92.6% of LinkedIn Users Believe Made Up Statistics
92.6% of LinkedIn Users Believe Made Up Statistics
If you’ve spent any time at all on LinkedIn, you’ve no doubt been exposed to some terrific statistics about how perseverance pays off for salespeople. These stats, courtesy of a National Sales Executive Association study, detail some shockingly stark data that prove the average salesperson is lazy and has no chance to succeed if they don’t start following up.
If you haven’t yet viewed this meme, it proclaims that:
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
First, let me start by saying that “salespeople” is one word, not two. I don’t know who these “sales people” are, but I do know plenty of salespeople. (This should be your first clue that these stats are dubious, at best.)
Second, and more importantly, as I wrote earlier: these statistics are courtesy of the National Sales Executive Association. Let me add the FAMOUS National Sales Executive Association.
Oh, you’ve never heard of the National Sales Executive Association? Wow… because neither had I.
Given that I often train salespeople and their managers on how best to follow up with prospects and customers, I was intrigued by these stats and, frankly, wanted to include them in my training. Although, unlike most consultants and trainers in my industry, I always want to be certain that the data I deliver is founded in solid, respected studies or includes only information I’ve personally gathered.
After an extensive internet search, I’ve concluded that there is no such thing as the National Sales Executive Association. Of course, there are plenty of organizations using the NSEA moniker, including:
- The National Student Employment Association
- The Nevada State Education Association
- The National Standards Enforcement Agency
- The North Syracuse Education Association
- The National Schools Equestrian Association
There’s even something called the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (I’m not making that up); but sadly, there is no National Sales Executive Association… at least not according to Google. The closest anyone can get to uncovering the mystery behind this illusive group is to join something called the National Association of Sales Executives on LinkedIn groups; though this group also has nothing to do with the OFFICIAL National Sales Executive Association.
So, what does this all mean? It means that while these made-up stats can’t prove salespeople are lazy, their very propagation on the internet (and especially on LinkedIn) does prove that many so-called professionals are naïve (and possibly lazy). They’re simply too quick to believe everything that supports or enhances their point of view, regardless of its source or authenticity. Like I wrote: 92.6% of LinkedIn users believe made up statistics. (I know, because I made up that one and it has a made up 92.6% approval rating with LinkedIn users.)
Is it too much to ask that the next time you’re about to quote something on the web you remember one of the greatest memes making the rounds today:
The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy – Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Of course, there are plenty of folks reading this post that simply don’t care if something is true or not. So long as it supports their position, they’re going to spread it. For those people I just ask that they please use what seems to be the “official” meme from this “study” conveying the fake data:
December 12, 2019 @ 6:12 PM
What I find interesting about this is how many “thought leaders” run with this statistic to display why people need to follow up. They don’t dive into this statistic to see if it’s relevant to their audience. No research is done about industry or time period. It’s not unique or creative. It’s actually kind of lazy.
I decided to take a different approach on trying to explain following up without using this statistic: https://youtu.be/qIEHh3qKJWE
October 17, 2019 @ 12:23 PM
Unfortunately, researching the internet does not always include the best sources; like good ol’ Microfiche from a library database. YES! the National Sales Executives, Inc. organization did, in fact, exist. They were located at 136 East 57th St. New York 22, NY. They were known as “the national voice of selling” in the 1940’s & 1950’s. NO! I am not going to say the National Sales Executives company sponsored the statistics in question, yet, the company did in fact exist, and their sales articles can be found on Microfiche.
October 17, 2019 @ 1:39 PM
Making its use today (some 70 years later) even more embarrassing.
November 3, 2017 @ 11:24 AM
Forth is a typo and salespeople should be conjoined!
August 4, 2017 @ 4:15 AM
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust referrals from people they know.
August 3, 2017 @ 9:10 PM
Thanks for the previous posters (above). The original source of the sales statistics is here:
“National Sales Executives, Inc.” book, page 34:
And not: “National Sales Executive Association” which doesn’t exist.
