Forward-looking organizations like Lenovo, Corning, Innovex, Motorola are known for being leaders in adopting effective sales processes and technology. Many of these companies are now leveraging new processes and capabilities to empower their sales management teams and to get more out of their sales people through tracking key performance indicators and coaching. Even though you may be a small company in comparison, the key to improving sales in your organization is where you focus. The focus should be on your salespeople and their performance rather than the resulting numbers. One way to assist your salespeople is to identify key members of the sales team who have the greatest propensity for coaching and create a buddy system whereby your salespeople are supporting one another and encouraging each other to meet their goals.

In a recent study by the Sales Executive Council (SEC), companies were surveyed to determine the relative impact of effective coaching on A, B and C performers. The study clearly indicated coaching offers greater value when targeted specifically at the B players, or "core performers"—those who show ability but have unrealized potential. In fact, the study indicated that you can expect to see a 17% or greater improvement in productivity and revenue from your B and C players when consistently coached.

Do this simple exercise, regardless of the size of your company, and you will be able to determine where to focus your coaching efforts.

  • What percent of reps made their assigned quota?
  • How many reps came at least within 20% of their targets?
  • What is your turnover percentage and how many reps are new?

If you are like most companies, you are likely to have 10-20% of your sales team that are in the "A" category and 10-20% that are new hires. The core 60% or so from this simple exercise is where your sales leaders need to focus their time and efforts and where you should be spending your money.

Focusing on this core makes sense from several perspectives:

  • They are most coachable and your money invested will be well spent.
  • They represent the largest fixed investment in your sales budget.
  • Given the law of numbers, a simple 3-5% performance improvement in the core will yield a significant overall impact.

The practical goal is not so much to expect 100% "A" players, but minimize the under performers' impact on your business and coach this core team to better results.