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Are you the 20%? Chances are, you’re not.



Do your prospects perceive you as a commodity even if you don’t?  Do they see you as the “yes I’ll consider working with you if you can give me a discount?”

Guess what, you’re the 20% guy (or girl….)


How do you know? They say things to you like, “things are tough and I’d like to give you a shot but you have to beat this price” and you fall for it. So here’s the question. If you are not always the cheapest and you have business, how is that possible? If everyone buys because it’s all the same and they’ll only switch with a discount, how does anyone have any business?


Today I worked with an insurance agency that gets it. Their top salesperson was giving examples of how he works with, or in some cases refuses to work with his prospects. Right from the beginning he is clear that he may not be able to save them money and may even be higher then they are paying now but he has the ability to bring a true consultative approach to the conversation and if they respect and are open to that he can do a true diagnosis of the situation.


Some of the prospects he talks to are quickly brushing him off. They tell him if he can’t save them money, forget it. He is so thankful when that happens. Why? Because time is the only true asset we have in sales and to save some by spending more time with qualified prospects is invaluable.


What does qualified mean? It doesn’t mean (for example) you call on organizations with a minimum of 200 employees only. Since they fit that criteria they’re qualified…no it’s much more then that.


1) Do they have needs that aren’t being met by there existing representative?

2) Are they willing to share these with you and openly discuss their situation; the good, the bad and the ugly?

3) Will they open their ” files” to you so you can do a true analysis and not hold back?

4) What will they do if you are not going to be the least expensive but solve some of the issues you uncover and give them a true assessment?



These are a few of the things that need to be dealt with when you prequalify a prospect. What are we really talking about here? Plain and simple we are talking about trust. Yes, trust.  This is the deciding factor in this or any other relationship. Without trust you have game playing, bidding wars and all around time wasters.


How is trust gained? Certainly not by telling them you are trustworthy.  Why not? Because people trust you based on your actions not what you say. It’s the way you work with them, the question you ask them and truly listening to what they say.


Don’t jump to a proposal, don’t promise them anything especially not too early and always pull back with questions like ” can you save us money? Can you give us better coverage’s or better service?”  Yes pull back.  The answer to these questions should be something like, ” I certainly hope so and that’s our goal but it’s too early in the process to really tell you any of that with confidence”


Scary? Yep I get it but start telling the truth, even if it hurts. Have the tough conversations with the tough questions. That’s where true respect and trust come from.  You sure don’t want to be the 20% guy, do you?

Is Your Sales Manager Good at Managing Their Time?

Is he or she balancing priorities properly? How do you even know?

A big dilemma faced by most executives is what is my sales manager doing and more importantly what should they be doing? It is a mystery but it shouldn’t be.

There are 3 priorities in my opinion that should always take the bulk of your sales managers time. Some are obvious and some not.

Priority one is hiring. Yes hiring. I am tired of hearing executives say to me, “well of course we have the regular 80/20 rule; 20 percent are really good and making their numbers consistently and the other 80 percent are inconsistent, one month up one down.” Why is this ok? Why is this an accepted practice?

The most common reason for this is a simple one. We have 6 territories to fill and we have sales people in each of the territories so we have no hiring need. What? Here is the question. If your sales manager or any of your salespeople told you they have a good amount of accounts right now, they are pretty happy with them and if they lose one, then they will look for another to replace it, what would you do? Most executives say to me, “Are you kidding? I would fire them.” Well that’s what you’re doing when you allow your sales force to stay stagnant with non-performers and look for replacements when someone leaves.


Looking for sales superstars is something that is ongoing and constant. If you found someone better then your best person tomorrow wouldn’t you find a place for them in your organization? Of course you would so why are you not constantly looking for that? Your sales manager should spend no less then 30percent of their time on all that is hiring; looking, phone interviewing, doing assessments, in-person interviewing etc.


Priority two is coaching. Who do we coach on our team to get the most from them? Where do sales managers spend their time, with A B or C players? Most would tell you with the A players to help close deals, then they would tell you with the Cs since they need the most work. I would tell you the B players will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Though this is priority two, this should take up about 40% of your sales managers time.

Lets first Identify what each of the players are. A players are typically about 20% of your sales force. They are consistently hitting their numbers, driven to continue on that path and don’t allow excuses to get in their way. B players are good strong salespeople, have good attitudes but really need some help to reach the next level and are open to it. Probably about 40% of your group.

