7 years ago
February 21, 2017

Myth Busting: Do 10% of Sales People Really Do 80% of Business?

Do 10% of sales people really do 80% of business? Read on to find out more about this myth busting question.

Rhys Metler


Over on LinkedIn’s business blog Pulse, Baldwin Berges states an alarming statistic that 10% of sales people are doing 80% of the business. And that’s bad news for sales managers looking for new recruits, because that means you only have a one in 10 chance of hiring a top earner. What’s Berges’ explanation for this claim?

“It’s really simple: Most business never gets done because we fail to follow up!”

That may sound basic, but for better or worse (it’s worse), research strongly backs up this position. We know that about 80% of new sales occur after at least five meetings, so that means the 44% of sales reps who give up after that first “no” are missing their biggest opportunities. The top 10% of sales people have learned that even a hard “no!” can really mean, “Not this quarter,” or, “I need to talk to my boss first.”

In addition, research shows the same tendency holds true for inbound marketing. At least 63% of people who ask you about your company will take at least three months to make a buy, and 20% of the remainder will wait a full year to make a purchase. That means sales people who call it quits too early inevitably end up fighting for the leftovers, while the patient sales people play the long game and reap the rewards.

Berges claims that a fast response to leads and following up on those leads “flawlessly” are the keys to joining that elite top 10% of sales people. But if you’ve ever spent time on a sales blog, you’ve probably noticed that every week brings a new article touting the #1 Most Important Characteristic of Successful Sales People, until a few days later, when another article pops up with the same claim and a different tip.

As the best sales recruiting firms will tell you, there’s no silver bullet to becoming a top-earning sales person. Sure, there are some core skills that will serve you well in a career in sales—a strong handshake, knowledge about your product, charm, and most importantly, a strong work ethic—but different types of sales jobs require different skills. Not every sales person can afford to wait an entire year to close a deal.

So when you’re hiring new sales people, how do you make sure you’re hiring only the top sellers in your industry? Sales recruiting firms can help provide you with candidates specifically tailored to meet your exact needs, while also providing ongoing support as needed. And with an estimated 22 million sales reps in North America alone, sales recruiting firms can help whittle down the selection process to a more manageable size. However, it also requires sales managers to make hard choices. If a member of your sales team isn’t performing, then maybe it’s time to place another call to that sales recruiting firm.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.