Sales organizations spend a lot of time and money trying to determine exactly what makes a top performer. They want to know this because they want to make sure that their sales team is full of them.
One sales organization that I know surveyed their top performers to create a model for the rest of their sales force. The company that did this work monitored the type of work the top producers did, how often they did it, and lined those findings up against their sales results. Then, they used the model created by looking at their top performers to establish the behaviors and key performance indicators for the rest of their sales force.
This project failed miserably. It didn’t result in improved behaviors or improved results. In fact, things got a little worse.
Bad Questions, Bad Answers
When you ask a bad question, you often get a bad answer.
One of the best things you can do when trying to produce better results is to ask the best possible question available to you. The organization that did this work asked the question, “What do the people who produce the most revenue do each day?” They also asked the question, “How do they do this work?”
A better question would have been, “How are the people who are creating and winning the most opportunities spend their time, and how are they achieving these results?” This question would have yielded a very different set of findings.
The best performers in this particular company had inherited the largest clients the company had acquired when the salespeople who won them had left the company. They were not creating new opportunities with new clients, they were simply taking orders from existing clients, and they were doing it well. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the sales organization’s problem.
Activity and Effectiveness
Activity and effectiveness are two very different things. You can be very active and produce poor results because you are not effective enough. You can be very effective and still not do well because you are not taking nearly enough action.
The interesting thing to note about high performers is that they tend to also have higher levels of activity than their peers. In some cases, they may be far more effective than their peers, but more often than not, their stronger work ethic produces greater results because they take greater activity.
You should never stop trying to improve your effectiveness. But if your results aren’t what you want them to be now, look first to activity. It’s likely you’ll more often find the answer there.