Dave Kurlan is a sales performance expert, best-selling author, award-winning blogger, top-rated keynote speaker and columnist at Top Sales Magazine. He is the Founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, a management consulting company and Kurlan & Associates, a leading sales leadership development and training firm. He is the author of STAR – OMG’s Proprietary process for identifying, attracting, interviewing, selecting, and retaining top salespeople and the best-selling book Baseline Selling.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Worcester Massachusetts and had a fairly ordinary upper-middle-class childhood. One experience that influenced me happened when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was to receive a go-kart as a gift and my best friend and I prepared a track in the woods behind our homes. After driving the go-kart on the track in the woods, his father followed me home, entered our house, grabbed me from my bedroom, dragged me out of the house, into our backyard, and threw me over the drop down into the woods where my head landed between two huge boulders. He was upset that we “disturbed” the leaves in the woods and insisted that I put every leaf back in its original place. I felt betrayed by my best friend and never spoke to him again. Although I shouldn’t have, I blamed him and never allowed anyone to get really close to me after that experience. As a result, I’m not much of a relationship builder, have only a few friends, and while I am very likable, I tend to be a loner.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

That it doesn’t matter what people think of you.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Much of what is being spread in the sales development space is bad advice, from people with little experience outside of their own industry, and with a very limited sense of what good really looks like. The worst of the advice centers around cold-calling being dead, and the importance of relying on marketing instead of cold-calling. Salespeople still need to prospect for new business and sitting back and hoping that marketing will create new meetings is not productive. The proof is in the small, unqualified pipelines that most salespeople have.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I was around 18 years old, a freshman in college, and suffering from depression. I needed a job and took a job in sales. The focus on learning something new, competing for recognition, and succeeding in a field that everyone said I would fail at helped me overcome the depression and discover a field in which I would eventually become a global sales expert.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

My ability to dig into the data we collect to uncover the differences between those who succeed in sales and those who don’t.

What is your morning routine?

Wake up around 6, watch a little news, make some coffee, respond to emails that came in overnight, review my calendar for the day, make sure I have everything I need for the day, shower, dress, and lead the daily huddles with my two leadership teams at 8 and 8:30.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I pray each night and that reinforces what I want for myself and my family, grounds me, and brings me closer to God.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

  • Organize with color-coded calendar appointments including scheduling time for the work that must be done in a calendar app that syncs across devices.
  • Use a multi-layered to-do list that syncs across devices
  • Organize email with folders so that every email to be saved has a folder it belongs to
  • Focus and don’t allow distractions
  • Commit to the plan for the day
  • Be Disciplined about following the plan
  • It’s OK to say no if it’s not part of your plan
  • Prioritize
  • Schedule times to return calls and respond to emails
  • Plan tomorrow’s day

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman is the single book that had the most influence on me because it changed me as a person. I read it back in 1988 and more than any other book it helped me to overcome the weaknesses that were preventing me from achieving the kind of success I wanted for myself.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“And this too shall pass.”
“It is what it is.”
“Be eternally optimistic about your outcomes but highly skeptical of what people tell you along the way.”
“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”
“The only difference between successful people and everyone else is that the successful people do the things they don’t want to do”