Dave Kurlan’s Predictions for Sales Organization in 2020

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2020

Before I can make any predictions for 2020, let’s start with these ten simple truths about selling for proper context.

ONE:  Selling is not as difficult or as simple as many would have you understand.  

TWO: While there are certainly nuances that influence how selling changes based on the target audience and complexity, selling is essentially the same whether it is technology, pharmaceuticals, capital equipment, financial services, cars, components, accounting or any of 200 other industries.

THREE: Selling is about opening people’s minds, changing people’s minds, and getting them to take action.

FOUR: Effective Selling requires a well thought-out sales strategy, sales process, sales methodology and appropriate sales tactics.

FIVE: Salespeople can be easily sabotaged by weak Sales DNA.

SIX: One skill that all salespeople must have is the ability to lower resistance.

SEVEN: Salespeople must be likable and trustworthy.

EIGHT: Salespeople must be willing work hard.

NINE: Salespeople must be motivated enough to overcome challenges, competition, negativity and difficult prospects.

TEN: Salespeople must be fearless.

Regular readers know that my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), has evaluated 

1,927,898 salespeople from companies.  We measure 21 Sales specific Core Competencies which you can learn more about here.

With the context firmly in place, we can discuss my predictions for 2020.

CRM – Every senior executive I speak with is frustrated with their investments in mainstream CRM. No exceptions.  If they bought Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, or Oracle, they have salespeople who hate it, have to be nagged to update it, don’t use it at all, and worst of all, they aren’t getting the realtime insights or views into the actual pipeline that prompted the investment in the first place.  I think this is the year that companies finally begin pulling the plug and cutting their losses on the big CRM applications, and start over with smaller, sales-specific opportunity and pipeline focused applications.  I believe that any company that wants their sales process, complete with dynamic playbook and scorecards fully integrated into CRM should choose Membrain.

VILT – More companies will choose Virtual Instructor Led Training despite the evidence that live, interactive sales training is far more effective.  Why?  VILT is much less expensive!  But it might be several years before companies recognize that just like CRM, going the way of the popular trend doesn’t move the needle on sales and profits and will eventually result in a wasted investment in the wrong training.  Selling can be taught via VILT, but it must be demonstrated over and over until salespeople can execute what they learned.  That means live role-playing and not scripted actors. Your salespeople must be able to play the part of the difficult prospect that they face each day and challenge the trainer to have the realtime conversation that will change minds.  It simply isn’t possible with VILT. 

AI – Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance because, once again, the sellers of AI say it’s the next thing you must have.  AI can be very helpful automating tasks on the marketing side, where bots might be able to replace salespeople when it comes to conversations via email. But if you have a complex sale, the last thing in the world that you would want is to substitute a bot for a skilled salesperson! 

Evaluations and Assessments –  As with CRM, I think this is the year that companies will realize that you must use pre-employment assessments for effective sales selection.  I believe that they will finally come to recognize that personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments aren’t predictive of sales success.  Objective Management Group (OMG), winner of the Gold Medal for the Top Sales Assessment eight consecutive years, leads the way in accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments but for every one of the 29,000 companies that use OMG, there are 172 that don’t (of five million B2B companies).  I don’t know if it is naivety, ignorance, stubbornness or stupidity, but there is plenty of science that suggests this must change.

Consider this graphic. 

quota-attrition-1

In the graphic above, only 49% of reps achieve quota at companies that don’t use pre-employment assessments.  That increases to 61% at companies that do use pre-employment assessments, and 88% at companies that use OMG’s accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

The same holds true for turnover.  It’s 19% when companies don’t use pre-employment assessments, 14% when they do, and only 8% when they use OMG.  That’s why OMG has won the gold for 8 consecutive years!

Growth: The economy is booming and the only question is whether your salespeople can outsell your competition.  For each opportunity your salespeople work on in 2020, only one company will have the lowest price. If that’s not you, then you must become really effective at selling value.  This is the year that companies will become serious about making that happen, investing in sales training that stresses a consultative and value based approach, grounded in sales process.

Change: Sales leaders and sales managers will have to do better in 2020 but how can we reach them?  If you look at those who follow these important hashtags on LinkedIn, it seems that the people who could make a difference are missing in action:

#salesleadership 5,067

#salesleader 268

#salesleaders 367

#salesmanagement 9,054

#salesmanager 3,046

#salesmanagers 608

#salesprocess 4,651

#salespipeline 121

In a great 2020 economy, companies will have the cash to make smart decisions, invest in quality training and tools, and coach up their salespeople to beat the competition but it will take engaged, proactive sales leaders to make it happen!

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Dave, nice article. Only disagreement is Rule number 10. Sale people must be fearless! I think sales people must be courageous. Courage is taking action in the face of fear!

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