Is the ideal sales team comprised of all Sales Wolves?

by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

I spend a great deal of time writing about Sales Wolves.  What defines a Sales Wolf. How many organizations lack them or once they have them, fail to nurture and retain their Wolves.

I suppose it is natural that I am frequently asked, then, if the ideal sales team is comprised of all Sales Wolves.


The ideal sales team is comprised of all Sales Wolves.

Few sales teams are. Including yours.

animal-animal-portrait-animal-world-682361Why Sales Wolves?

Only the best-of-the best in a particular industry are Sales Wolves.

If you are truly committed to playing-to-win, you must have the best-of-the-best sales talent in your industry. Sales Wolves only.

True Sales Wolves play-to-win and they do so, consistently.  

Consider the 80/20 rule, also known as The Pareto Principle. Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto first identified the 80/20 rule when he analyzed Italian land ownership and found that 80 percent of the land is owned by 20 percent of the population. Sales Wolves typically produce 80 percent of the results for an organization. This is no accident. It is The Pareto Principle at work.

Imagine, then, if your team is comprised of all Sales Wolves and how that would impact your bottom line.

Most sales teams.

A true Sales Wolf has the capacity to consistently perform in the top 20th percentile of their industry.

I choose my words carefully here, because this can be easily confused. While a Sales Wolf can consistently perform in the top 20th percentile of their industry, that does not mean that YOUR 20th percentile is all Sales Wolves.

In most sales teams, 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the sales team. The top 20 percentile are often Sales Wolves although some “achieve” top 20 percentile sales performance through artificial means – ie: protection of territories, special status and favor.

Many sales teams,though, are terrible. All of them have a 20th percentile. The team is still woefully underperforming, but even among underperformers, someone has to be at the top.

There is no balance of Sales Wolves to non-Sales Wolves in successful companies.

That bears repeating.

There is no balance of Sales Wolves to non-Sales Wolves in successful companies.

Low performers destroy value. Allow enough low performers and they impact the culture of your sales team.

Labels without results are meaningless.

The typical sales team is comprised of salespeople who perform across a broad sales performance range. Most sales teams have at least a minimum activity and/or selling standard that is set for salespeople. If that standard is not consistently met, the low-performing salesperson is released to pursue other career opportunities.

The typical sales team would be quick to label their top performers as “Sales Wolves.” Usually, this is wishful thinking unless they have a standardized sales selection process supported by sales personality testing with validity backed by brain research.  

If this is not the case, it is extremely unlikely that they have a single true Sales Wolf on the sales team and if they do, it is even less likely they are operating at their full potential.

Top sales teams.

Sales teams that are in a long-run equilibrium state may have no Sales Wolves, or they may beaccomplishment-achievement-adults-1059118 comprised of a majority of Sales Wolves. The concentration of Sales Wolves in a particular company boils down to level of competition and the mindset of the CEO and sales leadership.

CEOs and sales leaders who are constitutionally dissatisfied with the status quo are always seeking an edge in their sales teams.

CEOs and sales leaders who are constitutionally dissatisfied and are themselves true Sales Wolves play to win. They never stop reaching for excellence. They measure absolutely everything they possibly can because they know two principles:

  1. What gets measured gets improved.

  2. Constant, gentle pressure leads to continuous optimization.

Smart, strategic companies never settle for second best. They only allow Sales Wolves on their teams and carefully shape their cultures to call, care for and feed true Sales Wolves.

These companies are relentless about winning sales and they study their wins and losses. They also study the sales personality traits and backgrounds shared by their best salespeople. They relentlessly seek the optimized combination during their selection process. They use a sales hiring scorecard without exception.    

I have seen sales teams comprised entirely of Sales Wolves. I can think of 10 high profile companies that only allow Sales Wolves to remain after 90 to 180 days of employment. If you see a salesperson who successfully worked for these companies for longer than a year, chances are they are a true Sales Wolf. That is why Sales Wolves from some companies are in such high demand.

The tribe dictates success.

Building and maintaining a sales team of only Sales Wolves requires:

  • Commitment from the CEO, VP of Sales, HR (recruiting) to do whatever it takes to identify, select, hire, onboard and coach only the best-of-the-best salespeople.

  • Effective sales management, to include properly-using the company CRM, scripting and best sales engagement practices.

board-game-boss-business-1040157Break any link in this “chain” and the consequences will be swift. Mediocrity will silently or not-so-silently destroy the potential of the sales team.

Even with a Sales Wolf or two on the sales team, the rest of the sales team sets the tone through tribal behavior and norms.  

Studies show that human beings are tribal in nature and do what it takes to fit in. Add a solitary Sales Wolf to your sales team and he or she may push to the highest potential. But chances are, the Sales Wolf will eventually settle while rising marginally above the current sales team. Or, your lone Wolf will leave for a better opportunity.

Building and maintaining team of Wolves is critical to succeed.

YOUR sales team.

You must decide. Are you going to utilize the true potential of each salesperson or are you going to hold everyone to the lowest common standard?

Play up to the unique potential of each salesperson, not down to the lowest common potential.

The key is accountability to activity and results coupled with constant gentle pressure. Sales Wolves must be challenged, encouraged and held accountable to achieving their own individualized best sales performance.

There must be accountability for proper activity levels, adoption of best sales practices (particularly CRM adoption) and effective sales flight planning. Those who are unable/unwilling to engage in best sales practices must be held accountable to the expected standards of the sales team.

Strive to be the 80/20 rule in your industry. Strive to have the 20 percent – your industry’s true Sales Wolves that drive 80 percent of the results in your industry. New Call-to-action