Most sales managers, not to mention C-suite executives, know the “A”, “B”, and “C” sale reps on their teams. The question this usually prompts is: Do we focus on our “A’s”, “B’s” or “C’s” to improve sales?

Here’s a strategy that is the most effective way to improve sales performance. We call it “Moving the Middle.”

Sales managers often spend most of their time helping their “C” reps perform better. The logic may make sense at first glance. Helping “C” reps become “B” reps while “A’s” and “B’s” stay where they are will have the greatest impact on the team’s sales results, right?

Well, not exactly.

The reason is sales managers often underestimate how much time is required to help their “C” reps. They may also ignore the fact some “C” reps aren’t suited to a sales role, while others don’t care.

A more effective option is spending more sales management time on “A’s” than “C’s”. This can be an effective time management strategy for sales managers, but it’s rarely followed in practice. The urge to help those struggling “C” reps is too great, so sales managers jump back in to help. In addition, many “A” reps find their own pathways to success, so sales managers influence over their “A” reps may be relatively small.

That leaves us with the “B” reps, a large and overlooked group that can drive substantial sales growth.

Your “B” reps are what we like to call the “willing but not yet able”— they are eager and driven yet may lack the skill set, polish, and capabilities of their “A” brethren. But unlike “C” reps, who fall into the “unwilling and unable” bucket, your “B” reps are “willing” so this is your opportunity to act.

We recommend spending more time and resources on your “B” reps for the next 6 months.

Here are some specific ideas to consider:

  • Do more ride-alongs and 1on1 coaching sessions with your “B’s” to become reacquainted to their daily routines
  • The best form of learning is modeling the behaviors of others we wish to emulate, so try partnering your “A’s” and “B’s” on sales calls and record the results.
  • Encourage your “B’s” by showing them how close they are to becoming “A’s”, if they reach certain sales and customer satisfaction milestones
  • Clear away non-selling activities that crop up for all reps, but especially your “B” reps, who often are involved in more non-selling activities than “A’s” or “C’s”
  • Provide “B’s” targeted sales training and deal coaching that addresses their selling skill deficits
  • Reinforce training and coaching of your “B’s” with regular check-ins, refresher courses, and regular communications

We have found moving your “B” reps is the fastest and most effective way to lift your entire team’s sales performance. Give it a try and after six months let us know if you agree.