“You want to be average? Stay average.”
That was a quote I said during an interview I did with SalesLoft at their Rainmaker16 event that went viral. The fact that it went viral tells me the audience agreed with what I was saying and that they wanted to be the best they could be. That’s the good news. The bad news is there’s still a lot of people that are completely ok with being average or even below average. That’s fine in some professions (I guess) but not in sales.
Recently I had someone ask me about the potentially diluted impact of my trainings since I’ve worked with so many companies (specifically in the SaaS industry) using the same techniques. It was a valid question. However, it’s not about the training, it’s about what the reps do with the training after I leave.
Let’s face it, training is an event. A trainer like me comes in and executes a one to two-day session, gets everyone fired up and then leaves. As much as we try to do ongoing reinforcement and follow-up, if the tools aren’t in place for reinforcement or the managers aren’t coaching to the content, it loses its impact on the majority of reps soon after the training is over. I say the “majority” because there are always a few who take it upon themselves to implement the training and excel with it. These are the “A” reps and I can always tell who they are. They are the ones sitting in the front of the room, taking notes and asking thoughtful questions. They also the send me e-mails afterward asking for me help and additional insights.
There are plenty of studies and articles written about the Distribution of Talent or the Bell Curve of Talent and how it has been used and misused in corporations from a performance management standpoint. I haven’t done a formal study but based on my years of experience as a sales rep, manager, and trainer, I can tell you the 20-60-20 rule is pretty damn close across the board. On any given sales team about 20% of them are ‘A’ players, 60% are Bs and 20% are Cs.
A lot of people think they’re in the ‘A’ category or want to be but don’t want to put in the effort to get there. Someone once asked me what the secret to success was. My answer was pretty simple – working your ass off. I didn’t go to Harvard or graduate Magna Cum Laude, I usually lose pretty hard at Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and I don’t read a ton of books. But I’ll tell you one thing: I promise you won’t outwork me. It’s like Will Smith’s quote where he says “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill.”
So my response to the person who asked me about the potential degradation of my techniques based on how many reps I’ve trained was simple. It’s not about the training, it’s about what you do with it. Which bucket do you really want to be in? A, B or C? And are you willing to put in the effort for what it takes to be great?
P.S. My personal journey on how I got where I am in Sales and business was recently highlighted in Forbes if you’re interested.
P.P.S Join me on Facebook Live for Make It Happen Mondays if you want to ask me more details.