Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Keeping An Eye Out For Sales Talent


I had to find some way to work my current hospital stay into my blog post. I promised on my signature that I would keep you posted and figured I better get a post in today.

Here’s the quick story of why I’m here:

  • I had a healthy eye
  • I had vision symptoms
  • I was diagnosed with uveal melanoma
  • I had plaque radioactive surgery
  • I hope my vision returns and the tumor is gone

The long version of the story can read something similar to what sales managers face when they hire salspeople and anticipate those sales people to be successful.

Kind of like this progression:

  • I hired my next superstar salesperson
  • Everything was good for awhile, not perfect but good
  • We had a meeting when sales goals were not being met
  • Things got better
  • Things got worse
  • I put them on a performance improvement plan (PIP)
  • Things got better
  • Things got worse
  • We adjusted the compensation model down because of lack of performance
  • Things were okay
  • I put the producer on a PIP plan with a 3-strike rule
  • Yesterday was strike three, my superstar sales person has left the building

Sound/look familiar? What I know, or at least think I know, is this:

  • Your sales team, assuming you have at least 10 salespeople, is represented by the 80/20 rule. 80% of your results/revenue is being generated by about 20% of your team. (Give or take some percentage points – maybe 70/30)
  • If you plot your sales team in a bell curve many, if not most, of the people in the middle standard deviations set up tent there and never leave.
  • You have some people to the far left of the bell curve that have retired and just haven’t told anyone or are failing and you are looking for a miracle.

What I also know is this: Performance improvement plans, compensation changes, re-forecasting, waiting for them to make the turn and threats don’t work. What does work is this:

5 Steps For Building a More Productive Sales Team:

  1. Hire better salespeople
  2. On-board them better
  3. Coach them more/better
  4. Catch them early
  5. Let them go as soon as you know

Additional resources:

#1 Hiring Tool In The World - Stop making hiring mistakes

Bill Eckstrom – Coachign Best Practices

Tony Cole Blog: Performance management that works

Tags: sales talent, hiring salespeople, managing sales teams