How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Sales Performance
From: Alan Rigg
Business executives and sales managers frequently bemoan 80/20 performance on their sales teams, where approximately 80 percent of sales are produced by approximately 20 percent of salespeople. Of course, the ratio is not always 80/20. Sometimes it is 75/25, 70/30, 60/40, or even 90/10. However, the situation the ratio describes is always the same: the vast majority of salespeople produce a fraction of what top performers on the very same sales teams produce.
What are the reasons behind these performance disparities? What is it about top sales performers that enables them to achieve superior results? Can anyone achieve top performance in sales?
Certainly there are some sales skills that anyone can learn. For example, it’s easy to teach how to ask reflective questions.
Reflective questions are questions that begin with who, what, when, where, why and how. If you ask reflective questions instead of questions that can be answered with yes or no, prospects usually share more information with you. This increases your chances of uncovering "pain points" that can eventually lead to sales.
You can learn how to ask reflective questions by participating in a simple role play. In this role play, you'll play the salesperson and I'll play the prospect. Every time you ask me a yes or no question, I'll answer "no." Getting stonewalled with a bunch of "no" answers will break you of the yes/no questioning habit pretty quickly!
Other sales skills are tougher to learn. A good example is teaching salespeople how to ask questions and follow the thread; in the answers. To explain this concept, let's use another role play. In this role play you'll ask me reflective questions. I'll respond with answers that contain some "pain points". If you recognize the pain points and drill down into them deeply enough (by asking additional questions), you'll eventually be able to "sell" me.
Do you know what my experience has been with this role play? Some salespeople learn how to "follow the thread" easily. Others struggle, but they eventually learn how to do it. However, some just never get it, no matter how hard they try!