Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

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The difference between great salespeople and weak salespeople has been debated for years.  The articles in my Blog typically address these differences with science and data to support to my position. 

For example, In 2018 alone I have written 15 such articles:

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data – Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Discovered – Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Discovered – Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

New Data Reveals Why Veteran Salespeople Are Not Better Than New Salespeople

Data Shows Most Salespeople are Dinosaurs When it Comes to Social Selling

Persistence Over Polish – What the Top 10% of All Salespeople Do Better

What Happens When You Force a Square Sales Peg into a Round Sales Hole?

Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Other Blogs, and far too often, the Harvard Business Review Blog, state these differences using junk science – anecdotal observations.  While those observations can be useful, they do not actually differentiate between good and bad, as much as they are what the authors perceive as commonalities among good salespeople.

I reviewed data from nearly 511,000 sales evaluations and assessments from among the 1.8 million that Objective Management Group (OMG) has produced to date.  I compared 21 Sales Core Competencies (you can see much of that data here) of the top 5% (elite) with the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  Then I identified the 4 competencies with the biggest gaps and you can see those in the image below.

 544Competency

The 4 competencies with the biggest gaps are all tactical selling competencies and on average, the top 5% have these competencies as strengths 544% more often than the bottom 50%. However, the 544% number isn’t really the story.  The big story is that that 64% of the top 5% have the Consultative Selling as a strength compared with only 3% of the bottom 50%.  Nearly as big a story is that 91% of the top 5% are strong at the Qualifying competency compared with only 6% of the bottom 50%.  And a whopping 95% of the top 5% are strong at the Value Selling competency compared with only 10% of the bottom 50%.

So what does this mean?

Elite salespeople are twice as likely to have solid pipelines because nearly every one of them are strong at the Hunting Competency.  Then, because they are so proficient at selling value and qualifying their opportunities, a high percentage of a greater number of opportunities close and not because they are better closers!

Weak salespeople – in this case, more than 255,000 of them – are twice as likely to have a weak pipeline, and because they are selling transactionally and not consultatively, they close a very small percentage of a smaller number of opportunities.  That’s why they are so ineffective. 

Could there be a better case for why transactional selling doesn’t work?  Please tell me if you have one!

The other story here is that it’s value selling and qualifying that almost every elite salesperson executes so effectively while only 2/3 of them have learned to excel at a consultative selling approach.

The gaps are clear and if you manage salespeople, the question is how do you coach your salespeople up and close such a large gap?  You must attend my Sales Leadership Intensive and learn to coach to these 4 competencies and more.  And if 30% of your people can’t be coached up, use the most customizable, accurate and predictive sales specific candidate assessment to easily identify the top 25%.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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