand why their recruiter's 14 candidates had failed. The recruiter said these were silver bullet candidates. How could the recruiter be wrong? Why weren't the two inside candidates recommended? They determined that the assessment must be inaccurate. Are you kidding me? The assessment accurately identified their top two candidates and they questioned the assessment? After a whopping sample size of 14? And they chose to stick by the recruiter who somehow managed to weed out 1,986 candidates prior to the 14 they assessed? Here's what they should have done. They should have assessed all 2,000 candidates and not let a recruiter determine who should be included in the final pool of candidates. They were concerned about Adverse Impact, the 4/5ths rule, which says that protected minorities (non male, not Caucasian and age 40 and older)can't be adversely affected from either the hiring process or an assessment by more than 20%. Well guess what? If they already ruled out 1,986 candidates then they treated 99.6% equally and if they put that entire group through the assessment then they will still be treating them equally. In the end, this tech giant will do it the right way - our way - and successfully hire 100 strong salespeople. In the short term, there are great lessons here for everyone else.
  • If you hire experts don't dictate to them which parts of their solution you'll listen to;
  • Assessments by themselves aren't as helpful as assessments that come bundled with a recruiting process in which to use them;
  • Assess all of your candidates up front, the first step of the process. This yields 50% more hirable candidates then waiting until you have incorrectly identified the final pool of candidates;
  • Recruiters are sources for candidates, not experts at identifying the best ones;
  • If an assessment meets the 4/5ths rule, they help you comply, not hinder you;
  • 14 does not make a statistically significant sample size;
  • If you set a criteria that your candidates must meet, don't blame the assessment when they fail to meet it;
  • If what you're doing isn't working, listen to the experts instead of insisting that you continue to do what you've always done;
  • Somebody has to take charge and be responsible. In big companies they sometimes forget to do this as a means of protecting their bottoms;
  • It's not as complicated as companies try to make it. In baseball they say "see the ball, hit the ball". Here it's "attract the candidates, assess the candidates".

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

101 Ways to Improve Your Life Volume 2


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

The great new book, 101 Ways to Improve Your Life - Volume 2, has just been released. While I am a contributing author to the book, there are also articles by 100 other experts including Jack Canfield. Volume 1 included contributions from Zig Ziglar, Dennis Waitley, Brian Tracy and Jim Rohn. Volume 2 includes articles of inspiration, motivation and guidance that will help you achieve whatever you want in your life. I've read the book and there are truly articles in here for everyone. Wherever you are in your life right now, I'm sure that 101 Ways will make it even better. If you order a copy of 101 Ways Volume 2 between September 12 and September 14, they will give you $1500 worth of bonus gifts! Just click the link to order yours.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Personality Tests - Are They Worth the Risk?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Kathryn Davis published an article warning that companies proceed with caution before they use personality tests. While she cites "no adverse impact" and "questions that could violate privacy" or "questions that could uncover mental disorders", she really questions whether personality tests are worth the risk. I believe that there are some very accurate, high-integrity, professionally developed personality tests. What I have always questioned is whether any of them should be used to assess salespeople for anything other than how they will fit in the culture. It has always been my belief that whether for development purposes or selection purposes, you must use a sales specific assessment as opposed to one that has been modified for sales. The industry leader and pioneer in sales assessments is none other than Objective Management Group. The top notch sales force evaluation process, findings and recommendations are head and shoulders above anything else on the market and the assessments for hiring salespeople are extremely predictive of performance.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Rating Sales and Sales Management Performance


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Rick Roberge, in his September 3 post on TheRainmakerMaker.com Blog, reported that most people, when asked to rate themselves for a survey, rate themselves much higher and better than they are. We can support those findings at Objective Management Group, Inc. We have evaluated more than 250,000 sales and sales management professionals since 1990 and in addition to the questions each participant must answer, they are also asked to rate themselves in 11 additional areas. More than 75% of the sales participants rated themselves as stronger than they actually were. Even more alarming, the sales management participants rated themselves stronger more than 90% of the time.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What Can a Trip to Italy Teach You About Managing New Salespeople?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Italy with our four-year old son, his four-year old girlfriend,, and our good friends and neighbors - her parents. Italy was splendid but the trip was not without its challenges. Three of us are consultants and one is a doctor so, as we do in our work, we debriefed the trip and identified 43 lessons learned. By the way, if you strive for perfection, debriefing your coaching, accountability, motivational or recruiting events should always produce lessons learned or, as the doctor in our group would call it, morbidity and mortality rounds. Many of the 43 lessons are applicable to sales management. I've applied twenty of them below: 1. Don't let four-year olds lock themselves in a bathroom if you're not entirely certain they can get back out. (In Italy, these are tiny rooms with real locks as opposed to the stalls we have in the US.) It's great if your new salesperson lands an appointment with a desirable account. Just don't let them go in alone! You may find yourself having to kick in a door to salvage the day. 2. The locals are terrible at providing directions you can understand. Don't let your new salespeople ask the veterans what they're supposed to do. You may find your new salespeople golfing rather than prospecting for new business. 3. After a week, your four-year old's name will sound like a four-letter word. If you repeatedly mutter the name of a new salesperson it's time for a warning. Lay out some serious consequences. 4. If you need to drop your rental car off at a designated point in Rome, have a taxi lead you there and return you to your hotel - even if it is within walking distance. If you aren't totally certain of your salespeople's ability to execute as planned, tag along and show them the way. 5. Kids who refuse to walk severely limit your range. Salespeople who refuse to prospect severely limit your ability to grow sales. You must identify and weed out farmers prior to selection by using an effective sales specific pre-employment assessment. 6. Pack fewer clothes to leave more room for goodies purchased on the trip. Hiring fewer lousy salespeople or, the science of sales selection, leaves more money to hire stronger salespeople that can have a more immediate impact. You can sell more with less. 7. The "no bickering rule", if applied day one, would have prevented many unnecessary temper tantrums. If you clearly communicate your expectations for success, how to get there, and the consequences for failure to execute, you won't have to experience a temper tantrum of your own. 8. If you rent a villa, demand daily maid service with fresh towels and freshly sliced lemons. When you hire new salespeople, demand consistent daily prospecting so that you don't need to invoke the Lemon Law. 9. Story telling at restaurants encourages good behavior during meals. Tell lots of stories to pass on legacy information and to describe how to handle the various sales situations they will find themselves in. 10. Before you leave on vacation, make sure your friendship or relationship can withstand the stresses of kids, traffic, shopping, dining and multiple car accidents. Do not attempt to develop friendships with your salespeople or the relationship will prevent you from managing the stress of poor performance. 11. Expect the kids to be on their worst behavior. Always be optimistic about your outcomes but pessimistic about everything that can go wrong. 12. After two drivers and four car accidents, consider hiring a professional, local driver. If your new sales force is a train wreck, hire an expert to help with your selection process and development. 13. There's a reason Roman 5-Star hotels don't allow kids. And there's a reason that most successful sales organizations don't hire salespeople without relevant sales experience. 14. If you order fried steak, you'd better expect fried chicken. If you hire salespeople who possess a great resume and track record but don't subject them to a proper sales specific pre-employment assessment, expect an underperforming fraud. 15. When you're in a foreign land there's nothing like a helpful concierge. When your salespeople are in uncharted territory, there's nothing like an inside champion. 16. Gelato blows away ice cream. Kids will even behave to get some. Don't forget to provide incentives and awards when performance blows away expectations. 17. Don't attempt to drive a 9 passenger van through streets the width of a sidewalk. Don't ask your salespeople to do anything that hasn't been done before, or that they're not equipped or skilled enough to do. 18. Don't attempt to navigate the streets, alley ways and sidewalks of Rome with an inaccurate car rental map. Don't expect your new salespeople to navigate their sales calls without a clearly defined, mapped and proven selling process. 19. If you're at the ocean, leave time for a sail or cruise. If you're on a joint sales call, leave time to debrief the call. 20. Discover all of your villa's amenities on the day you arrive, not as you're about to leave. Make sure your new salespeople ask all the right questions on their first call. You don't want to learn the prospects' compelling reasons to buy after they bought from someone else. Use the comment link to add your own lessons learned and the corresponding sales management application.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sales Hiring Efficiency


