Shifting The Curve


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Bell CurveI’m amazed by many of the discussions I read about sales performance management. At some point the “bell curve” is introduced, it’s sliced into “A’s, B’s, and C’s.” Then the discussion focuses on how you shift or bias things to the right (the high performance side) of the bell curve. There are endless debates about what you do, who you coach, how to hire, where you spend your time, how to maximize performance. Taken to an extreme, the focus is “get all A’s, then everything is perfect.”

These discussions are good discussions, but the present a relatively static view of the organization, of sales strategies, and of performance management. In reality, top executives must continue to shift the curve to the right, continuing to raise the bar on performance. We have to look constantly at improving sales performance, effectiveness, and efficiency. We must look at constantly improving and innovating, enabling each sales person to continue to grow in their abilities and in their contributions to the business.

Whether it’s “shifting the curve to the right,” or “raising the bar,” it’s critical for sales executives to focus on this. Nothing stays the same–what we do must continue to evovle and change. It’s critical to have a clear picture of where we are moving the organization, and how we will achieve it. It’s critical to have a establish and execute a plan to “move performance to the right.” Our goals, strategies, structures, and sales deployment strategies will shift and change. Our processes, systems, tools need to change to support our goals. Our hiring profiles, our performance expectations, our metrics, our compensation and incentive systems will change.

Outstanding performance today, may be just OK tomorrow, and unacceptable the day after. Today’s “A’s,” may become tomorrow’s “B’s” unless we are coaching them and developing them to support our future needs. Likewise for “B’s and C’s.” We can’t afford not to address these performance issues today, because they will become bigger challenges in the future.

  • What are you doing to shift the curve to the right?
  • What does this mean for your strategies, organizational models, priorities, and programs?
  • What does this mean for the skills and capabilities of your people? Do you have the right people? Do you need different people? Have you changed your recruiting profiles? What are you doing to prepare your people to shift to the right?
  • Do you have the right processes, systems, and tools to support this shift and your people?
  • Do you have the right performance expectations, metrics, and incentives?
  • Do your people understand the “shift?” Do they understand their role? Do they understand your expectations? Have they bought into it?
  • What are you doing to coach and develop your people do drive the shift? What are you doing with those that can’t?

Life and business never stands still. We must constantly change and improve. Are you shifting your curve to the right?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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