Very Alarmed Over the Latest Data on Sales Forces

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 @ 05:09 AM

Almost two weeks ago I weighed 188 pounds, gained 5 pounds over the 4-day Labor Day weekend and last Tuesday was up to 193.  I ate well, lost 3 pounds over the next 3 days, went into the following weekend at 190, gained 5 pounds again and was at 195 at the beginning of this week.  In other words, the good eating I manage during the week is all for nothing as my bad eating over the weekends cancels it out.

I reviewed some of the latest statistics from Objective Management Group (OMG) and it's safe to say that all of the great work that some of us in the sales development world are doing is also for nothing.  We have been attempting to bring the selling profession to the next level, getting companies and their salespeople to take a more consultative approach and training and coaching them to do it more effectively.  And while we are successful with the clients we work with, recent statistics show that the overall sales population has not achieved any measurable progress.  You just won't believe some of these statistics...

Among many other findings, OMG measures salespeople in 9 primary selling competencies and 21 Sales Core Competencies in all.  Although we began measuring a few of these competencies fairly recently, we have been measuring most of the others for decades.  Here are some:

  • Hunter
  • Consultative Seller
  • Qualifier
  • Closer
  • Account Manager
  • Farmer

In 2011, salespeople had an average of 71% of the attributes of the Hunter Competency and in 2015 it has soared to 73%.  

The Qualifier Competency has not changed at all during this time - still averaging around 55% of the attributes.  

We have seen a tremendous increase in the Closer Competency as scores have increased from 29% to  30% over five years.  

We have seen the average scores for the Account Manager Competency drop from 54% to 52% over the same time span.

We observed a similar drop in the Farmer Competency as scores went from an average of 34% to its current average of 32%.

But the real news is in the average score for the Consultative Seller Competency.  After all, that is where the primary focus of any and all sales training and coaching should be.  This is the Competency required for effective Value Selling.  That is the Competency required for leverage in order to easily and effectively Qualify.  And this is the Competency required to differentiate in the field, where all differentiation takes place.  Are you ready for this?  After years of Blogs, newsletters, speaking, videos, audios, books and training, salespeople have gone all the way from an average of 47% to 48% of the attributes of a Consultative Seller!

It has all been for nothing.

Don't take this the wrong way. Clients, whose salespeople are expertly trained and coached, see a spectacular rise that translates into increased win rates, shorter sales cycles and larger average orders.  However, the sales population as a whole have not budged.  We looked at data from nearly 350,000 salespeople so the sample size wasn't small.  The salespeople and related data were from more than 200 different industries so no one industry could have skewed the results. Half of the data comes from existing salespeople that were employed at companies that underwent sales force evaluations, while the other half came from sales candidates applying for sales positions.  Most of the candidates were experienced salespeople so that couldn't skew the data either.  We constantly update the competencies and related attributes as selling requirements change so we aren't measuring outdated competencies. Facts are facts and these facts are clear.  When companies fail to hire competent sales training firms that can effectively teach modern sales process, strategies and tactics, sales leaders on their own generally fail to bring their salespeople to the next level.

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About Dave

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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