Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, the best-selling author of Baseline Selling, and a leading expert on Sales Force Development.
He is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He possesses more than 30 years of experience in all facets of sales development including sales and sales management training, consulting, infrastructure, leadership, recruiting and coaching.
Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball, will dramatically change the way we approach the sales process, replacing the gratuitous complexity advocated by today's sales "experts" with an elegant and very effective simplicity.
Studies have shown that the selling techniques of the last two decades have had very little impact on most of the sales population-less than 75 percent of all salespeople, to be exact. Why? Because of the complexity, learning curve and difficulty in applying the concepts in these systems.
In response to the urgent need for a flexible, innovative process that will enable people to grasp the essential skills necessary to close a sale in any situation, Baseline Selling reemphasizes the fundamentals of selling in a fresh, memorable way that modern sales professionals can relate to and utilize, and above all, one that complements and enriches advanced sales methodologies.
Salespeople who read this book and put its wisdom to work will succeed at acquiring more opportunities as they learn to get appointments more easily. They will excel at creating opportunities with prospects who are "not interested". They'll sell at higher margins by using the "Rule of Ratios". Their closing percentages will improve dramatically as they implement the simple Inoffensive Close". Salespeople selling commodities, struggling to differentiate themselves, will love "Commodity Busters" and every salesperson will be able to shorten their sell cycle by "Taking a Lead". Quite simply, Baseline Selling introduces a way for salespeople to visualize and touch all the "sales bases" without over-complicating the process.
Welcome David, we're excited to have the opportunity to interview you for our IMPACT Blog. I've just read your book, Baseline Selling, and I was truly inspired. The audience of our blog comprises of small business owners either looking to grow their business or are frustrated that their companies are not growing as fast as they would like. Since we are a marketing agency, and marketing and sales go hand in hand, I thought that sharing your knowledge with our readers would be very beneficial, and I'm thrilled you were able to take the time for this interview.
Bob Ruffolo: If nothing else, what would you want to be the biggest take-away from your Baseline Selling and why?
David Kurlan: Seat of the pants selling doesn’t work at all and complicated systems and processes that people can’t remember and can’t follow just aren’t necessary. Instead, you can have tremendous, consistent success by using a simple but powerful, time tested and proven process.
BR: Of all of the bases, or steps in the sales process, which one do you find to be the most challenging for Baseline Selling adopters? How do you recommend they overcome that challenge?
DK: Getting to 2nd base is the most difficult because it involves having a question-based conversation where salespeople must ask lots of good, tough, timely questions to differentiate themselves and uncover a prospect’s compelling reasons to spend money with them. The only way to overcome the challenge is to practice and perform – every day – over and over – until it is mastered.
BR: Can you share a story about a company that has read your book and applied your methodology?
DK: Probably not! The companies that read the book and apply the methodology on their own don’t contact us so we don’t know who they are! On the other hand, the companies that ask us to help them – we know all about them! One technology company, with flat sales of around $24M, had us help them optimize their sales process, develop a Visual Pipeline, replace their sales management team, upgrade their sales team and introduce Baseline Selling. In about one year, they doubled revenue and that was enough for them to be acquired by one of the giants in the technology industry.
BR: If you had once last chance to revise the book before going to print, what would be the one thing you would add or change?
DK: It’s been six years since Baseline Selling was printed and much has changed in six years. There are two things I would change. First, I would add an entire chapter to the section on Getting to 1st Base. This would include instructions on how to use all of the powerful Sales 2.0 type tools that are available to help salespeople get found and get connected with people who are increasingly difficult to reach. Second, I would point out how since the economic crash, business isn’t conducted quite the same way, and salespeople are being invited to meet with buyers much later in the sales process than they used to be. The impact of that is that salespeople are encouraged to present and propose and they end up chasing the business. Instead, salespeople must recognize where they are in the process when that occurs and make a conscious effort to back-up, go back to first base, and then work the part of the process that prospects are encouraging them to skip.
BR: You have recently been named a finalist in the Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader. What does it mean to you to be recognized for such an honor?
DK: It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as legends like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Jeffrey Gitomer. These men are as recognizable in the sales & marketing space as all-star athletes are in their respective sports.
BR: You also offer consultation services and a training course. How should one go about contacting you for your services?
DK: Email is always best – dkurlan (at) kurlanassociates.com
BR: Entering 2012 with the economy being what it is, what is once piece of advice you can share with sales professionals to overcome a down market?
DK: Target, target, target. Know your sweet spot, those who need, appreciate, and will spend money to have what you provide and strategically approach those opportunities by using the selling skills required to execute the sales process.
BR: Should we expect a revision to Baseline Selling anytime soon? Or can we expect a book about about Account Management in the near future?
DK: I’m thinking about a revision to Baseline Selling but most of the writing I do these days is on my Blog (Dave's Blog: Understanding the Sales Force) where there are more than 800 powerful articles about sales, sales management, the sales force and sales thought leadership.
BR: One last question. Being that you are a huge Red Sox fan and I am huge Yankees fan, tell me - What is you favorite Red Sox vs. Yankees moment?
DK: The brawl of 1973.
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