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I've addressed the lack of hirable candidates before - but in different ways! Today, I introduce a new metric, Sales Hiring Efficiency. A client with chronically high turnover is frustrated that only 15% of their candidates are hirable when the normal rate is closer to 30%. Let's consider their history. Previous to utilizing OMG's Express Screens and STAR the company had the following hiring efficiency: Candidates - 100 Candidates deemed hirable - 100% (they thought everyone was hirable!) Candidates Interviewed - 100 Percentage of candidates hired - 20% Turnover - 90% Hiring Efficiency (Retained as a percentage of Interviews) - 2% After using OMG's Express Screens and STAR the company compiled the following hiring efficiency: Candidates - 100 Candidates recommended for hire - 15% Candidates Interviewed - 15 Percentage of candidates hired - 50% Turnover - 20% Hiring Efficiency (Retained as a percentage of Interviews) - 40% As you can see, the company improved its hiring efficiency 20 fold. Would more hirable candidates help? Sure. Are they heading in the wrong direction? Absolutely not! Which model would you rather be using? If you picked the first one, you must be a fan of inefficiency and getting little accomplished because you would be starting over with new candidates every single week.
(C) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Terminating Salespeople for Non Performance


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I received an article from Frank Aubuchon, president of Aubuchon & Associates, about terminating non-performing or under-performing employees. Among the topics he addressed was the scenario where a company didn't terminate Mary, a poor performer for two years, much earlier. Here's what he said could happen: "This disgruntled employee files a retaliation or discrimination law suit claiming she was really terminated for a reason that had nothing to do with performance. Maybe she cites the fact that she is a "female in a male dominated group," "over forty," "a minority," "has a disability," "refused the boss's advances," etc. Just on the surface of the claim, a third party (read judge, hearing officer, arbitrator, etc) may find it difficult to believe that Mary was terminated for performance when ABC kept her on for a lengthy time and may have even given her raises (no matter how small). While it is laudable to give new employees opportunities to succeed, suffering for months and years will not seem like suffering at all to a judge. ABC, rather than proving its point by showing they took quick action, is now defending itself against a smoke screen of charges, one of which might stick." More than any other employees in the company, you can easily prove it when salespeople are underachievers. You have sales figures, calling statistics, conversion rates, critical ratios, call reports, commission reports, performance comparisons, sales as a percentage of quota, training records, customer feedback surveys, results from assessments and closing percentages. Some or all of that information would prove non performance if necessary. The key is to act on your data before the data becomes meaningless. Remember 911? In the information age, not acting on your intelligence is an act of incompetence.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sales and Statistics


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Jeff Angus, author of Management by Baseball, has a new post that caught my interest. It was about the Red Sox' Josh Beckett and Management by Exception. The cool thing about Jeff is that he is a sabermatician and, as such, he seems to always include some really profound statistics to make his points. Today I'd like to try that too. Bob went into Memorial Day with only 8 opportunities in his pipeline. Those 8 were 14 short of what he needed to have in his pipeline so there was a directive to fill the pipeline. By Independence Day, those 8 opportunities had been deleted - they were stale - and they were replaced by about 20 new opportunities. As we head into the home stretch of the summer and Labor Day, Bob's pipeline now has 32 opportunities worth an estimated $362,000. As a sales manager, we can judge Bob on any of the following metrics: Attribute......... Before Memorial Day......... After Memorial Day Closing.......... Good.................................... Bad Prospecting.. Poor..................................... Excellent Qualifying...... Fair........................................Good Referrals....... Fair....................................... Good Sell cycle...... Too Long.............................. Better If we judged Bob on sales alone we would have to give him failing grades for the 2nd quarter. If we judged him on his effort and his willingness to change and adapt, he gets an A. How do you judge your salespeople? How you do make sure that salespeople aren't being judged by sales alone?
(C) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Death of Selling Part 4


