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In sales, taking a poorly performing team and making them successful is no small feat. Any leader who is able to do that should be commended, and is likely a talented sales manager. But what about taking an adequately performing team and turning them into a high-performing one?

The steps you need to take to go from bad to good are different than the ones you need to take to go from good to great. The Pareto principle (more commonly known as the 80/20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Usually, to get from bad to good, the 20% of the causes are identified and implemented by sales teams. But to become consistently excellent, you need to look beyond the obvious 20% and dig deeper.

Here are five ways that sales leaders take their good teams and make them great:

1. Spread out your effort consistently

If you’ve spent any time in sales then you’re familiar with the end of the month (or quarter or year) push. This is when miracles happen at the end of a sales quota period and deals start closing left and right like they haven’t been the rest of the time. While it’s great to push and get deals closed, spreading out that same consistent effort over the rest of the selling period is what can take teams from good to great. Only the most excellent salespeople are able to consistently do this, but if leaders can make it part of their expectations, their teams will reap the benefits too.

2. Look at the numbers, even the ugly ones

Sales really is a numbers game, even if luck does play into it every once in a while. First, you need to be able to access your salespeople’s numbers. Things like leads received, calls made, and all of the corresponding conversation percentages are the most important figures you should focus on. Within those numbers, you’ll find some good data, and some ugly truths that you might not like looking at. But don’t look away. Identifying a problem is the first step towards solving it. If you know that one of your sales reps tends to lose deals after the sales presentation at a higher rate than others, then you’ll know exactly what you need to work on with them. Look at the numbers, even if it’s uncomfortable.

3. Find a competitive advantage

A competitive advantage in this context is a new way that your sales team can find to close more deals. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but most sales teams don’t even try it. A good place to start is always with partnerships. Think about your traditional ways of prospecting and then brainstorm another twenty with your team. Then whittle that down to five, and spread the tactics among the salespeople so that everybody tries at least one for a month. Chances are that someone will have some success. Entire industries have been built on finding new ways to develop business. This requires you to go outside of the traditional responsibilities of a sales leader, but can also be the one thing that makes you a high performing one.

4. Use (good) new technology

Since you’re a sales leader, your email and voicemails are undoubtedly filled with prospecting calls from someone pitching you the latest sales technology, like Spiro’s Proactive Relationship Management Platform. Some of this tech is redundant or perhaps not highly effective, but some of it is brilliant and you’d be remiss to not adopt it for your sales team. Many software solutions do a great job of identifying a problem that you might not even know you had, and then eliminating it completely. Spiro focuses on several problems, including allowing your sales reps to focus on selling instead of updating their outdated CRM, and using predictive artificial intelligence to let them know which deals are the most likely to close and therefore which ones should be called next.

5. Focus everybody only on things that move the needle

Just like the 80/20 rule, there are things your team does everyday that will help them close more deals, and things that are completely arbitrary or complete distractions from the goal. Now that they’re good, it’s time to take it a step further and focus everybody even more on things that matter. Eliminate pointless reports and forms (unless HR mandates it), and try to cut down on the distractions. If everybody is rowing in the same direction, you will eventually win. You probably already know what needs to be done in this department, the key now is to execute.

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About the Author Ken Kupchik

Ken Kupchik is the creator of Sales Humor and the author of the funniest sales book ever written, The Sales Survival Handbook, which you can order on Amazon.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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