Only 53% of sales people make quota

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I’m typically on the optimistic side, but this is a case where the glass really is half empty, particularly when you think about how quota is often just enough to make it worth having that salesperson.

Imagine what would happen if we could fill up the glass!

A group of researchers at the Gartner Group tackled exactly that question by evaluating the characteristics and behaviors of 6,000 salespeople at 90 companies. They ended up profiling salespeople into five groups that capture how they interact with prospects and clients. As you read, pick out which one you think is the most successful:

  • The Hard Worker doesn’t give up easily, is self-motivated, and interested in feedback and personal development.
  • The Lone Wolf follows their instincts, is self-assured, and often delivers results, but is tough to manage.
  • The Relationship Builder is the classic consultative rep, builds advocates internally, and – obviously – creates relationships with prospects.
  • The Challenger has a different view of the world, loves to debate, and pushes prospects by having a strong understanding of their business.
  • The Problem Solver is detail oriented, reliable, and, of course, ensures all problems are solved.

The research was exhaustive, but the reason I really trust it is because it didn’t come to the conclusion they were expecting. Nor what I would expect: like most CEOs and VPs of Sales, I assumed that the Relationship Builder would be the most successful rep.

Turns out that Relationship Builders are actually the worst performing of all five types (“Surprise, Surprise, Surprise,” to quote that 1960s American philosopher, Gomer Pyle). It is sales reps who primarily use a Challenger style that represents more than 50% of high performers, while Relationship Builders are only 7%.

The Challenger approach is more successful because it delivers what clients really want: insights to solve their most pressing problems, often combined with a new way of tackling those problems.

The challenge with being a Challenger rep, however, is that the marketing support for sales in the vast majority of companies is oriented towards Relationship Builders.

To get the most out of your sales team, you need to reorient your marketing to deliver the key insights that you have – because your perspective is across the industry, not just the experience of one organization.

This approach has been revolutionary for our own sales team at boomtime, and we can help you do the same thing at your company.

All the best,

Bill Bice

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