The One Proven Strategy to Move Your Sales Team Performance Bell Curve

As a sales manager, your success is determined by the success of your reps. But, unfortunately, a lot of reps out there are barely hitting quota. In fact, the majority of today’s sales teams consist of average performers. This drastically affects your over sales team performance bell curve.

So, how do you send your reps in middle-of-the-pack straight to the top?

Don’t Always Listen to “Proven Methodologies”

Back in 2006, the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled The New Science of Sales Force Productivity.

The article presented a detailed methodology on how to improve the performance of sales teams across an entire organization.

The problem?

This methodology was only suitable for teams with an extensive software budget, business analysts with the ability to monitor performance, and the will to wait months to see results.

What if you don’t have money? Or extra headcount? Or the time?

How to Move the Middle to the Top

Top leaders from Ambition, DiscoverOrg, and recently put their heads together to find the most efficient ways to move the needle faster, and get teams selling more.

Broken down into four simple steps, these teams determined the process for executing a “move the middle” strategy within any sales force.

And it’s all built around one methodology—finding the top 20% performers in a sales organization, and determining what they say in conversations, and what activities they complete.

Start by Looking at Your Star Reps

By auditing the performance of your top reps, you can apply your findings to the entire sales process. In turn, the rest of the sales force starts targeting, talking, and operating just like your top performers.

What do your top performers say?

Kick things off by determining the magic words and phrases your star reps are saying.

At, we conducted an analysis of 1,000,000 sales calls and found that top reps do to the following to separate themselves from the rest of the team:

1) Spend 52% more time talking on the phone about:

  • ROI
  • Prospect’s pain points
  • Business challenges
  • Project agendas/timelines

2) Spend 39% less time talking about technical topics and features

3) Prospects of top reps adjust their talking speed by 13% within the first three minutes of a call

4) Regarding sentiment, top reps don’t adjust their word choice to match their prospect’s positivity/negativity

5) Consider word choice. High-performing reps use the following on their calls:

  • Prospect’s name.
  • “Imagine…”
  • “Successful”
  • Decisive language
  • Risk-reversal language (“You can cancel anytime”)

What do your top performers do?

While you can’t manage your team’s outcomes, you can manage their activities.

Find the top 3-5 KPIs that your top 20% performers are consistently doing in terms of activity. This can be achieved through:

  1. Using S.M.A.R.T Goals
  • Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Constrained.
  • Isolate Recurring KPIs among your top 20% of performers.
  1. Confirming with top performers that these KPIs are key to their success.
  2. Repeating for each role on your sales team

As laid out in Moving the Sales Performance Bell Curve, none of these methodologies are too complicated.

In fact, they’re things that any sales leader who has made some minimum initial technology investments can perform.

Want to find out what else you can be doing to improve the performance of average reps? Download Moving the Sales Performance Bell Curve here

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at – the #1 conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams. Gong helps you convert more of your pipeline into revenue by shining the light on your sales conversations. It records, transcribes, and analyzes every sales call so you can drive sales effectiveness, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and ramp new hires faster.

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