This probably isn’t the first time you have heard this terrifying, almost never failing statistic, “The top 20% of the salesforce produces 80% of sales.” In every single organization and team that I’ve managed, consulted, or witnessed this statistic has proven true. It’s not a theory, it’s not a myth, and it’s not a tagline to beat down on under producers. It’s simple math.
If you manage a team of 20 salespeople who end up doing $30 million in revenue this year your top 4 salespeople will most likely close about $24 million.
This leaves the other 16 (bottom 80% I call them) only bringing in about $6 million. Over my career the more and more time I spent working with, training, and coaching people who aren’t yet in the top 20% the more I learned about them:
1. You’re Scared
Fear is the biggest dream killer in everyone’s life, especially the sales person. Fear of cold calling, fear of rejection, fear of asking for business, or fear of failing are just a hand full of them. You know what you’re scared of. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t still win. Everyone has fears — we’re human. The fear itself isn’t what needs to be dealt with. Instead, the root cause of the fear is what you must look at. Pull back the layers and figure out why you’re afraid to pick up the phone. Is it rejection? Why? Is it a fear of people not liking you? Why? Keep asking yourself “WHY” until you have a real issue to deal with. Understand the reality of that issue, deal with it, and use your fears as motivators — not road blocks.
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2. Your Weekends Run Your Weeks
It’s 6:00 on Sunday evening and here they come — the Sunday Scaries as I used to call them. The moment that all the money you spent, booze you drank, and sleep you didn’t have meets the reality that tomorrow is MONDAY and its back to work. You see, not making yourself better Friday-Sunday makes you worse on Monday then you were the week before. You find yourself caught in downward spiral of one step forward and two steps back. Call me crazy, but if you aren’t in the top 20% of your company or sales team what are you out celebrating for? Do yourself a favor and take a break from the weekend party for 3 months, polish yourself and your craft on the weekends, and once you climb to the top of your organization then you can allow yourself some celebrations on the weekends.
3. You Lack Self-Discipline
By definition, self-discipline is choosing what you want most over what you want right now. When I come across sales people who I can tell lack self-discipline (they show up late, look sloppy, or drop the ball on the simplest of tasks) the first thing I ask them is if they hit the snooze button and if they make their bed in the morning. Sounds childish, but starting your day out by making two great, disciplined decisions sets the tone for the rest of your day. Self-discipline is probably the easiest of the 6 to put into practice ASAP. You know the right decisions to make as they come at you every day — train yourself to make them. That is discipline.
4. You Don’t Have a Why
I call this group the clock punchers. This is those of you who don’t know why you do what you do. Instead you wake up every morning, take a shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, put on the same (or similar) outfit, drive the same route to the office, do the same boring tasks all day, count down minutes until Friday (payday), drive home, eat dinner, watch The Bachelor, go to bed, and wake up and do it all over again tomorrow! If what I explained sounds at all similar to what your rhetorical week looks like don’t throw in the towel or beat yourself up just yet. Take a step back and ask yourself what you really want in life. Is it money? Is it a promotion? Is it to be the best version of yourself? I don’t care what your why is — that’s your business. But, whatever it is figure out what exactly you want and what you must do to get it. Then spend every waking moment you have chasing it.
5. You Aren’t Self-Motivated
I learned very early on that human beings don’t have the ability to be motivated — especially salespeople. They can be inspired or persuaded. But, inspiration and persuasion has a time limit. It only lasts for so long. True motivation comes from within, and only from within. Take a long, thorough look at yourself and find out if you are truly a self-motivated person or if you are constantly looking for someone else to push you to be your best. If you aren’t self-motivated it doesn’t mean you are a low life or a bad person — you just aren’t a sales person. Find a new craft.
6. Your Mirror is Broken
This is for those of you out there who thinks your territory isn’t as good as the person in the numero uno spot. This is for the salesperson who thinks that the economy is not doing well, thus sales are suffering. This for the person who “doesn’t have enough leads” or “Isn’t getting enough training or time from your manager.” Obstacles are a truth and a reality for every single salesperson in the entire world. People in the top 20% look at them and go over, under, around, or through them. People in the bottom 80% use them as reasons why they aren’t successful. The answer is always in the mirror. Control your attitude and you control your paycheck.
The good news is that all six of the above are choices and learned skills — none of them are talents that the top 20% were born with. Quit accepting the comfort of where you currently are and put a target on the ass of the top salesperson in your company or team and hunt them down!
Written by Josh Mastel — Founder, CEO of UpRoar Partners
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