As business developers and salespeople, we all know what to do to perform our best, so why don't we do it?

What separates top performers from the mediocre?

The founders at FOCUS, a tech startup in San Francisco, are obsessed with understanding these questions. Not only to understand, but to create self-enablement technology to help people enhance their activity and performance. (Full disclosure: I use the FOCUS tool, and the CEO, Aram Taghavi, is a great friend of mine.)

The FOCUS team believes the key to maximizing sales is to maximize the actual sales professionals. Their core philosophy is that mastering sales isn't about what you do, but how you do it. Everyone can be world class, and the key to mastery of sales is through self-enablement.

According to Taghavi, "Research has shown that sales is one of the hardest jobs in the world when it comes to stress levels and overall happiness. In a way, it's a lot like being a professional athlete when you look at how outcome is tied to your effectiveness and activity level. I was inspired to start Focus from the challenges I observed as both a salesperson and manager."

What separates the best from the rest?

According to Taghavi:

  • The best do the small stuff.
  • They're beyond setting goals.​
  • They're busy looking for inches.

In fact they live life as a game of inches. Every second they're looking for an inch to get ahead.

They're "cleaners", a term coined by Tim Grover, performance coach of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. "Cleaners are relentless, they don't care about anything. But winning and performance. Results are an afterthought."

The team at FOCUS believes everyone can be world class with the right tools.

According to Taghavi, for sales professionals to perform at their absolute best, they need two things:

  1. Tools to better understand and act on their own weaknesses.
  2. Coaching and support from experts. The Focus platform blends these two concepts, creating super-powered sales individuals that are constantly growing with your organization.

The goal of FOCUS is to solve both of these problems. Yes, this tech-app is attempting not only to empower, but to also lead people, via these three ways:

  1. Analytics that identify their weaknesses.
  2. Advice and content targeted at those weaknesses.
  3. Connection to a network of experts that can further facilitate growth.

With plans to launch this fall, the start-up is working to pilot its software with several Fortune 500 sales organizations in the 2000-5000 person range.

"There's no question that self-enablement is the future of sales enablement. We need to stop trying to automate and over-analyze, and focus on empowerment," said Focus investor and board Member, Joshua Sutton.

According to Taghavi, "Being world class as a salesperson is the same as being world class at anything. You need to be obsessed with the details. Without question, the small things become big things, always."

Inches are the difference between winning and losing.

But What About You?

How focused are you, really?

How attuned to are you to the details?

You know a true professional when you see one. When you pay attention to the smallest of details, as Bill Walsh has said, "The score takes care of itself."

Being focused means you're actually in the game. Michael Jordan wasn't afraid of missing. For a long time, he held the record for both most made shots and most missed shots ever.

Michael Jordan had a coach and data constantly informing his training and game.

Constant coaching, data and accountability..

This is the future of work. Average is over. The difference between winning and losing is an inch. But the results become a chasm. Very few people are highly successful and the difference in most cases is inches. Details.

Want to Gain an Edge?

How can we gain an edge?


The small stuff.

As small as it gets.

Get in the weeds.​ Get focused.

Published on: Aug 31, 2016
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.