Why Sales Reps Suck at Business Development?

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

By now everyone’s noticed that the sales process has changed, it’s no longer about the sales profession but instead, it’s focused on the buyer’s journey. It’s changed so much that most sales professionals are not even involved in the buying journey until it’s too late. In fact, 74% of today’s B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase according to Forrester. They on social performing their due diligence and research without you. Many sales professionals who are still cold calling are being treated with less respect, and are losing out on more and more opportunities. Why? It’s not only because the buying journey has changed, but how it’s changed, and how relevant sales people are making themselves within that process. Too many reps are finding themselves behind the 8 ball and they don’t even know it.

Andrew Hunt from Inbound Sales Network says it best in his article “How the B2B Buying Process Has Changed.” In the article, Hunt explains how 92% of all business-to-business buying starts on line and most sales reps will be engaged by prospects later in the process during the evaluation stage. If that’s the case, you’re already being price & feature compared with 2-3 other competitors. Seems pointless to wait, only to be in serious competition with all your competitors? So why are you waiting so long?

Evidence That Sales People Are Not Taking Advantage of Social Selling

Now is the best time in the history of sales for becoming the true sales professional and an expert in any given field. Not only has the internet affected how the buying journey has changed, it has also affected how sales experts can connect with the new B2B buyers. So why are Sales Executives so far behind the 8 ball? Let’s take a small sample look at how far behind Sales Executive truly are at becoming experts in the eyes of their customers and prospects. For illustration purposes, we use LinkedIn to statistically sample 50 Sales Executives out of 1.3 million random records. The results are alarming:

Sales Executives LinkedIn Profiles

Results and Observations from LinkedIn

  • Why are only 32 out of 50 sales professional posting a professional picture? As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words, so what are you saying when you don’t have a picture? Seems suspicious by omission.
  • The most alarming result is that out of 50 random Sales Executive, only 2 had shared any thought leadership with their professional network. Starting to see why sales reps are not connecting with their buyers? They are not helping anyone during their early stage of their prospects buying process, thus will never be seriously considered as a credible sales rep.
  • Another alarming fact is only 3 Sales Executives actually had content that their prospect or buyer would find helpful during their process. If buyers are doing 92% of their buying on line, wouldn’t you think that when they are checking out sales people they might like to see a sales expert and not just a résumé?
  • Wow, if you’re a true sales professional, wouldn’t you want to make it as easy as possible for your prospects and clients to contact you on tools such as LinkedIn? Funny thing is only 2 reps out of 50 think it’s important enough to added their email or phone number.
  • References, references, references. It’s the easiest way to share with your prospects how easy it is to do business with you. So why are only 29 of the Sales Executives working at demonstrating how they are helping clients?


Simply put, if you want to be a part of today buying journey, you need to change how you sell. Start fixing the above mess and start leveraging some of the world’s most powerful B2B tools on the internet today. You really need to ask yourself, if 92% of buyers are starting their buying process online–why am I not leveraging the tools to communicate with them? Social Selling is not a fad and it’s obvious with the research in this post that Sales Executives are not using some of the Internets most powerful sales tools like LinkedIn. The opportunity to connect with your prospects and clients online are outstanding as there are over 175 million people on LinkedIn and over 465 million accounts on Twitter that tweet over 175 million tweets a day. There are literally billions of conversations going on each year online and most Sales Executives are missing them. Are you behind the 8 ball?

The Bottom Line

The evidence is clear, buyers are digitally empowered and are on social completing the buying journey without you. Are you Social Selling yet? If you don’t want to be left behind the 8 ball–you need to start to take action. The following dozen blog posts on utilizing Social Selling strategies and LinkedIn can help you start but if you are looking for some hidden gems on how you can attract a very specific prospect, I recommend you check out 42 LinkedIn Sales Tips.

Learn 3 Social Selling strategies that will help you accelerate pipeline below.

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The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling