Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.
Is it better to have a small niche of raving fans or a large group of people who have mixed feelings about you, your products and services, and your company? Let’s try to answer this question by taking a quick peek at the presidential primary season, and then determine if the same things hold true in sales.
Marco Rubio withdrew from the campaign on March 15, 2016. He had a small group of raving fans – his supporters – but they weren’t enough to help him win – even in his own state.
Almost as many people hate Donald Trump as those who love him and stand by him regardless of what he says – and no matter what the haters say about him. He is living proof that you don’t need to be all things to all people, as long as enough people like what you stand for.
We saw the exact same conditions play out on the Democratic side of the ticket, where Bernie Sanders had some very loyal followers, but not enough to win big. Hillary Clinton has lots of haters, too, but enough people liked her and supported her to help her continue to win.
Do the same rules of engagement hold true in business? I have two relatively small businesses. Kurlan & Associates is a Selling Power Top 20 sales and sales management training and consulting firm, and Objective Management Group has been named the Top Sales Assessment Tool for five consecutive years. They are both good, profitable, successful companies, but under $10 million.
If I had been attempting to scale these companies to $100 million, I would have failed. But that was never the goal, is not the mission, and is not anything I care about doing. At the same time, when an enterprise-sized public company fails to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations for the year, it loses value – despite their huge size and profits.
These contradictory examples of cause and effect become important to every seller representing underdogs. Who are the underdogs? If you sell for any of the following 11 types of companies, you are an underdog:
- New company
- New product
- New technology
- Expensive to buy
- Higher priced than your competition
- Complex sale
- Long sales cycle
- Not the safe and easy decision
- Not the most well-known brand
- Not the low-price leader
- Have a story to tell
If you are an underdog, you must be a better salesperson. You must be better at selling consultatively, selling value, building relationships, differentiating, messaging, positioning, qualifying, and closing. You must be a better presenter, write better proposals, and have better conversations. The leading brands, low-price leaders, and safe-to-buy companies have it easy: show up, make nice, take orders. To beat those guys, you must be better at everything!
Assuming you are indeed an underdog, what can you do to become a salesperson who is that good?
According to evaluations and assessments of more than 1 million salespeople (conducted by Objective Management Group) elite salespeople – those who are that good – make up only 7 percent of the entire sales population. There is another group of about 16 percent that are very strong – almost that good – who also have the ability to outsell the big boys. But 77 percent of all salespeople are simply not strong enough to get the job done – and that job is becoming more and more difficult every day.
What will you do?