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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 o