The Exponential Benefit of Focusing on Middle Performers

Performance Bell CurveDid you know that a 5% performance gain from the middle performers yields over 70% more revenue than a 5% shift in your top performers?


Good managers know that their time is a finite resource and when under the pressure of transforming their sales organisation as well as making BIG targets, they are all to aware that spending time and money in the wrong places is recipe for disaster. So the question becomes, “Where do we get the biggest Bang-For-Our_Buck?” when it comes to investing my time and money.


The Sales Executive Council says the a 5% performance gain from middle sales performers yields over 70% more revenue than a 5% shift in your top performers. This makes a lot of sense as the bulk of an organisation’s staff compliment are middle performers and a relatively small performance improvement in the largest base would yield the largest overall performance gain.

With that in mind, I wanted to spend a little time talking about what the role of a good sales methodology is in moving the performance of your middle 60% to the right hand side of the graph is. Firstly, what exactly do we mean when we talk about sales methodology and what is the difference between sales sales process and sales methodology? To keep it as simple as possible, we can call a sales process the “flow” or “stages” of a sales engagement or opportunity e.g. Prospect, Qualify, Solution, Proof, Close. A sales methodology on the other hand describes how one would move through the various “stages” of a sales process e.g. in Prospect: apply SQP (Sales Qualified Prospect).


Download our short presentation about how a proven Sales Methodology can drive up the performance of your middle 60%.


Methodologies are designed to bring objectivity, predictability and a greater chance of success to the sales process, they are therefore fairly prescriptive and require discipline when adopting them into your business. Many sales managers fall short in enforcing the discipline that goes with the adoption of a sales methodology, not paying a enough attention to the much hated word “admin” and sales tools (such as CRMs) which both play a crucial role in driving up adoption of a sales methodology and single uniform sales language (well talk more about sale language in later posts). Sales people need to understand that “admin” and the effective use of sales tools are essential elements of their job description! In July 2016, The Sales Management Association wrote an interesting article titled “Secrets to Making Your Sales Methodology Stick” which you can find here (if you have a membership), the article explores transformational ways of driving methodology adoption up.


BCX Matrix

If you’re familiar with the BCG Matrix of offering mixes, you can think of your top 20% performers as “Stars” and your middle 60% as “Question Marks”. The sales “Stars” require relatively less management as they have a natural flair for sales and although may be frustrating from a management point of view, consistently deliver the revenue. The “Question Marks” are are people who, given the investments are made have the ability to perform close to the levels that “Stars” perform at. These people are where methodology has the biggest influence. They are “self-critical”, have a desire to achieve and are willing to put the time and effort into achieving success. So when you invest in them, they have the drive and ambition to realise the potential of that investment……


I’m going to spend more time on this topic in later posts but for now, I’m going to leave to reflect on where your sales teams are at before digging deeper into how we apply methodology.


Sputnik-3 Methodologies


Part 2: Tiger Woods – Great Sales Leaders are Balanced

David Feherty isn’t one to shy away from making his opinion heard. After watching Tiger Woods Great Sales Leaders are Balancedrinse three shots in the water on live TV last week, debate over the 14-time major winner’s return is a hot topic of conversation. So no one should be surprised that the NBC announcer weighed in on the matter.

“I am not sure that Tiger will come back because it is a nerve in his back,” Feherty said on Tuesday at a Dublin event. “It’s not muscular or skeletal. It’s not something you can deal with in a physical way.

“I think he has a feeling that if he doesn’t make it back this time, he might be done from a physical standpoint.” – Golf Digest

He hadn’t so much as taken a practice swing when he grabbed a wedge and stood on the 10th tee at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, not a cloud in the sky on a crisp Monday morning. For a man who has had his every move scrutinized since he was a teenager, here was Tiger Woods, asked to hit a golf ball over a pond and onto a green, the pin 102 yards away, a few dozen eyes upon him.


He took the club back, made a pass through the ball, stood straight as he stared it down, allowed the club to slide through his hands – and watched the ball splash.

“Oh, that was stiff,” he said. “Ugh.”