March 5, 2018 @ 6:27 AM
After so much has been written about how this is fake data—you have found the real source…from 1957! You should be making more of a big deal out of this. How on earth did you find it?
March 5, 2018 @ 8:24 AM
You’re not suggesting that we even consider sales data from 1957 as having any value today, are you? In 1957 there was no email, no text messaging and no mobile phones. In fact, roughly 30% of households didn’t have a home phone and about 25% didn’t own a car.
June 20, 2017 @ 12:53 PM
So what are the stats? Does anyone have factual data that can be backed up?
June 20, 2017 @ 2:08 PM
The data is going to be different by industry, customer type (B2C, B2B), and source of prospect (cold call, warm lead, etc.). The best data I’ve seen (with respect to lead response) is that it takes 6 calls to reach 93% of those who are willing to reconnect. The data in this study (from Velocify) jives with my experience when working with internet sales teams at hundreds of car dealerships. Here’s a link to the PDF with the highlights from the study: http://pages.velocify.com/rs/leads360/images/Ultimate-Contact-Strategy.pdf
May 19, 2017 @ 7:02 AM
I first came across this and wrote it down in my diary in 1997. Back then I remember that the internet was just starting to blossom. These stats were created before the internet and were delivered to us in a seminar on sales in Hawaii at a global conference where there were over 2000 people in attendance. So, 20 years later, these statistics have grown in importance and perhaps this is why.
Can we commission a new study to be done properly?
Boom San Agustin
January 16, 2017 @ 1:36 AM
When I first came across that meme, I already felt it wasn’t true; and, as I have suspected, those state are were utter BS. However, I do want to find some stats about sales follow-ups that are true. Would you happen to have come across some verifiable stats I can use in my research?
Thanks! Great blog!
December 7, 2016 @ 6:49 PM
Hi Zz Manager,
I found the meme shared today on LinkedIn by a business coach. A link in the comments led me to your post.
Stupid how many so called gurus are still sharing it in 2016 without doing due diligence.
December 7, 2016 @ 6:51 PM
It amazes me every single day!
September 5, 2016 @ 8:01 AM
I just found this page because our S&M Exec VP just forwarded it to the whole company of 5000+ employees. And just like his last email I fact-checked, it was pure BS.
I feel sorry for the salespeople he is trying to embarrass and I have even less faith in our (lazy or incompetent I cant decide) senior management.
September 5, 2016 @ 8:09 AM
JT – This would be funnier to me if it wasn’t so true, far too often with Sales VPs. Because he was too lazy to verify its veracity, I assume he was also too lazy to correct the spelling or the math… Sad.
August 3, 2016 @ 2:47 PM
The thing I dislike about the internet is that if you write it its true. Are you sure they are not real.
Facts: You couldnt find the association that posted it.
You didnt find a set of different numbers
How did you prove them in error.
I would say its fair to say you shouldnt use them because they couldnt be validated.
But did you invalidate them with real data?
August 4, 2016 @ 11:32 AM
Umm, because the first set of numbers adds up to 95%???
I don’t need conflicting data to prove this as a non-existent study. The fact that it doesn’t exist proves that.
December 14, 2016 @ 5:22 PM
Your argument is irrelevant JohnM. Data that can’t be verified, cross-referenced, or scrutinized… isn’t data.
August 3, 2016 @ 4:15 AM
Hello The Manager!
I came across this post while doing a quick Google search “National Sales Executives Association”, looking up the data behind the meme. Ha! Clever me. Jokes aside, I have seen so much baloney on LinkedIn in the last few months, I have to say, coming across this post is refreshing. I don’t particularly like the tone of some of the comments, but hey, it says a lot about the contributors.
I would like to see dates on your posts, I don’t know if I’m commenting on something written 5 years ago, and on the comments. You know, in case I am referring to old data. Lol.
Thank you for keeping us intelligent and diligent. Looking forward to more posts.