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic I was invited to participate in a business forum on the topic of the "death of the sales force". As much as I can't stand the thought of being the lone contrarian voice on the subject, I feel like someone must defend selling with all the vigor of Custer's Last Stand. It's scheduled for September 20 and I'm sure the highlight of this event will be the steak. I'll post my thoughts on the discussion then.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Major Assessments Go Head to Head - Part II


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Last week I wrote about OMG's assessment going head to head with the most popular personality test. Today I'll provide the clients' comments and insights to this comparison. I asked them how they felt about the intelligence we provided and one manager said, "oh shit!" Another one said he "wanted to throw up" and a third asked "why I felt our assessment was better than the other one?" They recognized that the personality test, while providing great insights into their communication styles and tendencies, is not predictive of sales performance or success and does not identify the likely problems a salesperson will encounter in the field. "Could we have been this far off the track in our selection or is your assessment that good?", they asked. The bottom line is that all of the major validated personality tests and behavioral styles tests provide useful, accurate information about what makes people tick. They stop far short of being predictive of sales performance. They asked, "what about the customization? Did we make selections that caused these people to look as if they didn't fit? Did we make the hiring criteria too difficult?" These people were so weak that only one of the four would have been recommended if we removed all of their criteria and all but the most lenient of ours. They asked, "If we raise the bar and actually look for people who would meet this criteria, would we be able to find any?" Of course. The pool is smaller but they're out there. It requires changes to the hiring process and the effective implementation of the assessment. But when you build a world-class sales recruiting process and use a best in class sales specific assessment, you can't lose. You'll consistently attract, identify, hire and retain stronger salespeople than ever before.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sales, Sales Force, Salesperson, Sales Call - More Death


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

If you're a regular reader then you know I've taken a stand against all of those who are prematurely predicting the death of selling in some form or other. Rick Roberge chimed in on his Blog recently with a post called Selling vs. Marketing and had some very useful and insightful things to say. Then this really strange thing happened as I was enjoying a Diet Coke with a friend after a round of golf ("How'd you play?" "I sucked." "Me Too." "How bad?" "118, but that doesn't belong here.") He told me that his TEC group, now called Vistage, had a guest speaker who talked about the future of business. They recorded the talk and he played it for his management team. Curious, they decided to host a local event, invite some other business leaders and debate the issue. They wanted me to attend - as the contrarian voice - because the "future of business" was really code for the future of the sales force. It turns out that this was the same guy another friend told me about that was the basis for my July 18 post. Enough already everyone! It's true. We don't need salespeople or sales forces anymore. Happy? For buying gas, pizza, airline tickets, hotel rooms, groceries, iPods, etc., we can figure it out by ourselves. But what if it's not for something like that? Some more examples: The last four times it rained hard, water was streaming over our gutters, staining the white stucco on our home. And water sits near the foundation on the side of the house. Another downspout doesn't direct water away from the front of the home and is causing staining and rotting problems. Should I just go on the internet and order a new gutter system? Should I drive to Home Depot or Lowes and buy some gutter supplies? Can the clerk solve my problem while I stand in the aisle? I doubt it. So I called a gutter company and the owner/salesperson stopped by and helped me to understand the real problem; The home is so big and the size of the roof so enormous that the residential gutters on the back of the home are too small. Solution, replace the rear gutter with larger, commercial grade gutters to handle the volume of water coming off the roof. Simple. But not so simple that I could have solved that problem without his help. He also said he could solve the downspout problems with deflectors. He told me how much and I asked when he do it. If I was the type who shopped around - and I'm not - he would have needed to differentiate himself. He did anyway, but didn't have to. If I'm purchasing a single laptop computer, and I know what I need and like, I can buy one on line from Dell (transactional sale). If I'm outfitting my entire company with the latest in technology (a complex sale) I'd better have some companies come in and recommend the appropriate solution for our needs (another complex sale). If I need a marketing company to help with our branding, promotions, image, advertising and public relations (Seth should get this example), I'm not heading to the internet. Instead, I'm seeking out companies that are known to be effective at this, interviewing them (salespeople) and choosing not the one with the best price, not the one who is closest, not the one that has the most awards, not the one who has experience in my industry, not the one who can do it the quickest, and not the one who has the friendliest salesperson. I'm choosing the one who best understands my problem and can give me the most appropriate solution that is most likely to work (solution sale). My friend sells a commodity. He sells based on price on Mondays, lowest cost of ownership on Tuesdays, his selling ability on Wednesdays, his ability to provide expert service on Thursdays and his long-standing relationships on Fridays. For a commodity (transactions when sold as commodities, solutions when sold as value added) it's absolutely critical to effectively differentiate and add value. But don't add value for the sake of adding value, often perceived as an excuse for a higher price, but add customer driven value, justification for a higher price and the fuel to lower overall cost. Most importantly, selling a commodity requires that one resists the temptation to quote what is requested at the lowest price and instead, identify a reason why the product they are requesting may not be the best choice and provide a better way to use or purchase a different product. Try doing that without a salesperson. Anyway, I can't keep blogging about this. It's off topic. But it's driving me nuts. The impending death of the sales call, the sales force and the salesperson is not only exaggerated, it's a big lie.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Two Major Assessments Go Head to Head


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

One large company used OMG's Express Screen to assess five candidates that were recommended by a standard personality test. To their surprise, all five candidates were very weak and ill-suited for the position. Although I wasn't surprised, it's always difficult to help clients through the difficult process of learning that their assessment of choice wasn't providing the intelligence they had hoped for and required. Candidate #1 was strong enough. She met both OMG's and the client's criteria but she lacked Commitment and Outlook. Candidate #2 was very weak. Candidate #3 was was stronger than #2 but not as strong as #1 - not recommended. Candidate #4 failed to meet both OMG's and the client's criteria and was even weaker than #2. Candidate #5 was the weakest of all, lacking Desire and Commitment, and having all of the major weaknesses. These candidates weren't different than the personality test indicated, they weren't great candidates for this specific sales opportunity. They probably have sales personalities, but sales personalities aren't predictive of performance! Are you getting the intelligence you need to select the right salespeople for your company?
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Are Your Salespeople Telling Stories


