How Your Salespeople Measure Up in the 21 Most Crucial Sales Competencies for Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan 

Image Copyright BrianAJackson

Over the years I've debunked a number of articles that cited nothing but junk science. The authors often relied on observation, anecdotal evidence and personal opinion while proclaiming traits, competencies, skills and differentiators between top salespeople and everyone else. Today those articles would qualify as fake news.  My rebuttals to those articles, many of which can be found here, are always based on science.

Speaking of the difference between fake news and real sales science, the next topic downright amazes me and should amaze you too. Read More

Nearly 22,000 people have viewed the 5 traits of the best salespeople - traits that are purely anecdotal on the author's part - while only around 1,000 viewed the scientific rebuttal. Only 19,000 people viewed the 21 Sales Core Competencies that were updated in 2014, and only 1,200 have viewed the most recent 2017 revision of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Just to be clear, I'm not whining about popularity, traffic or page views.  My Blog has 1.7 million views and dozens of my articles have 15,000+ views.  My best-selling book, Baseline Selling, was ranked 15th on Amazon's list of the Top Sales Books this morning - after 12 I'm not lacking for traffic or readers.

This is really about sales professionals who place more faith in the traits that are consistent with their beliefs, fearing that their actual capabilities won't match up with the science.  People want to see themselves in the most popular, positive way.  They don't want to discover that they might be lacking in 10 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies or have gaps in all 21.

Speaking of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, OMG has a brand-new tool that I promise you're gonna love.  

We built a very cool website that you can use to see the average scores for each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, the average scores for your industry and even how your own company compares.  You must check it out - keep reading!

Here's how it works:  

  1. Go to the site and select your industry.  
  2. For each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, average scores for all salespeople, plus the top 10%, the bottom 10% as well as salespeople from your industry, will be displayed in side-by-side comparisons. If you need further explanations there are videos that provide more detail on each competency.
  3. At any point, during your tour through the 21 Sales Core Competencies, you can request that your own company be included in the comparison - free of charge!  No catch. No conditions.  Simply click on the "learn how your salespeople are doing" button displayed beneath the competencies.  
  4. Fill in the very limited contact information (we don't sell it and we won't call you unless you ask us to) and we'll email a link for your salespeople to be assessed.  
  5. When your salespeople have completed the assessment process, the "Your Company" column in each graph will be populated with the data for your company.  Awesome and easy!  We'll keep you posted about their progress.
  6. Options to gain access to additional detailed data and information will be made available.

The early feedback on this site has been amazing - people love being able to access this data and compare it to their own and I'm sure you'll find it fascinating too!  Should you wish to learn more about evaluating your current sales force you can find us by clicking here to improve your existing sales team and here if you need to hire better Sales People, Sales Managers of Sales VPs.



Differentiating Yourself is Key to Sales

Lee Salz, Contributing Writer

I love what Lee has to say in this article…

In my work with clients on sales differentiation, I constantly hear war stories about trying to knock out the competition.

Executives share their frustrations about losing deals and shrinking margins. They talk about the competition as if they are fighting a mythical being — forgetting that even the powerful Achilles had a weakness that led to his downfall.

It’s one thing for you to see a difference, but it’s another for your buyer to see it… 

If you think your competition is tough, imagine going up against one of the strongest brands in America. This is a brand that is loved by all. When families think of taking a vacation, this is the first brand that comes to mind.

Based on that last sentence, you know the brand I’m referring to — Disney.

There’s an old expression in B2B sales. “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” IBM had built such a strong brand quality reputation that their products became known as the safe choice for corporate buyers. Disney enjoys that same quality reputation in the family vacation industry. Picking Disney for a family vacation ensures a fantastic experience.

Taking on a giant


Imagine you are selling for Universal going up against Disney. Their theme parks are in close proximity to yours. You’re both selling family vacations, but you’re trying to get people to vacation at your parks instead of Disney’s.

The other night, I was watching the Yankees game with my teenage sons. In between innings, a commercial for Universal’s theme park appeared on the screen. Normally, we don’t pay attention to commercials during games, but this one captivated us because of something we heard. “Kids grow up. So do vacations.”

That expression silenced the room for a moment as we looked at one another. The commercial then inspired a 15-minute conversation about our vacations. My three kids range between 14 and 18 years old.

We’ve been to Disney several times, including this past December, and had great experiences. I remember the first time we went there, when my daughter was about five years old. She looked at the princesses as if they had jumped out of the movie screen. It was amazing to experience Disney through her young eyes.

Yet, at 18 years old, Disney isn’t the same experience as it is for a five-year-old.

