August 22, 2014

Why Vulcan Logic sucks the fun out of selling

Vulcan logic

I have a friend called Peter Gilbert. You’ll probably know him as the talent management expert.

I just call him the Vulcan.

He is the Mr. Spock to my Captain Kirk.

He is pure intellect and logic and is one of the smartest men I know when it comes to the business of sales improvement.

But, heck, his logic can be trying. Sometimes it is like a Vulcan death grip and really suck the fun out of everything. And, of course, renders one unconscious.

I’ve run a couple of sales training courses in my time and I really believe that they make a positive difference.

I think Peter harumphs my Pollyanna attitude but is too much of a gentleman to tell me so.

Does Sales Training Work?

He has a notion that sales training courses have a negligible effect. He has his hands on research (which he has no problem waving under my nose) that proves that most sales training initiatives produce less than 5% productivity improvement.

And to add insult to injury, there is an 87% loss of skill one month after training if it is not reinforced.

The Vulcan. Sorry, I mean Peter … keeps sending me stuff to read. I ask him not to because I don’t want to mess up my positive karma. But he insists and persists.

Mostly I’m glad he does because it certainly gives me pause to think.

Does Anything Work?

Here’s what I found in my inbox from Peter the other day:

As an avid reader of “stuff” about sales, the one thing that is abundantly clear to me, is that there very little, if any, innovation in sales. Lots of small tweaks yes, but very little in the way of game changing innovation.

Also, we are not very good at things we should be good at.

We tolerate levels of performance that would get you fired in any other serious jobs like manufacturing or finance.

Some examples! Sales strategy. Sales recruitment. Sales management. Sales forecasting. Sales organisations are almost universally mediocre to abysmal at these basic disciplines, and in areas such as recruitment, failure rates of 50% or worse are common. Compare this to 3.4 ppm defects in chip manufacturing and 3.4 ppm incidents in commercial aviation.  

As a “profession” I think we need a wake up call.

In light of Peter’s note, I dug up some of my own research to see if there is some glimmer of hope in the dark picture he paints.

Here’s what I found, and it’s not pretty:

  • Out of 7 500 sales forces, customers rated only 17 as world class (Chally Group)
  • Only 9% of meetings end in a sale (Ryals and Davies)
  • Only 1 out of 250 sales people exceed their targets (Ryals and Davies)
  • $1760 of profit per sale is needed just to cover the cost of failed sales meetings assuming that the meeting cost, on average, is $160 (Ryals and Davies)
  • 67% of graduates from an Ivy League university ended up in “sales” when only 4% said that they would actually choose sales as a career. This means that they are still waiting for their ‘real dream job’
  • 3% of sales come from cold calling (DemandGen Report)
  • 80% of your sales team is only hitting 42% of target

So, maybe the Vulcan is right – as a profession, we do need a wake up call. Do you think that sales training courses work? Maybe we are struggling and failing to get to grips with selling in a 21st century reality. Let me know what you think in the box below.

Is your sales team hitting 80%+ of target?

Maybe you can help me out a bit? If your sales team is hitting 80%+ of target, please fill in the comment box below to let me know what you are doing right so that I can share it with my readers. Because evidently, we need all the help we can get.

Oh, and ‘live long and proper’.

2 Comments on “Why Vulcan Logic sucks the fun out of selling

May 27, 2015 at 9:47 am

Not to brag, but our sales force hits 80%+ most of the time… Sales calls and maintaining great (warm) relationships with our existing clients seems to work within our industry.

Brings to mind Maya Angelou’s belief: People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Jacques de Villiers
June 3, 2015 at 9:25 am

That’s wonderful, very few companies can boast about an 80% close ratio. You should do a case study on it Kirsty and let us know what the secret sauce is that makes your sales efforts so successful.


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