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The Difference Between Average and Top Performers

In preparing to speak at a sales award banquet this week, I was thinking about what kind of message I wanted to give the audience. Eventually, I arrived at a concept that all sales leaders must reinforce to their teams: Whether it's for a January kickoff event, a Monday morning sales meeting or a quarterly salesperson review session, sales managers must sell the need to plan for success.

Planning for success means building a sales organization that is not opportunistic in account management, prospecting, et cetera, but is focused on a methodology to ensure success. It also means that there is an expectation or attitude from management that is transmitted to the team that we will be successful, we are winners, we are better and we work together. This is part of what creates an atmosphere that separates the average-performing organizations from top-performing sales teams.

What do you need to create this environment? A sales management system that reinforces what you expect and a leadership and management style that is focused only on accepting high performance -- in all aspects of life. This means every salesperson must have:

  • a yearly salesperson business plan
  • a top 15 accounts plan, if appropriate
  • a rolling 90-day sales training plan
  • formal monthly/quarterly salesperson reviews
  • sales contests that drive fun, recognition and teamwork
  • measurement systems that promote success and show effectiveness

Every salesperson wants to be successful, as does every sales manager. Everyone has good ideas, but execution becomes the key differentiator in success. You have to work on the methodology, but you also have to focus on the emotional aspects of success. In summary, the difference in success is three simple words: "and then some." As in:

Top performers do what is expected...and then some. They meet their obligations fairly and squarely, and then some. They are good friends and helpful neighbors, and then some. They are thoughtful of others, they are considerate and kind...and then some. They can be counted on in an emergency, and then some.

As you go about your week, make sure you do what is expected...and then some.

In my new book, Leading High Performance Sales Teams, we discuss these ideas and others in greater detail. You can listen to a podcast on the books also in our store here.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 07, 2011 at 11:59 AM


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