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Say Goodbye to the 80/20 Rule

July 16th, 2020

The 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto principle) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In recent history, this rule has certainly proven to be true in Sales. For decades, approximately 80% of sales have been produced by 20% of salespeople.

While a very small percentage of owners have addressed this daunting issue and created a more effective team using time-tested sales, sales management, assessment, and sales recruiting best practices, the vast majority of business leaders simply exacerbated the problem by spinning wheels and spending too much time with non-performing reps, while coddling their top performers.

The 80/20 sales ratio is about to change. Here’s why:

  • Buying behavior has changed.
  • Margins are being squeezed.
  • Sales Cycles are becoming much longer.
  • All Sales Teams are now remote. They will remain primarily virtual for the foreseeable future.
  • Many companies are downsizing their salesforces.
  • High unemployment and reduced spending will weed out many of the weak and average salespeople, leaving only the best ones.
  • Unfortunately, most of the “average” or “good” reps will not possess the skills to grow sales, increase market share, and maintain margins. They will flounder.

2017 - 2019 studies indicate than 55% of sales reps produce a negative ROI, and over half of all newly hired reps do not last a full year with their employer; and these studies were conducted during the most prosperous economic times.

In just a few short months, the pendulum has swung 180 degrees from a Seller’s Physical Market to a Buyer’s Virtual Market.

To compound the lack of skills among salespeople, the vast majority of sales managers are unskilled when it comes to effective coaching and managing a virtual workforce.

Despite the fact that some of the most talented salespeople will finally be available and seeking new employment, most companies are still clueless when it comes to effectively locating, landing, and launching the great ones.

We are all now playing a totally different game, one that requires a highly consultative sales process, advanced organizational, listening, and social selling skills, superior mental toughness, and empowering Sales DNA.

Less than 5% of sales reps possess all of these skills.

Before 2020, one-fifth of salespeople generated 80% of the results. Going forward, we can fully expect the 80/20 ratio to look more like 95/5.

Think hard about this. The Top 5% will not win 80% of the profitable business, they will win almost all of it. The top 25% will take some low margin business. The rest will get only the spoils.

If your sales team is currently on fire and setting new records, congratulations! If not, you may want to seriously consider taking a hard look at the skill level and pipeline viability of your salespeople (and managers), and to honestly assessing whether or not they have what it takes to provide your company with a significant ROI. You can then decide whether or not it makes sense to make some adjustments.

Here’s the good news (I know it took a while to get here)…

The combination of predictive science, effective processes, and a very high (and perhaps short-lived) unemployment rate present a very unique, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to rapidly and dramatically upgrade your sales team, allowing you to produce much more with less. 

 

Copyright © Joe Zente 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Virtual Selling - Turning Lemons into Lemonade

April 22nd, 2020

Many businesses will begin to re-open over the next few weeks. While there is certainly no shortage of opinions of the pros and cons of the timing, guidelines, and regulations, there seems to be many more questions than answers with regard to the speed and trajectory the economy will take from here, and the best success strategies for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

We do know for sure that selling has changed. While most salespeople tend to be optimists, it is highly unlikely that most will return to their pre-Covid19 activities, returning to their offices and territories and business as usual. There are many reasons for this, but here are just a few:

  1. Efficiency:  Time is all salespeople have. It is their best asset. Reps that invest their time skillfully succeed, those that don’t fail. It does not take a rocket scientist to quickly figure out that field salespeople burn up tons of time, and that salespeople selling virtually via videocom can visit with 2 to 4 times more prospects per day that those travelling around in their territories.
  2. Costs:  Again, it doesn’t take Einstein to conclude that selling virtually can save a lot of money.  Cars, maintenance, airfares, hotels, meals, and parking can cost a needless fortune.
  3. Coverage:  Geographical positioning and placement has always been a challenge for sales leaders and hiring managers. With virtual selling, this challenge basically evaporates.
  4. CRM: Since the advent of digital tracking systems, salespeople have been notorious for devising creative excuses for not updating their CRMs.  The majority of these excuses took some form of “too busy”, “on-the-road”, “lost connectivity”, or “away from my computer”.  Virtual selling removes nearly 100% of CRM compliance excuses.
  5. Your Customers & Prospects: Even if you and your salespeople DO want to return to face-to-face meetings, you can probably expect that a large percentage of your prospects and clients may PREFER to communicate via videoconference.  Some will even mandate it.
  6. Children: If your salespeople are ready and committed to get back in the saddle and hit the road to make sales calls, keep in mind that most kids will be home for the rest of the school year.  It is also doubtful that they will be attending summer activities like camp, and many may not be returning to school in the fall. If the kids are home, your salespeople will likely need to be home as well.

In other words, virtual selling may become a necessity — perhaps for a while, and maybe forever.   Is your company ready?

Re-shaping and upgrading your Sales Team for a Better Normal starts with a comprehensive understanding of the skills, strengths, DNA, and mindset required to succeed in the new selling environment.

While the post-Corona selling era and situation will present huge challenges for most businesses, any wise owner can quickly convert these challenges into a big opportunity. While most will fail, some salespeople and managers WILL succeed beyond simple survival – they will dominate.  I outlined some key success requirements in last week’s blog. Here are a few more critical factors to consider as you formulate your BETTER Normal Sales Strategy…:

  • Only 15% of salespeople have the questioning and listening skills requires, and only 5% have mastered all the consultative selling competencies.
  • Only 31% of all salespeople have the ability to thoroughly qualify an opportunity.
  • Only 41% have the ability to sell value.
  • Only 41% have the skills & strengths necessary to work from home, and only 7% of sales managers have the coaching skills necessary to develop a remote sales team!

Despite the fact that selling has been relatively simple for the last 3 years, less than half of salespeople were able to achieve quota. With selling freezes, demanding buyers, longer sales cycles, and more, it has never been more important for your salespeople and manager(s) to maintain margins.

The good news is that you have science and predictive validity in your arsenal.

If you’d like to learn more about which of your team members possess the skills to grow your business, maintain strong margins, and fill these various new, demanding sales roles, feel free to email me or click here.

Continued Success!

 

Joe

 

Copyright © Joe Zente 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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