Use Best Practice to Fire Up your Sales Team

by Jonathan Byrnes

Many managers ask for references to best practices that they can observe and replicate. In virtually every company I’ve seen, the answer exists within the company itself.

I’m always amazed by the variety of practices within a company. Think about this: If you took a movie of everything your sales force did last year, edited it carefully, and played the best parts, I’ll bet that you would have an absolutely stellar, world-class performance.

The problem, however, lies on the cutting room floor. This is where the evidence of the unevenness of practice in your company appears. But here’s another way to look at it: It shows the magnitude of the potential upside if you could bring your whole team up to your own best practice standards.

The observed overall performance of the sales force is the weighted average of your best practice, your average practice, and your problematic practice. In most companies, the fastest and easiest way to improve your bottom line is to move all of your employees up to your own best practice. This is especially true of your sales force.

Most managers take for granted that their company has “A” players, “B” players, and “C” players, particularly in their sales force, and that their company’s overall performance inevitably reflects this reality. In my experience, this assumption is almost always false.

The flaw in their view is the implicit assumption that the sales process, or any business process, cannot be analyzed, codified, taught, and coached so that even an employee of “average” ability can perform with consistent excellence. Why not?