Why are we putting up with crappy data about sales?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Save to My Library

Good morning!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

We were up in the Catskills this weekend. Friends host an annual softball game-cookout-barn dance.


Why are we putting up with crappy data about sales?

Sales is a profession that is in dire need of rigorous research; like a longitudinal study of the effectiveness of specific sales skills and strategies in certain well-defined contexts.

Instead, we’re continually subjected to sloppy “research” based on small data sets (with results that often cannot be replicated.) And vendor-based studies that draw supposedly authoritative conclusions from data that isn’t controlled for variables. Rendering it all little better than anecdote.

Sales is a performance-based profession. It’s an improvement-based profession.

And, we are in urgent need of meaningful data to assist with this, beyond the usual suspects of metrics (i.e. math) that some want to pass off as “science,” to help sellers and leader improve.

Unfortunately, that’s all we have. (Which means you have to become your own sales scientist.)

Here’s a typical example that illustrates my point.

I recently read a report from a management consulting firm about the five things sales-growth winners do to invest in their people.

One of five primary conclusions they highlighted in the report was just nonsensical.

In this report, the authors state that 50% of sales leaders, in a group they identified as “top performers,” quantified the improvement in sales performance in their sales teams to measure the effectiveness of sales training.

Which means that 50% of the “top performers” did NOT quantify the improvement in sales performance to measure the effectiveness of sales training.

So, half the population of top performers quantified the improvement derived from sales training and 50% did not. Yet, they all performed at the same level.

Hmm, let me see…

In other words, it apparently didn’t make one damned bit of difference whether sales leaders tracked the improvement in team performance derived from sales training or not. They performed equally well in either case.

This kind of thing drives me nuts. And doesn’t help drive our profession forward at all.

– Andy