Sales Tests

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 @ 06:07 AM

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Image copyright iStock Photos

Professional athletes have one trait in common - they are all very athletic and their skills are among the top several hundred in the world in their particular sport.  For example, in Major League Baseball, there are 30 teams with 25 players each, making those ball players the top 750 in the world.  Dig a little deeper and in each sport there is an even smaller subset of players who are all-stars. Among the top 750 baseball players in the world, just 34, or just a little shy of 5% of that group are named to the all-star team each year.

Professional salespeople have one trait in common - they are all professional salespeople.

Since there are 16 million of them in the USA alone, they are hardly a rare breed and everyone knows someone or a lot of “someones” who are in sales.  However, once we look at salespeople as a profession, much like sports, around 5% are all-stars.  The difference between an all-star baseball player and a bench player or substitute for one of the 30 teams is that the all-star hitter consistently crushes the ball, the all-star pitcher consistently dominates hitters, and the all-star closer consistently shuts down hitters in the final innings of play.  

In sales, we don't have substitutes, but we have lots of weak salespeople who are far less effective than subs.  First, there are so many of them it would be like including all 2,500 or so minor league players (A, AA, and AAA leagues), 1,110 or so independent league players who aren't good enough to play for a minor league team, all 50,000 or so college baseball players, and all 500,000 or so High School players and you still wouldn't come close to the 8 million inferior salespeople in the USA!

That said, there are some things that the elite salespeople do which weak salespeople aren't able to do and it doesn't involve hitting a baseball.

The table below which shows how comfortable salespeople are when it comes to money and related discussions with their prospects, including whether or not they are speaking with the actual decision maker.

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There are so many take aways from this!

  1. Strong across the board correlation to Sales Percentile

  2. Elite salespeople are score 613% higher in the competency Comfortable Talking about Money

  3. Elite salespeople score 86% higher in Money Tolerance - their concept of how much is a lot of money

  4. Elite salespeople score 23% higher in the competency Buying Habits Support Selling Value - they buy value instead of buying based on price

  5. Elite salespeople score 74% higher at uncovering actual budgets

  6. Elite salespeople score 55% higher in the competency reaching actual decision makers.

When you put it all together, elite salespeople are 200% more likely than their weaker colleagues to succeed at selling value, while having a financial conversation, with a decision maker.  Put another way, a weak salesperson has very little chance of having any kind of financial discussion or even reaching a decision maker.

That begs the question, why do so many companies put up with having so many weak salespeople?

You can see data for hundreds of thousands of salespeople in more than 200 industries in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  If you want to get serious about selecting and hiring better salespeople you can take OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment for a test drive here.


The REAL Reason Sales Revenue is Sluggish

It’s a Thursday morning, and you’re stuck in YET ANOTHER sales meeting.

It’s beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day where you’re living the same day (or possibly the same meeting) over and over.

Top line revenue growth is at a standstill and as you go around the table, you’re hearing the same old same old:

The sales people say we don’t have enough market share, our prices are too high, the competition is getting all the business...

And the sales manager says, “This is out of our control.” It’s because we don’t have enough new business, if we had more inventory, if, if, if….

But strangely enough, the competition seems to have increased revenue who have less sales people, less inventory. In the exact same time period.

So what do they know that you don’t?

And it’s not like you’ve been sitting on your hands. Over last quarter you’ve tried:

  • Replacing salespeople
  • Opening 2 new locations with lots of high traffic
  • Replacing the sales manager
  • Dropping your prices
  • Or doing …. Nothing…because you just aren’t sure what to change or fix.

Because although you are pretty sure what the problem is, you have no idea how to fix it.

And not knowing has robbed you of 10% last quarter and if this continues… the Board of Directors will take you to task, maybe even replace you.  And for sure, you could lose even more market share. Or your dreams of exiting or selling the company in the next few years now looks like nothing more than a pipe dream.  

Honestly, this problem is not your fault.  Oftentimes we are too close to the problem to find the right solution. Kind of like not being able to see the forest for the trees.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been brought into a situation like this only to discover that the reason my client was stuck was because they were trying to solve the wrong problem.

Which is understandable because organizations are complex.

And sometimes the pain from a particular problem shows up in a seemingly unrelated place.