Universal recognizes that, too. They launched a differentiation campaign intended to help families think differently about their vacations. Rather than go after families with very young children, they are pursuing the ones with teenagers. They are fighting for the deals that they can win rather than trying to sell everyone.

Building a differentiation strategy

When I talk with salespeople about one of the most critical skills they must master to be in the top one percent of all salespeople, it’s this one skill:

Helping buyers think differently about the solutions they have or could have.

Universal is attempting to disrupt conventional thinking of a family vacation (Disney: “the safe family vacation” choice) and have people take a closer look at what they have to offer in their theme parks.

Universal’s sales differentiation strategy teaches salespeople three important lessons:

1. Focus on the attainable

Know the deals you are well-positioned to win and those you have little chance of winning. Invest your time on the ones you have a high probability of winning and avoid wasting your time on the low probability ones.

2. Open buyers' minds

During the sales differentiation programs I conduct, I ask the participants, “Who has greater knowledge in the solutions you offer: You or your buyers?” I’m yet to have a single salesperson say that their buyers are more educated than they are on the solutions available.

Given that, help your buyers open their minds (and disrupt their complacency) so they consider alternatives. Help them to see that the safe choice might not be the right choice for them given their needs and goals.

Don’t be afraid to challenge their beliefs in the spirit of helping them see the universe of options so they can make an informed buying decision.

3. Know what makes you different

Know what your differentiators are and why they matter to a buyer. Based on these, develop a strategy to communicate those differences in a meaningful way with buyers.

It’s one thing for you to see a difference, but it’s another for your buyer to see it the same way you do.

Getting your sales people to differentiate your product, your company and themselves isn’t something that happens overnight.  We can help train your people in this essential ingredient of sales success.


New Music Service for Productivity

Focus@will is not your typical Spotify or Pandora radio. It is a music service based in neuroscience, customizes instrumental music to help increase focus and decrease distraction while performing activities such as reading, writing, and working. The company claims that their scientifically tested technology behind focus@will has been shown to alter brain activity toward a state that is more conducive to productivity.

Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 100 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break to stretch, move about, maybe get a drink of water, and so on before they resume for another session. According to the company's website, the focus@will system makes it faster and easier for you to concentrate – it brings you a focused flow state and then keeps you there.

Our senses are constantly inundated with information and each time you notice something in your environment, (sounds, lights, smells, cold/warmth) you are paying attention to it. The ability to focus your attention on something while ignoring other distractions is called selective attention by psychologists, and we would never get anything done without it.

The question many people want answered is how they can maximize focus so that their environment becomes less distracting and their attentional spotlight is continuously focused on their projects of the day. Auditory neuroscience and psychoacoustics (the psychology of sound perception) can help us answer this question.

Focus@will is based upon numerous studies including their own research. The entire process of maintaining focus for an extended period of time is not easy. It requires work on the part of your brain and can be considered a source of stress. However, focus@will aimes to produce experiences that enable your brain to feel less stress while you to get more work done.

A Focus@will subscription is currently $9.99/month. However, you can try it for free for 2 weeks to see if you notice a change in your productivity, focus, and concentration.

Solve for Happy

Mo Gawdat is a remarkable thinker and the Chief Business Officer at Google’s [X], an elite team of engineers that comprise Google’s futuristic “dream factory.” Applying his superior skills of logic and problem solving to the issue of happiness, he proposes an algorithm based on an understanding of how the brain takes in and processes joy and sadness. Then he solves for happy.

In 2001 Mo Gawdat realized that despite his incredible success, he was desperately unhappy. A lifelong learner, he attacked the problem as an engineer would: examining all the provable facts and scrupulously applying logic. Eventually, his countless hours of research and science proved successful, and he discovered the equation for permanent happiness.

Thirteen years later, Mo’s algorithm would be put to the ultimate test. After the sudden death of his son, Ali, Mo and his family turned to his equation—and it saved them from despair. In dealing with the horrible loss, Mo found his mission: he would pull off the type of “moonshot” goal that he and his colleagues were always aiming for—he would share his equation with the world and help as many people as possible become happier.

In Solve for Happy Mo questions some of the most fundamental aspects of our existence, shares the underlying reasons for suffering, and plots out a step-by-step process for achieving lifelong happiness and enduring contentment. He shows us how to view life through a clear lens, teaching us how to dispel the illusions that cloud our thinking; overcome the brain’s blind spots; and embrace five ultimate truths.

No matter what obstacles we face, what burdens we bear, what trials we’ve experienced, we can all be content with our present situation and optimistic about the future.