Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan’s Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. You can find Dave’s blog articles here.

  • My Simple COVID Relief Plan Actually Provides Relief
    by Dave Kurlan on March 2, 2021 at 12:44 am

    While today's article has nothing to do with selling, it is indirectly related because some of the businesses that were hurt by the pandemic and the government's shut downs have sales organizations. In the US, as the COVID relief bill passed the House of Representatives we learned that only 9% of the $1.9 trillion in the plan goes to actual COVID relief.  The 9% includes $1,400 for individuals earning less than $75,000 and a several hundred billion dollars for small business relief although it's unclear how the small business money will directly help the specific small businesses that were hurt.  It seems clear that this is another bill that isn't going to do what was needed but it is sure to increase taxes.  In response I present my simple plan and how it will help everyone involved.

  • How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing
    by Dave Kurlan on February 26, 2021 at 11:30 am

    It's short article Friday.  Less is more. My Twitter feed had the funniest 1-minute baseball video I have ever seen.  It was pitcher fielding practice (PFP) and the coach was miked up. It illustrated just how bad most professional major league pitchers are at fielding their position and how a coach can keep it light - even make it funny - when the pitchers are struggling so badly. Watch the video here.  It's only 1-minute and you don't have to like or even understand baseball to enjoy this.  Even cricket fans from across the pond, soccer enthusiasts from around the world and hockey nuts from up north of the border will understand and love this video. When professional salespeople are asked to role-play the salesperson's part of a sales conversation they sound every bit as awful as these pitchers look when attempting to field their position.  Role-playing is the sales equivalent of fielding practice in baseball. 

  • How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching
    by Dave Kurlan on February 19, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    When it rains it pours, especially when it's coming down in buckets!

  • How Overthinking the Turnover Problem Impacts Hiring Salespeople
    by Dave Kurlan on February 12, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    When I was growing up in the hilly areas of central Massachusetts, snowstorms meant that unless cars had chains or studs on their snow tires, cars would not get enough traction to drive up a slippery hill. You could get out of the car and walk up the hill and after abandoning their cars, many people actually did that. When executives running tire and auto manufacturers grew tired of people complaining about this, they finally came up with the perfect solution.  They reasoned that since people wearing snow shoes could walk up snowy hills, they would make cars that utilized auxiliary snow shoes to augment traditional tires for snowy hills.    The story about the snow shoes didn't really happen but automakers did invent front wheel drive and finally all-wheel drive while tire manufacturers developed all weather radials.  Together, those two solutions eventually solved the problem of slippery, snowy hills. What my snow shoe story points out is just how easy it is for people to go way off the rails in coming up with stupid solutions to common problems when perfectly good solutions already exist. This week I experienced a scenario with a large company whose executives thought they had it all figured out and were looking for solutions that were so poorly thought out that it was hard for me to keep a straight face.  Curious?

  • The Baseball Experience That Continues to Generate a 28% Increases in Sales
    by Dave Kurlan on February 10, 2021 at 12:22 am

    32 years ago, back in the winter of 1989, I experienced one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  I attended Red Sox Fantasy Camp where campers like me, all greater than 30 years old and most a LOT older than that, were treated to an incredible baseball experience. The way we were treated, what we experienced, the uniforms we wore, the schedules we kept, the baseball games we played, the coaching, the practicing, the work, the game against the former Red Sox players, and the off hours camaraderie were all supposed to mirror the life of a professional ballplayer.  The fact that we were not professional baseball players, and some weren't baseball players at all, made it even more enjoyable. Relationships were forged, unforgettable memories were made, and the week was a source for endless, hilarious stories!  And this was fifteen years before I wrote the best-selling book Baseline Selling! My regular readers are probably thinking, "Huh - a baseball post about Dave instead of Dave's son!" I brought up the Fantasy Camp experience because it's not all that different from what participants experience when they attend my Sales Leadership Intensive (SLI).  For example, last week I led a private SLI for a company with around a dozen sales leaders.  In their follow-up comments they used words like, "enjoyable," "challenging," "informative," "great sessions," "looking forward to more," "enjoyed tremendously," "lot to absorb," "great content," "good investment," "great examples," "great techniques to adopt," and "very valuable."  Those comments were extracted from their very first sentences and they all had trouble limiting their takeaways to just the ten I requested. The enthusiasm for the training was not unusual because I used my own Fantasy Camp experience as the model for content creation.  I wondered, "Why can't sales and sales leadership training be just as enjoyable, stimulating, challenging and memorable as my camp experience was?"