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

My most recent Baseline Selling Tip is about the power of telling stories. I'm a story-telling advocate but as you will read in the tip, only to help prospects and customers get the point that you need to make. Stories are less threatening than facts. When you get your salespeople using stories effectively, they'll get more prospects to understand your value proposition. But watch out for the salespeople who are too eager to tell their stories. Make sure that they don't start making stuff up!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

More First Impressions


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I was browsing a sales Blog this morning and saw much of the blogging that frustrates me so much. The "author" wrote that another Blogger "had a great piece of advice" and then proceeded to retype the other author's Blog. On one hand, I understand that this is a standard blogging practice but, on the other hand, when business Bloggers lack original ideas, I wonder what kind of impressions their readers get. It would be OK if they were to provide a Blog that looked like a news service where they could link to all the Blogs that had valuable ideas in the last 24 hours instead of simply retyping the ideas of others. Aren't the Bloggers who recycle articles really editors rather than authors? Shouldn't their Edited Web Logs be called Edlogs instead of Blogs? I'm not being unreasonable. If an author has something to add to someone else's post, that's OK. But to simply rewrite what someone else wrote and make it look like they actually wrote their own article should carry a $25 fine for writing without a license.

Speaking of impressions, that Blog carried five "Ads by Goooooogle" (Text Ads) and one Google image ad which, lucky for me, was for my book, Baseline Selling. Of the 5 Text Ads, three of them had spelling or grammatical errors and one of them was so poorly written it was incomprehensible. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no literary genius. I'm certain that if you reviewed the 100 plus posts on my Blog you'll find the occasional typo and incorrectly structured sentence. But we're talking about ads composed of no more than 3 lines and 75 characters! What kind of impressions are sellers making with their typo-laced ads?

I have salespeople that are prone making typos and grammatical errors. Depending on the type of email going out, who the recipients are and what the purpose is, I sometimes ask to see those emails before they are sent. Are your salespeople making the right impressions on your prospects, customers and clients? Are your younger salespeople sending instant messaging styled emails that are both unprofessional and unreadable to those who don't type that shorthand style? ( r younger sp sending IM type mail?)

First impressions are just as important as ever. Make sure your salespeople are making the kind of first impressions that lead to business.

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Monday, July 31, 2006

How Your Salespeople Could be More Effective


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

A recent sales call on me provided some good examples of what most salespeople have a difficult time doing. Read the Baseline Selling Tip I wrote about that earlier today and then come back here. Done? In this post, I'll address the possible reasons why this salesperson and some of yours make these mistakes. The most likely reason, Need for Approval, occurs when the salesperson knows what to do but is uncomfortable doing it. In this case, it was asking the follow up questions that would get to the real problem, the real budget, the real cost and not bailing. He may have become emotionally involved, losing control, having to simply read his prepared questions. He could be uncomfortable talking about money, preventing him from carrying the budget conversation or the quantification any further. If he had any of the first three problems, they would prevent him from executing the sales process. On the other hand, it's possible that he hadn't learned how to conversationally drill down until he identified the real problem, quantified it and obtained the budget. The most likely scenario is that he, like most salespeople, learned it but never understood it or practiced it enough to be effective at it. Baseline Selling will help with either of those issues. Do your salespeople have any of these problems? Evaluate your sales force and find out.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Correlation Between the Findings and Performance


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Predictive Validity is a powerful form of validation but It's not possible to correlate the findings - weaknesses, strengths, skills, problems, scores, etc. - to sales performance. I'll tell you why in a moment. We can however, use Predictive Validity to correlate our hiring recommendations to success. That is, 95% of those recommended by our sales specific assessment and subsequently hired are considered successful by their employers. And 75% of those not recommended but hired anyway, fail. Here's why you can't correlate specific findings to sales performance. Consider the following examples with John and Bill: John has two major weaknesses; need for approval, and self limiting record collection, but has strong desire and commitment. He goes to work for a company selling $150K capital equipment, a complex sale, to C-Level executives against brutal competition and a long sell cycle. Bill has the exact same weaknesses but goes to work for a manufacturer selling widgets to purchasing agents for a retail chain - a very transactional sale with little competition in a short sell cycle. Bill will be more successful than John every time, but John will be more successful than the salespeople that were hired without our assessment. It will take 18 months to prove that out. Using another measure, John, while less successful than Bill, makes his first sale for $150K at month 18, while Bill closes 23 accounts totaling $50,000 his third month. So you can't use sales as a measure of performance to correlate the findings either. Here's another try - Bill has a $25,000 quota and surpassed it by 100%. John has no quota until month 18 at which time it's $125K. He surpasses it by 20%. We can use example after example and the only suitable measures are to correlate performance to the hiring recommendation using the manager's measure of success - whether the salesperson is meeting or exceeding expectations, however different they may be from company to company, industry to industry, group to group and position to position.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Behavioral Styles Assessment vs. OMG's Express Screen


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

One end user assessed only 6 of their people. They cherry picked - their 3 best and 3 worst. They wanted to internally validate the results against some existing people that they knew. They also assessed those six using a popular behavioral styles test which is not sales specific. They said that the behavioral styles test pegged these people perfectly. But in this case, "pegged" means the assessments described the people; their tendencies and behaviors, how they were perceived as people, but not how they would perform in the field or whether they should have been hired. The results of our assessment were different. The three worst were identified as people they shouldn't have hired. No question. Terribly weak and unqualified for a sales position at this company. Of the three stronger people, all three appeared much stronger on their assessments than the three weakest however, only one would have been hirable. The client wondered if since the six were pegged accurately (as people) that the other assessment could be more helpful. However, they would have to find a way to translate their assessment as people to sales performance AND draw a conclusion. In addition, the other assessment would help them find candidates that were similar to these people - NOT similar in the way they approach sales! Our assessment would identify candidates who were all as good as the strongest of those three - AND BETTER. The client would not have to draw a conclusion because our sales specific assessment makes the recommendation for them. Ours also has a predictive validity of 95%. Statistics show that when a company hires a candidate who was not recommended there is a 75% chance that the candidate will fail. Those are strong odds. The odds are pretty strong in support of following a hirable recommendation as well. 95%. Which would you rather rely on?

