How much of a role does experience play in sales effectiveness?

David Shannon

Okay, the more experienced members of your sales staff may be stuck in their ways, resistant to change and unwilling to try anything different. But does that make them any less effective at selling than your gung-ho new recruits? On the flip side, does the blind enthusiasm of these young whipper-snappers more than make up for the lack of practice? When we look at the stats, the answer may surprise you.

As the years go by, life and experience shape us. Good sense kicks in, responsibilities appear out of nowhere and, before you know it, boom, things that used to matter don’t and the things that seemed trivial are now priorities. These changes can impact on the effectiveness of your sales staff.

The chart below compares the various attributes of ‘New Salespeople’ (up to 2 years of experience) with those of ‘Veteran Salespeople’ (20+ years of experience).

New Salesperson Competency

At a glance, you’ll see that the youngsters are more likely to ‘wing it’, while older guys tend to be more skilled and structured. No big surprise there. But crunching the numbers shows that veteran salespeople are 105% more likely to be strong and effective than new salespeople.

Look even closer, and we see that a contributory factor in this is the significant difference in Qualifier competency. In other words, experience helps the salesperson know if they’re wasting time (their own and yours) chasing a particular sale or not.

Under the microscope
Examining how the specific attributes of the Qualifier competency apply to each group is quite revealing.

young v old qualifier 1

Looking at this chart, there’s one stand-out figure – Self-Limiting Beliefs. Veterans are 213% more likely to have supportive beliefs around qualifying than their younger counterparts. From our own experience we know what the two most prevalent self-limiting beliefs are.

  • It’s not polite to talk about people’s money
  • I need my prospects to like me

These two self-limiting beliefs alone show that older salespeople are on average 55% more effective than younger salespeople.

In conclusion
While it’s not surprising to find that veteran salespeople are more effective than younger salespeople, it is very interesting to learn that the biggest differentiators are not skill-related. Teach the young guys to reconsider what they believe about themselves, and they’ll start closing the gap on their more experienced colleagues.

Based on a recent article by Dave Kurlan, with his permission.

Thanks Dave.

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