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In Their Corner

Focus your coaching efforts where they'll pack the most punch--on your top performers.

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This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When it comes to coaching your sales force, you musn'twander down Egal-itarian Avenue--it's a corridor of dashedexpectations and unmet challenges. Well-meaning entrepreneurs maybe forgiven for thinking a sales team should run like a democracy,but don't confuse the wonders of our social and politicalstructure with the rigors of sales management. It's imperativethat you focus on the fundamental few salespeople who'll affordyou the lion's share of the results. Squeamish about playingfavorites? Vanquish any unease by digesting the following reasonsfor devoting your coaching time to your elite sales performers:

  • The money's at the top.For centuries, economic theorists have fashioned elaborate formulasto arrive at what you know from just taking a look at yourreceipts: About 20 percent of your employees are pulling in 80percent of your business. So it just makes good fiscal sense to putthe majority of your resources where you expect to getthe greatestreturn on your investment. Alan Fine, a sales coach, is thepresident of InsideOut Development LLC in American Fork, Utah.Fine, who has spent time working with both top golfers and tennisplayers, equates outstanding sales performers with professionalcompetitors: "You coach and support the top athletes becausethat's where the greatest ROI is."
  • Coaching marginal performers is awaste of time. You must take care to differentiatebetween average and awesome. Todd Duncan,the author of High Trust Selling: Make More Money in Less TimeWith Less Stress (Thomas Nelson), argues that coaching averageperformers is largely worthless. "In selling, you either haveplayers or pretenders," Duncan asserts. "Playersshouldn't have to compensate for the inadequacies ofpretenders."

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