The C players are excuse makers, blame others for their failures and are inconsistent in their sales numbers. They make up about 20% of your sales force. Also my own observation only, I often notice these are the reps that have been around for a long time and either have fallen in success and been ok with that or have always been average at best but have been in the organization for a long time so they have simply moved along. These are typically about 20% as well.

Spend time with B players. They want to learn and will take best to the coaching. Your ‘most improved’ nominees are sitting here.

Priority three is accountability. Keeping your sales people accountable is very important for several reasons. First of all if they can track what they are doing activity-wise, they can themselves track what is working what isn’t. In sales you are in some respects, in your own business. Sales people can create the amount of money they want to make and to help them by identifying what that looks like and help them analyze successes and changes they should make for the most success is the sales managers job. Additionally, we need to know for ourselves what it truly takes to make a success in a particular area of the business to create forecasts and projections. This should be about 10-20 % of their time.

Your 100 Dollar Business Card

Whenever I go anywhere — a lunch, a networking event, a fundraiser people are

constantly giving me business cards, sometimes often before they say ”hello”. We

put so much emphasis on these 2-by- 3 cards and for what? Do you think it’s

going to sell for you? Have you experienced the people who hand out so many

cards that you want to know where they get them printed so you can buy

stock? We also get this question from lots of our clients ”What title should we

put on our salespersons’ business cards? If we want them to be consultants, we

should say consultant. Or how about account manager?” I shake my head. They

don’t get it. Who cares? Its how you act, not what you say on your card, that

makes you a salesperson or a consultant. While we’re on the subject, let’s

address business cards in general. I don’t think the format has been changed in

100 years. Ask yourself, when you look for a business card, what are you looking

for 90 percent of the time? You know, so just say it: It’s the phone number. Lets start from the top. First and foremost, you should have a logo or name of your

company on the card. Top left corner or across the top is fine. No need to

scream across the card what your company name is. Don’t worry, we can see

it second to your name. Make it legible and large enough to read. This is one

of the most important things on your card. Third, the phone number. Why do we put the most important thing on the card in 6-point type that even with my granny glasses (no snickering) I still can’t see is beyond me. Make it easy to see. Big, bold, green … something. Finally, the fax number. When was the last time you pulled out a business card to fax something? You didn’t. You spoke to the person on the phone and they asked you to fax something, at which point you asked for their fax number. So leave it out. Business cards are what we hand out after we have a conversation with someone, not before, so force yourself to engage in conversation with someone first. Ask about their business, what they do, how long they’ve been doing it, etc. Don’t just hand out a card. Build relationships first by asking good questions. Try this: Pretend your business card is worth $100. If it were, you would make sure you didn’t just give it out like food samples in the grocery store. You would first see if there’s value. This mindset will force you to engage in conversation with people and begin to form a relationship with them through learning about them, not “telling” them about you, especially through the use of a business card. Isn’t this what you are

really looking for anyway?

Don’t ask to get married before courting your prospect!

Well it’s the love season! Valentines day is around the corner and love is in the air.
What would you say to a friend who said he met a great girl and after 2 dates he
was going to ask her to marry him. Though I don’t actually know your answer I
am guessing most of you reading this would say, “are you crazy?” you don’t
know enough about her, you think you are a good match but how do you really
Additionally, if you are going to ask someone to marry you, isn’t it expected that
they will say yes since there is a courting period? If there were red flags you
could pick them up early and either address them or get out before it’s too late.
Makes sense right?
Of course it does. Then why in sales, are we getting to know very little about our
prospect and asked them to marry us so soon? Somehow we think in business
courting is not necessary. Well it is! A prospect needs to understand you, your
organization, get questions answered and you need to truly understand what
their real needs are, not just the ones they tell you upfront they want or need.
You need to know the whys. They whys help you customize a true
recommendation for them that reflects all of them, not just what they initially told
you wan the issue they were trying to resolve.
The courting period is the time where you really get to know the prospects issues
and how they are affecting them and their organization. I don’t mean taking them
to lunch and to play golf. That is fine but its not what building relationships are
truly about. The idea of courting should help your prospect self-discover that
he/she wants to do business with you. Yews you can tell them why early on my
giving them your ‘dog and pony’ show of all of your features and benefits of how
you can help them or worse, how you have helped ‘others just like them’.
Imaging using that line on a date….
Here are some tip in being successful in sales and frankly in dating….
1) Slow down. The courting part takes time. It is also if done well, some true
discovery is done and will help really come up with the best plan in the

