The Gap in Sales – What We Know vs What We Do

Out of Focus
Over at (, Focus Expert Bruce Brien asked a great question about the prevalent lack of sales call preparedness, which is supported by research. Bruce cites buyer surveys from IDC for 2010 suggest that sales people are ill-prepared for the meetings they conduct, adding, “Buyers also suggest that most sellers do not understand their business. Sellers spend less than 20% of there (sic) time preparing for meetings.”

It Gets Fuzzier
Tamara Schenk, another exceptionally bright Focus expert, added: “Looking at the Forrester Tech Buyer Inside studies, I’d like to provide a bit more color on that: Sales people are prepared (from their point of view) – but not in a way the buyers expect the preparation: Sales reps are according to this research prepared talking about the own company, products and services (88%), about the buyer’s industry (55%). Only 34% are prepared in terms of understanding the buyers (sic) role and responsibility, and only 29% are prepared to talk about the specific business challenges and business problems, their buyers might have.”

Me, Me, Me
Intriguing, eh? As a sales training and sales effectiveness executive, I’ve been wrestling with this issue of the sales planning void for years. In places where I’ve worked, I’ve gone a long way toward resolving the gap, but don’t kid myself that I eliminated the issue – just minimized it and helped reps improve their planning skills (including but not limited to sales call planning, usually as part of my Performance Lever Alignment work).

The Truth Is Out There, Scully
This has been bugging me for awhile, so this Focus thread just exacerbated it. I want to ask a similar but different question here. Consider this, first:

  • The responses I read on Bruce’s Focus question were quite good. Sincerely. There is much knowledge in that thread and many bright people weighing in.
  • I hang online with a really solid group of sales consultants who do great work, and they are all seeing this call planning issue (lack of preparedness) as an issue and have commented on it or blogged about it.
  • This concern isn’t limited to call planning, however. Those same consultants bemoan the lack of many other foundational sales practices, and these are some of the same missing basics and fractured best practices that I have noticed over the years.

To Quote Cee Lo Green in “Forget You:” WHHHHYyyyyyy!!??
I’m curious to hear opinions about why sales best practices are in such short supply. Sales experts abound. Focus, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and my sales consultant buddies prove it. Information and knowledge is available within a few clicks. In every organization, the top 20% and the top 4% (top 20% of the top 20%) are crushing it – selling exponentially more than the rest of the organization.

So why – with this glut of expertise and great knowledge of best practices for sales skill, methodology, process, and more – is there such a gap between what is known and what gets done?

Hope to hear from you. Be safe out there.

Mike Kunkle

Contact me:
mike_kunkle at mindspring dot-com
214.494.9950 Google Voice

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Mike Kunkle

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