August 3, 2016 @ 7:36 AM
I wrote the post in June 2014 after seeing that made-up meme for a couple years. Interestingly, I’ve seen it re-posted on LinkedIn by two different connections in the last week!
June 6, 2016 @ 5:22 PM
It’s also fourth, not “forth”.
May 11, 2016 @ 1:33 PM
I remember seeing these stats before we even new what the internet was.
February 22, 2016 @ 2:26 PM
This study by leads360 (now Velocify) is the most definitive I have seen that addresses the effectiveness of sustained follow up.
February 22, 2016 @ 4:07 PM
Great share, Erick! Thank you!
September 15, 2015 @ 5:22 PM
Good to know that those number circulating are less than true.
I’m by no means a sales professional, but did have to do a decent amount emailing, calling and selling when I ran my consultancy.
Although these numbers may not have conclusive research to back them up, do you think they are really that far off?
IMO it really does take until the 5th or greater interaction to actually sell a service or higher ticket product. Sure I’ve made a couple of sales within the first 3 interactions, but I think with many potential clients saying “call back next week” and it taking many, many more interactions it may average out to about 5 interactions or greater.
What do you think?
September 15, 2015 @ 5:27 PM
I completely agree that five or more calls are often required to make a sale or to even re-engage a prospect. Moreover, I’d love to see a real study done on this so that sales managers can create processes that drive the optimum number of call attempts necessary to close a customer.
August 21, 2015 @ 3:19 PM
Unfortunately I have been using this stat for a while since it came from who I thought was a reputable source who shared the meme with me that looked somewhat legit. I did a basic search a while ago to find the actual study but couldn’t find it and assumed it was from a publication. I should have known better. Thanks for the post. I’ll stop using it.
I did however find this post that has some of the same info in it and comes from a much more reputable source (InsideSales.com). http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2012/07/12/the-black-hole-that-executives-dont-know-about/4/.
I hope that helps some people.
August 21, 2015 @ 8:16 PM
Thanks John! That’s a great link you shared!
Boom San Agustin
May 20, 2015 @ 10:34 AM
I also wanted to use these “stats” in my consultancy; and, like you, I researched it first. I’m glad I did. I don’t want to teach people anything that isn’t true.
However, this meme actually got me curious as to what the actual statistics on the ratio of contacts to calls are. Would you happen to know where I can find some legit stats?
May 20, 2015 @ 10:43 AM
I have searched far and wide for actual stats and cannot find anything that looks legit and also associates sales with the number of follow-up attempts.
From the car dealers I’ve worked with we have some reliable data (that I’ve personally gathered over the last 10 years) that shows salespeople who make quality calls to their database sell at an extremely high rate compared to their coworkers. The math is, basically, 1,000 quality calls equals about 30 units sold. The calls must be quality, but also include quality voicemails left for their customers.
For teams that focus on this, the math is uncannily accurate regardless of the number of salespeople making calls or the quantity of calls made. (Every 1,000 quality calls equals about 30 units sold for a given period.)
Boom San Agustin
January 16, 2017 @ 1:45 AM
I left a reply a few minutes ago without realizing that I had already commented on your blog; which proves that I am still serious about looking for answers.
However, since I do come from the automobile industry, your statement about 30 units sold per 1000 quality calls seems about right.
May 4, 2015 @ 4:15 PM
I love the whole “fact” debate. The fact is that anything that you don’t personally witness yourself is questionable. In this case, I think these facts from the NASE are actually pretty close as I have lived them personally in the cold calling world.
At one time I worked for the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) selling a “benefits” program, but it was essentially health insurance in the <Y2K dayz. I had to leave that employ (contact position) post haste as my integrity & values did not align.
Where competition is high and familiarity is low, the "facts" of this "survey" really are pretty close and works for those who persevere. Cold calling is SO 1960-70's, but unfortunately today's (should be long retired) sales managers still know it works albeit only sometimes usually at the expense of the exhausted salesperson with unrealistic goals.
