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Today's AVERAGE salesperson is just as effective as the high performer...

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the following statement/ claim:

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale." - by Jeff Blackwell
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the following statement/ claim:

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale."
The first thing that comes to my mind is "that's not true."

The second thing that comes to my mind is "show me the ongoing research!"

Skip - by Skip Anderson
Extremely misleading - impressionable sales people not yet at a level of sales mastery where they know better will have comprehension issues with this quote - in fact, not only that, it really says nothing of value at all, does it?

Again (in reference to that which I have said many times on this forum) there is a big fear that people who write ridiculously like this may mislead those who don’t know any better robbing them of their right to learn correctly. And, while it does not address your direction in this thread, I beg permission - from you Jeff and all readers of this forum - to weigh in on the effect on sales with this type of information.

... "show me the ongoing research!"
Skip is bang on.

I have audited the research of every major sales training company in the world today, as recently as within this last 14 months – as well as having done the same in the 90’s and 80’s. And I can tell you, beyond doubt, that the biggest research project ever undertaken in sales sent a fly-on-the-wall to over 30,000 calls to chart sales skills, in an effort to define what the difference is between average sales reps and top producers (this effort has not only not been duplicated there is no other company even remotely close in terms of research) …

What is absolutely flabbergasting about this quote is that research has definitely proven the complete opposite and deservedly spurned a best selling book (I am certain this writer has ever had a best seller)!

Not only have these high class researchers (Huthwaite – SPIN) proven that those who excel in sales focus on establishing VALUE in the minds of the prospect, sharing the benefits that are important to them, less successful sales people were far less effective at uncovering needs/pain and connecting only those benefits that were important to the prospect. And, as a result, could not have been any where near as good at closing.

The word BUNK jumps straight to mind. Newbies deserve to be exposed to mature, proven, well thought out information, not misleading ignorance like this quote!

My thesaurus lists unawareness as a possible vocabulary replacement for ignorance. This quote and this thread at salespractice.com, in my opinion, screams out for an intelligent argument that there is a total lack of awareness being displayed. After all, the biggest trick in sales, after actually getting the opportunity to sit with a qualified prospect, is uncovering needs that can be supported by the benefit of your service or product.

Is the writer trying to say “sales people are all good talkers”? If so, do you believe selling is telling?

“… today’s average sales person is just as effective as the high performer …” … !?!?!

Yah? Then why are they getting less sales? If this statement were valid, there would be no use of the words “average” or “performer” as everyone would get the same amount of sales!

Unaware … you bet-ch-ya!

Sure, the majority of sales people explain features well and some average producers can also relate possible benefits of those features, so what separates them from top performers? Isn’t it in understanding the prospect? In other words, top producers are better at discovering the needs that are important to the prospect that can also be addresses by the benefits of their product/service.

Here is what I think the author thinks;

This person believes that sales people are good talkers, that selling is telling (put a big ex through this phrase), that the same features and benefits are related to every prospect, meaning that sales people just tell all the possible benefits to a buyer of their product rather than finding out what each prospect's specific needs are.

If this person coaches sales, I would want to run so far away from them that the planet would not be big enough! - by Gold Calling
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the following statement/ claim:

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale."
I will take your question literally.

The first thing that came to my mind was the use of the term "high performer" and how relative that term is.

You didn't ask but I will tell you anyway what the next thing that came to mind was. It was that the sentence did not give enough information to adequately respond. For instance, what is "ongoing research", and what does the author mean by "demonstrates" and to WHO.

As a result I place no value on the statement. - by Ace Coldiron
My initial reaction to this phrase is it is impossible. How can you be both average and a top producer? - by GerryMyers
Thank you everyone who has participated in this thread so far. Special thanks to Steven (Gold Calling) for your excellent post. ;)

When this statement/ claim was brought to my attention today I darn near fell out of my chair. ;pi - by Jeff Blackwell
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the following statement/ claim:

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale."
Looking at this quote there must be some difference between the "average performer and high performer".

