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By Mary Ann McLaughlin

How much money would you place on a bet with a 55% – 65% chance of winning? Would you put your entire livelihood on it?

These days, only 65% of outside sales/ account executives are attaining quota, which incidentally, is 10% higher than inside reps. Scary isn’t it? If you’re running a sales organization or planning on making sales your career, these odds are not good.

Over the last couple of years, it’s not only evident the world is changing constantly, but also changing rapidly. And customers are changing, too (also rapidly). They are becoming better buyers at a faster rate than sellers are becoming better sellers.

Our research division has been digging into this fact and has uncovered a shocking trend that will help you understand the primary reasons sellers are not winning. As a result, we’ve also identified some simple
We’ve surveyed nearly 700 sellers from multiple industries and varying tenure in their roles and found 3 things that may be holding you and your sales team back.

1. More than 50% of sales/account executives are not regularly working together with their clients on new business ideas.

A sales professional’s number one goal is to create value for their clients. At Butler Street, we’ve trademarked the phrase, If we solve our customers’ problems… we’ll solve our own.® If you’re not hitting quota, that problem can be solved by solving your prospective buyers’ problems. Buyers have changed, they can find out most of what they think they want to know about products or services via the internet. Sales teams need to build connections with prospective buyers in a different way: by offering perspectives and insights that help improve their business.

When asked to rate from 1 – 5 (never to always) “My client and I regularly work together on new business ideas.” This is what we found:




2. Sellers don’t have a clear understanding of their own company initiatives.

I don’t know about you, but I get multiple emails, LinkedIn requests, and phone calls each week from sellers trying to sell me something that in no way would make me a qualified prospect. For example, I am not interested in an executive office cleaning service (we are 100% remote). I am not interested in finding more cost-effective commercial real estate (again, 100% remote). The list goes on and on. It is astounding how much effort is wasted on unqualified prospects. Is it really the fault of the seller? How can they possibly find the right prospects if they are not clear on what their organization desires? Worse, how could they possibly offer insights and ideas to improve their prospects/customers’ business if they are unsure of the strengths and strategy of the organization?

When asked to rate from 1 – 5 (never to always), “I have a clear understanding of my own company’s strategic initiatives” This is what we found:


60% were not entirely clear on their company’s strategy and 1 in 5 salespeople rated themselves as sometimes, rarely, or never have an understanding of their own company’s strategic initiatives!

Salespeople won’t be able to build trust, offer perspectives, or worse, validate their differentiators if they don’t clearly understand their own organization.



3. Sellers don’t have a clear understanding of their customers’ strategic initiatives.

When asked to rate from 1 – 5 (never to always), “I have a clear understanding of my customers’ strategic initiatives” This is what we found:



Only 20% of today’s sellers have a clear understanding of their customers’ strategic initiatives and 25% of reps rarely to never have this understanding.

The number one reason a client buys is that the seller understood their needs and wants.

Rounding out the top three is:

2. They took the time to actively listen
3. They worked together on a solution that would provide a return on their investment

These behaviors, not the product or service, are the difference makers between 100% of quota and 55%.

These are three very big sales inhibitors if you believe your product or service is designed to create value for your customers. The good news is, unlike many things out of our control, these three issues are 100% solvable.

Implementing the following strategies will position your sales team to win in today’s market and to keep up with the buyers’ skills!

• Training leaders on a process and approach to effectively and consistently communicate and coach to Strategy, Activity, and Skill closes the gap on sellers who do not understand their company initiatives.

• Training your sellers on understanding the client operating reality, how and why they buy, and how to communicate your organizational value in a differentiating way is required if you expect them to work together with your clients on innovative and business improvement projects.

• Training your sellers and account managers on having a client meeting plan, active listening, effective questioning, overcoming objections, and providing ROI will give them the necessary skills to understand their client’s strategic initiatives.

Adding value for your clients should be an enterprise-wide effort. Butler Street has sales, account management, and leadership programs designed specifically to help your company and your people grow. If you want to bet on your sales team, contact Butler Street or visit www.butlerstreet.com to learn more.


Mary Ann McLaughlin is Managing Partner and co-owner of Butler Street, a management consulting, training, and research firm focusing on the two most challenging areas companies face: client and talent development. Butler Street has been named a Top Ten Training Company in 2019, 2020, & 2022 by HR Tech Magazine and is the only company on the list that provides staffing-specific training.
As a Six Sigma Champion certified executive, Mary Ann leverages her robust process background and executive operational leadership experience to help companies and their people grow through every economic condition.

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