Ultimate Comparison of Top Salespeople versus Salespeople That Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 07, 2009 @ 21:12 PM

If you've been following this Blog you know I sometimes refer to the elite 5% of salespeople, the next 20% and the bottom 74%.  After reading Super Freakonomics I was moved to take a new look at our data on the more than 400,000 salespeople we have assessed.  Behavioral scientists would look at our data on the top 5% and report on some common findings.  It might look like this: 

Top Salespeople have the following common characteristics:

They enjoy selling

They prospect consistently

They have a strong Outlook

Of course, there are many more but, the problem I always have with these studies is that they don't look at the characteristics of the salespeople who are failing.  Would you be surprised to know that the bottom 5% have these characteristics too?  Well, they do.  A more interesting comparison would be to look at the characteristics where the biggest differences are:

 Top 5%

 Trait

 Bottom 5%

 99.5%

 Trainable and Coachable

 0%

 100%

 Strong Desire for Sales Success

 0%

 95%

 Strong Commitment to Sales Success

 33%

 94%

 No Excuse Making

 20%

 78%

 Don't Need Approval from Prospects

 6%

 59%

 Don't Get Emotional

 10%

 98%

 Comfortable Talking Personal Finances

 2%

 79%

 Supportive Sales Beliefs

 0%

 76%

 Supportive Buying Habits

 8%

 74 pts.

 Average Severity of 5 Biggest Weaknesses

 251 pts.

 95%

 Rejection Proof

 18%

 100%

 Have Personal Written Goals

 16%

 95%

 High Money Tolerance (choking point)

 35%

 88%

 Make Decisions to Buy without Thinking it Over

 18%

 77%

 % of the Attributes of a Hunter

 31%

 45%

 % of the Attributes of a Closer

 8%

 59%

 % of the Attributes of a Qualifier

 11%

Wow, right?

And you wonder why I make such a big deal out of the difference between personality and behavioral styles assessments as compared with our assessments.  You don't have to look much further than the impact of getting Desire wrong.  If the personality and behavioral styles assessments can't measure Desire for Success in Sales, they can't report on it.  They measure Drive (all the successful people in your company have it but they don't all belong in sales) but market it as a sales finding.

There is a huge difference between the top and bottom performers but any individual finding is meaningless unless it is considered as part of the whole, and in the context of what the salesperson will be selling, who they'll be selling it to, the anticipated resistance, and the expected competition.

Despite the huge gap between the top and bottom groups, even the top group of salespeople falter in these areas:

only 50% are Motivated to earn more money - but that's because most of them have made so much already!

only 29% of them have a sales process they follow - that just reinforces what I've been writing about lately.  The lack of formal sales processes in companies is just astounding!

as you saw from the data above, they only average 45% of the attributes of the closer skill set.  That just places more importance on the earlier stages of the sales process and reinforces what I so often say.  If you slow down between 1st and 2nd base, the sales process will accelerate and closing will take care of itself.

only 34% of them are effective getting high enough in the company.  They aren't a whole lot better in this area than their weak counterparts who get to top decision makers a whopping 20% of the time.

only 43% of them are consistently uncovering the real budget so you know they are wasting some time as a result of that.

here's a shocker - despite the fact that 90% of them prospect consistently (although we don't define what consistent is), only 55% of them have the desire to do it, so they force themselves.  The bottom 5%?  10% more, or 65% have the desire to prospect consistently, but 8% fewer, or 82% actually prospect consistently.

Now that you've seen the data comparing the top and bottom salespeople in the world, what jumps out at you?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, comparison of top salespeople, sales study, sales effectiveness study, sales analysis, sales effectiveness

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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. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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