I would argue that the high performer is a high performer because he is better at uncovering needs than the average performer by better questioning. Therfore, he creates more opportunities to explain features and benefits and relating to customer needs. (Which is what Gold Calling was saying)

In addition, I would argue that the top performer finds more prospects than the average performer. Again, giving him more opportunity.

I think the easiest part of sales training is teaching people to present a product. Creativity in finding prospects and uncovering needs will boost someone past the average salesperson.

Good Selling!!!thmbp2;

Sell4alivn - by Sell4alivn
A very important difference between average salespeople and true high performers is that the former often rely heavily on tactics they have learned or invented, and, the latter rely on strategy.

The high performers see the big picture, even while concentrating on small steps. They have things "in place". The tactics chosen, and which follow, are in line with the overall picture.

The "average" work more in a linear fashion, possibly because selling is often taught as a linear process and in a linear way.

I doubt that whoever wrote the statement, that Jeff asked us to examine, understands that. - by Ace Coldiron
I think the easiest part of sales training is teaching people to present a product. Creativity in finding prospects and uncovering needs will boost someone past the average salesperson.
We should have every sales rep that works for us print this, hang in in their office and read it every day of their career.

Excellent. - by Gold Calling
I know this topic is really done. But I thought it would be interesting to research the opposite argument and quote it here;

"The purpose of a sales force is to create, not merely communicate, value."

To me, the quote that this thread is about - that writer - a person I would certain hesitate to call a trainer - thinks sales people communicate value. He/she does not realize our true role ...

"The purpose of a sales force is to create, not merely communicate, value."

If we beleive that sales is about communicating value, we loose the biggest part of what it is we do. And, to me "create value" means two things ... finding opportunities the prospect was unaware off, and; making sure we instill in them the value. Because we know it exists does not mean telling the prospect will result in them comprehending it as we do - we must create that feeling in them.

Average sales people do not even know they need to do this. - by Gold Calling
"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits


This claim may be the only part that is close to being true.The average sales person believes this is the only way to sell , this is their only ammunition.


I also want to know who is doing the research and who is paying for the research and why?




The statement that was made had me thinking back to a training smeinar I went to in November.


This training seminar that used fear-based tactics. They taught how the people in training to repeat the pain and embellish the massive damage that could be caused by non action. Than ask the question do you want to waint until that happens or take care of it now.When a clinet has an objection repeat the disaster and question until they give in.


They teach the people to move closer and raise the tone of their voice keeping control and maintain the authority figure over the client.


When I pressed the trainer,they teach this method as it allows thier organization to train people faster. Allows the company's who join this organization to put people in vehicles that are out making money faster. They can teach this method in less than five days and claim to have a qualified sales person on the road after the five days.

Perhaps they are using this as their model in the research - by rich34232
They teach the people to move closer and raise the tone of their voice keeping control and maintain the authority figure over the client.[/i]


When I pressed the trainer,they teach this method as it allows thier organization to train people faster. Allows the company's who join this organization to put people in vehicles that are out making money faster. They can teach this method in less than five days and claim to have a qualified sales person on the road after the five days.
Over the years I have only walked out of two training seminars at the half point break. If I had attended that one, it would have been number three.

A horrible example of what passes for sales education today. - by Ace Coldiron
PAIN is a misunderstood element of potential benefit.

There are those who will tell you that all needs can be turned into pain. I would argue (and have) that this is not a valid statement.

The elimination of PAIN is a benefit. But, if there is no perceived pain you cannot eliminate it.

I do use PAIN or potential pain in selling. But I do not like the idea of treating prospects like they are stupid, they get the benefit if you tell them and they can put 2 and 2 together, we only try and get he prospect to say it is important if they do not freely agree in verbal or non verbal communication.

Buyers are smart. Geez ... where do these sales training schools come up with the notion that the prospect isn't following us and thereby suggest such clunky communication techniques?

