The Sales Guru Fails!


I remember it like it was yesterday. Don’t we always?
It was the fall of 1977. I was a salesman for IBM, and I had set up a demo for one my prospects at one of my client’s place of business.

As you can imagine, we didn’t have the Internet back then, and instead of giving demos at our office, which we still did often, if we could give a demo at a client’s premises, it was much more effective.

It was the ultimate social proof. And it also allowed the prospect to ask pertinent questions to someone who was in the same boat as them.

The demo went smoothly.

My client did a great job of demonstrating how he used our product, and the success he had realized by using it.

My prospect asked pertinent questions, and got excellent replies.

I was on cloud nine, and I was already counting how I was going to spend the commission cheque.

When the demo was over, I walked the prospect to his car, and asked when he wanted to get started.

Then he hit me between the eyes?

Not literally, but figuratively. He said he wasn’t going to move forward with IBM.

I was in shock, and probably stood with my mouth open for a few seconds.

Then I asked why, of course.

He said that he could see how my client really liked the product, because it was giving him what he wanted, and he was more productive.

BUT – he needed something completely different. He needed a computer system that answered his needs. He didn’t want it for what my client was using it for.

And then he drove away.

Again, I stood in shock for about five minutes.

Wow, had I ever blown that call.

I realized that I hadn’t questioned this prospect properly. I had not used the questioning techniques I had been taught.

That was the last time that happened.

Has this ever happened to you?

I went back to the office right away, told my sales manager, who of course was not happy, and told him that I needed to review and relearn how to qualify, how to question properly.

I needed some more training and coaching!

Every sales person, marketer and executive needs coaching. Read on to find out why.

The High Costs of Hiring Poor to Mediocre Performers

There is an increasing pool of research—from respected organizations like Gallup and the Harvard Business Review, and also many newer research firms—suggesting that the costs of a bad hire in sales, more than any other functional group, are enormous. Most hiring companies tend to grossly underestimate the negative consequences a bad sales hire can bring to their company.

Some of the costs to consider include:

Direct costs

• Lost revenue (lost and delayed business)
• Extra training and management required
• Costs of turnover (firing and replacing – from both time and direct hiring costs)

Indirect costs

• Long-term impact on market share and brand – lost customers and brand loyalty
• Impact on morale – leading to lower overall performance of other team members and higher turnover— and ultimately the loss of your best salespeople

An Example of the Costs

Let’s look at a methodology developed by Croner and Abraham for a company where the sales quota of the best salespeople is $1.5 million, and sub-par performers are delivering half of that ($750,000).

The annual impact of having a poor performer on the team can be estimated at $1,360,000 (including lost revenue, lost clients, and extra management costs). The costs of delaying action, to remove this individual, are $2.6 million over 2 years!

You must remember that salespeople represent your company to your clients. Therefore, the impact of brand and market-share erosion over time, of a sub-par salesperson, can have grave consequences for your company.

“In industries that rely on their sales force to generate revenue, people are four times more important in building customer loyalty, than the products or services themselves” (Smith and Rutigliano).

Other Insights

CSO Insights, a sales research firm, puts out statistics it gathers every year from surveys it does with over 2500 companies.

They found that only 58.2% of B2B sales reps made quota in 2013* out of the 2500+ companies surveyed. That means that 42.8% of sales reps missed their quota.

That is a very alarming statistic.

A Typical Observation

CSO Insights had this conversation with a sales rep from one of their interview companies.

Sales rep: “Yeah, that program is great. Really powerful. In fact, the only time it doesn’t work is when I don’t use it”.

CSO Insights: “That’s quite an endorsement. How often would you say you use the principles you learned in the program?”

Sales rep: “Uh, maybe half the time.”

Now please think about that for a moment. If it works every time the rep uses it, why wouldn’t the rep use it all the time? Does he/she simply not need a win every time? Very unlikely!

Does Training & Coaching Pay Off?

Here are two interesting graphics about training and coaching. Click on the graph to enlarge it.

Training without coaching

Training with coaching

As you can see from the first graphic, training gives a one-time boost in sales behaviour and results, but people quickly slip back into their old familiar behaviour without coaching reinforcement, and increases in sales are negligible.

However, with coaching after training, you can see that although there is a slight dip in both graphics right after training, the sales people who received coaching keep getting better and better results.

Through all of my coaching years, I have found that coaching costs very little compared to the increased results that have occurred. In many cases, coaching fees were less than 1% of the overall increase in revenues.

So, if you truly want to grow your business, you need to have your sales people trained and coached by professionals. And in most cases, this means hiring outside professional B2B sales coaches. You will see a very worthwhile ROI.


It becomes pretty obvious that training with coaching pays off.

Are your sales reps, marketers and executives getting the training and coaching they need to understand B2B sales and marketing better, and to able to reach quotas?

In order to better understand why your company needs coaching for B2B sales people, marketers and executives, you can get a free copy of my new book to help your company grow.

Ian Dainty
Kind regards,
Ian Dainty
Ian Dainty’s Email

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