The Exponential Benefit of Focusing on Middle Performers
Did 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).
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.
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.