I tell you, many sales training schools are erasing 60 years of sales training knowledge in a heart beat because they focus too much on themselves as sellers and not enough on the prospect and their sensibilities.

Like Ace, I would have left that training (I too have walked out on two) ... since I have not been at a sales training event I was not at least partially responsible for giving in 15 years ... it is unlikely I will get to three but you never know.

Gosh, this kind of stuff (that rich shared) is stunning when you hear about it. Maybe flabbergasting is a better word :cu

As for the original quote, I do not believe the person who was quoted has research that proves his statements. If he is involved with such research, we would need to see how it is compiled and how many were involved.

For instance, you could get 10 sales consultants together, ask a series of questions of each, then say it was research, which it would be. However, if you knew each had a similar point of view, albeit skewed from mainstream thinking, this would not be a "source we can trust". Having said the obvious, I still beleive the quoted person made his/her research up.

There is an outfit doing massive research online now. They ask sellers many questions. I took the "test" and found most of the questions to be meaningless. I felt like the people writing them had no high level sales experience and that they were also not qualified in any psyche specialty (in other words they were unqualified from either direction).

I still have not found any other group, besides Huthwaite, that have sent independent people on a substantial number of sales calls. And the reason why this is important is the sales person does not get to skew results, as we all tend to do (we sell ourselves constantly - one sales manager said to me once; "If the sales guy is real good, you don't really get to know him during the interview process!")

The psyche staff that go with sales people as “fly on the wall” information gathers have simply proven what the great sales trainers taught in the 50’s and 60’s. And what Nightingale taught before WWII … and what Carnegie taught before and after WWI.

It is this research that I refer to.

I have done my own research. I have been on approximately 300 calls where I did not participate as a sales person. I charted the call, noting what the sales person did and did not due while I ran a tape recorder. This was done with trained people … as a form of coaching and/or training.

My own results are not different from Huthwaite’s. But it is they that have the sufficient numbers to prove the theories (my numbers are skewed because I was with people who’s performance needed enhancing).

This kind of research is very expensive. If Huthwaite did not have Rank paying them to figure out why Rank Xerox were not closing at the same rate as Xerox (sales people in North America), we might never of had the proof needed to show that telling is NOT selling.

The most important skills in sales are in the first four segments of PSS III … I have not reviewed PSS IV so I can’t say if they are or are not still teaching these basics the way they once did.

I have talked a great deal in this thread. And I apologize for being long winded. It is just that this is at the very core of the issue with sales training today. Most of the “NEW WAY” stuff is complete trash .. it ignores what has been taught and is now proven beyond doubt. And mostly just because of the notion that “the old way” does not work any more. Not because of any proof of any kind. - by Gold Calling
An average salesperson today is as good as a high earner, when? What time line are they on? The average car today is better than a Rolls Royce from the 50's in handling, fuel economy etc, what are they comparing.

In reality, clients are far more educated than before and can check things out fully on the net before having to speak to a sales person and therefor are more likely to buy once they have spoken to the sales person who in fact is now just an order-taker. - by ged1mcguirk
In reality, clients are far more educated than before and can check things out fully on the net before having to speak to a sales person and therefor are more likely to buy once they have spoken to the sales person who in fact is now just an order-taker.
I believe you are horrendously mistaken.

"Clients" have much more ready access to information, but that does not mean that they are "far more educated". Most who take time to "check things out" merely arm themselves with the proverbial little bit of knowledge that is dangerous.

The effect is that salespeople must be a lot better than "just order-takers" if they want to be the high performers that this topic addresses. The challenges are greater, and because of that, so are the opportunities for high performers.

Survival of the Fittest has taken a firm grasp on selling today. The fundamentals of fitness haven't changed. - by Ace Coldiron
... clients are far more educated than before and can check things out fully on the net before having to speak to a sales person and therefor are more likely to buy once they have spoken to the sales person who in fact is now just an order-taker.
This is as far away from being valid a comment as it is possible to get.

