Sales Performance | Cloning your best performer

How To Improve Sales Performance Of Your Team

By Cloning Your Best Sales Person


“I just need to clone the top 20% of my team!”

– surely, anyone who has ever lead or managed a sales team has thought that AT LEAST once in their career.

It’s often the case that that while around one third of a sales team will regularly meet target. The remaining two-thirds will be consistently below target. In addition, of the top-performing group, around two-thirds will outshine the others. That’s the top 20% of the team.

So the question is: what are they doing that the others aren’t…?

The problem is that often the way we go about it is to use the same management style that works for the top 20%. We then replicate this across the rest of the team. A kind of copy and paste approach.

However, there is a flaw in adopting this approach. The 20% are a very different animal to the other 80%. What high performers need to be successful at couldn’t be more different to everyone else. Layer on top of this the different individual motivation factors. All of a sudden it’s starting to look nigh on impossible to complete your cloning master plan. Foiled again!

So should we give up on the cloning strategy? Absolutely not.

So, how to clone your best performer?

Scientists clone by first identifying the genes in one organism that they want to study. Then they insert these genes into another organism and place it in laboratory conditions to observe. The environment then prompts the genes to multiply resulting in one being copied many times over (yes, I have simplified the process a little).

What can we learn form the scientists when it comes to cloning high sales performance?

1/ Identify the gene pool.

Identify the skills and behavioural traits (genes) that your want to replicate across the team. Create an internal (and ideally an external) benchmark to measure where the gaps exist in the other 80%.

2/ Diagnose

Before you consider appointing a trainer to deal with the issue of poor sales performance, take a moment to consider this. If you perform a thorough skills assessment of your sales team, you will find out exactly what skill gaps are there within the capability of your team. The trainer would then be able to plug those gaps directly.

In other words, the best way to get around the problem is not a one-size-fits all approach, but rather what we at Longley Academy like to call a surgical approach to the issue. Could it be that a certain portion of your team has weak negotiating skills? Or is it actually that they lack the skills to deliver the message effectively, rather than the fact that they come unstuck when negotiating terms? Knowing which of these is the problem, and tackling it head on with specially designed training, could save you hours of wasted training time.

3/ Grab a scalpel.

Design a surgical development plan to embed the high sales performance skills and behaviours (genes) into the other team members.

The benefits of this approach are many. It’s true value for money for a start, because the training targets the areas with an immediate impact. In addition, at management level, the sales director gets a comprehensive picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their sales team. He or she has the information to restructure the team. They can move certain individuals out of certain roles and into others, in order to maximise sales. They can create personal development plans, with key coaching priorities for each member of the team.

Remember: the longer the training doesn’t necessarily mean the better the training. In fact, it’s often short, sharp bursts of training that can be taken on board much more easily. This makes sense when you consider that a sales team attending a 3- or 4-day course are likely to only take away around 25 % of the information they are given.

4/ Create the right environment.

Set up the environment to encourage the new skills and behaviours to multiply.

The reinforcement of new skills is key. The sales team needs an organised and effective system of reinforcement: are they practising the skills they have learnt? Is there a system of monitoring in place to see whether the training has delivered business results? Even more importantly, have the management team been given coaching to be able to follow up on what their teams have learned?