I will definitely use these "facts" in some of my presentations, of course with the necessary qualification.
Thank you to a good friend for forwarding this to me!
March 31, 2015 @ 12:05 PM
I just thought you should know that you are technically wrong. While the quote is extremely old, and the source slightly off, it is a legitimate quote. The correct source is the “National Sales Executives, Inc”. I was able to find the quote dating back to 1957 in Management Magazines, Inc’s Management Methods, Volumes 13-14, page 34 . It was referenced in a number of books and magazines in the 50’s and 60’s. A search on Google Books proved helpful. In fact a plausible cause of the source being off if due to a 1965 Safety publication by the National Commission on Safety Education, National Education Association who states, “A survey by a national sales executive association showed that…” and it goes on to list the stats. While yes, people should probably not be still using information from 60 years ago in terms of today’s selling environment (and worse yet calling it “recent”), I think that people should also not discount something as being legitimate just because 30 minutes on Google’s normal search yielded no results. There was a world before the internet.
March 31, 2015 @ 12:20 PM
Forgive me if I don’t automatically believe you, as I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet.
Even if I were to actually see this in the written form you reference, the data would still be suspect. Without knowing the study parameters, the results (even 60 years ago) were meaningless.
However, your statement “… people should probably not be still using information from 60 years ago in terms of today’s selling environment …” is pretty funny (no offense).
The use of the word “probably” makes it seem like you would condone the “qualified” use of this material in a presentation today. Please tell us that’s not true.
Assuming everything you wrote is true, I am actually more embarrassed for those who continue to present this data as factual.
September 19, 2016 @ 4:04 PM
Your comment about using 60 year old “recent” data is well taken, but she is correct that there is a source for the data:
September 19, 2016 @ 4:21 PM
Thank you, me! Nice find.
1957, hmm? Wow, let’s all go out and quote stats from 1957.
Now I am more embarrassed for those who continue to regurgitate this moronic meme.
March 31, 2015 @ 12:28 PM
Danielle – based on your b*tchy and snarky comment
“I think that people should also not discount something as being legitimate just because 30 minutes on Google’s normal search yielded no results. There was a world before the internet.”
it sounds like you support the people who did no research and just presented these statistics as facts rather than those who did some research and decided not to report this information. Shame on you.
October 12, 2016 @ 2:28 PM
The National Sales Executives was the former name for Sales & Marketing Executives International, and the statistics were published by the organization based on a survey of its members.
October 12, 2016 @ 2:36 PM
What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?
(Sorry, I had to.)
Okay, though just to be clear to the readers, YOU are the one saying this and YOU provided YOUR link to YOUR site to vouch for these stats as being valid.
Of course, if you are correct, then this data and the oft-shared Meme is more than 50 years old. Thus, completely irrelevant to anything anyone is talking about today. Do I have that right?
I am hopeful you are correct, because (to paraphrase a previous comment response) then it’s even more embarrassing for any manager who ever dared share this almost 60-year-old Meme in a training class since 1970.
March 31, 2015 @ 4:20 AM
Wow, what a great post! Abraham Lincoln had so much foresight all the way back from 1864, he could foresee the internet age. What a man!
March 16, 2015 @ 10:31 AM
I wish I could say I was always diligent in checking my sources … I will definitely do so going forward. Thanks for the great info.
March 16, 2015 @ 10:33 AM
My pleasure, Ian!
February 11, 2015 @ 6:51 PM
This is the response I received from a facilitator when I pointed out that these statistics were invalid! The ignorance abounds! Even the sources she list prove the point and she even goes further to state that these statistics are the “standard training material for banking.” Is a lie a valid point to be considered?
I guess that if a pick pocket stands in a crowd of people, all he’ll see are pockets!