Man, I could write a whole novel sized report resolving an apposing thought your ged1mcguirk, easily.

We do nothing at my company but create opportunity that did not exist - all we do is generate business, we do not advertise, handle leads or do a lot of what most sales people do. We are on the front-line of understanding the "creation of need" and I can tell you not a single one of the TOP EXECUTIVES that I have spoken to recently even asked for my website!

Why not? If a website can replace everythign I have learned to do for nearly 30 years, why isn't that the first thing we tell them on the phone? Our calling script would then be; "Mr Jones, Steven Burke here, my website is GoldCalling.com, since you will read everything about our company there anyway, there is no need for me to tell you a good reason for calling, it is all there on the website. Call me when you are ready for me to take the order!"

I guarantee ytou your sales will fall through the floor if that is what you do.

CREATING the NEED - or creating opportunities in sales, is far more complex than a prospect reading a website. If a website could probe for needs as well as satisfy those needs so that all we did was sign contracts, why are we still having hour long meetings?

If a website could do what I do there would be no need for even order takers, the prospect would become a client by callign an 800 number and saying "I read your site, I am ready to place my order now!"

As if ...

Ace is bang on, they are not better educated. The old adage is correct; "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!"

Websites and the Internet and email made our job harder, not easier. The notion that a buyer knows more is like saying they now work 80 hours a week instead of 40. The first f40 to run their business (includign placing orders) and the other to research online. And if that is not what they are doing, why are they meetign with me our the representative of one of my clients for an hour? If they are still keeping meetings when is it they can find the time to know every possible benefit of my product or service as it applies to them or their company?

Why did it take an expert to help a buyer make an informed decision before and now all it takes is a website? Hell, why didn’t we just send literature - a brochure and everything that is one our website today - in years gone by (before the Internet) and just be order takers then?

This notion that things are new, that they did not exist before is ignorance - simply not knowing any better. We could have sent as much as the website contains today to every prospective client and then saved the high cost of having as many sales people. If that worked mail would have been far more effective cost wise than sales staff - presuming that you would need less order takers as everyone was a buyer that they visited.

Here is another way to look at it; do you go on calls where they don't buy? Why? They read all about you online, they certainly would not agree to a meeting (or would have cancelled a prescheduled one) if they were not presold, right!?!?!

This notion is the worst one there is in sales today.

I have written reams of information in posts on this forum about why we are hard wired to think that things are different. The very core of what makes us who we are, our value system, it is such that we all believe things are changing, we are all a little bit full of our own self importance. But the validity of such notions is not supported scientifically.

Sure, technology changes. In some ways it helps in others it hurts. In fact, there is a strong argument that people are not thinking for themselves as a result.

Geez, this could go on and on ... the argument against this statement is huge;

... clients are far more educated than before ... therefore are more likely to buy once they have spoken to the sales person who in fact is now just an order-taker.
There is one organization that collects scientific information about selling, only one in the world that has done serious scientific research … there conclusions over 3 going on 4 decades are that sales has not changed. The notion that the Internet has changed what we do is valid – the notions that we have become order takers is not, in fact the Internet has made our job a little more difficult (but not much).

Dismiss this notion, it is a belief without any evidence to support it.

This quote will help you understand what we do and why we seek prospects that have "unrecognized problems";

"The mistake so many sellers make is to look for customers that are 'in the market' for the products or services they represent. Though this will have some success, it is a tough way to make a living!"

This is a needle-in-a-haystack approach.

There is a better way. - by Gold Calling
If you read again what I wrote, I am not referring to a closers attitude but relating to the fact that online shopping and sales driven by the Internet have increased and that people now go and buy many, many things from the net or go to an outlet and request what they have seen. And so how can an average sales person be as good as a high end earner or professional closer?

The Internet has "Educated" clients into believing they know everything about the product of interest where in most cases this is not true in regard to my business of selling overseas properties.

