You've observed salespeople who were focused, efficient and effective for months at a time. Very few distractions, good balance of new opportunities and closable opportunities, and everything moved along as it should, driven by these great salespeople. And when they perform like this for long stretches at a time, that is maximum effort.
You've also observed salespeople who were achieving anything but maximum effort. They were distracted, didn't have enough new prospects and/or closable opportunities, and weren't effectively moving the few opportunities they had through the sales process. Instead they were just stumbling their way through each day and week, going through the motions. You've probably been able to get salespeople like this performing more like the salespeople in the first paragraph, but only for very short bursts of time, like a short sprint, before their effort returns to their normal.
There is a third type of salesperson, one of the elite top 5%, who can consistently maintain maximum effort for much of the year. But that salesperson isn't the norm. So the questions that come from this are these:
Are the top 5%'ers A players or super human players?
Are those that can maintain maximum effort for months at a time A's or B's?
Are those that can only achieve maximum effort for short periods of time and only after a reprimand C's or people you should replace?
In my opinion, the top 5%'ers are the A's. That's the expectation you should set. That's what you should demand.
Those who can achieve maximum effort for months at a time, but not all the time are your B's.
Those who can rarely achieve it and only with your interference are your C's.
If you're beginning to compare these comments and criteria with your sales force, you may be realizing that you don't have any A's, have at best 1 or 2 B's, and the rest are C's.
The next question is, can you turn your B's into A's? Can you turn your C's into B's? Do you have the right people?
A Sales Force Evaluation will certainly answer those questions for you. Stepping up your hiring and selection effectiveness will help too. I'll be the guest presenter on January 25 when ExSELL Institute presents How Not to Screw Up Your Sales Hiring in 2010. For more information, or to register, click here.
(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan