Something has changed over the last few years, and it needs to be reversed. There is too much celebrating of average, everywhere, but especially sales.
Average may be a good measure to use when comparing house prices on a given street, but falls short when it comes to measuring accomplishments, setting goals, or anything that counts, especially in sales. Let me remind everyone that average = typical; common; ordinary. Not something one would use to describe themselves or loved ones, yet, we seem to celebrate it almost daily.
Average is certainly not something you see at the top of skills listed in job postings for sales positions. BTW, cold calling is, yet the average salespeople seem to find it difficult to execute this basic sales skill. Even when coached and directed, the average reps seem to search for reasons not to do execute core sales activities.The difference between average and excelling is not a great as many would have you believe, and while it may be easy to point at the reps involved, it may be worth looking at what in their support (or lack of support) system allows to get away with it, and at times encourage it, starting with their managers. For a number of reasons many managers are afraid to call out mediocrity or averageness. Sure, HR policies and a litigious environment contribute to this, managers need play an active role in helping people exceed average, or help the individual transition to something they can be more than average at.
It does not help that many managers are reluctant to address the issue head on. I have had managers tell me that they’d rather have someone in the territory than have it vacant. I get it, but I firmly believe and have seen that the long-term damage to revenue in such territories, when an average rep is sent to compete against accomplished sellers. I have heard the arguments about the costs, direct and hidden, that are associated with rep turnover, but the answer is not hanging on to average, but having the conviction and guts to hire the right reps. Coming from the “hire slow, fire fast” school, the holding on should happen at the front end of the process, during hiring, not in avoiding the firing.
In some ways, you can’t blame only those involved on ground level. Many of these average sellers are a product of ‘The “Participation Trophy” generation’. Looking at the charts presented, it is likely to get “averager” before it gets better. Unlike little league, in sales only one rep goes home with the deal, the others, as they say, have hungry babies (and maybe a ribbon).
The cost for all this is borne not only by the organizations and those reps who strive to achieve, rather than just participate, and spend more time and energy on excuses rather than execution. Which leads to the average sales force where a hand full of committed professionals will always outperform a stable of also-rans, the choice is yours, not matter what you tell yourself.
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