Ourselves, we use the Internet as a 3rd party, to back up what we are selling, view the products again, answer, remind them and reassure them.

While other real estate companies are closing, we have just taken on another 6 developments to manage and promote Fractional Ownership, a new concept here in Europe and are actively selling to clients the whole experience of owning abroad.

These clients are not introduced to average salespeople but to professional closers who are licensed to sell real estate, know the laws and regulations (which clients are ill informed) of this country including all the new Eco-Laws.

Our clients are introduced to tax and fiscal advisor's, financial and currency exchange advisor's, as well as our lifestyle in southern Europe.

So my point is that an average salesperson is now only an order taker and not a professional closer. Sorry for the confusion. - by ged1mcguirk
Sorry for the confusion.
Sometimes we are all guilty of filtering a topic through the lens of our own unique situation. Thanks for clarifying and sharing your experience. - by Ace Coldiron
The danger of posting comments like "we are just order takers today" is that many impressionable minds see them.

In most B2B and many B2C businesses the Internet is a hindrance to selling to some degree (as some people do think they can get what they need to know this way) but it has not eliminated our profession's great service, which is helping buyers make an informed decision.

There was no intent to jump all over you ged1mcguirk, we just wish to make sure that this notion does not get too much air time.

Thanks and cheers. - by Gold Calling

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale."

I think all of you guys are wrong!!! This quote is true just Jeff forgot to put the rest of the quote in it.

"Ongoing research demonstrates that today's 'average' salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale, when the high performer is blindfolded, gagged, has their hands tied behind their back and speaks a different language than the consumer."

Honestly though, the quote itself is contradictory. If the high perfomer explains, relates and closes a sale the same as the average saleperson, than how can he be considered a high performer. I always thought to be a high performer you had to out perform the general population. If your performance is the same as the average joe than how can he be measured as a high performer? - by jrboyd
If the high perfomer explains, relates and closes a sale the same as the average saleperson, than how can he be considered a high performer.
I think that the difference between an average saleperson and a high performer is activity. The high performer starts early, stays late, does more prospecting and is better at pre-qualifying their prospects. Without doing those things, results are usually ordinary. I know - I'm just doing the post mortem on last year :( - by becomingkate
Exactly. Without those things results would be ordinary. So if you are an ordinary or average salesperson that doesnt do those things they would have ordinary or average performance. A high performer that does these things would have higher than average performance and it would make the above quote false. - by jrboyd
I must apologize again as I only read the headline and not the full quote. However, this goes to show that I should read and digest the full information before making comments. (Two ears and one mouth comes to mind)

It also shows that as I tried to point out, that reading and getting information off websites isn't always the best and a little knowledge in the wrong hands is dangerous.

I agree with jrboyd, working hard is the only way to move forward and don't wait for luck. By working hard you will get results and opportunities will then come.

Others just call that luck. - by ged1mcguirk
I also cannot understand this statements it seem impossible that a "average sales person" is just as effective as a "high Performer". I am at the begginging of my sales career with only 4 years in many different areas of sales. Perhaps I will understand better later. - by tarick kudmany
I also cannot understand this statements it seem impossible that a "average sales person" is just as effective as a "high Performer". I am at the beginning of my sales career with only 4 years in many different areas of sales. Perhaps I will understand better later.
Not only does it seem impossible, it is impossible. And it is people like you that are in a stage where they are easily influenced by information that we fight at this forum to established some sanity in the sales training world.

There is no doubt, the quote is absolute crap (and sorry for swearing).

I think that the difference between an average salesperson and a high performer is activity. The high performer starts early, stays late, does more prospecting and is better at pre-qualifying their prospects. :(
They are not only harder more efficient workers and not only better at qualifying they are; better at finding needs/pain, and; better at supporting those needs with a benefit of their product/service, as well as; better at closing, and; better at dealing with “attitudes” and “personalities”.

They are more efficient and more effective ...

Top performers do everything better than average performers. - by Gold Calling
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