He put down another ball, and into the drink it went. A third: Off the bank, and in again. – Chigaco Tribune


Things haven’t been great for Tiger Woods over the past couple of years but was does he need to recapture his former glory? In Tiger’s own words “I need to regain my balance.”, what exactly does it mean for a leader to be balanced?

Balance, in our language measures your ability, in the midst of conflicting tension of modern life to keep a healthy balance between business and family, activity and reflection, work and leisure. It measures you tendency to self-renewing and handle the stress of life without losing yourself.

Measuring high on balance means you are able to maintain high performance in spite of stressful environments. You attain this by cultivating and inner equilibrium and by integrating and balancing the various aspects of your life. Good balance aids you in remaining calm, considerate and in making good decisions under pressure. You can also provide support to other in difficult times.


If you score low on balance, you may become a victim of stress and burn out. You may diminish your personal life in pursuit of your work goals and undermine your physical health. You may want to consider the following if your “balance”score is low:

  • – Are present for those you care about?
  • – Do you spend too much time meeting obligations?
  • – Are you balancing work with play?


Part 1: Tiger Woods – Great Sales Leaders are Balanced

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golferGreat Sales Leaders are Balanced who is among the most successful golfers of all time. He has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for several years.
Following an outstanding amateur and two-year college golf career, Woods turned professional at age 20 in late summer 1996. By April 1997 he had already won his first major, the 1997 Masters, in a record-breaking performance, winning the tournament by 12 strokes and pocketing $486,000. He first reached the number one position in the world rankings in June 1997. Through the 2000s, Woods was the dominant force in golf, spending 264 weeks from August 1999 to September 2004 and 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010 as World Number One.


Woods has broken numerous golf records. He has been World Number One for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times,the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, and has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 14 professional major golf championships, the second highest of any player (Jack Nicklaus leads with 18), and 79 PGA Tour events, second all time behind Sam Snead, who had 82 wins. He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour. Additionally, Woods is only the second golfer, after Jack Nicklaus, to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships, and won at least one of those events in each of the first 11 years after they began in 1999. Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only golfers to win both The Silver Medal and The Gold Medal at The Open Championship.


But it is not Tiger Wood’s legendary golf success I want to focus on in this post but rather how Leaders who are seeming riding the crest of the wave and cannot put a foot wrong, deal with adversity. If you’ve had a long career in Sales Leadership, you probably know what I am talking about. Sometimes it may be through direct action of your own or even inaction that you end in a “tailspin” and the walls around seem to implode on you…. It’s happened to a lot of us, but where to from here and what traits does a Leader need to be equipped with to deal with these circumstances?….

Part 1: What Leaders can learn from Garry Kasparov about Strategy

Garry Kimovich Kasparov was Great Leaders have Strategic Focusborn Garik Kimovich Weinstein on 13 April 1963 and is a Russian chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months. His peak rating of 2851, achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (15) and Chess Oscars (11).Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. In 1997 he became the first world champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in a highly publicized match. He continued to hold the “Classical” World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000.


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Garry Kasparov didn’t become a world chess champion by chance. Besides natural talent, relentless work for developing decision-making abilities and strategical thinking was always a critical part of his success.


”You have to also understand your weaknesses. We might easily believe that a victory was a result of our greatness. What we often don’t understand is that even if we win, there were mistakes made. Analyzing what you did wrong, even if you won, is vital. Because everybody else will be working really hard, trying to find out what went wrong, and next time they will be prepared. You have to be ready to challenge your success.”


Account Planning and War

As our time is coming to its end, Kasparov aptly brings up the keys to performing well under pressure.

”No matter how much time is used to prepare, you have to understand what kind of decisions you make under pressure. That’s where it goes to your instincts. You have to try to create situations where your strengths are the most applicable. Master the conditions on the field and you’ll do fine.”


– From the “Making the right moves” interview with Garry Kasparov.


In Part 2: What leaders can learn from Garry Kasparov about Strategy, we’ll unpack what it means for a leader to have Strategic Focus.