Monday, July 24, 2006

CRM - The Frontier Less Traveled


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

CRM should be a no-brainer. That is, it should be highly evident, to even the most doubting of all Thomases, that being able to display the following information is not only helpful, but necessary: All the pertinent information about a client or customer Details of all prior conversations with anyone, at any location and at any time Quotes Orders Issues Problems Promises Appointments Pending History For anyone who has bothered to look, there is no shortage of companies able to provide personal, server or web based CRM applications. As a matter of fact, there are so many companies in this space it is difficult to tell most of them apart. Most have the same features, work the same way, and have similar appearances. Nearly all of them offer the most utilized features found in Microsoft Outlook like: Email Calendar Tasks. So if the importance is so obvious, the features so rich and the availability is so grand, why all the grumbling about CRM? Many companies can't get their salespeople to use it! There are a number of reasons but the most common are: Takes too much time Lousy at typing Doesn't help them sell Doesn't help them succeed Busy work They forgot Not computer savvy More difficult than their normal method Don't need it because it's all in their head I don't know about you, but from my vantage point as a sales development expert, these are all excuses. The real problem, regardless of the software, boils down to four interdependent problems: The initiative was not driven from the top down - lack of commitment The value of the tool was not understood - poor communications It was not presented as mandatory - ineffective leadership Nobody required them to use it - lack of accountability While the benefits of CRM are obvious, salespeople probably won't be able to stand up in front of an audience and say, "thanks to our new CRM application, I closed a $75,000 deal that I never would have closed otherwise." But they will likely be able to say, "thanks to our new CRM application, I was able to see that my customer had conversations with 3 customer service people yesterday so I was prepared to discuss their issues and they were very impressed with our internal communications." But if you can't get salespeople to use the application, is it worth going down that road? Yes, with two conditions. First, you must be willing to execute on the commitment, communications, leadership and accountability. Second, you must choose an application that was designed with the most reluctant users in mind - salespeople. I've seen most of the CRM applications on the market but I'm most impressed with AgileView's OneBundle, available from Objective Management Group. It does everything CRM should do but goes the extra mile for the salesperson. The first sales friendly feature is the cold calling module where salespeople can either import a list or just type in contacts - and nothing else - so they aren't required to create accounts, with endless data entry, just to make an attempted cold call. Then, each time they attempt to dial or speak with a contact, a counter is incremented simply by clicking an icon. Ingenious! When the salesperson books an appointment and clicks "convert" an account is created and only then must the salesperson enter the required account information. Navigating from one form to another is often painfully difficult and OneBundle has solved this problem too. A nifty navigation system allows users to go from entering a note on one prospect to another with only a single click. I really love how they've taken the salesperson's needs into consideration. OneBundle can integrate with Objective Management Group's SalesTrack and Qualifier applications. SalesTrack helps sales managers hold their salespeople accountable for required activity and provides coaching help based on the individual salesperson's results. Qualifier scores each opportunity prior to the quote or proposal stage to verify that the opportunity is strong enough to pursue. OneBundle also includes the Visual Pipeline, allowing management to visually see what's in the pipeline by stage as well as by team, manager, salesperson or account. In just a minutes glance, one can determine how many opportunities are in each stage as well as the value of those opportunities. Management can specify the number of stages and the names of the stages as well as the goals that each salesperson must attain each month. Reporting is the primary way that management interacts with CRM. The OneBundle has a customizable dashboard that shows the data that's most important to management and has customizable reports that any user can create with ease. Summary - I give AgileView's OneBundle a high rating for functionality, creativity and flexibility and recommend it for the company's commitment to satisfaction. You can request information on AgileView's CRM sofware here.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Impact on Sales Performance


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Non Supportive Buy Cycle is one of the many hidden weaknesses we identify when evaluating sales forces. The premise of this weakness is that there is a 100% correlation between how salespeople make major purchases and the stalls and putt-offs they accept from their prospects. The cure is to change the way the salespeople buy so that they buy in such a way that it supports the selling process. At that point, they will expect their prospects to buy that way too. I recently had an opportunity to experience a parallel behavioral event. My wife recently pointed out that I fail to stop for people who wish to cross the street. Not only was she right, I realized that I never expected anyone to stop for me either! Great example of mistakenly believing that personal behavior, however positive or negative, appears normal to the owner of the behavior. As one can with Buy Cycle, I made a decision to change my behavior and immediately began stopping for every pedestrian who needed to cross. The change was easy because I was finally aware of the issue and I had a great incentive to make the change. Saturday, as my wife and I were crossing a major intersection, a bus driver leaned on his horn and scared the ever living fecal matter out of me, gave me the finger and dropped the f bomb on me. In addition to the anger I felt at him for his behavior, I was in awe of what had just happened. I expected him to stop! The result of my change in behavior was that I expected others to behave that way too. When your salespeople buy in such a way that it supports the selling process, they'll expect their prospects to do the same. Which of your salespeople have hidden weaknesses that cause them to be ineffective? Evaluate your sales force and find out!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Getting Prospects to Respond


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

It's not unusual for weak salespeople to generate business by marketing themselves. One of the many methods available is to drop brochures - with secretaries, on car windshields, at the bottom of driveways, via fax or email (not SPAM), attached to door knobs, but never in mailboxes unless you mailed them. So it wasn't a great surprise to arrive home this evening and find one such brochure attached to the door. Nice brochure, very appealing with just two huge problems. The first was that as nice as the brochure was, Jim's scribbled note was equally unimpressive. Worse, he was offering a free estimate and I didn't even have to call to get it. So why call at all? It's bad enough that some of you have literature distributors masquerading as salespeople. But it's even worse when they so something to prevent prospects from calling. If I had the slightest interest in this service but didn't know the price I might be tempted to inquire, providing the salesperson the opportunity to ask me questions, create some need and urgency and get me scheduled. But since he provided the price, I already know what I need and won't phone him until I'm ready to buy. There's that "death of the sales force/death of the sales call" thing again. My point is that he could have easily persuaded me to buy this today if he had teased me into calling rather than distributing everything. Got salespeople or literature distributors? Got salespeople or order takers? Got salespeople or educators? Got salespeople or account managers? Not sure? Know the Answer? Don't know how to fix it? Evaluate Your Sales Force today and get the answers you need.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Death of the Sales Force is Greatly Exaggerated


