77% of Salespeople? Really?

Many of you reading this either know me or have heard me speak. You may remember my story.

I started my career as a 2nd grade teacher in Breckenridge. I’m an introvert by nature; certainly not a “natural” salesperson. I’ve been successful in 4 careers, 3 of them involving selling.

I have a passion to help people recognize their potential; whether a 2nd grader learning to read, a sales manager understanding how to grow their team, or a CEO developing a sales culture in their company.

Anyone can learn anything; if they want to. I believe that completely. I’m am the evidence.

With that perspective, why is this month’s article from Dave Kurlan about how the quality of salespeople has been eroding?

Because it has. Because selling has changed. Because selling is harder now than it was 7 years ago. In an environment where buyers have never been so informed (not always accurately, however), most salespeople haven’t learned to sell value, to differentiate their products/service or to be strong with a prospect.

That 77% of salespeople are weak isn’t all that surprising. They’ve just never been properly developed in the sales discipline!  When I “came up”, young people were trained by IBM or Xerox or some other company. That doesn’t happen now.

If they do get training it is frequently short term skills training which really doesn’t help folks understand the “why” behind their lack of success.

So before your dig into this fascinating article, keep in mind that people can change, they can grow, they can get better. If they want to, and if they have the type of development that is proven to work.


For years, I’ve been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.

So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren’t doing a great job of taking care of business.

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