The Vitality Curve is the dynamic way to sort out A’s, B’s and C’s, the most important tool of staff development.  Rank the associates on the 20-70-10 grid and make the tough decisions! – Jack Welch

We all know the wisdom and management principles made famous by Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of GE.  Particularly popular is his approach to stratifying a team of performers into A’s, B’s and C’s to help leaders make personnel decisions. The model works great for sales teams too, so why is it often so hard for sales leaders and managers to follow?

Are your C players too nice to fire?

Let’s remind ourselves how the Vitality Curve work.  Take a look below for quick refresher.

Any sales manager can easily rank their team using this formula.  The only variable should be time on the job, meaning new Sales Reps need a reasonable amount of time to build their pipelines and start closing business.  (Whether that’s one quarter or two years depends on the strength of your lead generation model and the average duration of your sales cycle.)

Mr. Welch’s time tested definition of a C player (beyond being a bottom “ten percent’er”) is this:

  • Someone who can’t get the job done
  • Likely to enervate rather than energize the organization
  • Procrastinate rather than deliver

Given these two crystal clear standards (Bottom ten% and “Can’t get the job done”), why do so many sales teams have so many C players?  Are they too nice to fire?  Have they’ve been with the company forever and it doesn’t seem fair to cut them just because times have changed?  Are they always just one deal away from making it?  Truth is none of that matters.  If you have done your job as sales leader and provided the resources and time to allow for success, then it’s your job to stop investing company money on an asset that is not producing.

The time to coach, nurture, teach and defend those C players does eventually expire.   When that time comes Sales Leaders must be mature and professional enough to take the responsible action.  After that more time can be spent helping the A’s and B’s become even more successful and recruiting new sales talent.

Why are talking about this now?

Because it’s the time of year for Sales Leaders to finalize their decisions on the reps they must remove before the new sales year starts.  Use tools like the GE Vitality Curve to make it a fact based process and treat those reps that must be let go with dignity – but make sure it happens.   It’s part of the job!