Sales Experience is Overrated!

sales experience is overrated

Hi, it’s Ben Lai from Sales Ethos. Today’s topic is sales experience is overrated. You heard me. There people in the sales profession who have been in it for 10, 20, even 30 years. When they’re applying for a job, this can seem like a really great thing to have on your CV. However, looking at this one factor alone, even with industry experience, can be very misleading. Today, I’m going to share with you three points why that is the case and what else you should look for and hold as important.

#1 Factor More Important Than Sales Experience: Quality, Not Quantity

Now, it’s kind of funny. When you’re looking at certain websites, especially for the small boutiques, what they will often do is say that we have a combined experience of 20 or 50 years amongst all of the directors of the company, as though experience somehow stacks up in that fashion. The reality is that it doesn’t. What matters more is what you put into those years.

My sales career was only five years long. You might look at that and say, “What does Ben possibly know about the sales profession? I’ve been in it for 20 years, therefore I know more than him.” Fair point, okay? But however, what did you put into those 20 years compared to what I put in to the five years? Now, I’m not trying to brag. All I’m saying is that during my five-year sales career, I was constantly reading. I was constantly taking risks. I was constantly attending seminars and expanding my knowledge. I tried new things that doing work out and therefore made the five years a very rich experience. I was growing and stretching for the entire time.

Now, if you put that into the 20 years, then of course you’re probably going to know a lot more than I do about sales. That’s, I’m not going to argue with that. However, if you are only depending on the number of years that you’ve been in a certain profession but you’re doing things the same way as you have since you started, you’re not adapting to the changes that have been happening in the sales profession. If you’re sticking to your old ways and your old attitudes, then the 20 years is going to be null and void. It’s not going to matter.

#2 Factor More Important Than Sales Experience: Culture Fit

Now the second thing that’s going to matter much more than sales experience is the culture fit with your organization. This is more of a leadership principle but to put in Jim Collins’ words, from the book Good to Great, you need to get the right people on the bus. You need people who align with the vision of the company in order to work effectively as a team. Regardless of how and how experienced the sales person is, if they’re a bad fit for the culture, then you’ve got a bad mix. You’re going to get a toxic environment.

The analogy that I like to put is how many drops of sewage would it take to contaminate an entire container of water for drinking? The answer is only a single drop. You wouldn’t want to go anywhere near that if you knew that that was in the tank. In the same way, a single person with a negative attitude could make a really negative influence on your culture.

Now, before I go into the third point, quick offer to those of you who are in sales management. If you would like a complementary one-to-one consultation to handle your top sales challenge, leave a comment below or click the link and leave your details and we’ll arrange a time to meet.

#3 Factor More Important Than Sales Experience: Work Ethic & Attitudes

The third thing that is more important than sales experience or even industry knowledge is the work ethic or the attitudes of the person. So thinking about yourself and having a bit of introspection, what are my attitudes like? Do I have a positive attitude? Do I have what’s known as a growth mindset, as in I’m constantly trying to improve? Your attitude and your ability to grow will far outweigh the number of years of experience that you have as a sales professional.

So we need to constantly think to ourselves, “How can I improve? How can I work better? How can I work harder and smarter?” Those are the things that are going to make a big difference for your sales career.


Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other thoughts about what is more important than sales experience. Or if you disagree with me, you feel that sales experience is very important, leave a comment below. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, and remember that integrity plus skills equals success.

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