2) Ask great questions to get your prospect talking. I’m not talking about
questions like, “wouldn’t be helpful if you had a solution that would print
your widgets faster and for less money?: That is a leading question and a
very silly one. Do you really think they can’t see through that? No. Ask
open-ended thought-provoking neutral questions. Think of these questions
like this, if you didn’t have an ulterior motive to sell this person, what would
you ask them to try to help them with their issue? Those are the right

questions. They show that you care about the entire picture and not only
what revolves around your particular solution.
3) You must truly understand what the Clear Next Step will be at the end of
the meeting or phone conversation. Not just “Ill call you next week with the
proposal” or “Ill send a proposal to you on Tuesday”. NO! You must get a
clear date and time that you both agree to and have it on the calendar!
Your responsibility is to get the agreement of that next step, not suggest it
to them. There must be skin in the game, and this is how to test
that…BEFORE you propose anything!
4) Make sure that you have a full understanding of what they will do if you
decide to get them some recommendations based on what they need and
how working with you will solve those issues. In other words, don’t buy
the ring until you know she’ll say yes.
So is sales really like dating, yes and no. I will tell you it is more like it then
you think. Understanding people, TRULY understanding people is the key to
a successful career in sales…..Unless you have enough money to buy lots of
engagement rings.

5 Things Every CEO Needs to Know

5 Things every CEO Needs to know

Today CEO’s are in a quagmire. They are finding themselves running their business’s,
making CEO decisions yet having to either manage a sales department or wear the sales
hat themselves. What’s a CEO to do today?
There are 5 things I think are imperative to do if you would like to make it through this
crazy time. Interestingly enough, these things should also be done when things aren’t
so crazy.
1) Scale down your existing sales staff. Decide who are the cream of the crop and
get rid of the rest. How do you decide? By the 3 A’s. The first is Attitude. Do they
have a positive attitude. A belief that if they can’t do it the way they always have
they are willing to look at their sales situations as true opportunities and use every
minute to look at things differently. The second is Activities. Activities are the
actual pro-activities that they do to prospect every day, every week every month.
It could be a combination of cold-calling, networking, cross-selling to existing
clients, strategic alliance meetings etc. Activities are different for everyone but
the ability to commit to whatever they are and stick to it day in and day out is
imperative. The third is approach. The approach is what your sales rep says and
does in front of and on the phone with a prospect. The other two can not really be
taught, this one can.
2) Teach your best people to sell in this environment with a specific process. None
have ever sold in a volatile, fear-filled time like this before. Selling is something
that needs to be taught always but certainly today to attempt to be successful
without it is laced with potential failure. A process to sell doesn’t mean a
memorized script. What it means is an agenda of how they will approach each
prospect, what questions they will ask, what they will do with the answers, how
will they uncover the available budget and what will the next steps look like.
3) Train your existing non-sales staff to be your marketing arm. Sales training can
not only be used to train the sales organization but the non-sales people as well.
Often we have non-salespeople in our organization that have contacts with our
clients and potential prospects on a regular basis. Are they asking for referrals?
Do they know how? The connections that exist with this segment of your
organization are often overlooked and so important to utilize today.
4) Learn to manage a sales team through the 3 “A’s”. As previously discussed, the
three A’s are the basis of success. Additionally it is the easiest and most effective
way to manage your team. Keep an eye and ear out for a positive attitude. If you
see or hear a negative one, which is easily identified through excuse making, it
will become a cancer so cut it out immediately. Use salespeople’s individual
activities to help them track their success through the activities they carry out. A
specific approach, will allow you to have a real post-appointment discussion on

what went right and wrong as opposed to the typical discussion which of ten
includes a conversation like,’ so how did it go?”, “pretty good, pretty good”
which tells you nothing.
5) Build your business on referrals and networking with no cash. Today networking
is the way to build a business. Don’t get me wrong there is obviously a place for
advertising and other strategic marketing but to help get you through some of
these tough times, help secure your brand by being out there in the community.
Networking is again something that should be done also through a process and if
you read my articles regularly, you know that. Additionally we are not getting as
many referrals as we should from existing clients and there are two reasons for
that, 1) we don’t ask, 2) we don’t ask properly. Properly means you must be
specific when asking for referrals. Either a specific person from a particular
organization, a position of a person in a type of business or an alliance of
someone connected in the community that you haven’t met.
As we all work with the skeleton crew that we are left with, let’s work harder and
better to make a success of our business. Getting back to basics, is it ever smart to get
far away from that?

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The Old Elevator Speech is just that; Old

“I’m going to try my best to do a great ‘elevator speech/benefits statement’ so the customers know exactly what we do”. We put so much time and energy into coming up with this big introduction/benefit statement and honestly, it is not as important as any of the other things that we do.