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

In a recent post, I blogged about my problem's with Seth Godin's article, Death of the Sales Call. Yesterday, a friend mentioned that he viewed a presentation about the Death of the Sales Force. It appeared to be based on an article originally posted in the spring of 2006 by Dr. David McMahon on the Graziadio Business Report. As the saying goes, the reports of this death are premature and greatly exaggerated. The people that make these claims are usually not sales experts. And those who get on the band wagon, using excerpts or entire articles in their Blogs, often lack ideas of their own, choosing to make their Blogs carriers rather than originators. In my expert opinion, the only thing dead about selling is the concept that selling, sales forces and sales calls are dying. While transactional sales haven't depended on salespeople for years, salespeople can be used to decommoditize, differentiate and educate prospects with the goal of moving a corporate buyer to your product line or company. Then the multiple transactions that follow can be conducted via the phone or internet, using customer service people. The theory behind the demise of the sales force is that sales will be driven by buyers, not salespeople; that buyers will buy what they want, from whom they want, when they are ready. Now there's a news flash! How is that any different? Their theory has this process taking place without salespeople. But how does one determine what they really need? How does one learn what their real problem is? How does one figure out which company will really take better care of them? How will they come to know that one company has better expertise than another? Good salespeople, asking good, tough, timely questions, help buyers formulate these opinions. If your company has a complex sale, an expensive product, a long sell cycle, a design build component, an engineering function, a conceptual side, or a pioneering product with a story to tell, you can't wait for a buyer to figure everything out and call you. It must be sold. If you have products or services that people don't think they need or want, they must be sold or nobody would ever buy what you have or switch to your company. And most importantly, if you have a product that someone can easily purchase from any one of a dozen vendors, and yours isn't the low-price option, you have little chance of being selected unless you have some great salespeople differentiating your company from your competition. In this highly competitive business environment, good, strong, effective salespeople are more crucial then ever before. The only thing dead about the sales force is that ineffective salespeople will no longer be able to get by on relationships and luck. All salespeople will be required to justify their existence. It's not death of the sales call. It's not death of the sales force. It's sell or die.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Emerging Boy, The Lingering Toddler - Salespeople are Still Like Children


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Our son turned 4 this spring. The boy in this smart, handsome, athletic, caring, baseball fanatic (are you surprised?) child is emerging right now. He called 911 last week. He hit in the batting cages. He had a hole in one at mini-golf. He got out of bed to watch the Red Sox game so I wouldn't have to watch it alone. He grew about 6 inches yesterday. I could go on and on. But the toddler still lingers. A temper tantrum, a mess that doesn't get picked up, an uneaten meal, a David Ortiz Red Sox shirt covered in chocolate ice cream. Salespeople are like this too. Emerging Superstar, Lingering Underachiever. While they bring in some business and get closer to hitting their monthly numbers, they drive you crazy with their mistakes, poor reads, ineffective questions, lack of new opportunities, blown closes, put-offs accepted, long sell cycles, discounting, ineffective follow up and overall general ineffectiveness. I posted to this Blog back in December with an article called Salespeople are Just Like Children. Would you like to know why your salespeople have these issues? Why they don't become stronger more quickly? Why they don't change? Whether there's hope? How much they can improve? What it will take? Have your sales force evaluated for all the answers. You deserve to have a sales force that overachieves.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What is it About Baseball Books?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

A recent post on 800CEORead.com was titled "What is it About Baseball Books?". It was a good article but, given the audience, Top Management Executives, I wondered how the author, Jack Covert could have omitted the two baseball books actually written for his audience. They are Jeff Angus fine management book, Management by Baseball, and my book, Baseline Selling. I understand that Jack was actually writing about baseball books that excited him and that it wasn't intended to be an article about management books. But it was an opportunity to show that in addition to the excitement felt when reading a great book about baseball, the sport can also be used quite effectively as both a sales and sales management metaphor. In Jeff Angus' case, those great, exciting stories are used as examples to illustrate both effective and ineffective management styles. In my case, baseball rules, tactics and strategies are used as guidelines for the selling process. Come on Jack, Blog about the business books of baseball!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Time Management vs. Job Management


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Target Actual
Plenty has been written about time management. It's role in the sales function is critical with salespeople being asked to do so many things other than selling. Most salespeople don't manage their time particularly well and any time management assistance they can get will help them do more. My frustration with time management is that it helps them do more - of the wrong stuff! Try this simple exercise. Make an Excel Spreadsheet and down column A list the four or five major tasks your salespeople are expected to do. Then, in the second column, list the actual number of hours they should spend on each activity. Highlight the two columns, click the chart icon and choose radar as your chart type. See "target" example above. Next, using your first spreadsheet as a template, create a second spreadsheet but this time have your salespeople complete column B with their actual hours spent on each activity each day. Follow the same process to create the second chart. See "actual" example above.

What you will probably see is not how they manage their time, but what they spend their time on. If your salespeople are like most, they aren't spending nearly as much time as you would like on their primary responsibility of selling. What to do? Call a meeting, show your chart and show some of the other charts. Point out the discrepancy and change everyone's expectations as to how much of their time is to be spent on the activities that produce revenue and profit.

