Three Reasons Sales Ops Shouldn't Focus on Superstars

August 23, 2016

This post was contributed by MindBrew Editor in Chief Rafe VanDenBerg and originally appeared on

In any sales organization, the superstars understandably command a lot of attention and focus — from executive management, sales management, support personnel, and even other salespeople on the team. As such, it’s somewhat intuitive that Sales Ops teams would also want to focus a lot of their attentions and improvement efforts on the superstars. But here’s the thing…Sales Ops can’t help the superstars…not really.

You see, the superstars are the superstars precisely because they’re already doing a lot of the right things in the right ways. They’re the superstars precisely because they’re already operating at a much higher level of effectiveness than everyone else.

In other words, there’s not a lot of room for improvement with the superstars. Or rather, there’s not as much room for improvement with the superstars as there is with the “meaty middle." The meaty middle is heart of your salesforce. The meaty middle is the 70 percent of your team that lives between the top 15 percent (the superstars that put up stellar numbers like clockwork) and the bottom 15 percent (the folks who are likely in the wrong profession).

There are three main reasons Sales Ops teams should focus primarily on moving the meaty middle, and all of them have to do with leverage:

  • Improvements are easier to achieve. While it might seem counterintuitive, it’s easier to get people from 60 percent effectiveness to 70 percent effectiveness, than it is to get people from 95 percent effectiveness to 96 percent effectiveness.
  • Improvement impacts are larger. Because your efforts are affecting a much larger group of people (and likely to a much greater degree), the combined impact on overall performance can be more significant.
  • Improvements are much stickier. Driving improvement across 70 percent of the salesforce necessarily involves systemic solutions that are repeatable, scalable, and effective for the “typical” salespeople that also make up the vast majority of the future hiring pool.

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the superstars entirely. Obviously, you want to keep them happy and productive. And, the superstars are a great research panel to understand and identify things that should be emulated.

The point is that when it comes to driving significant performance improvements, the superstars should not be your primary focus. The opportunity and leverage just aren’t there. And the meaty middle is where Sales Ops can actually do the most good.

A veteran of B2B sales, marketing, and pricing, Rafe has more than 20 years of experience; he’s been a practitioner for Fortune 500 manufacturers and distributors, a successful independent consultant and author, as well a technology innovator. As a practitioner and consultant working to drive profitable growth for both new and well-established companies, Rafe learned the power of seemingly small improvements in just the right places. Ever since, he’s been an advocate for identifying true root causes and devising simple, pragmatic solutions that can be implemented with minimal disruption.

This post originally appeared on MindBrew. MindBrew provides real-world insights for business professionals. Our research and editorial teams gather insights from practitioners and industry experts all over the world. We pull together the actual experiences and practical know-how of these professionals who have “been there and done that” and who are seeking to identify the best practices across various industries, as well as the common problems and pitfalls to be avoided along the way. Our research and publications are available at:

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