What 30 years of building sales teams has taught me about guaranteeing my client’s success.
What separates the top 20% of sales teams from the bottom 80%? Halfway through my career, I asked myself this question, came up with an answer, and have been unconditionally guaranteeing my clients’ experiences ever since.
Most sales teams are made up of a small number of high achievers and a larger group of people who struggle. On one hand, we know everyone can’t be a superstar. On the other hand, isn’t it reasonable to expect your non-superstars to perform at a higher level?
What would be the impact on your revenue, profitability, and business value if the bottom 80% of your sales team achieved quota nearly as often as the top 20%?
Sales teams that achieve this level of transformation double or triple year-over-year growth rates without hiring additional salespeople. In addition, sales and commercial team leaders gain a higher level of control over revenue, profitability, and business value regardless of what may be happening in the economy.
Below are the four operating levers we’ve identified as being essential to guaranteeing this level of transformation and control for our clients.
- High expectations – Top-performing sales teams are comprised of people who have an internal commitment to being counted among the best.
Today, effective accountability is about more than tracking performance against numbers or applying old-school carrot-and-stick management principles. The leadership skills required to get there are more complex and must be learned (they do not occur naturally). And, they must be reinforced by a reliable growth culture and go-to-market strategy.
- Meaningful incentives – Top-performing sales teams are comprised of people who have an internal belief that being counted among the best means they should be paid among the best. And they are managed by leaders who support this belief with simple, uncapped compensation plans. Plans that are aligned with corporate goals and incentivize behaviors that are tied to leading indicators of success.
We promote four leading indicators of success or ‘revenue levers,’ that together can have an exponential impact on individual and team performance. Most sales and commercial team leaders know what these levers are, but have never been taught how to access their full potential (hit me up for the levers and the formula for applying them).
- Confidence in leadership – Top-performing sales teams are comprised of people who have an internal drive fueled by their love for what they do and respect for who they do it for. These people need to feel supported by leaders who have the knowledge and experience to help them reach and redefine their potential.
Unfortunately, few sales or commercial team managers have received the training or mentoring required to deliver this part of their job effectively. They are left to make it up as they go, relying on their own experiences, instincts, and force of will to get by. And guess what, top performers expect more from their leaders than to simply get by.
- Reliable processes – Top-performing sales teams are comprised of people who hate wasting time. Whether they know why their sales process works or not, they want to make sure the time they invest in executing their craft produces results. If they don’t believe in the process they are being managed and measured against, they will lose faith in what they are doing and the team will fracture.
Top-performing sales forces are led by managers who are committed to delivering their people a reliable sales process and playbook. Tools that align team members around a common language and set of behaviors. Tools that demonstrate to each player they can achieve more as part of the team than they can on their own.
A long-term study of more than 2 million salespeople, conducted by Objective Management Group, reveals that only 8% of salespeople follow a reliable sales process. In our experience, another 12% have good enough instincts to slide by and the bottom 80% struggle.
Bottom line, the ability to breakthrough existing performance barriers and achieve greater control over revenue and profitability is possible, if you focus on these four operating levers.
Consider your own team. How high are the expectations of your people, and how well do your leaders hold them accountable and motivate them to achieve their commitments? Do you have an always-on recruiting program? How progressive is your compensation plan and how aligned is it with leading indicators of success your team can achieve? Do your people believe their managers can help them make more money, or are managers seen as obstacles to be avoided? Do your sales process and technology contribute to the success of your leaders and people, or are these tools viewed as administrative burdens that slow team members down?
What would it take to help the bottom 80% of your sales team perform as well as the top 20%?
If you’re unsure where to start, we can help you with an analysis of your current sales or commercial team engine. We’ll even include a detailed list of recommendations you can implement on your own. And, if you want our help, we can work together to turn those recommendations into measurable results in months, not years.
And yes, if we work together, we’ll unconditionally guarantee to improve each of these levers to ensure the results and return on investment you seek.
Get started for free by completing our Sales Engine Inventory and scheduling time to review your results and our recommendations.