I’ve got a sales manager coaching client who has 8 sales rep direct reports. One day during one of our coaching sessions, he said to me, “Steve, I’ve got 2 great producing sales reps who outsell the other 6 reps on my team put together. If I could just get those 6 to do what the 2 high performers do I would be golden.”
I told him “Roger (not his real name) ain’t going to happen! With proper training, you might get the low performers to improve slightly, but their production will never equal the production of the top 2 performers because of something called the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule, which says that 80% of everything that is sold comes from 20% of sales the reps. This number will never change; so get used to fact that most of your sales reps will always be mediocre producers, and instead of trying to fix them, spend 80% of your time growing your top reps.”
This Pareto Principle applies to everything.
Take my business for example. I mistakenly used to believe that everyone was a candidate for sales training. Boy, was I ever wrong. After spending 16 years trying to train those who have no ambition, are mentally slothful, intellectually lazy, and are comfortable making a modest living from sales, I have come to the resounding conclusion that 80% of sales people are not trainable. These people represent what can only be called the “mediocre majority”.
If you want to see what they look like and who they are go into any Wal-Mart and walk around. There you will find them milling about looking for low price bargains and cheap stuff.
Contrast that with the elite 20% in sales. If you want to see them you need to go to Neiman Marcus or another similar very high end exclusive retailer. You can also find them at luxury car dealerships or yacht brokers. Wal-Mart shoppers they are not.
TRUE CONFESSION: For a large part of my life, I was an 80%, barely scrapping by each month. Some months having to live off of credit cards. That no longer happens. I live in a beautiful home with a pool. I have nice cars that I paid cash for. I have a boat that costs twice as much as I paid for my first house. It too is paid for. I take my family on nice vacations. Life is good.
How did I go from being an 80% to becoming not only a 20% but a 5%?
Simple, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and made a decision to get out of the rut that I had created.
When I came to the realization that I was an 80%er, barely scrapping by each month, I made a decision to go to work on myself by investing heavily – at least 100k in the last 20 years – in personal development; and I have since come to the realization that virtually every 20%er in life has done the same.
Today, I only work with either those who are already in the top 20% or those who have a “burning desire” to join those ranks. Frankly, I disqualify more than I let in. Far more. If you are at a point where you sincerely want to grow your income, keep reading……. If you are not there you might want to bail and pile the kids into the car and head on down to Wal-Mart.
Still reading……. OK here’s the naked truth. If you want to excel and join the ranks of the elite in sales, you are going to have to work on yourself and invest your own money in personal development. Sorry, but that is just the unvarnished truth.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing smoke and you need to get away from them as fast as you can.
If you are willing to do what it takes you will never go hungry and life can be very sweet.
Once you become a Master of Sales you get to travel around the world, get invited to very cool parties and hang out with other stimulating people who are on the same journey. It is really a very cool way to live.
Here’s to your success as the Maestro of your own fate. One that is light years away from the misery and mediocrity of Wal-Mart shoppers.