This thought is on the mind of most sales people. They feel that they have to have some great, two-sentence explanation of what they do, and that will help sell it. Now, it is important to summarize what you do, but that is not what sells. Let me illustrate this point. Think about the last time you read a book, and then saw the movie. Which is typically better? Well, almost every one I talk to says the book is better. Why is that? Because when you read a book, you have the ability to create what the scene looks like, what the characters look like, even the voices and sounds therefore the story becomes yours. When you put something in your own brain, you are able to create what it looks like, and what it sounds like, and what it feels like to you. You attach more directly to the story because it becomes yours. Your interpretation of the events as opposed to some producer, or director’s interpretation of what the story should be. This is the same reason why telling someone what you do and the “features and benefits” of your product or service is much less powerful then asking great questions and getting them to see how it can help through their own eyes.


When you tell someone why they should work with you, what the benefits are, what the advantages are, those are your interpretations of the benefits or the advantages that you offer. When you ask really good questions to get people to think about what is important to them, it is their idea. If that they had the ability to use your product or service and what difference would it make to their organization it allow them to begin to interpret their own book.


— If they had success in a particular area, how we can change things, it is a lot of those kinds of thought provoking questions that allows a prospect to see the advantage on their own, on what your product is supposed to bring. So, ask me questions is really much more important than coming up with an important benefit statement.


There are a couple different types of questions. The first question that I talk about is what I call big picture questions. Big picture questions are thought provoking questions that are questions about the person that is talking about the overall situation. For example, talk about the goals that you set for your organization, and where you are along the line of those goals. Right now it is plug in the date and if it was project to ourselves a year forward, if it was one year from today and you were to look back


So you have the ability to ask big-picture questions and get people to think. So if you say, if a year from now you were to look back and say, that was a really successful year, what would have had to happen over those 12 months to make you say that? What are the things that you fear the most over the next 12 months and what are you doing to avoid them? What are the things that are in your way in reaching your goal, and how are you planning on working around those things? What does success look like to you? There are so many what I call big-picture questions, and when you ask questions like this, it allows that person not only to think, but to put things in their own perspective. And when they give you the answer, the answer is coming from their own thoughts and their own processes.


The second type of question is what I call advantage questions. Advantage questions come directly from what you believe the advantages are that you portray. For example, if you sell advertising in a very high-end magazine, you might ask the question: talk to me about how you get in front of high-income, or high-net worth, individuals now. And if you had the ability to get in front of more of them, what would you say? So it forces them to think about not only being in front of two potential clients that they’re trying to get in front of it, but it has them think about what the message would be. It begins to develop where you’re going to go with your recommendations or proposals in the end. So rather than you saying, here’s what you can do, the difference is coming up with question to get them to self-realize it. Remember when you read a book, it’s the author’s interpretation of those words, but you have the ability to put what it looks like and feels like. When you go to the movies, it is purely the director and the producer’s interpretation. It’s much more effective when it’s yours.

Are You a Commodity?

Are You a Commodity?


Do your prospects perceive you as a commodity, even if you don’t? Do they see you as the person they’ll consider working with if you can give them a discount?

Guess what? You’re the 20 percent guy (or girl).

How do you know? They say things to you like: “Things are tough and I’d like to give you a shot, but you have to beat this price.” And you fall for it. So here’s the question: If you are not always the cheapest and you have business, how is that possible? If everyone buys because it’s all the same and they’ll only switch with a discount, how does anyone have any business?

I recently worked with an insurance agency that gets it. Their top salesman was giving examples of how he works with — or, in some cases, refuses to work with — his prospects. Right from the beginning, he is clear that he may not be able to save them money and may even cost more then they are paying now, but he has the ability to bring a true consultative approach to the conversation. And if they respect and are open to that, he can do a true diagnosis of the situation.

Some of the prospects he talks to are quickly brushing him off. They tell him that “if he can’t save them money, then forget it”. He is so thankful when that happens. Why? Because time is the only true asset we have in sales, and to save some by spending more time with qualified prospects is invaluable.

What does qualified mean? It doesn’t mean, for example, that you only call on organizations with a minimum of 200 employees. Since they fit that criterion, they’re qualified. No, it’s much more than that. Consider:

  • Do they have needs that aren’t being met by there existing representative?
  • Are they willing to share these with you and openly discuss their situation: the good, the bad and the ugly?
  • Will they open their “files” to you so you can do a true analysis and not hold back?
  • What will they do if you are not going to be the least expensive, but solve some of the issues you uncover and give them a true assessment?

