coaching-top-reps-killing-sales-force.jpgAs a sales leader, you don’t need me to tell you that the pressure of hitting your number leaves you awake in the middle of the night. Not only does your job rely on it, but your company’s livelihood depends on the revenue that comes in from your team.

That pressure often means you spend most of your coaching time with top performers. Those people are key to getting the team to quota, and you want to do anything that can help those reps win their key deals (and keep them happy, so they won’t leave). The issue is that while you can help move their individual performance a bit – mostly from removing internal obstacles – that won’t be enough to move the needle overall.

You’re missing the big opportunity to increase performance

You see, top performers on average only make up about 20 percent of your entire sales team. Bottom performers are also only about 20 percent. But the other 60 percent – your middle performers – make up the majority of your sales team. Because there are so many of them, even a small performance increase in each rep adds up to a more significant overall increase in performance. A 5 percent performance gain from the middle 60 percent of performers yields, on average, 70 percent more revenue than the same shift in the top 20 percent of workers.

When you overallocate your time towards your top performers, you miss out on a massive opportunity to increase performance across the biggest part of your team. What’s more – anyone who is not receiving the coaching will feel ignored and undervalued. You’re probably a former top performer yourself, so you likely feel more in common with those top performers and therefore your time goes where you’re more comfortable. Welcome to management – it’s hard.

You’re actively de-motivating employees

Your employees want to succeed. Millennials, especially, seek guidance and mentorship to grow not only in their current job, but also in their overall professional development. By focusing on only your top-performers, you deny the rest of your team the coaching they so desperately desire.

On average, 71 percent of your employees are not fully engaged. Only mentoring a select group of your team members is a big part of why so many people feel disengaged. Would you be motivated to work hard for someone who doesn’t seem to perceive or communicate your value to the team?

You’re wasting time (and money) on turnover

Employees who feel disengaged and unmotivated will likely not stay with your company for very long. The average sales team turnover rate is 25 percent, and the cost of finding and training just one replacement is the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary.

As a sales leader, you already have a hundred other priorities that need your attention. How much time, money and sales talent would you save by not having to constantly be hiring and ramping new reps?

The meeting that will revolutionize your sales coaching

An effective way to combat the disengagement and dissatisfaction that comes from feeling ignored and undervalued is simple: Dedicate 30 minutes of your time every week to sit down for a one-on-one meeting with each of your reps. Commit to it, and make sure it happens. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right… Who has time for another meeting? I talk with my salespeople in real time every day. Why do I need a separate one-on-one?” Trust me on this one.

This meeting creates a safe space to discuss a rep’s holistic performance and experience at the company. Ask you reps what’s working, and where they need help. Find out where they’re struggling and coach accordingly. You reps will feel heard and valued, and you’ll also be able to improve their performance.

The best part? You’ll be a better resource for your top performers as well. When you meet with them on a regular basis, you can be a resource to remove internal obstacles and help win deals. You can also document best practices from those team members, and share them with the rest of your team.

Remember, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t coach top performers. But I am saying that you shouldn’t only coach top performers, because coaching has massive benefits across your entire team – and therefore, your sales targets.


Bob Marsh

Author: Bob Marsh

Bob Marsh is the Founder and CEO of LevelEleven, a Sales Management System that reinforces the behaviors that lead to closing business, and creates world class front line sales managers. After spending 20-years in sales and sales management, he founded LevelEleven in 2012 which has helped modern sales leaders at HP Enterprise, Staples, Paycor, Comcast and more. Bob has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. and Fast Company, and has appeared on CNBC.

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