When was the last time you...

  • Received an account update full of glaring generalities?

  • Gave into a salesperson, lowered the price, and still lost the business?

  • Counted on the "superstar" to hit a home run and found out he struck out?

Most of us have experienced these frustrating situations and have had to deal with the consequences. In today's marketplace of increased complexity, constant pressure is placed on the sales team to deliver the numbers, but too often sales managers are expected to select, shape, and coach their team to excellence with few tools—and they often fall short of giving the quality support that is required to develop a team of top performing professionals.

There are many challenges in leading a winning sales team. Our research has identified three key challenges that sales managers most commonly face.

How are you currently approaching these situations, and are you getting the results you are looking for?

1. Reversing the 80/20 Rule

"The sales results of my top performers run significantly higher than those of my average producers. Our team pretty much reflects the 80/20 rule.''

It may be a challenge to build a sales force of all "20 percenters" but doubling this group is certainly within reason. The good news is that the top 20% are not doing anything superhuman, and their behavior patterns that influence their success can be defined and replicated.

Accepting that 20% of your salespeople bring in 80% of your revenue is like accepting that 80% of your manufacturing machines are, on the average, producing one-fourth of your most productive machines. That output level would never be acceptable; it would be absurd.

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image of Jeff Thull

Jeff Thull is president and CEO of Prime Resource Group (www.primeresource.com) and the author of Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales (September 2006), The Prime Solution: Close the Value Gap, Increase Margins, and Win the Complex Sale (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2005) and Mastering the Complex Sale (2003).