  • Good Bob, Bad Bob, The Stockdale Paradox, and Sales Success
    by Dave Kurlan on February 2, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    I read that Admiral James Stockdale, a Vietnam War veteran and former POW at the Hanoi Hilton, said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” His combination of faith and brutal reality was the difference between surviving long enough to be released from captivity, and being one of those unfortunate souls who died in captivity.  In Jim Collins' best-selling business book, Good to Great, he refers to that quote as the Stockdale Paradox.   It's also consistent with what Jack Reacher, the lead character in the Lee Child series by the same name, would say.  In 2015, I wrote this article about Jack Reacher and I have always taught that "you must be eternally optimistic about your outcomes but completely skeptical about everything you hear along the way." Why is that important?

  • Two Selling Strategies That are More Effective Than Facts and Figures
    by Dave Kurlan on January 29, 2021 at 3:24 am

    I hope this is one of my more entertaining articles, although most of the enjoyment will come from the links within. Each year around this time I start thinking about Baseball because I miss it so much.  Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron just passed away becoming the 9th baseball HOFer to pass in the last 12 months.  Today there were multiple videos showing wild triple plays in my Twitter feed. I've been a lifelong Red Sox fan, but I miss the Red Sox a lot less than I miss watching my son play baseball.  He's at college now, where as of today, baseball is on hold - again - still - because of COVID-19. In 2005 I took my passion for sales development and my passion for baseball and married them together to write the best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  Today, fifteen years later, that book is still #16 on Amazon.  In addition to the corporate training that Kurlan & Associates provides, there are also 3 self-directed Baseline Selling online courses. I thought I was pretty unique when it came to combining selling and baseball but I was wrong.  Meet Tom Schaff, the Sales Commissioner of Major League Sales.  While his company name and his title were both modeled after baseball, you haven't heard anything yet.  Tom is the owner of the largest baseball bobblehead collection in the world!  Check out this article. So why should any of this be important to you?  Because I'm going to share two secrets of my success.

  • Data - Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople (The Bob Chronicles - Part 3)
    by Dave Kurlan on January 26, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Just before dark each day a Fox visits our property and drives our dog, Dinger, crazy.  If you don't know Dinger, you can learn about his listening skills in this article. Last week, the Fox stole Dinger's green ball, brought it home to his own family, and that really pissed off Dinger!  My wife and I have both scared the Fox away but he's a creature of habit and he continues to appear at the same time each day. Speaking of creatures of habit, there's Bob, and he's up to his old tricks.  If you don't know who Bob is, you can learn about his sales misadventures in this article on not properly selling a trial, and this article about not selling value.  Both articles are of the must-read variety. So what did Bob do to piss me off this week? 

  • Why Sales Transformation Achieves Better Results Than Sales Training Alone
    by Dave Kurlan on January 22, 2021 at 12:29 am

    You finally have that big new 4K flat screen mounted on your wall but now the movie you are streaming isn't sharp because your inconsistent internet connection negatively affects the resolution and the big screen makes it even more obvious. Bringing it closer to sales, you invested in the CRM application you needed but your salespeople aren't using it the way you had hoped. As a result, you don't have realtime data to populate your dashboard and still don't know what's really going on with your sales organization, their pipeline and the forecast. You brought in sales training but it didn't achieve the expected change because the training didn't address the bigger problems that went beyond selling skills.  You may not have realized that companies really need sales transformation and while sales training can be part of that transformation, on its own, it usually underperforms. Why?

  • New Movie Has 3 Great Lessons for Salespeople and Sales Managers
    by Dave Kurlan on January 18, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Among all the product shortages we have experienced in the past ten months, there has been no shortage of crappy movies.  It's almost like the movie studios decided to release all the movies filmed in the past several years that weren't ready for prime time and hope that people would stream them at home during the pandemic because we had watched everything else. One exception to the crappiness of 2020 movies is The Trial of the Chicago 7.  This article is not a review of the movie but it was a terrific film and worth the time to watch it.  As good as this movie is, it comes with a bonus because it also provides three exceptional lessons for salespeople and sales managers.  Let's take a look!