Four weeks ago, Marc Wayshak, Founder of Sales Insight Labs, an Allego company, emailed me a very insightful infographic. Returning from two weeks vacation, I was buried in work and filed the email until I had time to review it. Today, a client was nice enough to postpone their training to next week and that provided me with two hours to dig into both the infographic and data from Objective Management Group (OMG) that might correlate to what he sent me.
You can view the infographic at its original size here.
Their statistics are from nearly 24,000 recorded sales conversations and focus on levels of engagement. They found that top performers make 54% more switches - the back and forth in conversations - than everyone else and 78% more in their presentations. The presentations made by top sales performers are not monologues!
OMG's statistics are derived from more than 2.3 million evaluations of salespeople. OMG's doesn't measure switches - how could it - but it does measure whether salespeople emphasize listening over talking, the skill required for switches. The top 10% of salespeople are 200% stronger at emphasizing listening over talking. But OMG's difference is 375% larger than Sales Insights Labs. What could account for that difference?
The 200% represents the skill gap between top and bottom salespeople but skill alone does not translate into action. Salespeople must also have strong Sales DNA. There are two Sales DNA competencies that are required here. The sales competency that supports listening is "Stays in the Moment." Salespeople must be present - right here and right now - in order to effectively listen and determine what the next question should be. The competency that supports asking questions is "Doesn't Need to be Liked." Salespeople who do need to be liked are afraid to ask questions, push back or challenge conventional thinking because they worry their prospects will become upset. When we integrate those two competencies into the mix - salespeople who have both the skill and strengths to support the skill, the modified finding is that top salespeople are 52% stronger, which is within 2 points of the finding from Sales Insights Lab.
Their second insight is that the discovery calls of top performers are 76% longer and sales presentations are 55% longer than everyone else. The Consultative Seller is an OMG sales core competency that measures capabilities in the Discovery Call. Top Salespeople are 300% stronger at the Consultative Seller competency than bottom salespeople. There are two attributes in the competency which would suggest a better quality conversation that would last longer. They are "asks enough questions" and "asks great questions". Salespeople who ask enough questions and ask great questions are 54% more effective than salespeople who don't. Sales Insights Lab measures the number of questions that are asked and not surprisingly, top performers ask and get asked 30%-43% more questions than everyone else.
The infographic also included an insight about words per minute. Sales Insights Lab and OMG data agree that top salespeople speak more slowly than everyone else but there is a difference with regards to how much more slowly. Sales Insights Lab found top salespeople speaking at a rate of around 170 words per minute - 10 words/minute slower than everyone else. OMG's data shows top salespeople speaking at closer to 120 words per minute - much slower than everyone else. Sales Insights Lab also has data on Pace, where top salespeople get their prospects to speak more slowly than prospects for other salespeople.
So what does all of this powerful data mean?
Salespeople who take a consultative approach, and take the time to ask lots of good, tough, timely questions, have the difficult conversation that others won't have, and uncover compelling reasons to buy from them, accomplish several things that other salespeople don't accomplish. They:
- More effectively differentiate themselves from other salespeople
- Create urgency - the key to shortening the sales cycle and getting prospects to take action
- Make it easier to fully qualify their prospects because prospects will self-qualify to move things along
- Get their prospects to respect their expertise
- Engage Decision Makers in the Conversation which differentiates and shortens the sales cycle
- Sell the value of them - they become the value.
Evaluate your sales team and then train and coach your salespeople to slow down, stop presenting and start selling like top performers. You will significantly increase revenue.
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