These are a few of the things that need to be dealt with when you prequalify a prospect. What are we really talking about here? Plain and simple, we are talking about trust. Yes, trust. This is the deciding factor in any relationship. Without trust, you have game playing, bidding wars and all-around time wasters.

How is trust gained? Certainly not by telling them you are trustworthy. Why not? Because people trust you based on your actions, not what you say. It’s the way you work with them, the questions you ask them and truly listening to what they say.

Don’t jump to a proposal, and don’t promise them anything – especially not too early – and always pull back when questions like “Can you save us money?” and “Can you give us better coverage’s or better service?” come up. Yes, pull back. The answer to these questions should be something like: “I certainly hope so, and that’s our goal. But it’s too early in the process to really tell you any of that with confidence”

Scary? Yep. I get it, but start telling the truth – even if it hurts. Have the tough conversations with the tough questions. That’s where true respect and trust come from. You sure don’t want to be the 20 percent guy, do you?


Make sure ALL of the members of your sales team are commodities by getting your sales leader in tiptop shape!

Are You a True Leader?

Being a leader is different from what most of us think it is. Most leaders are actually managers in disguise.

Sarah was excited to be promoted to sales director. After all, she has been in sales for almost eight years and has always been at the top of the leader board. She knows she will really be able to help the other salespeople with their sales, and they already look up to her since she has always been a top performer.


Jeff comes to Sarah one day and asks her what to do about a customer who doesn’t seem to be making a decision, though he really likes their product.

“I’ve tried everything,” he confesses. “I’ve offered free delivery, a 10 percent discount – I’m just stumped.”

Sarah asks: “Can you get a meeting with the decision makers?”

Jeff says he thinks he can and Sarah says: “I’ll come with you and we’ll get it done!”


Jeff knows she will, and is eagerly dialing the phone and spending the commissions he is confident Sarah will help him win.

Real leadership is not managing. Telling someone what to do is absolutely not leadership. Neither is doing it for them. This reminds me of that old saying: “Take someone fishing and they’ll eat for a day. Teach them how to fish and they eat for a lifetime.” The idea of leadership is to get someone to self-realize what they can and should do to make some decisions on their own. Once they feel good about the answer they are looking for, they will continue to use that information and not have to “check in” with you before making that decision.


We often believe that, to be a good leader, you need to be outgoing and charismatic. That is often not the case. You may remember the old E.F. Hutton commercial. If you’re not familiar, it is a room of people talking, but, all of a sudden, E.F. Hutton has something to say and everyone stops to listen. Often, what happens is being a bit humble and a very good listener seems to really work well when it comes to leadership.

Some tips to create true leadership:

  • Stop being a parent to your salespeople. If you think about how we grew up, we asked our parents questions (as curious kids do) and, as parents, they answered our questions immediately. As parents, they wanted us to know the answer. That’s fine, but we are not parents to our salespeople. Our job is not only to get the answer to them, but also to get them to engage with us by thinking about the answer themselves. When they engage in the process with us, it becomes more their idea.
  • Help them feel empowered. The next time a salesperson says “What should I do about?” or “How do I …?” try this: “If you couldn’t reach me right now and needed to make a decision, what decision would you make?” The key here is that you should confirm whatever they say and, if it’s not right, you can say: “And in addition to that, you may want to say….” You need to be a soft place to fall so if their answer is wrong using this process, you can’t get upset with them – or they’ll never feel empowered again.
  • Let them be involved in setting goals. I am always astonished when sales managers/CEOs set goals for salespeople without getting any of their input. If you want to get them engaged and feeling that the goals are not just for what the company dictates – which, by the way, are most often never met –this process should have the salesperson involved: What are their goals? What kind of money do they want to make and why? What activities will they commit to doing daily, weekly and monthly to achieve them? Give them the responsibility to come up with what they feel their goals should be, and have them put the proactive behaviors behind it. Then, review it together to see if it’s real. If it doesn’t meet your standards, then push them a bit: “Oh, I feel you are better than that. Don’t sell yourself short; lets relook at this.”
  • Look realistically at their motivation. Are they making more money than they ever have before? If so, you often find that your salespeople are satisfied with the amount of money they are making, but you aren’ Meaning: The commissions they are making may be great to them, but they aren’t hitting the numbers you need them to hit. Motivation will come from them, not you, so make sure that there is always a carrot. If the carrot stops working, you may need to change the horse.