Our classmate Barbara wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this article refuting the validity of the statistic. I was able to locate some supporting information on the American Association of Inside Sales People’s website and find the NASE’s LinkedIn Group. While this basic information is also a regular part of bank industry training programs, there is always more than one valid point of view to consider. That’s the benefit of peer learning! The originally presented image is below along with an alternate description of the sales process that might benefit the group if the statistic doesn’t serve you. Use as much or as little that is meaningful, agreeable, and useful to your endeavor!
February 11, 2015 @ 6:59 PM
Thanks for sharing this Barbara. All I can say is “WOW!”
If I can translate the facilitator’s message I think it’s this:
“I was caught sharing data that was not true. I did no research on this data before presenting it to you as fact, so now I’m a bit embarrassed and will find a way to justify this false data any way I can just to save a little face. While these statistics are totally made up and there is no evidence to support them, we need to understand that some people enjoy presenting made-up statistics if they can be found easily on the internet and they favor one’s view.”
January 7, 2015 @ 12:57 PM
Add my thanks to the list. I was about to include it in a presentation to my CEO and decided to conduct a little due-diligence. I’m glad I did and I’m glad I found your site – those stats will not make it into any of my presentations
January 7, 2015 @ 1:05 PM
You’re very welcome, Glenn.
January 5, 2015 @ 3:08 PM
Thank you for this. Yours is the second site that I have found to debunk this myth. What I am looking for is an accurate or at least verifiable study on follow up success. Any ideas??
January 5, 2015 @ 3:10 PM
I think all sales managers know in their hearts that more follow-up is needed to close more sales, but I have (so far) been unable to find a credible study detailing this. Please post a link here if you find something.
December 19, 2014 @ 7:23 AM
I agree that it is critical to verify the source. Trying to do so has lead me to your site. However, being in sales AND being a former auditor/bean counter has led me to analyze the sales history in the offices that I manage (B2B) and I’ve found that the numbers are fairly accurate. 3+ face-t0-face visits creates about a 80% referral (sale) conversion. They don’t have the same level of accuracy with phone, text, email or social media contacts. … I just wish I could find a valid source for the statistics.
December 5, 2014 @ 3:09 AM
I also belong to that minority of consultants who check the source of the information. Today, you made my life easier! Thank you!
December 5, 2014 @ 9:55 AM
September 4, 2014 @ 12:49 PM
Ha! I just sat through a sales training seminar yesterday where my company paid the speaker $10,000 for a 2-hour presentation, and the guy actually included this “study” in his material! When I showed my boss your post this morning he flipped out since he was the one who hired the “expert”. Now he wants to know what you would charge for a 2-hour training!
September 4, 2014 @ 12:51 PM
Wow! I’m clearly not charging enough!
Feel free to have your boss send me a note through my contact form on the About page on this site, I’d be happy to give him a quote.
September 4, 2014 @ 11:49 AM
Good job! Although, I got a hint it was incorrect when fourth was spelled wrong. My internet investigation commenced.
September 4, 2014 @ 12:46 PM
Glad I could help. Yes, the misspelling was definitely an early clue for me, as well. (Of course, my spellchecker corrected it in the body of the post.)
July 31, 2014 @ 2:16 PM
LOL – that’s great. I was JUST looking for the original source for that data (because I saw it on LI daily – for the past few months and thought it was surprising and compelling) and I wanted to include it in a report (but I wanted to make sure it was true). Thank you for saving me from looking like an idiot. 🙂
July 31, 2014 @ 4:38 PM
You’re very welcome! I’m always glad to know there are other business professionals out there who don’t automatically believe everything quoted on the internet.
Lifelong Sales Manager
June 15, 2014 @ 11:00 AM
I have been scouring the internet trying to determine if this study was real or fake – that’s how I found this post.
I see this stupid study quoted constantly in my industry and cannot believe all of the manager and trainers are so lazy or naïve or both!
Can someone please do their homework just once? Is that too much to ask?
June 15, 2014 @ 11:03 AM
You’re welcome. Since discovering the dubious origin of this study, I find myself snickering (and losing some respect) for anyone who quotes it or republishes it as if the data were authentic.