Resolved: I Will Be in the Top 20% in 2018! Gotta Change Something!

2018 is here!  If you are like many sales professionals, you may need to change something…right now! Save your job and preserve your income! Focus high, or not at all! Here are some ways how you can be in the 20%! So many have used this compilation to change their status.


If you are in sales you have most likely heard about the following phrase:

“80% of your production comes from 20% of your sales force”

You may also have heard this phrase:

“20% of your sales activities will generate 80% of your sales results”

I am quite sure that you have heard both of these.  More importantly you should figure out a way to make both of statements work for you.

Before we start examining that, we would like to recognize Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923) of Italy who started this all in 1906.  He used it initially to explain the fact that 80% of the wealth of his country was in the hands of 20% of the population, also known as the rich.  This is called Pareto’s Principle and you may also hear of it as the ’80-20 Rule’.  It is used in everything from sales, to sports, to personal relationships, and of course wealth.

I have found this principal to be correct for the most part and that is why I’d like to take some time to examine it. Stated simply, a small number of are responsible for a large percentage of the effect.  Most examples use a figure of 20 to 80 or 20:80.

It is exact?  Of course not, but it simple and easy to understand that the relationship between what we put in, and what we get out, is not balanced.

Be the Best!

Successful Black sales professionals stand out.  If you are able to perform at a level that makes you a valuable asset to your employer, you are to be commended, as the ‘environmental’ resistance (general economics, racial preference, and racial prejudice) that you encounter is omnipresent.

Being successful is not enough as your objective is to be the best, and that designation does not recognize race.  To be the best, you need to be in the top 20%.  If you are making money that is fine as well, but overall you still need to be in the top 20%.

Strategies to make it there are important.  Remember, whether you are struggling, or currently successful, if you want to change the result, you must change your behavior!

Here are a few activities that will help vault you to the top:

Read them and select one or two (or several) and give them a try.

Increase your Effectiveness

The second phrase at the beginning of this document illustrates the 80:20 rule of the Pareto Principle by indicating as stated earlier that what we put into something might not be what we eventually get out.  Put primary priority on the items that increase your effectiveness. Recognize that your efforts need to favor those activities that “make a significant difference”.

Author and self-effectiveness guru Steven Covey urges us to “Put first things first”.  Indicating that you should undertake your activities on the basis of importance rather than urgency.

This would mean that you would spend working hours doing some of your important prospecting, and move your expense account (something I was terrible at) preparation to the evening.  It would mean that you would spend valuable time doing customer problem solving first, relationship building next, then the various and sundry activities that are urgent, but not important.

Below I’ve listed some good suggestions with links to past BSJ posts that will make a difference in moving into or staying in the 20%.

There is a lot of information here, yet the most important part of the process is to recognize the importance of changing something.  If you want to change the results, you must change your behavior.  Remember, ‘you can lie about the numbers, but the numbers don’t lie.’

For 2018 change something! Be the best, and always be effective! You can reach me at

Isaac Newton’s Laws of ‘Sales’: They Apply to You!

Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been “considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived.”


You may recognize the name, and you will also recognize his principles – and yes, they do relate to sales.  Yes, it may seem unlikely, but his principles relate to the occupation of sales in a less than scientific way.   These are actually Newton’s Laws of Motion, and they are universally accepted.  Physics is physics and math is math, yet some things are naturally transferrable to what we do, and these fit that bill.

We will quickly examine two of Newton’s more famous laws and how they relate to sales and the sales process.

Law – Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

This is the law of inertia.  It relates to us that nothing changes until someone does something to change it.

Example I - A sales professional sits in the office contemplating the future, and trying to figure out how he or she is going to make their quarterly goals.  The sales manager calls the rep in and advises that in the last two quarters the quarterly goal was not met.  The manager advised, “Something has got to change quickly and we will be sitting down and discussing it two weeks from now.”

Object – The Sales Rep

State of Motion – Inaction, lethargy, sitting on one’s rear end

External Force – The manager’s promise that action will be taken and the admonition that it would be discussed two weeks from now.


Example II – A highly performing regional sales unit, the best in the country for this Fortune 500 organization, was doing everything correctly.  The sales unit recently was noted as 21st out of the 22 regional sales operations for the company.  Sinking so low has been difficult, but it was suggested that it was because of the numerous defections from the sales unit.  They had lost their best sales professionals, and the results showed it.

Object – The sales unit

State of Motion – High performance

External Force – Personnel losses, recruitment of the unit’s sales professionals, depletion of talent

Law - For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The strength of this law is that you must anticipate the reaction when you take the action.  This is the best known, and one that is particularly relatable to sales and the sales process.  If you ever step off of a skateboard onto a platform, you feel the skateboard move opposite the way you are attempting to advance.  The movement of the skateboard is considered the reaction.  If you are not careful, you will fall flat on your face.  It is only logical in physics, and in other activities.

Example – A notable employer plans a lucrative sales ‘sprint’ contest to attempt to spur the sale of widgets as it is the most profitable product in the portfolio.  In the process, the sales of the company’s flagship product, ‘gizmos’, suffers and the organization, long considered to be number one in sales of gizmos falls to the number 2 in the sale of that product and thus loses its leadership position and notoriety.

Action – Imposing a sprint campaign to sell widgets

Equal and Opposite Reaction – Sales markedly decreased in the sales of another important product to the point of losing market leadership; activity and presumably sales increase on widgets.

Law – What goes up…must come down!

We cannot forget the most well known of Newton’s Laws: The Law of Gravity. This one is well known, and very simple.  It is the saying that you heard from y0ur mother, your father, or even your coach.  Don’t act like a jerk when you are on the top or on the way to the top, because very few sales professionals get to the top and never come down.   Success is not necessarily fleeting, but it is obvious that many sales professionals forget that over the long haul it is not promised.

We all know sales professionals that have had problems with that issue.

The Balancing Act!

Everything that is done to the sales force by an employer has a reaction, and everything that you do as a sales professional has some ‘physics’ attached to it well.

Be calculated and careful in your moves and anticipate how those moves will be received, as well as whether they get the intended results.

One of the best manager’s I had the pleasure of working for (J.G.), continuously stressed to me that many actions could have unintended consequences, and we should think things out carefully and be prepared for all consequences.  Sometimes you can do everything right, but affect other variables in a way that will one day manifest themselves as ‘a problem’ as a result of your actions.

I have always said that you should “Do the Right Thing!” (Excuse me Spike Lee!), but in many cases, there is a possibility that there is more than one, “Right Thing”.  Have business confidants (people you trust that have good judgement) that can help you with decision making and always make your decisions in light of the advice you get as well as your best judgment.  Businesses have the same problem that individuals do.  Manager’s who run sales operations need to take the same course as individuals, using proper judgment and analysis.  The difference is that managers who make mistakes usually affect more than one person, and usually several in fact.

Newton’s Laws of Motion (these three) are important as when applied to the sales area they can speak to making decisions and the effect on you, your company, and your customers.  It would not hurt to know them as the concepts are universal.

You don’t have to be a scientist to think about these theories.

Be the Best.

Your comments are appreciated. You can reach me at