A little like how having tense shoulders sometimes leads to lower back pain.

You can’t fix the back pain without addressing the shoulders.

So if you’ve been struggling for months trying to figure out what to fix…

If you know you can’t have another quarter like last quarter, but you feel like you’re shooting in the dark…

Call me.

My specialty is fixing the RIGHT problem.  Which saves time, money and energy.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Give me 15 minutes on the phone and I will help you find what’s actually keeping you stuck.

Here’s a link to my calendar

You have better things to do with your time than sit in those meetings.




Top Earning Salespeople Use This 1 Easy Strategy to Outperform Everyone Else

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Sales is one of the most common jobs in the US. But top salespeople know a secret--that can make them rich.

By Darren MarbleCEO, CrowdfundX@darrenmarble

Let's start with the obvious: salespeople have a bad rap. That's because most people employed in sales are--wait for it--crappy salespeople. These are your typical pushy, slimy, or aggressive salespeople that make you feel uncomfortable. They may even include your friends who hawk insurance, weight loss products or oils on Facebook (no offense).  

But there is another group of salespeople--the elite one percent--who are an entirely different breed. These salespeople make it rain. They have bottomless expense accounts, fly first class, and negotiate luxury auto leases or relocation packages into their employment agreements with ease.  

They often have entire teams dedicated just to them, such as executive assistants, pre-sales resources, or others, because a support infrastructure empowers them to spend more time doing what they do best--sell.    

The bottom 99 percent and the top one percent of salespeople actually have something in common: they are both creatures of habit. The bottom 99 percent push their products or services on unwilling victims. They sell features, benefits, and ask for the order. Oftentimes they are very likable on a personal level, will smile, and speak with conviction, energy, or enthusiasm.

They know that if they smile long enough and keep closing, they will eventually sell something. After all, sales is a numbers game, right?   

But the top one percent of salespeople know a secret--one that can generate a million dollars a year in personal income, or more. Sometimes these salespeople realize that they have the critical skill set needed to launch a business--so they do, and become billionaires.

These elite salespeople also repeat a behavior, over and over. Except it's a different behavior than the bottom 99 percent. What is their secret to sales success? 

The top one percent of salespeople ask the right questions. 

The best salespeople don't pitch--they ask questions. They ask smart, savvy questions, immediately on a first call or meeting. They don't interrogate, but they do ask calmly, methodically, almost in hypnotic fashion, and create a cadence where the prospect is responding to one question after the next.   

This simple strategy is exceptionally effective. The more questions the salesperson asks--and the more information the prospect yields--the better equipped the salesperson is to sell the deal. 

Top salespeople start with qualifying questions to determine if the prospect they are speaking with is even worth their time. They ask questions around personal or business pain points, decision-making process, timeline and budget. Within fives minutes, they will know if there is a qualified deal worth pursuing, or if they should move on to the next. 

They hone in like a hawk on pain points, asking the prospect how the pain is manifesting itself, how it is impacting them, and whether it can be quantified. They take notes and mirror back answers not only to confirm what they've heard, but to let the prospect know that are listening. And listening they are.  

In a business-to-business sale, top salespeople ask specifically about the prospect's evaluation criteria, and how each decision-maker in the deal prioritizes those criteria. They ask who the signer is--the key decision-maker--and how the closing process will work in the event they have the winning solution. 

It's not uncommon for prospects to interrupt the salesperson and ask their own questions about the product, service, pricing, or delivery. But top salespeople are massively disciplined and will politely push back in order to continue their line of questioning.    

In some instances, the perfect first meeting is one in which the salesperson says absolutely nothing about their product or service. They prefer to come back for a second meeting, armed with intimate knowledge on how to sell the deal, and close. 

The next time you're on a first call with a prospect, challenge yourself to not to talk about your product or service at all. Ask the right questions instead and map out your strategy for the next meeting. When you come back, you might be pleasantly surprised as to how easy it is to seal the deal--and begin your transition to the top one percent.

Don’t know how to ask Good questions? Great questions? Tough questions?  We can teach you how to do this.

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 05:04 AM  Image Copyright iStock Photos


Humans have been waiting for thousands of years to discover the secrets of life.  Why are we here?  Why do bad things happen?  What happens after we die?  Is Heaven real?  What is God's plan for us?

