If only we knew what they know…

In getting prepared for a meeting with a client’s sales VP, I spent some time analyzing the performance numbers of their 64 reps.  There it was again.  The same lopsided bell curve I see over and over and over, and no sign of the 80/20 rule either.Performance DistributionAs always, most of the reps are below average; 60% of them this time.  One is 3 1/3 times better than average.  Three others are more than twice as good as average.  Another eight sold more than 1 1/2 times the average.  The top 10 of 64 delivered fully 1/3 of total sales.

How can this be?  As I mentioned earlier, this same unbalanced distribution of performance is not the exception.  It’s the rule.  Thus my muse, “If only we knew what they know.”  Clearly these few top performers know and therefore do things the rest of the sales team doesn’t.

That’s the main reason a Sales Excellence Council invests considerable time identifying, documenting and promulgating best practices.  Now make no mistake.  This focus on spreading the word about how to execute activities that produce results is quite effective.  It does generate continuous improvement.  In fact, the weakest performers tend to show the greatest increases.

Oddly, though, the shape of the curve never seems to change much.  Even though the whole thing shifts to the right –  a really good thing – it’s still lopsided and the data still tells me most reps are below average.  There’s something else about those top performers…

Something tells me even the eagles themselves are not consciously aware of what makes them eagles.  I wonder what we (and they!) could learn if a few of them would write a blog post two or three times a week about “A Day In My Life As A Sales Rep.”  Would that help us & them figure out the secret sauce?  What do you think?

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