You can’t motivate anyone to do anything. You can only give them an opportunity to motivate themselves. It may be easier to just do it yourself in the short term, but remember: If you do that now, you will always have to do that. Burnt out much?

4 ways to adapt to change.

Yesterday I was at a governmental affairs meeting in West Palm Beach. The discussion was about changes in the city; transportation, creating local city clusters, more biking opportunities etc.


Some of the people that were at the meeting were part of the original committee that were tasked with putting this together therefore were all behind the ideas brought forth. Others were hearing some of these ideas for the first time and frankly most were ‘poo-pooing’ them.


Why? Because to open yourself to new ideas, good or bad, is all a part of getting comfortable. Most people philosophically are not comfortable the first time they hear a new idea. Especially if the idea is a fairly radical one.


So what does this mean for you as a businessperson? Since the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing and expecting a different result” is a well-known dilemma, how to we do something new and different ourselves and more over how do we get our team on board with it?


Getting people to engage in ideas and conversation is one of the best ways to accomplish change. No one likes to be dictated to and told that something will change, though often we see that as our responsibility as leaders.


Using the brainstorming technique in presenting an issue and having the group give ideas and responses on how to fix it, without judgment, often will illicit new ideas as well as allow you to present yours successfully.


Some ideas to use in brainstorming;

  • Relay the back-story. Why are you looking to make a change in a particular area? Talk about the reasons for the change, not how you want to do it just yet. When people understand the whys, they tend to be more open to the “hows”.
  • Have patience. One of the things leader tend to do is to rush to the answer and not allow others to get there organically. As a leader we are often open quickly to new, innovative ideas. Others aren’t necessarily that way. Ask good questions to get them to open up, talk about solutions and learn the whys of their ideas as well as opposed to just pushing yours.
  • Be open to another way besides your own. If you are open to other ideas and not stuck on your own, often you will have an even better one right in front of you. Be open to that and don’t assume your is always best.
  • Summarize what you’ve heard and review so the team feels listened to. It is important to go into a brainstorming session with an idea as well as an open mind. Make sure everyone’s participation counts. Reviewing their ideas once they have all been given. You will have ore acceptance when they feel a part of a decision and not dictated one.


Remember human nature says most people don’t like change, at least at the beginning. Approach it properly and you will have a better chance of having agreement and not a mutiny.


greta signature



Will training help your sales people?


This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as yes or no. There are certainly variables, and some are very basic. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is your sales training actually product training?
  • Is it a one-day training that is packed to the gills with information?
  • Is there follow-up coaching and maintenance to assure success?
  • Are there activities set up to create true accountabilities, not just meet the revenue numbers?
  • Are your salespeople trainable?

I recently read a survey of 500 small and medium-size businesses that I want to share with you.

This particular survey found 6 percent of salespeople are at the top of their game. They are consistently beating their goals. As a matter of fact, they set their own goals, depending on what they want to earn.

An additional 20 percent are doing well, but could do better. They are fairly consistent, but could really sharpen their tools a bit more and be unstoppable.

Then there are 74 percent who are not cutting it. Most of the people (about two-thirds) in the 74 percent bracket can improve if they get training.

The other one-third in this group are in the wrong job and really aren’t fixable. Unfortunately, we spend more time with these bottom-end performers and try to get them to improve, when our time and energy should be really spent at the top.

It doesn’t seem to make a difference what industry you’re in, or what type of company you are. Not sure? Ask yourself: What percentage of your sales representatives are consistently successful? Out of 20, two are typically successful, five are pretty good and the rest are not really cutting it. Out of a group this size, the Top 2 are trainable, but will not change what they are already doing right away. (If it ain’t broke ….)

Twelve or 13 will improve quite a bit with training, and the last five or six should be gone. We hold on to salespeople for much longer then we should.

Here is another brilliant comment about training: “I like to go to training seminars, even if I learn just one tip.”

You want a tip? Here’s one for losing weight: “Eat more vegetables and less carbohydrates.”

How’s that?

How about: “To be a better spouse, be a better listener.”

A tip is nice, but will not change behavior. It is, of course, the easy way to “get motivated,” but continue to do what you’re doing.

Sales tends to be a misunderstood phenomenon. We feel like the excuse of doing pretty well or getting close to the goal is OK.

Here is the question I ask salespeople when they say that: If your company’s payroll department says “well, we may not get to create and sign all of the paychecks this week, but we will do the best we can,” would your sales rep kick up his/her heels? You bet. So what is the difference?


Greta Schulz, a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs, can be reached at

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