3 secrets of super sales teams that feel illegal to know

Here are three secrets of successful sales teams that business owners and entrepreneurs should know.

The distribution curve rules

First. Not all your salespeople are, or will even be, sales rock stars. Accept this. Move on. Like a bell curve you will always have a select few As, a bulk of Bs and Cs and some Ds and Es. Don’t take it personally, its just the way it is. Here, there everywhere. And as much as business owners and entrepreneurs will want to believe otherwise, craving for A performers only, it won’t happen. The normal distribution curve will always hold sway. So, rethink what high performing sales teams means. And no, it’s not a waste of resources having the Cs and Ds. In fact, the distribution curve is nature’s way of telling you, “Hey! Pay attention I know what I’m doing.”

And when you pay attention, you find out why. Depending on your business, you will find that you need the Cs and Ds for quantity as the As and B pluses tend to focus on quality. And as a business, you need both sales of high end and mid- to low-end wines; you need sales of deluxe as well as standard rooms; there’s reason why banks don’t limit themselves to corporate but venture into retail banking too, administratively involving as it is. For sustainability, you need to have your eggs in more than one basket.

And then there are these facts. One, if all your sales people are A performers, that speaks more to your (questionable) target setting than it does their performance ability. And two, if they are all As, that doesn’t make them stellar, it just make them average. It is comparison that inspires competition, and gives meaning to the grading.

Pareto analysis reveal secrets of successful sales teams

Next. If you think having to accept the distribution curve is bad, it gets worse. If you subjected your sales team’s performance over several years, or even one year, you are likely to find that only 20% give you 80% of your sales. Not necessarily in those exact proportions but, principle. Meaning, you’ll find that only your A performers produce the bulk of your sales. It will feel irritating, shocking and a raw deal. “Why am I paying the other 80% of the sales people then! I’ve been wasting money. I’ll fire them! Starting with the Sales Manager, who has been hiding this from me.”

That is the response I typically get from business owners and entrepreneurs when I expose them to these facts. And in theory, their reaction makes logical sense. However, in practice, it ends up costing your business more before you realize you can’t win-the distribution curve rules. And you need these “non-performers” for reasons already shared.

Read: Profit raking salespeople take time and money to build

Secrets of successful sales teams

Don’t push your luck, pull your weight instead

I’m not suggesting you infinitely entertain the Ds, and certainly not the Es

Before I explain, listen up. If you are struggling as a salesperson, don’t push your luck, pull your weight instead. If you yo-yo between the C and D grade of sales performance, listen up.  At the risk of stating the obvious, you are almost always in the cross hairs of your boss. And, as if being continually fried is not enough, you are continually stressed at the very real prospect of being fired. At least, you should be if you care enough about the job. Continually frazzled, giving up feels so easy and relieving. And no, I’m not advocating for you to do so. You’ve enjoyed the ride this far. For whatever reason you’ve not been fired yet.

Now then. Quite possibly, it’s because your attitude is right. As such, your presence is still entertained. Meaning, despite your lacklustre performance you are still liked. But, don’t push your luck.  Like won’t keep you there indefinitely. Try pulling your weight instead. Take initiative.

Show effort. Ask for help. (Most sales people don’t) Submit (genuine) reports that make it easy for you to be helped. Keep an eye out for areas within the organization you feel you can add value to, and can asked to be redeployed there. And ‘there’ could be accounting, customer service, warehouse fulfilment, human resource, administration, anywhere. You’d be amazed what can be done for you simply because you have the right attitude.

As for you, business owner, fire that poor performing sales person, but first….


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