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Seth Godin on Sales


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Last week, Marketing Guru Seth Godin wrote about the "Death of the Sales Call", a post I addressed here. Today he wrote about the "9 Things Marketing People Ought to Know About Salespeople". Funny thing is, in point #9, he defends salespeople against marketing's attempt to replace them with the web by saying that the game changing sales...is real people interacting with real people. Quite a change in his tune in just one week! In point #6 Seth says that he (a salesperson) has no idea what works. He should. He uses his expertise to preach the most effective ways to market goods and services. I preach a sales methodology that works and have a Lens with additional resources to help companies and their salespeople develop and master the best ways to sell their products and services. In this day and age, a company that sends salespeople into the field without a system or process, without a plan, without knowing exactly what they're supposed to do and how they're supposed to do it, is operating in the last century. Once again, Seth, the marketing genius, is either effectively getting others to write about and promote him or, he is just confused about selling. Once again, I think it's the former and not the latter. He's good!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How to Eliminate the Effect of the 80/20 Rule on your Sales Force


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Today I spent an hour on the phone with Jeff Angus, author of Management by Baseball and a Blog by the same name. What a fun call that was! In addition to being a management consultant, Jeff is a sabermatician. Cool. So I shared some Kurlanian statistics with him. Since 1990, my company, Objective Management Group, Inc., has evaluated more than 250,000 salespeople and 7,500 sales forces. We have all kinds of statistics on salespeople, sales performance and sales trends. When we attempted to correlate the sales effectiveness of those 250,000 salespeople to the accepted bell curve, instead of getting a top 20%, a bottom 20% and a middle 60%, we found an elite 6%, a group that was part of the top 26%, and everyone else, an enormous bottom of 74%. When I shared this with Jeff, he told me how consistent that is with his statistics about bell curves in general. He told me that in most cases, bell curves so not reflect reality. Wow, our statistics line up with Angus' Law of Distribution! Getting back to the statistics, why don't most managers recognize the bottom group's feeble attempts at success? They do - whenever the economy tanks - however, given today's strong business climate, orders are coming in and if those weak salespeople have learned one thing, it's how to take orders and grow existing accounts. So we're talking about account managers masquerading as sales producers and the numbers masking the reality of their performance. I mined the data some more. Were there many new salespeople in that bottom group? No. Mostly veterans. Were they working for companies where they wouldn't have access to training? No. Plenty of training, coaching, mentoring. Plenty of books, CD's and videos. Were many of them new to their industry? No again. Were many of them appointed to non-hunting roles? No, they were expected to hunt for new business. So why are so many so very weak? Tough question. The sales experts of the last 30 years designed systems, processes, methodologies and curriculums that were quite sophisticated and complex. They consisted of contradicting multiple steps that most salespeople failed to remember and understand. Compounding the problem, the experts made it difficult for salespeople, left to their own devices, to apply these methods to their businesses. So with inconsistent direction, incorrectly applied methods and seldom practiced approaches, they set out every day, prepared more for failure than success. This prompted me to write Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball. Jeff Angus and I have a truly unique connection in that we're the only two authors I know about that wrote entire books using baseball as the metaphor for business. So what's a management executive to do? First, take the 80/20 Rule. My version of that rule states that 80% of your sales force will suck. Obliterate it. Erase it. Forget it. Stop following that rule now! Second, replace the 80/20 rule with Kurlan's 100/0 Rule which states that all of your salespeople will be overachievers. You certainly won't get that kind of performance until you have that rule in place. Next, evaluate your sales force to determine which of your salespeople can become overachievers and what it will take for them to accomplish that. Then, hire overachievers, using a best practices sales recruiting process and an accurate assessment to predict whether the candidates will succeed in a sales position in your business. Finally, hold everyone accountable to these loftier expectations. Thank you Jeff for a delightful conversation and an idea for today's topic.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

When Salespeople Experience a Breakthrough


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I write a lot about the challenges of evaluating, managing and developing salespeople; but what happens when one of your salespeople experiences a breakthrough? Do you relax and think, "Finally. Now I can focus on someone else"? Most managers do. However, as soon as you stop paying attention, the progress made can quickly become a temporary gain as your salesperson reverts to previously lacking behaviors and results. Instead, praise the individual. Reinforce the success. Repetition is required to lock in a new behavior. Work even more closely with this salesperson to be certain that he/she continues to achieve as a result of this wonderful breakthrough. Think Dog Training here. When the puppy finally sits, is that the last time it gets the biscuit? Is that the last time you praise her and say, "good girl"? To encourage her to continue this listening, you continue to praise and reward until it becomes automatic, several weeks, or even months later. How long must you wait for the breakthroughs to occur? It depends on the salesperson. If you evaluate your sales force, you can get a great sense for who will improve, how long it will take, how much better they will become and what you must do to get them there. You too can be rewarded for your fine work developing salespeople.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sales Compensation


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Sales & Marketing Management, in their 2006 Sales Compensation Study, provide some interesting statistics. The gist of the findings show that in most companies, compensation is up by more than 5% over 2005. 44% of all companies added performance measures to their comp program and 35% increased the percentage of commissions paid. When asked about incentives, 62% of all companies indicated that they use cash as one of the awards for their incentive program. With so many salespeople earning more money than before, is it any wonder that sales candidates are getting more difficult to find? With so many salespeople earning more money than before, is it any wonder that complacency is on the way up? With so many salespeople earning more money than before, is it any wonder that most increases in business are coming from the growth of existing accounts and renewals?
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

UPSA Professional Selling Ethics Framework


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

The United Professional Sales Association (UPSA) has unveiled their long-awaited Professional Selling Ethics Framework for world-wide release and incorporation into the UPSA Certification Program for salespeople. I reviewed their 12 Commandments and threw up. Not at all of them, but certainly some of them take the power right out of the salesperson's hands. Like, "The Right to a Fair Price" and "The Right to Confer". Why can't I have the highest price is I'm offering something I think is far more valuable? Why can't I get someone to make a decision if a decision is what was expected? And the one I hate the most, "The Right to Information", by itself is OK, but when you add item a..."in the manner that you request", it makes me wonder why we spend all of our time training salespeople to ask lots of questions instead of presenting information. What do you think?
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kurlan Sales Alumni Association