While many experts have attempted to answer all of these questions, most of us lack proof. There's no data.  If we wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly there are not only answers to these questions, but science-based proof, that would be a game-changer for us.

Likewise, every day most companies try to determine why their salespeople don't close more business, why so many opportunities die on the vine, and what they need to do differently to change change their results.  They try everything!  Most leaders think it's an issue of closing skills.  It's not.  Others think it's about prospecting.  While that has an impact on the size and quality of the pipeline, it has little to do with results.  But I have discovered the cause, will show you the data, and discuss how to fix it.

Recently, Objective Management Group (OMG) integrated its sales force evaluation and its pipeline analysis.  Previously, the pipeline analysis was a separate chapter and while very revealing, the data was standalone.  OMG also expanded its analysis of salespeople's ability to reach decision makers and rather than a finding as it once was, it is now a full competency with 8 attributes.

I have reviewed several dozen sales force evaluations conducted since the change and discovered something very revealing.  Look at the bar graph shown below:


This is VERY representative of every sales force evaluation I reviewed for this article. There is a lot going on in this graph so let me walk you through it.

This sales force averages 54% of the attributes for reaching decision makers but only 13% (green slice of the pie) are strong at this competency.  The overwhelming majority of the salespeople believe in the importance of reaching decision makers and use their skills to attempt that.  Let's focus on the first two attributes which are both Calling on Actual Decision Makers but show contradicting data.


Let's start with the second attribute.  We ask each salesperson to identify 4 late-stage, proposal-ready or closable opportunities and we ask them 19 questions about each of those opportunities.  Nearly 90% of the salespeople met with the actual decision makers on these late-stage opportunities.  That's pretty good.

The first attribute comes from each salesperson's personal evaluation.  It shows that only 10% of them are reaching actual decision makers overall.  That's pretty bad.

Now that we have these two opposing data points, it should be clear what the problem is, both for this company and for many of the companies showing the same contradiction.

When salespeople successfully reach the actual decision makers, opportunities move through the pipeline and reach the closable stage, often resulting in a win.  However, MOST salespeople are NOT reaching the actual decision makers and those are the opportunities that lose traction and/or result in a loss.

Remember, for the most part, these are salespeople who believe it's important to reach the decision maker, have that as a milestone in their sales process, have the sales skills to reach decision makers, but still fail to reach the decision makers. 

Let's take a closer look at a few of the other attributes.

Half of their salespeople are calling on buyers at the start of the sales process.  Why are they doing that?  Nearly half aren't comfortable meeting and talking with the target decision makers, and a third need to be liked and can't push back on buyers who won't introduce them to or allow them to meet with decision makers.

Clearly, this is not the only problem that sales organizations are facing by a long shot.  However, this data shows that if they could fix just one thing today, the consistent ability to reach decision makers would make a huge difference.

It's one thing to know what the problem is and its impact on results.  However, fixing this problem is not  simple. Reaching decision makers is made possible by having advanced listening and questioning skills in an effective consultative selling process, an ability to differentiate, and being perceived as a trusted advisor.  Reaching decision makers is time sensitive in that the timing must be perfect to consistently succeed at getting the decision makers to engage.  Let me use my expert ability to combine baseball and sales for the perfect analogy.  Have you read Baseline Selling?

If the batter swings too early he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a weak ground ball.  If the batter swings too late he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a pop fly ball.  If the batter times his swing perfectly and squares the bat to the ball he will crush it.  Salespeople need to crush it when it comes to reaching decision makers.  They must time their ask perfectly or they will probably strike out.  You can also use comedy as an analogy where the comedy writer provides the same routine to a professional comedian and an amateur.  The words coming out of each person's mouth would be identical but the professional comedian gets the laughs because of having mastered the timing and cadence of the delivery.

This problem can be fixed but the trainer or coach providing the help must have a mastery of the nuances of how these pieces all come together.  If your salespeople can reach even 25% more decision makers, think about the impact that will have on revenue.

You can see all of OMG's data for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, by industry and even see how your company compares.

If you need some help using this tool, call us at 800-700-6507.  EXT 1.