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    The top 10% of all salespeople are 4200% better at this

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    My wife and I entered the small jewelry shop and were greeted - not with a warm welcome - but with a matter of fact "my name is... and I'm the owner... and I created everything in the store" which was followed by fifteen minutes of non-stop presentation of everything she created.

    You've been in a store like this and you know exactly how you have reacted to that. It includes thinking all of the following:

    • Stop!
    • Shut Up!
    • I don't care!
    • Go away!
    • Oh wait, I can go away!
    • Please stop so I can leave!
    • Your stuff is not even that good!
    • Has anyone ever listened to this?
    • You've got to be kidding me!
    • There's more?
    • OMG make it stop!!!

    When it was over my wife said "thank you" and we walked across the street to a gallery where we were quickly greeted - no greeted is totally the wrong word - instructed to "put on a mask!" The mask thing again. About ten minutes later he caught us staring at one particular painting for several minutes and asked, "Are you familiar with her work?" We said, "No" and he took the opposite approach of the Queen of all Jewelry and walked away!

    So in one store we weren't the least bit interested, she didn't notice, didn't care and kept on keepin' on. In the other store we would have bought that painting and he abandoned us.

    I don't usually write about retail selling and today's article is not about retail selling except to make a couple of important points.

    If we all know how boring, irrelevant and agonizing it is to be presented to when we aren't interested, then why do salespeople, who have surely been on the receiving end of the scenario described above, insist on presenting before they have a qualified, interested prospect? It's stupid, irresponsible, and a huge waste of time. But they persist.

    Salespeople aren't great at taking a consultative approach

    According to the data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments on more than two million salespeople around the globe, only 14% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength. Only 42% of the top 10% have it as a strength and as you might guess, 0% of the bottom 10% have it as a strength. You wouldn't think that anything could be worse than that, right? But if you look at the bottom 50% - the bottom million salespeople, only 1% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength.

    The top 10% of salespeople are 4200% better at taking a consultative approach than the bottom 50%!

    The Consultative Seller is one of twenty-one Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG and each competency has between six and twelve attributes or an average of around nine. In addition, there are 10 additional competencies with attributes combining for around 450 data points per salesperson and approximately 945 million data points in total. You can see some of the data here and compare industries too.

    Back to the story.

    When salespeople have been trained to listen and ask questions first some still choose to tell their prospects everything they know up front. Why?

    I can think of ten potential reasons and none of them are very good:

    1. They lack experience and all they know is what they learned in orientation training
    2. They need to be liked and fear that if they ask questions their prospects will become angry
    3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
    4. Their sales manager is not holding them accountable for taking the consultative approach
    5. Their sales manager is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
    6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask
    7. They don't know what "good" sounds like and can't replicate it
    8. They haven't practiced and lack confidence
    9. They think that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
    10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

    Everything on my list is symptomatic of numbers four and five. With reinforcement coaching and accountability, every other reason goes away. That brings us to the next point/question. Why aren't sales managers doing numbers four and five?

    I can think of ten more potential reasons and none of them are any good either:

    1. They are spending too much of their time on personal sales
    2. They need to be liked and fear that holding their salespeople accountable will make them angry
    3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
    4. Their boss is not holding them accountable for implementing the consultative approach
    5. Their boss is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
    6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask their salespeople
    7. They don't know what "good" sounds like either and can't replicate it
    8. They haven't practiced role-playing and lack confidence
    9. They agree that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
    10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

    Most of these reasons are essentially the same.

    It's a top down problem and the folks at the top just hope the folks at the bottom take care of business and don't really care how. And therein lies the problem. Ambivalence from the C-Suite basically suggests that they just don't care.

    What can we do about that?

    Rocky LaGrone had a great answer to that question!

    Rocky said:

    "You could take a stick and beat the C-suite over the head repeatedly until they cry Uncle and then start to listen."

    Their biggest problem however is not their ambivalence. It's the fact they don't even know it's a problem. They rely on the sales leader because most of them (C-suite) don't understand sales. Sales is some fuzzy, hard to grip, intangible thing that is a bother but still necessary. The sales leader tells them, "all is good, numbers are coming, next quarter will be better, we are working on it, we need better pricing, we can't produce the product and deliver on time anyway, if we only had the Glen Gary, Glen Ross leads!" Or some other solid excuse...

    Then they (C-Suite) play chase and try to fix everything except the cause. For example: Let's get a new CRM, new compensation plan, new marketing, new website, new brand, or something else that exacerbates and hides the real problem. Real problem - wrong sales people, wrong skills, wrong Sales Manager."

    Thanks Rocky!

    Article originally published on Sep 7, 2021 on Dave Kurlan's Blog
    Dave Kurlan
    Published September 26, 2021
    By Dave Kurlan

    Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, successful entrepreneur, and sales development industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of the Objective Management Group, the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westboro, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, a leading salesforce development firm. He has 3 decades of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, selection, strategy, systems, processes, and metrics.

    Dave is also the creator of the Membrain Baseline Selling Edition, a pre-configured Membrain with Baseline Selling built-in, including Dave's sales enablement content. This Edition will help your salespeople to make your way of selling into a competitive advantage.

    Find out more about Dave Kurlan on LinkedIn