Jim Peduto Headshot

There seems to be a lot of confusion about revenue and sales effectiveness. When we ask clients to talk about their best salespeople, they often highlight those with the biggest business books. 

Managing the biggest and/or best accounts, the most lucrative territory, or having decades of tenure in the industry does not make a salesperson exceptional. At best, they might be a successful account manager. Exceptional salespeople consistently create opportunities and successfully reach decision makers by employing a sales process to differentiate themselves by selling consultatively in a way that adds value. 

Since we know that half of all salespeople are ineffective and weak, I dove into the data from the more than 2 million salespeople that Objective Management Group assessed to determine why. What follows helps identify where most salespeople struggle and why most CEOs are frustrated with sales performance.  

1. Lack of Grit: Selling is harder now than it has ever been. Salespeople have the “grit” to be in sales; however, only 55 percent of all salespeople have sufficient “grit” to succeed in sales.  

2. Weak Sales DNA: Sales DNA is a combination of strengths that supports the execution of the sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics. Only one in five have what is necessary to succeed in their selling roles. The other 80 percent are being held back by weak sales DNA. 

3. Meager Pipelines: Pipelines are thin and fall short of target because only 41 percent have hunting as a strength and only one in three prospects consistently. Even the most talented salespeople will fall short if their pipeline does not support their sales goals.  

4. Poor Sales Skills: 

  • Relationship Building: Most sellers pride themselves on their ability to build relationships quickly, yet only 43 percent have relationship building as a strength, and only 29 percent can leverage their relationships to win business. 
  • Reaching Decision-Makers: Just 28 percent reach decision makers, with only 11 percent getting the final decision makers. It’s even worse for new salespeople= — only a measly 1 percent of new salespeople reach decision makers. 
  • Sales Process: One in three follow an effective sales process, so most salespeople are winging it while believing they are terrific. 
  • Consultative Selling: Everyone knows how important it is to be consultative, but only 11 percent have consultative selling as a strength, and a lowly 7 percent get past “nice to have.” 
  • Selling Value: Successfully competing against the lower-priced competition without giving up on your price is essential to maximizing margin. Unfortunately, only 31 percent can sell value versus selling on price.  

Driving sales begins by determining each salesperson’s effectiveness and knowing: 

1. How much better can each salesperson become?  

2. What will it take to get them there, and how long will it take?  

3. Is your pipeline predictive?  

4. Which salespeople can be trained or coached up to reach their potential?  

5. Are your salespeople capable of selling the way you need them to sell?  

That’s why evaluating your sales force (your people, in the context of your sales systems, processes and strategies) is the most powerful and cost-effective thing you can do.  

Jim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of Knowledgeworx, LLC. Owners and CEOs rely on Jim's strategic thinking and transformational growth expertise to win market share and achieve performance gains.