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Stunning Sales Statistics (and actions you can take today to address them)

January 16th, 2020

Most business owners fall into two primary categories; those that enjoy selling and those that wished they would never need to think about selling.  After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I’ve discovered that both types of leaders possess somewhat different, but equally destructive, profit-killing blind spots when it comes to building consistent, visible, predictable, scalable sales organizations. 

Owners that “know how to sell” generally enjoy buyer interaction.  They feel fairly comfortable in sales scenarios, and often expect their reps to “just do what I do…”. Unfortunately, this approach lacks process, so is much easier said than done. Frustration follows when results fall short.

Conversely, “non-selling owners” are sometimes acutely aware of their sales-related shortcomings and struggles. Most are clear that they neither understand how to sell themselves, nor how to build an effective sales organization.  Many believe that some individuals are just “natural born salespeople”, and that they didn’t inherit the right gene. A good percentage of the non-sellers hope that Sales will magically and organically occur by simply creating a better mousetrap. But hope is always a bad strategy and Sales is the life blood of any company.  When their hope fails to produce desired results, many non-selling owners choose to delegate new business development to any brave soul willing to step up and take the baton.  Consequently, these benevolent (but often unskilled) volunteers forge ahead in pursuit of fleeting success with little or no structure, accountability, management, or training. A recipe for disaster.  The odds are stacked against them. Again, poor results follow.

To complicate sales success a bit further, consider these interesting statistics…:

Only 17% of salespeople think they are pushy, but FIFTY percent of prospects think that people selling to them are pushy: Tell me, do you enjoy buying from pushy salespeople?

Convinc-aholicsä are among the least successful salespeople on the planet.  Imagine how many more sales your company can generate by eliminating pushiness.

Only 39% of people selling today ever intended to go into Sales:  Sales is a wacky profession.  You’d be hard pressed to find a student who majored in Selling in college, or even one who took a single selling class at any time before (or after) entering the workforce.  In fact, most people currently employed as sales representatives have never participated in any professional sales training program.  If you wanted to go scuba diving, would you ever jump into the water without knowing what to do or how to do it?

The sales “profession” is loaded with individuals with formal education in liberal arts, marketing, history, business, finance, biology, etc…  In other words, just about all “salespeople” chose to not pursue a sales career.  The vast majority entered the sales profession by DEFAULT. Consequently, the vast majority of people responsible for selling today lack the passion, commitment, skills, and training necessary to be successful.

Only 3% of surveyed buyers trust salespeople: Yikes.  The job of your salesperson is to learn where a buyer is, where they wish to be, what is missing, if they have enough pain, money, and decision power to make a purchase, and if/how your company might possibly help. In the absence of trust, do you think a salesperson will learn the truth about any of this?

Only 24.3% of salespeople exceeded their quota last year: Most salespeople fail, and fail big. 

We know that the majority of the “sales profession” is comprised of non-professionals.

So is it any surprise that more than three-quarters of sales reps fail?

5000 C-Level buyers were asked: “What is the single most important factor that causes you to select one vendor over another?”         

9% answered — “Price”

                                19% answered — “Company Reputation”

                                                19% answered — “Perception of Quality or Service”


53% of C-Level buyers answered that their interaction with the company representative was the PRIMARY DECIDING FACTOR in their purchase decision. In other words, a buyer’s interaction with your salesperson likely has a greater influence on their purchase decision than Price, Reputation, Quality, and Service combined.

These facts and statistics may seem daunting, but they can all translate into massive profit growth for any owner wishing to take advantage of the huge opportunity they present.  The fact that the stats demonstrate tons of mediocrity can be great news for you. More precisely, the sales-proficiency bar is so low that just a small percentage of improvement can have a substantial impact on your company’s growth, value, and market share.  With this in mind, here are a few actions you can take to start the new decade off with a bang, and to begin to develop a world-class sales effort.

Adopt, develop, and nurture a true consultative sales process and philosophy. Pushy salespeople that are not trusted by prospects are donating tons of new business and profit growth to your competitors.  I’m not talking about lip-service here. Many owners and salespeople talk about the importance of consultative selling.  Few take the steps required to achieve it. Adoption requires a commitment, but the results are well worth the investment.

If you are seeking to grow and adopt an effective Locate, Land, & LaunchÒ process to ensure you are adding the right players on your sales team; hire slow and fire fast.  And get serious about your new-salesperson on-boarding program.  It is always much easier to win the game with superior athletes.

Adopt an effective, time-efficient Sales Management process.  Sales management can be extremely difficult in the absence of an effective sales process and recruitment process, but management becomes simple when these processes are in place.

The only difference between highly successful companies and those that continually struggle is how they decide to invest their very limited time, money and resources. Most companies invest tremendous volumes of time and money in pursuit of creating superior products, services, and company reputation.  But remember these statistics.  The creation of a consistent, scalable sales organization does require a commitment and some investment.  But an investment in sales effectiveness will far exceed just about any other you might choose for your company, in both the long and short term. An productive, consistent sales organization is the highly differentiated gift that keeps on giving, year after year.

Best wishes for 2020 and the decade to come…


Copyright © Joe Zente 2020.  All Rights Reserved.