17 July 2017
Top sales reps get praise and bottom dwellers get help. Where does that leave your middle? You know, the other 80%. Management tends to nurture stars and clean up after laggards. It’s our gut reaction to fix what’s broken and massage the golden goose. But let’s look at the facts. Here are three ways to increase revenue with your organization’s biggest asset: its middle.
1. Recognize BIGGEST > best
Visualize 1,000 employees:
Your middle doesn’t have to stay middling. Peel away the dollar signs and imagine the potential of 800 sales reps. It isn’t rocket science. There are simply more of them. Pour time and effort into low performers to achieve mediocre ROI. Over-develop your stars and those stars get pulled into your competition’s orbit. Instead, invest in those who are only a few skills away from excellence.
The stragglers (bottom 10%) haven’t proven their potential, the gazelles (top 10%) have already figured out how to tap it—but the herd (middle 80%) just needs a push to start running with the gazelles. Companies are judged by what they consistently deliver. In other words, your average performers. Boosting your middle boosts your company standards. All you need to do is…
2. Develop employees just 1%
Great Britain’s cycling team weren’t always Olympic contenders. When Sir David Brailsford took over as performance director in 2003, he coached a philosophy that would be laughed out of most locker rooms: do 100 things 1% better. The Brits took home the Gold in Beijing, London, and Rio.
Run the math on Brailsford’s mandate. Now run it on yours: 1% more calls, 1% more contacts, 1% more contracts, and 97 other benchmarks. Micro-gains add up. When investing resources in each employee demographic, “the herd” out-delivers in improved revenue due to sheer numbers. Combine this focus with gold-medal strategy to reap the rewards. Training itself is another conversation, but it’s worth noting technological breakthroughs are empowering managers and sales forces like never before.
3. Move now, cut later
Just because sales force turnover is (much) higher than other professions doesn’t mean yours has to be. Logic says cut the weakest links. Not wrong per se, but try improving before replacing. When you move your middle, the rest moves, too. Wait then cut. Some stragglers on the chopping block will shift right to form the new middle. Serial underperformers will be ready for the axe exactly where you left them.
Pruning your people is crucial to maintaining a healthy organization. Empowering them will take some extra motivation. How is for you to decide. Meanwhile, remember the 1% butterfly effect. Organizational change is ambitious, but your tactics can start small. A million snowflakes make an avalanche.