The Hidden Driver in Sales Team Performance

We all want our sales reps to crush their numbers monthly – only the reality is that doesn’t always happen.

As sales managers, it’s our job to bring out the best in our sales team to be sure they’re hitting their quota and driving performance.

But…we’re also crazy busy and barely have time to keep up.

What can we do to get the most out of our sales team in the limited time we have? Where can we invest a little to gain a lot?

The 80/20 Principle tells us that few things really matter, yet those few things matter a lot! A small number of causes drive the overwhelming majority of performance.

80/20 is the most common expression of this power law, where 80% of an effect (revenue, income, number of customers, etc.) results from a minority of causes. You’ve probably seen this on your sales team where a handful of star performers are responsible for the biggest chunk of your sales team’s performance.

Richard Koch has written several books on the 80/20 principle, and he suggests using “80/20 Thinking” as a method to dramatically improve performance.

Using 80/20 thinking means that we identify something meaningful we want to accomplish, and then find the “hidden drivers” that really matter. As sales managers, we want to drive exceptional performance in our sales teams – increased sales per employee, higher gross profits, more reps hitting their quota, and higher corporate revenue.

There’s no shortage of tactics, methods, and strategies to do this, only the majority lead to short-term, incremental gains. An extra sale here or there – maybe – then eventually back to baseline.

When we pursue these one-off, short-term tactics we spend a lot of time without a lot of return.

There must be a better way.

What if, instead of one-off incremental gains, we used ‘80/20 Thinking’ to identify the core driver of exceptional sales team performance?

Is that even possible?

Interestingly, the research is clear – the twin pillars that drive exceptional sales team performance are training and reinforcement.

Let’s look at some of the evidence.

A study by Summit Recruitment and Search of 540 companies showed that continuous investments in training and reinforcement resulted in over 50% higher net sales per employee, nearly 40% higher gross profits per employee and a 20% higher ratio in market-to-book value.

The RAIN group confirmed in a 2014 study that best-in-class companies with a training retention plan have 31% more sales reps reach quota than the industry average and a 10% higher year-over-year increase in corporate revenue.

I know… how can we be certain it’s the training and consistent reinforcement that’s responsible for these results?

Let’s look at what happens without consistent training support.

Achieve Global’s Survey of Sales Effectiveness confirms that more than 22% of those reporting low training support report a decline in sales revenue of more than 20%.

In today’s dynamic business environment you and your team must not only stay competitive, you must out-think and out-perform everyone else.  You can’t take the chance of losing any sales revenues, let alone 20% because of low training.

In our experience, while working with more than 66,500 sales reps across 30 different business categories, each of these reps’ sales increased by 5-35%.

Simply put, our decades of experience in training sales teams confirms that training works!

If sales managers know training and reinforcement is so effective, why do so many managers avoid it?

Why is it the item on your “to do” list that keeps getting ignored and occasionally moved to a new list?

The two reasons we observe most often are the beliefs that sales training is too difficult and time consuming to implement…

… and that training has to be in-depth and complicated to really work.

Let’s look at each of those and see if they’re true…

Up next…see how easy sales team training can be.