Are Sales People Better or Worse in 2020?

by: Ewan Watt 4.5 min read

Are sales people better or worse in 2020?


Here’s what I think…


I started selling in the 1990’s which my kids describe as “The Olden Days”. I vividly remember the sales meeting when the company’s website was being launched and I thought I was going to be out of a job.


Fast forward to 2020:
  • Good sales people are certainly not out of a job, and very important to businesses
  • Surprisingly, only 22% of global retail sales are online

So before, I look at the good, the bad and the ugly… has the role of the sales person really changed over the past decade?





In 2020, 50-90% of the journey is complete before a buyer interacts with a sales person.

There have been big changes in what sales people do:

  • Marketing now drives customer education – not sales
  • Product information is available online and it’s value is discounted
  • Online reviews are trusted as much as customer referrals provided by sales people
  • Inbound sales on average represents 30-40% of new sales revenue

In summary: The Internet has changed how sales people connect, communicate and influence.


Before we go evaluating sales people; business leaders and marketers need to consider the following 3 stats:
  • Only 25% of marketing-generated leads are typically of a high enough quality to immediately advance to sales.
  • Only 5% of salespeople said the leads they received from marketing were very high quality.
  • The average website converts at 1-2% into a sales lead.

In summary – Business strategy, marketing & websites are having a bigger influence on sales than ever before. Judging sales people on the wrong leads or marketing strategy is not fair or reasonable.


The Good, the Bad & The Ugly of Sales People Performance in 2020


The Good 👼

Speed – Good sales people are following up much faster then ever before, delivering relevant information via the Internet to support faster decision making.

Better Decision Making – Sales professionals are becoming consultants and sharing relevant case studies and video content which accelerates knowledge sharing and helps customers make better decisions.

Social Selling– Social media platforms such as Linked in are helping sales people develop deeper relationship with their clients and sales representatives using social selling are 50% more likely to hit their targets.

Networking – LinkedIn has made it much easier and faster for sales people to grow their network. Customers are 4 to 5 times more likely to buy from someone they know.

Unlocking new opportunities – Exceptional sales people are using online research tools such as Google to approach customers with new business opportunities that previously would not have been discovered.



The Bad

Below are the areas where most sales people are bad (no excuses)
  • Responding to inbound leads quickly (less than 10 mins)
    Reason to improve: 35-50% of sales go to the vendor which respond first
  • Not following up by phone, text and email at least 5 times.
    Reason to Improve: 80% of sales require 5 follow up contacts after a meeting
  • Not knowing a business before a sales approach is made
    Reason to improve: 85% of prospects and customers are dissatisfied with their on the phone experience

The UGLY ⚠️

Below are the traits of companies and sales reps, that bring down the reputation of sales professionals

  • Cold introduction calls from overseas or outsourced call centres
  • Cold introductory emails that have no relevance to your business
  • Cold introductory emails that expect an immediate sale
  • Pushy follow up sales calls and follow up emails without understanding the needs and situation of the customer


So… are sales people better or worse in 2020?


If I was to base my conclusion on the total number of sales pitches I receive every month from the masses of cold calls and emails (Sales Noise) I receive, the conclusion would be straight forward.. sales people are worse and taking too many easy and quick options.

However, I don’t consider these actions as sales activity in 2020… the truth is, most of us simply block these types of sales approaches.

I also see brand awareness and product consideration as a shared responsibility across business strategy, marketing & sales. Therefore, I don’t think the issue of “sales bombardment” as just a sales people issue anymore.

The issue of customers feeling being bombarded by sales people is generally a result of gaps in business strategy for most companies when they try to target too many different types of customers.


The Verdict: Sales Professionals Are Better

Sales people who tick the professional boxes below; deliver a better sales experience in 2020.
  • The sales & marketing team agree on their target markets
  • The sales & marketing agree and have documented the definition of a qualified lead
  • The sales person is using social selling to grow and share relevant case studies with their network & sales prospects.
  • The sales person has the discipline to consistently follow up qualified opportunities

For every sales person not doing the above, sales performance is decreasing and the customer experience is worse. Customers have the power and either do it themselves or find another supplier.


What do you think? 

I am interested to hear any feedback from business owners, marketers or sales managers… what do you think of the brand of sales professionals in 2020?

Drop me a note at [email protected] or post a comment down below, I would really value any of your thoughts or experiences.

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