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The 80/20 rule applies to much in business. Does 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your sales force?

Yes. Absolutely.

Maybe. It is definitely disproportionate.

No. We have a fairly balanced sales team.

No idea. Good question!

Maximize Sales Performance through ‘Predictive Selling’: How to integrate the art of selling with the science of human behavior to close more sales  

By Stephen D’Angelo, Co-Founder & CEO, Spring Lake Technologies

Question: What do ‘A’ sales professionals do that the ‘B’ and ‘C’ players don’t?
Think about this question... Sales gurus, managers and trainers have been thinking and preaching the topic for eons. Before I give you the answer my research provides, here is what the sales leaders/C-level executives I speak with say most often.

I’m told over and over by the ‘sales community’ that they have plenty of process, methodologies, training options and account planning tools. Yet, according to CSO Insights, nearly 60% of all reps fail to achieve their goals. Furthermore, over 90% of these sales organizations have the same bell shaped performance curve – with the bulk of the sales organization representing ‘B’ players. In spite of all the technology available to sales leaders, organizations look essentially the same with mediocre results?

When we think of successful selling, we can’t deny that there are critical, minimum requirements for success: an effective methodology, process, performance-based training, SFA tools, product/solution knowledge, effective account strategy, motivation, desire, will to win and other success related behaviors. But after 25 years of analyzing the conundrums around sales performance, Spring Lake Technologies (SLT) see there is something looming much larger as to why an ‘A’ player achieves more success than his/her counterparts.

We have identified that ‘A’ players have the unique ability to read a situation and then shift and adjust their style, behavior and approach from situation to situation and circumstance to circumstance. They are exceptional at reading, analyzing and then persuading each prospect. In other words, peak performers conduct a series of successful interactions (effective sales calls) much more often than ‘B’ and 'C’ players. Inevitably, these successful interactions lead to high performance levels quarter after quarter.

Sometimes, these expert ‘readers’ are weaker than the other sales professionals when it comes to product knowledge, process, methodology, etc. It’s fascinating as these sales stars make it look so easy even though they may not have all the company rituals in place.

I am by no means advocating the rebel sales style. When I ran sales organizations domestically and globally, rogue sales professionals were a constant challenge. But I was amazed at the Peak Performer’s ability to ‘bob and weave’ with a prospect better than their lesser performing counterparts. They know when to love a prospect and when to fight with one, when you hold back product details and when to overload the prospect, when to use references and when not to, when to shut up and when to talk, when to place others in the spotlight and when show brilliance. It was almost like they were able to read the mind of the prospect. But not for what the prospect wanted, but more importantly for what the prospect NEEDED to make a decision. They reminded me of expert psychologists as these sales professionals often knew their prospect better than they knew themselves.

Here is the reality. The ‘B’ and ‘C’ players THINK they are as good at reading and adjusting to the prospect. When the ‘B’ and ‘C’ players lose, they often think it was product, price, the company, or some other ‘not me’ reason. The truth is, they usually lose because they were OUT SOLD by another sales professional who adjusted to the prospect better and faster. The competing sales professional did a better job reading and adjusting to what the prospect NEEDED to make a decision.

Most organizations overload the Sales Team with product specs, positioning statements, training, methodologies, collateral, reference guides, case studies, new products, promotions, etc. It’s no wonder so many of them lose sight of the most important part of selling...the successful interaction. They have so much to think about with each prospect that they miss the critical nuances of the sales call…the behavior of the prospect and what it reveals.

What if there was a way to help the ‘non-As’ achieve peak performance results more often? A way to get them to read and react to prospects more like the star sales professionals do? What if we could get the lower performers to identify important behavioral tendencies that reveal how this prospect NEEDS to be sold? What if we could help your sales organization predict how the prospect processes information, prefers presentations, wants to collaborate, how they will object, negotiate and make decisions?

Imagine the results if we layer in the salesperson’s natural and automatic selling tendencies with the prospect’s buying tendencies to identify where they will be in positive alignment and where the sales person’s natural approach will sabotage the sale. If we can do this, then we can predict where the sale will most likely go south and more importantly, prevent misalignment from occurring. Once you have the ability to predict these outcomes, your Sales Team will incrementally win more business.

Concluding Thoughts
The profession of selling is very competitive. The performance trends are alarming and top line results are in jeopardy. To survive and prosper, leaders need to get the ‘B’ and ‘C’ players to perform more effectively. Running a high-performing sales organization is very challenging. Now there exists next generation technology for sales professionals to greatly improve their performance.

By using predictive technology and applied behavioral sciences you can finally help your entire sales team sell more effectively and make your job easier. You can predict specifically where a sales campaign can go sour and now can proactively to prevent it from happening in advance.

Stephen D’Angelo is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spring Lake Technologies a provider of next generation solutions that predict human behavior. He is responsible for driving growth and strategic direction of the company. Prior to co-founding Spring Lake Technologies in 2004, Stephen was President and CEO of Arasys Technologies that provided content management and distribution solutions for sales and marketing. He was also President of the Americas for Industri-Matematik International (IMI) a leader in supply chain management software, where he increased revenues five fold and decreased operating costs by more than 30%. Stephen has served as Executive Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Celarix as well as Vice President of Global Sales of Optum Software. He is also President of the board of trustees for Garden Academy, a private school for children with autism. For article feedback, contact Stephen at sdangelo@springlaketech.com

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