MOVING THE MIDDLE. The Business Impact of Making Your Middle Sales Performers Better

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1 MOVING THE MIDDLE 2014 The Business Impact of Making Your Middle Sales Performers Better A five percent gain in the middle 60 percent of your sales performers can deliver over 91 percent greater sales than a five percent shift in your top 20 percent.

2 Moving the Middle THE BUSINESS IMPACT OF MAKING YOUR MIDDLE SALES PERFORMERS BETTER Executive Summary Moving the needle when it comes to increasing quota attainment across your sales organization remains a daunting challenge for every sales leader. The reality is only 57% 1 of quota-carrying salespeople make or exceed their quota. That means 43% are not delivering revenue performance as planned. When seeking to increase sales and overall quota attainment across your entire sales organization, it is less effective to focus on your top performers than it is to engage your middle performers. Quite simply, there are greater numbers in the middle tier with much greater room for improvement. The average is represented in the 20/60/20 rule. The top 20 percent will be top performers that often meet or exceed quota, the middle represents the 60 percent that are consistently and respectively shy of meeting quota, and the bottom 20 percent are far from quota attainment. Regardless of the size of your company, the middle 60 percent will always represent the majority of your company s sales revenues. Many organizations focus on the top 20 percent and reward top performers for the obvious reasons. What if you could improve the selling performance of your middle by just a small amount? What would that do for your company s total sales performance? 20% 60% 20% Top Middle Bottom Consider that a simple five percent gain in the middle 60 percent of your sales performers can deliver over 91 percent greater sales than a five percent shift in your top 20 percent. 1 CSO Insights Qvidian 2014 Page 1

3 SIZING THE PROBLEM Regardless of whether you have a team of 10 sales reps or a 1,000, there is always the top, middle, and bottom for sales performers and quota attainment. The top 20 percent do what they do and are rewarded accordingly. The middle often performs just below goal, while the bottom group continues to struggle to achieve for a myriad of reasons. In a recent report from Qvidian, improving quota attainment was the second most important focus area to executive management this year (87%). The biggest challenge for improving overall quota attainment and revenue growth, is what and where to focus your efforts. First, you need to size the problem. Consider the example below. With a sales force of just 60 sales professionals, each with a $2 million quota, the numbers add up substantially. A performance improvement of the middle performers by just 5 percent can be close to double in return, compared to the same impact on top performers. This example illustrates a compelling impact even with 30 sales people, let alone 3,000. Equally important, a 20 percent improvement in low performers does not even come close to the business impact of improving the middle. Quota A ainment Achieved Improvement Improved A ainment Gain Top Performers 110% $26,400,000 5% 116% $27,720,000 $1,320,000 Middle Performers 70% $50,400,000 5% 74% $52,920,000 $2,520,000 91% Low Performers 50% $12,000,000 10% 55% $13,200,000 $1,200,000 Annual Quota 120,000,000 $88,800,000 $93,840,000 $5,040,000 Note: Example based on 60 sales reps with $2 million quotas THE GOOD, BAD, & UGLY WITH TOP PERFORMERS Top performers perform and rarely require additional training. If they have what they need, they will consistently deliver. This group also tends to be needy in terms of what they want to do and how they want to do it. However, what they do require is to be continuously challenged. They need a clear path with the potential for growth and they need recognition when they do achieve. It is important to note that this group of top performers are often the highest in terms of risk of flight. To this end, sales leaders need to provide the right environment for them, recognize, reward, and retain them, but do not try to over develop them. Qvidian 2014 Page 2

4 UNDERSTANDING THE MIDDLE Don t believe that middle performers are not motivated. The typical misconception is that the middle lack the drive to be top performers. The fact is, this group is competent and capable; many are former top performers, but perhaps have stepped back for a variety of life-related reasons. For some who are newer in their roles, they simply may not yet have developed the instincts, skills, and necessary experience required to focus their efforts on high value activities. This larger and diverse group has enormous potential and sales leaders need to be clear on which type of middle performers they have to accurately set the stage for behavioral change. The age range of this group can vary, but often spit between more experienced who welcome feedback and coaching, and those that might be less experienced but are hungry to learn and advance their careers. Recognizing these demographics and the dynamic nature of each group will help to prioritize initiatives to better support them. STRENGTHENING THE CORE Change is inevitable while being the most difficult to implement and to accept. Getting more out of the middle requires a fundamental shift in mindset, with a focus on agility and alignment, in order to help middle performers take the necessary steps to become better performers. Middle sales performers represent your core in your sales organization and offer the greatest revenue growth potential. What the middle needs is not just incentives, but targeted and daily guidance. Similar to onboarding new sales team members, getting the middle engaged in the selling process with real-time coaching and training reinforcement can help make the difference. Middle sales performers represent the greatest revenue growth potential in any size organization Traditional training that is implemented as an event is highly ineffective. It s been documented that 87% of training is lost within the first thirty days. To infuse new skills and knowledge into the daily life of sales people, those skills must be applied in real-time to be remembered. More room to improve skills training exists with embedded coaching processes directly into the selling process. Coaching can be an extremely effective method of reinforcement and it s been proven to improve sales performance. Coaching is about what your sales people do, not what they know. It also cannot be considered an event, and instead is linked with guidance and content to ensure sales teams have all that s needed to win business. Qvidian 2014 Page 3

