Resolved: 2017 be in the 20%!

Well technically it is still 2016, but the truth is that 2017 is a “stones throw” away.  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 2017 change something! Be the best, and always be effective! You can reach me at

Are You Jealous Enough to Be in Sales?

Jealousy, the “green eyed monster”, lives in the hearts of many sales professionals. Don’t think that it is something abnormal, it is truly human nature!

Whether it is jealousy about income, managerial attention, or one of the worst ones – jealousy regarding recognition, it exists in many professional sales departments whether it is outside sales or inside sales.


You can be the object of such jealousy, or you may have jealousy in your own heart. I can relate as we all have been there.  I won’t be critical, but I will advise what you might want to use the jealousy to fuel your everyday activities.

Used correctly this jealousy could help you as a catalyst to propel you to do the things necessary to be the best.

There is Always a “Target”!

I once work with a sales professional, I’ll call him John L, who was flat out just better than anyone else in our sales office. He dressed the part, he had the sales training, and quite frankly even his name was associated with being the best.

There was no one that had the respect of all the different functions or departments like this individual did. He had management’s ear, and if he suggested a change or program, it was probably going to be implemented.

Alas, no one was jealous of this individual, as he was the standard.  So it is not always the best that is the target.

The target for jealousy is normally someone who is “the upstart”, the individual who is breaking away from the pack and making individuals of like tenure and abilities look bad. This individual gets to be the target of professional jealousy, in most cases whether it is deserved or not.

What Can You Do?

A quick review of some of the reasons for the professional jealousy will shed light on the issue.  Professionals get jealous because of the following:

Management Attention -In sales it is human nature to covet managerial attention, as that attention is a limited resource. Your sales manager tends to focus attention on the individuals who are getting results. Even if you are wanting for assistance, if you’re not getting results, and don’t show the potential to get results, the attention to you may be scarce.


  • Get Your Sales Manager Involved In Your Business – From the simple ‘ride-along’, to negotiating and pricing.  Give him a ‘franchise’ in your operations and you will be surprised the level of commitment that can take place.
  • Schedule ‘status’ meetings with your manager – Don’t wait to be asked about key or major prospects, keep your manager up front and in the loop.  If you want the manager’s attention, tease out the attention by giving information and facts that provoke interest.  Always have something going!
  • Review Black Sales Journal 6/14/12 – 6 Simple Ways to Manage Your Sales Manager This post will help you ‘manage’ your sales manager.  These points will work, if you couple them with doing the other activities that requisite to the job!
  • General Sales Success and Recognition– We’ve all been an office here ‘rising star’ changes the game.  This individual may put together a string of sales, land the big one, or gets the manager “knee-deep” in a string of new prospects that makes the manager feel needed. Note that the manager feels needed, not only because they’re being asked for help, but also they see potential and get a good feel for what’s going on.  Additionally, the more information the manager gets about your prospects, the more close to a sale situation he or she is in, and the more they will help you close the sale.


  • Be in the Top 20% - Pareto’s Principal would suggest that 20% of a sales force garners 80% of the sales production.  You have got to be there.
  • Read Black Sales Journal 8/22/2013 Be in the Elite – Crack the 20%! – Realize that sales success is hard work, technique, and desire, and you need to be a sales leader, even if you are not the top producer.  Read this post and give it some thought!
  • Always be the Professional! – Remember that you have got to look the part as you seek to be in the 20% (see Persona below).  There are many sales professionals who a manager believes success is imminent, and just around the corner.
  • Income/Lifestyle In this most measurable of professions, there are individuals who have been able to change their income, and resultantly their lifestyle and their family’s lifestyle in an amazing fashion.  The ability to work a compensation plan to perfection is what singles out sales professionals from many other occupations. Sales professionals used to measure success by some rather simple milestones, such as making six-figure incomes. Although this may still be a yardstick, there are many sales professionals whose six-figure incomes dwarf the theoretical threshold of $100,000.  They make enviable (notice that word) high six-figure incomes, buttressed by compensation schemes and benefits that include long-term compensation factors as well as other benefits.


  • Know How You get Paid! – Master your sales compensation plan. Read Black Sales Journal 9/17/2012, It’s About That Paper – Know How You Get Paid!.
  • It is All About How You Manage Your Money – I was once told that a man making $25,000 could live like a man making $100,000, and a man making $100,000 could look like a man making $25,000.  It is all in how you handle your money.  You know what I mean.
  • Act Like You Have Been There – Spend your money wisely with an eye toward the future.

Develop Your (Sales) Persona

John L, individual I mentioned to start the article had a sales persona, in concert with a aura of success.  In addition to looking and dressing the part, his vehicle was spotless.  There are things that you can do that will give everyone around you confidence in your ability and your decisions. When you add to it business maturity, your persona is enhanced.


In Sales, Some Jealousy is Healthy

Many of us are motivated by jealousy, even if we don’t know it.  If you are burdened by jealousy instead of motivated, then endeavor to use it to your advantage.

Just like in a good relationship, some jealousy is healthy.  I am talking about the healthy jealousy that pushes you to be the better (or even the best) and seek the appropriate levels of attention and recognition.

Your comments are welcome.  You can reach me at  Always be the best.