Sales Strategy

😯 The Least Engaged Salesperson Might Surprise You

Sales managers give extra support and attention to these two types of performers; the third is hung out to dry...

August 28, 2021

‍The Least Engaged Salesperson Might Surprise You

In sales, high performers fly high – they rake in big commission checks (sometimes making more than the head of sales), book that "Club" ticket mid-year to some exotic getaway, and soak in praise company-wide from executives. Their engagement, defined as the commitment, connection, and enthusiasm to the organization, tends to be high. About half of our high-performing reps are fully engaged.

Low performers, however, still show shockingly high levels of engagement too. The reps in the middle? Less than one in three are fully engaged. The data tells us sales leaders give the top and bottom performers extra support and attention but hang out to dry those in the middle. Let's break down why.

Thousands of reps responded to an engagement survey that included a subset of sales-specific statements to rate. Two, in particular, tell us why these low-performing sellers are more engaged than those right around hitting their target.

(#1) From the survey statement, β€œIn more difficult sales situations, I receive extra help from my manager,” the number of employees from these groups who strongly agree:

  • 37.5% (<50% of quota)
  • 26.3% (50-79%)
  • 25.6% engaged (80-99%)
  • 31.6% (100-124%)
  • 42.6% (125-149%)
  • 40.0% engaged (150%+)


Struggling account executives not even halfway to their annual quota feel like they get as much extra support as those star reps hitting 150% or more of their target. Sales managers are investing in underperformers, but unfortunately, it's at the expense of those reps in the middle.

(#2) From the survey statement, β€œI get recognized for my non-closing sales activity,” the number of employees from these groups who strongly agree:

  • 29.2% (<50% of quota)
  • 14.3% (50-79%)
  • 6.7% engaged (80-99%)
  • 10.3% (100-124%)
  • 11.8% (125-149%)
  • 15.0% engaged (150%+)

Almost three in ten underperformers strongly believe sales managers notice their non-closing behavior. Recognition for doing the right things for newer reps or those sellers in a slump is undoubtedly a sign of good coaching.

However, not even one in ten who are right around hitting their quota believe they're getting noticed. Our reps in the middle of the road do just enough to make us happy that we tend to forget about them. Whether it's a "squeaky wheel gets the oil" habit or an intense focus to keep our star performers happy, the account executives in the middle need more of our time.

No shortage of research and resources tells us our best shot at increasing overall sales performance is to move the middle performers on the bell curve. This week, let's recognize them for their non-closing activity and send a quick note offering support in more complex deal cycles. Doing so should increase their engagement, enthusiasm, and commitment to our sales teams.

In this current job market, the middle reps are arguably most at risk for leaving. But we can prevent that from happening by showering them with more attention.

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