5 INJECTING SALES AGILITY Critical to the success of today s sales force is an agile mindset to offer customers ideas, insight and information that address their most challenging problems in an ever-evolving marketplace. According to Jill Konrath, sales strategist, speaker, author and 2013 Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader, agile learning is a meta-skill that can be applied in virtually every job or project. This approach complements sales enablement functionality by teaching salespeople to prioritize customer or prospect information in a predetermined sequence. An agile mindset improves salesperson interaction with employees and customers by helping them adapt to specific selling situations and, ultimately, reach their quota. Injecting sales agility into your middle performers will involve some behavioral change which does not need to be overly complicated. Guided selling systems can help achieve this but there also needs to be a mandate from all levels of leadership to drive this change. Sales leaders need to communicate clear expectations and link behavior to rewards. In addition to initial training and coaching, sales leaders need to support the changed behavior with appropriate infrastructure and monitor regularly. SOLUTION CRITERIA Infrastructure in the form of intelligent guided selling systems can make a profound impact on revenue growth. To achieve the change required to improve your middle performers and drive behavioral change, demands an investment in training, coaching, reinforcement, mentoring, and other resources, but with an integrated approach. By leveraging technology to integrate these activities, you can better guide successful sales behaviors. Reinforcing best practices is also key. This is important in that once best practices are well defined you can make them repeatable. Deal-specific contextual guidance to drive sales behavior with real-time dynamic guidance is also critical. Leveraging formal sales methodologies, sharing tips from the field in real-time, documenting roundtable discussions, and improving sales processes are all worthy endeavors to further help your sales force. Each of these tactics is meant to reinforce best practices. Now think about the integrated approach again. Taking the contextual details of situational selling, and serving up best practices, coaching, content, and resources in a more centralized non-disparate fashion can make all of these items that much more effective. Pushed just-in-time information can also help sales better present value to buyers. Studies show that sales reps waste over 50% of their time every day trying to find the resources and content needed to do their job. Have a mechanism in place to proactively serve up the right resources and content for each selling situation. When applied together, each of these strategies work to get your sales people productive much faster. You will recognize your investment in new hires sooner, making it easier to achieve those objectives that executive management defined. Now imagine if this could be automated within your CRM and directly in every selling situation. Qvidian 2014 Page 4

6 CONCLUSIONS Focusing on your middle performers to drive incremental growth is critical to the success of any size company. Your middle performers can accelerate your sales growth with greater impact than your top performers as a whole. The solution criteria is clear leverage existing investments, better align and bridge each of their capabilities, while simplifying for sales teams. It is critical to intelligently guide successful sales behavior through each specific selling situation to ensure sales teams are aligned to the buyer s process. 5% Sales Execution software can help companies close more business at a lower cost by making sales processes more repeatable and visible to leadership. Until recently, Sales Execution solutions were viewed as components of several markets with limited knowledge of the full value proposition. Various macro and technological factors muted prioritization and understanding of what Sales Execution software can achieve for an organization. From sales training, to coaching, sales support and collaboration tools, content portals, and presentation A modicum improvement in middle performers represent nearly twice the return than same improvement in top performers tools, each of these investment areas are important and worthwhile, but less effective when disparate and disconnected. Advancements in software technologies have helped to bridge the gap between strategy and sales execution and help sales leaders deliver on meeting their number. Dynamic selling systems exist today that bring all these necessary components together to guide successful sales behavior through each specific (and ever changing!) selling situation. This ensures sales teams, most specifically your middle performers, are doing everything required to win by mapping selling and marketing content to actual buyer stages and intelligently guiding sales teams. This in turn makes best practice processes more repeatable, and sales execution more visible to leaders. Qvidian 2014 Page 5

7 ABOUT QVIDIAN Qvidian provides cloud-based sales execution solutions that enable companies to accelerate sales ramp up time, capture new business in cross sell and upsell opportunities and optimize sales performance by closing the gap between strategy and sales execution. The company's innovative software and advisory services offer real-time insight to ensure sales teams do what's needed to win, by driving repeatable methodologies and making the sales organization more agile. With over 1,200 global customers including Dell, Citi, ADP, CA, and Splunk, Qvidian is helping organizations significantly increase their profitable revenues while eliminating waste and reducing costs. Qvidian s Sales Playbooks offers a dynamic framework that delivers intelligent guidance, sales best practices, and selling content aligned to buyer stages and tailored to each unique selling situation all right where salespeople are familiar, within your CRM. Qvidian streamlines sales complexity into a repeatable process making it easier for salespeople to get up to speed and close more deals faster. Sales Playbooks is deeply dynamic to adapt instantly to changing selling situations, is content, process, and tool agnostic to leverage your current investments, and is intelligently guided to direct new sales teams with opportunity specific instructions. For more information, visit or call or +44 (0) #SalesExecution Qvidian 2014 Page 6

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