Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Dave Kurlan. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Dave is the CEO of Kurlan Associates and the Founder of the Objective Management Group. OMG is the original sales assessment company – the one, as Dave is fond of saying, that everyone else tries to copy. The OMG assessment instrument was developed by Dave and has been taken by over half a million salespeople and used by more than 8500 companies.
Pretty amazing stuff! But what’s the “back story” and how did Dave grow his business to be such a success? A lot of hard work combined with a passion for what he does and the discipline to “do whatever it takes” is what he told me in a recent conversation.
And, as Jim Collins says, it all starts with asking the right questions…
“I had a lot of questions when I first started working with sales people back in 1985,” he shared in a phone call. “Should these people [with whom I was working] even be in sales? What were the specific issues that were holding them back? Would I even beable to train them? Were they capable?”
These and a number of other questions plagued Dave for several years until one Thanksgiving morning he woke up with a great insight and idea about how to evaluate sales people and assess the sales force in a scientific and measureable way. That “aha” moment led to Dave creating OMG and developing a tool and products and a network of partners that for over 20 years has been helping companies to maximize their sales performance and grow their businesses.
Some of Dave’s key challenges along the way?
· Having to wear all of the hats in the early days, including using BASIC to develop the software in the early 90’s (for those of you who remember that language )
· Getting the word out about the product – “We were paving new ground,” Dave says. “Through ’93 most of my ‘evangelizing’ fell on deaf ears.”
· Figuring out who to partner with and how – “I couldn’t use people like me – other salespeople…Instead, I had to find people who saw the same value in the information. ‘Oh – I need to have that…’ was the clue.”
Even though OMG officially got off the ground in 1989 it took almost six years for it to generate “real” revenues and profit. But since then Dave’s had solid growth and he’s been able to reach out to many more partners and develop new products as well as improve the original.
So what are the three Critical Lessons that Dave’s learned over the past two decades?
1) Believe in your cause…”with undying, unyielding Faith”…because there will be times where you will question what you’re doing and even yourself…
2) Do whatever it takes to make it happen…getting a dream off the ground is a lot of work…which leads to Dave’s third lesson…
3) You need to be extremely disciplined and consistent – not just when there’s time or when you’re comfortable. “Creating a business is an all out assault” and you have to do the work – day in and day out.
“[Too many people] have a ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality about their product or service”, says Dave. “And that’s a Blue Moon. It’s not enough to build something that’s great, you have to promote it and refine it and beat the drum.”
And that’s what Dave’s been doing….for over twenty years now since the first hint of “inspiration” hit him on Thanksgiving Day….
Here’s hoping that all of you have a wonderful and inspirational holiday season as well!
And in the “spirit” of taking a disciplined approach to your business, take some time to get Yourself – and your Team – ready for 2012 and sign up for our December 8th Four Decisions Rockefeller Habits Executive Workshop! Click here for more info orhere to sign up!