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Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati

7 More Sales Core Competencies

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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In 2008, I posted two blogs covering 14 of the 21 core competencies identified by the Objective Management Group Sales Person Assessment.  Between then and now, much has taken place that I've written about, and as I fly from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon, I have some time to write about the remaining 7 core competencies.  I know that you've been waiting with baited breath.

1.  Establishes early bonding and rapport:  The ability to quickly establish confidence and trust in the first meeting, rather than taking several meetings to develop a strong relationship.

2.  Uncovers actual budgets:  The skill and the consistency in knowing what the investment parameters are going to be so that you eliminate money, time or resource objections at time of presentation.

3.  Discovers why prospects will buy:  As elementary as this sounds, most sales people do not find out exactly "why" a prospect will buy. They know what is important, they have an idea of what a prospect will consider or look at, but that is entirely different than knowing exactly why someone will buy.  You know that you have this competency when you get decisions instead of "think it overs".

4.  Qualifies proposals and quotes.  Those that have this competency and execute it consistently will make sure that they will get a decision or, at a minimum, a very clear future once they present.  Those with this competency only make proposals and quotes when they know that the prospect is committed to buying.

5.  Gets commitments and decisions:  This competency manifests itself prior to making presentations.  It needs to happen once you have uncovered the compelling reasons someone will buy, you have their commitment to buy, you know the budget issues and you know that you are talking to the decision maker(s).  Once these items have been covered, a great sales person simply asks the prospect to make a decision, yes or no, when the presentation is completed.  More importantly, they make the commitment to decide stick.

6.  Possesses a strong desire for success in selling:  this is defined as being passionate about your success.  It is someone that enjoys selling.  Someone with the appropriate desire is someone that looks forward to generating new relationships and is passionate about pursuing and achieving their goals and the goals of the company.  They don't just set goals; they achieve them.

7.  Commits to succeed in selling:  I have identified three types of commitment:  1) WIT: Whatever it Takes.  2) WITALAIITU:  Whatever it Takes as Long as it Isn't Too Uncomfortable.  3) Coast to Coast: When they are just going through the motions and coast from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.  However, there is only one level of commitment that contributes to extraordinary success:  WIT.

Think about these 7 core competencies and how they relate to your ability to execute an effective sales process.  These 7, along with the other 14, should be considered the "root causes" of your sales issues.  If you are to continue your improvement in sales, then you might consider working at the correct end of your problems:  Theses 21 core competencies of selling.

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Topics: sales competencies, improve sales, OMG assessment, sales improvement

Intentional Sales Coaching – You Can’t Coach "Tall"

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 22, 2017

YOUR BIGGEST UNDETECTED CHALLENGE

One of the biggest challenges, mostly an undetected challenge, is providing coaching that is customized and intentional to the individual need.  I say “undetected” because most, if not all, of the time coaching is done based on symptoms:

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I could add another 10 symptoms to the list, but I’m sure this has already caused you some nausea.  It doesn’t matter if you are a sales manager attempting to do the coaching or the sales person on the receiving end of the coaching, you probably feel the same way.  I’m tired of sales training, I’m tired of going to the same classes over and over again, I’m tired of telling my people they have to do a better job at cross-selling, getting introductions, networking and asking for the business.

In the end, everyone is sick and tired because, after all the training time, after all the role-playing and after all the investment of money, you look at the results and not a lot has changed.  How come? Well, because you can’t coach TALL.

YOU CAN’T COACH “TALL”

My daughter (recently engaged - thank you) played basketball in 7th grade.  She then tried volleyball but found her love of performing in front of others, not on the fields or courts of athletics, but on the stage of music and theatre. 

I was watching her basketball practice one day and was thinking she had a chance to be a player on the high school team, but she would need a lot of work on the fundamentals: handling the ball, keeping the ball up when rebounding and pivoting while in the low post.  After practice, I went to the coach and asked him what he thought. 

Like a lot of coaches who have to address parents when they ask about their child’s skill and potential, he couched his remarks carefully.  He stated what I had been thinking about her skills and fundamentals and then he said that she would still probably be a starter.  Somewhat surprised, I asked, “How come?”  He said, “You can’t teach tall.”

You see, Alex in 7th grade was already almost 6’ tall.  She could out rebound people because they simply couldn’t reach the balls that she could reach.  She was good enough on defense and blocked out well so she had some things going for her that helped her overcome any weaknesses she had that might have kept a shorter player from being a starter. (Watch this exception to the rule.)  Besides, she had dad, a former coach, to keep her working hard and disciplined. 

Alex-tall.png

 **Note:  Alex’s height created an interesting sight on the stage when she played the queen in Cinderella.  With her hair pushed up on her head and a crown she was at least 6’4”.  The leading man… about 5’4”.  It was funny.

INTENTIONAL COACHING IS ALL ABOUT THE ROOT

The thing about intentional coaching is that, in order to get changes in behaviors and improvement in skills, you have to understand the root cause of the problem:

symptom-chart2.png

The coaching required to address the symptoms is not teaching them a new technique or process.  It is not enrolling them in a wealth certification program.  It is not having them take a time management course.  The coaching required has to address the root issue.  For example...

Problem: I don’t have time to prospect. I have too much account management work to do.

Solution(s):  Assign account managers (and they still won’t prospect, they’ll just find another excuse) or enroll them in a time management class.

ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSE IS REALLY THIS SIMPLE

SO…that isn’t the answer for dealing with excuses (audio). 

The solution is to ask them, “If I didn't let you use that as an excuse, what would you be doing differently?”

This addresses the root issue.  I can guess that you’re thinking that it cannot be that simple. I assure you can call anyone of the hundreds of salespeople we’ve coached or salespeople we’ve trained and they will ALL tell you that IT makes a difference.  It changes things because you’re now dealing with the correct end of the problem!

KNOW ABOUT ROOT ISSUES WHEN HIRING

Finally, think about the candidates that you are hiring. There are things they have to come to the table with that you cannot coach or you don't have time to coach. Take a look at this screen shot of the sample pre-hire assessment we use to guarantee no more hiring mistakes:

omg-pic-2.pngWouldn’t you want to know in advance that they had desire and commitment to be successful in SELLING?  How helpful would it be to know in advance that they will struggle with rejections but they will be great talking about money?  Take a look at the next shot:omg-pic-3.png

Even though there are some obvious areas of weakness, this candidate is recommended for hire. (When a hire is made based on a "recommended for hire" finding, like this candidate, 92% of the time that candidate will be a successful sales person.) The benefit of having this information is that, if you were to hire this individual, you would know the extent of your "project" and exactly what you would need to do to help them be successful in your organization.

However, having said that, there are still factors that need to be considered. Look at the work that has to be done... AND notice this: the findins say they are trainable but are not considered coachable.  Do you want to take that on? Do you have the bandwidth to take that on?  If not, then this is a hire that shouldn’t be made.  Now, consider how many of your people today might look like this and what’s that costing you?

Additional Resources:

Topics: improve sales, sales performance coaching, development of sales, sales recruiitment

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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