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Imagine being at a concert with your favorite performer. The music and the lights. The special effects. The showmanship. The energy. Few things compare to a live concert performance by a true star. Over the last year, my husband and I have experienced some amazing live performances. From U2 to Pink, we appreciate how these artists deliver high-level performances night after night. That’s why they’re rockstars.

This got me thinking about how concert experiences and sales performance have a lot in common. As a sales leader, you want to hire rockstars. They bring the high-level performance every single day, and have the results to prove it.

We want rockstars, but what does a typical sales team actually look like? Well, in a typical sales team, only 57.1 percent achieve their quota. That’s right. Just over half. If you look at your team’s numbers, they might reflect that. In most sales teams, sellers will fall into one of three categories:

  • Rockstars – Those who outshine, outperform, and out-achieve in any sales economy.
  • Middles – Those delivering mid-tier results, with the widest range of performance and opportunity to influence.
  • Participation trophies – Team members who are consistently under goal, and they’re usually the ones taking up the most of your leadership time and resources.

A 2014 study by Accenture showed that mediocre performance by a majority of sales representatives can cost companies 3.2 percent in potential revenue. Underperformers are costly to both the bottom line and team morale.

This means as a sales leader, it’s important to “hire slow, fire fast.” A study by Harvard Business Review found that 78 percent of high-performing sales organizations fire a poor-performing sales rep within a year. Compare this with underperforming sales organizations, who only do this 52 percent of the time.

Want to create a high-performing team? It may be time to separate with your “participation trophy” team members. Those that remain — the rockstars and the middles — offer your greatest potential for creating a sales force of productive, modern sellers – that are engaged and deliver results. But they can’t do it without your leadership. Providing on-going sales training is proven to deliver a significant return on investment. High-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing sales training as low-performing ones.

To learn more about the characteristics of modern sellers and how you can develop them in your sales force, watch this short video.

My book, The Modern Seller, will be available later this year. Watch for more information soon.

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