We hear it over and over again. The 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle.
When applied to sales it means that 20% of the sales force brings in 80% of the business. I have found this to be true during my 20 plus years in sales, sales management, and sales training.
The challenge is how to create more superstar sales people and increase the number of customers giving you business.
In order to understand how to improve the performance of sales people, you must first understand why the 20% are successful. When I teach sales training, I usually ask this very question and get a variety of answers, some of which are very interesting:
- “They just know how to sell.”
- “They have better territories.”
- “They understand the product.”
- “They know their territory.”
- “They work harder.”
- “They know how to sell value.”
These answers provide good insight into the sales person. I usually follow up with the question “Could they just be lucky?” That normally sparks a few interesting remarks.
I then tell them that I have a different definition of lucky:
L = Labor
Every successful sales person that I have ever met, works hard. On the other hand, I have also met lots of sales people who work hard and are not successful. Hard work is certainly a key element for success, but it is only part of the equation.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
U = Understanding
In order to be successful in sales you must have an understanding of your sales process, of your company and your products, and of the competition and their offering. Most importantly you need to understand your potential customer. What their desires, concerns and motivations are for considering your product. What their family situation is: what family members will be involved in the decision and what their concerns are. Without this understanding, you will never be able to discover how the value that you provide to the potential customer solves their pain. Developing a good effective strategy and tactics to support that strategy requires that you understand all aspects of the sales situation.
C = Commitment
Sales people must be committed to the sale and to their company. If you don’t believe in your company or your products, your customer will see it in your eyes. Commitment is what takes you over the top when the going gets rough.
K = Knowledge
Effective sales processes emphasize gathering information about your customers’ company, the contacts, the project, the competition and the product or service you are selling and how it adds value. There is a saying that says “he who dies with the most toys wins”. Well he who finishes the sale with the most knowledge usually wins.
Y = You
In the end, you are the one who decides to be in the top 20% or with the bottom 80%. We can all find reasons why we lose business, but the bottom line is it is YOU.
Success is 99% You and 1% the Rest of the World
So how do we move the 80% up?
I don’t think it is likely that you will move the entire 80% up, but you can expect to move 60% up by providing them with the right sales process. You also need the tools to drive that process, the right sales training, and positive, but firm, management and coaching.
The other 20%, if they aren’t related to the CEO, should probably consider a job or career change.
The Right Sales Process
Every company has a different sales process even if they don’t have a formal process. It is every step you take in getting the order. Most companies can easily define this process with stages and activities. The first key to having the right process for your company is to define it and follow it. The second key is to not have it so ridged that it becomes the sales prevention process. The third key is to improve it as you find the need. The third key is to have a CRM tool that drives your sales process.
You can never give your sales people too much training. They need training on your process, your products, the competitions products, presentation skills, personality analysis, negotiation skills, your CRM tool, and much more.
The best way to train sales people is with short sessions. Many companies do an all day or week long training session as part of a sales meeting and think that they have now trained their sales team and probably won’t need another training session for a year or so.
You are much better off doing a very focused training session once a week or once every two weeks.
Remember sales people have a short attention span. While you are training them, they are thinking about all the potential customers they should be calling. Your sales training should be short, focused, and done often.
Positive Firm Coaching
The top 20% likely will do just fine without management coaching but the bottom 80% need coaching. This doesn’t mean that you beat them up for an hour each day about their forecast. It means that you have open discussions about their opportunities and how the company can help.
Continuum CRM can help move the 80% up and while keeping the 20% at the top of their game. To learn how, sign up or a free demo today.