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Rick Roberge, author of the Rainmakermaker Blog, Chris Mott, President of Corporate Training at David Kurlan & Associates, and I were reviewing the names of long-term clients of the firm from 1985 through 1995. We are attempting to create an alumni association of people who were Kurlan-trained. We were thrilled to read some of the names we recognized and remembered from 20 years ago. From the names we remember well you may be familiar with Mahan Khalsa, author of Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play, and VP of sales for the Sales Performance Group of Franklin-Covey. Mahan was a client between 1986 and 1990 when he was president of a technology company here in Massachusetts. Rick and Chris are both members of that group, many of whom have become sales superstars or sales trainers. Rick Cayer, Deborah Penta and Matt Hogan, all partners at Objective Management Group, are also Kurlan alumni from that time period as is Greg Nanigian, president of Greg Nanigian & Associates. Also John Rizzo, who has entered the sales consulting arena and Jon Sutton, who just joined Kevin Hallenbeck's sales development firm, Ex$ellsior. Mercia Tapping, who became a management consultant, winner of a Stevie Award and the founder of AllergyBuyersClub.com was a client then too. If you're reading this and you are an alumni of Kurlan Training, please join the group!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Spend Money on Sales Training


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

In the latest issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, Robert Kiyosaki, in his [Rich Returns] column, wrote about what companies should do in good times and in bad. He suggests that companies save money in good times and spend it in bad times. This allows companies to outdistance their competitors in a big way. Specifically, Robert suggests that companies spend their money on marketing, advertising and sales training. Robert gets it!
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Sales Coaching - Between the Lines


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

If you read Baseline Selling then you're familiar with my research and data. There is an elite 6%, a top 26% and then all other salespeople. That's right, a bottom 74%. Don't believe it? Jim Sasena, my colleague at Objective Management Group, suggested I address this topic today. Look at your own sales force and the requests for help that you get - that's if you get asked for help. If the coaching you're asked to you is anything like the coaching I'm asked to do, it also falls into the top 26% and bottom 74% department. The top 26% ask questions like, "OK. I have this prospect, they need us, there are compelling reasons to buy from us, they like us, the problem is killing them, they know we can help them, but they can't justify spending 34% more to do business with us. I know I've differentiated and built a good relationship but we're $18,000 higher and they're supposed to be on a cost lowering initiative. I've got the decision maker and he just doesn't want to be the exception to the rule that he created in his company. What should I do? The bottom 74% ask questions like, "I'm not comfortable picking up the phone. Can you help?" Or they ask, "How can I get prospects to return my phone calls?" Or they ask, "How can I get prospects to stop thinking it over?" Can you see the difference? Complex vs. Simple. Sophisticated vs. Basic. Knowledgeable vs. Uninformed. Which salespeople do you have? By the way, can you provide the solution for the first salesperson? Submit your comments!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Value Proposition


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Today,I witnessed - again - just how ineffective companies are at providing their salespeople with useful tools. The Value Proposition, a frequent offender, earned the honors today. So many salespeople are walking around with what they think are value propositions when in fact they are nothing more than claims, marketing messages, features and benefits. Today's winner of the worst Value Proposition was "we make you money". Are your salespeople properly equipped with a powerful Value Proposition? Ask them each to email you their Value Proposition and watch what happens. If the Value Proposition does not contain any of the following, you failed!
  • How you are different
  • How your company adds a valuable extra to its product or service
  • How you save a customer/client money (something other than a better price)
  • How you provide a unique expertise
  • How you can be used as a unique resource
  • How you do things better

Fine tune your value proposition today and watch what happens!

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sales Contest for Sales Geniuses


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Genius.com has announced a contest that your salespeople may be interested in as they can vie for some great prizes and have some fun recalling their sales nightmares. It’s called “The Worst Cold Call Contest” (www.worstcoldcall.com) where sales professionals can compete with their peers for the worst sales call experience by submitting their story online. The contest, which concludes on July 14th, aims to share and reward the “best of the worst.” To qualify, sales professionals submit the story of their worst cold call, and entries will be posted online, at www.worstcoldcall.com. Complete contest details and prize descriptions can be found online at www.worstcoldcall.com.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Golf and Selling - The Fundamentals of Sales


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

I took up Golf last summer so this month marks a year at this frustrating, humiliating, challenging, and surprisingly addictive game. I've made great strides in just a year but I still haven't broken 100, still hit balls with amazing inconsistency and still can't tolerate my performance on the course. That's just the way I am. Saturday, I took my 25th lesson, hoping to "straighten" out my recent woes. It turned out to be a very simple adjustment to get me hitting the ball straight again. I had developed a bad habit with my grip - ironic since that was the very first thing I learned. Back to basics. Isn't sales exactly the same? When salespeople are struggling and even when they're not, why don't they work on and practice the basics? Of course, that requires knowing what the basics are....What do you think? What are the basics that your salespeople should be practicing?
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Seth Godin - Sales Expert or Marketing Genius?


This article has been located to a new site. New Article Location

Seth Godin did it again. He is the master at getting people to talk about him, promote him, listen to him and build his brand. This week he did it by posting to his Blog with the title, The Death of the Sales Call? Now even Seth doesn't believe this. But he sure got people up in arms. I got more email about his Blog this week than I do about my own Blog! Whether you believe Seth or see his mischievous post for what it is, one thing is as true today as it was 20 years ago. You can accomplish more by phone, email, video conference and overnight delivery than ever before, but if you're selling something complex, expensive, or in need of differentiation; if you're selling something that needs to be shown, demonstrated or built; if you're selling something that requires significant conversation, interchange, questioning and assessment; your prospect will demand to meet you before they sign a contract! When prospects attempt to determine who they should buy from and what exactly they should buy, it usually requires more than a phone call and a proposal. They want to meet the people they will be doing business with. Certainly, there are some services and products that were meant to be sold over the internet. But that only works when prospects know exactly what they want, who they want it from and how much they want to pay. And how did they get to that point? Most likely, a sales call! We may be able to eliminate some of the in-between calls from the sales process but as long as buyers want to meet the people they're giving money to, the sales call will live forever.
(c) 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.