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Can Every Rep Become a Sales Star?

The entire concept of sales training is based upon the concept that it's possible to "clone" sales talent. The same is true of sales technology, which is supposed to make every sales rep follow best practices and thereby become successful. I'm not sure that those promises are realistic. In fact, I strongly suspect that they're basically horse manure.


You've probably heard of the 80/20 rule which is generally expressed as:

"20 percent of your sales reps generate 80 percent of the revenue while the other 80 percent of your reps generate the remaining 20 percent of revenue."
Turns out that 80/20 rule isn't completely true, but it's almost true. According to pretty massive survey conducted by the sales scientists at CSO Insights, over a broad swath of firms, the top 20 percent of sales reps are generating 61.5 percent of revenue. That's not 80 percent of the revenue, but it's still a high number. And it means that the "non-top" sales reps aren't being very productive.

Now think about this for a minute. Over the past 50 years, sales groups have probably spent over $100 billion on sales training. And over the past ten years, sales technology (CRM, Sales 2.0, etc.) has been purchased like hotcakes...to the tune of many billions of dollars more in investment.

All that money spent -- and all that time spent learning new sales techniques and technology -- and you're telling me that one out of five sales reps is still SIX TIMES MORE FREAKIN' PRODUCTIVE than the other four?!? What gives? Seriously! What gives?

Remember, this is what happens inside organizations that presumably have the exact same training programs and exact same technology for every rep. I'm forced to conclude:

  1. Sales managers are HORRIBLE at hiring.
  2. Sales training doesn't work very well.
  3. Neither does sales technology.
  4. Sales stars are born, not made.
Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it seems to me.

READERS: What do you think? Is building a "world class" sales team -- where everyone is a top performer -- an impossible feat?

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