Research shows many sales behaviours are ineffective


It’s been said that if you want to recruit good sales people “hire optimists”. Working with many sales managers over the years, we have debated what makes a “good” sales rep many times.

Here’s a look on the right behaviours for sales people – and the wrong behaviours!

I refer to an interesting piece of research on improving sales people’s performance, most recently a commentary from HBR adding to earlier research from Cranfield – links below to the research report and HBR site.

Cranfield worked with data, provided by sales consultancy Silent Edge, analysing the performance of 800 sales professionals observed in live sales interactions.  The report identifies eight sets of behaviours in sales meetings.  By understanding these behaviours, managers could effect changes in their current sales force and recruit better team members in the future.

The bad news is that only three of the eight behavioural types, a mere 37% of the sales force, were effective.  However the good news is that behavioural tendencies can be managed over time encouraging sales people to adopt behaviours of the most effective types.

Lynette Ryals, Professor of Strategic Sales and Account Management at Cranfield School of Management, co-authored the article with Dr Iain Davies, a lecturer at the University of Bath. 

“The most exciting part of our results is how the behaviours of these sales people are linked to their success” says Professor Ryals. “This is an important report for companies wanting to improve their sales performance.”

“The results of the research are ground-breaking,” claims Silent Edge’s CEO Russell Ward.  “For the first time organisations are able to identify what types of behaviours they have in their sales forces giving managers invaluable knowledge to develop their teams.  This is where Silent Edge is leading the market and we’re helping our clients achieve incredible performance improvements using our innovative evaluation and development tools.” 

The eight behavioural types are

The best




The rest






To identify the behaviours of your sales team read the article in the Harvard Business Review here: or read the full research report here:


Cranfield University School of Management

Silent Edge, UK based sales training consultancy