We have all heard of Parato’s law or the 80-20 rule.
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. … Pareto developed both concepts in the context of the distribution of income and wealth among the population.
80% of your sales come from 20% of your team. So if the other 80% of your team, the B players, produced at quota; what impact would that have on 2017?
Here are some 5 Steps to consider:
- Make sure all members of the sales team are sales professionals and not pretending to be. There are a number of sales reps that were hired because they are friends and family or have the gift of “gab” and a pleasing demeanor. Use tests to examine your sales teams’ strengths and weaknesses and coach when there is a worthy candidate and eliminate non sales people. You would not enter a Clydesdale in a race against thoroughbreds. Clydesdales have a very valuable role elsewhere in the organization. Successful sales people often come from families of sales people and are raised in a sales culture. Not a golden rule, rather an interesting trend. Do you have a team of thoroughbreds? I would say it is probably 80-20.
- The day of the cold calling, door knocking, telemarketing skill set high value is in decline. Buyer’s behavior has been changed forever by the internet and how solutions are found. These folks can be successful but in a high performing sales culture your digital marketing efforts should be sending a regular stream of warm leads to product and subject matter experts who understand how to assess a prospects true needs and architect the right solution. Feature “fire hosing” is sign of trouble as the sales professional does not care about their prospect enough to “listen” and is trying to rush the sales cycle: “stop me when you hear something you like”. Hire sales professionals who are knowledgeable on the industry and your products and know how to assess before selling. Has your sales process evolved in the wake of digitally transformed selling? I would say it is probably 80-20
- You can’t change attitude. Beware the lone wolf sales artist. If you have a rep that does not have a strong work ethic or take direction that is a potential problem. Sometimes these folks are widely successful for a period of time due to “blue birds, lucky territories, or RFP’s”; but when they miss they miss big and often are looked at by new sales reps as a model to follow. Focus on hiring sales personnel with the right attitude where you can direct behavior. This allows an organization to improve pipelines, improve call quality, closing ratios, improve margins, and lower customer acquisition costs. As we all learned in the movie “Money Ball”, the “stars” can be a detriment to the organization. Don’t track home runs; track getting on base! Have you hired the right team? I would say it is probably 80-20.
- Train, Train, train. Many companies talk a good game but are absolutely horrible at training a new sales talent. Product training, sales training, industry training is an ongoing activity not a “one and done” situation. As in any sport you rely on honing skills through practice, practice, practice. Shame on sales leadership who do not have regular training for their teams. Too often the team gets blamed, when it is the sales leader that is the problem. Sales teams must be students of the game, product, and industries they serve. Does your organization train effectively?
- This is another big miss in underperforming sales teams. Too often lead sales people are promoted to a sales management role and don’t know how to manage the individual individually. Most of the time coaching involves a ride along where the manager takes over the sales cycle and leaves the call saying “did you see how I did it? Just do that”. Add to the problem is a boomer teaching a millennial in this fashion and you have a recipe for disaster. Coaching is a increasingly important skill set: does your sales management possess it? I would say it is probably 80-20!