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by Biagio “Bill” Sciacca

I was looking at some old paperwork the other day thinking about what I could throw out and what I should possibly keep when I came across the abstract of a very old study. I believe this study was conducted in the late 1950s or the mid-1960s.

In this study a national manufacturing company decided to break up its sales staff into three distinct areas. At the time the logical way of thinking was to divide by territory, but what this manufacturer did was divide the top third salespeople in terms of percent of quota, the middle third, and the lower third.

They put their top sales manager in charge of the top one third, a mediocre manager in charge of the middle third, and a relatively poor sales manager in terms of the bottom. Executive management watched the results of these three groups week after week in the hopes of ferreting out some common truths about sales and the psychology associated with selling.

Two of the three results were pretty straightforward. As you can imagine, the top three salespeople under the guidance of a phenomenal sales manager excelled. The group’s performance increased several hundred percent year after year. The bottom group’s performance was also predicted. Under a poor sales manager who didn’t expect too much of himself or his people sales revenue eroded by 40 percent over the previous year.

What struck the executive team however was the middle. This group exceeded all expectations and as a percentage even increased their number over the top sales group. Careful investigation showed the reason. The mediocre sales manager who was assigned to this group was finally given a chance to excel. He expected nothing less than excellence from himself, and as a result, expected nothing less than excellence from his sales team. He told them this every day during their morning sales how much he expected from them and that he was there to help. He encouraged, cajoled them, and brought forth as much enthusiastic cooperation from that as he saw possible. The end result is that this one third group of “also-rans” turned out to be superstars in disguise.

The reason: superior sales management.

Although this study is over 50 years old I think it has a great deal of significance for modern management. We should ask ourselves, as managers what do we expect from ourselves. Should we expect more from our people and should we expect more from ourselves? Should we not be willing to run the extra mile to set an example so that our employees may follow?

As contemporary managers practicing in a multi-generational, international environment it is up to us to be the leader, the poster child and the cheerleader of the individuals who look up to us. We should do this not only because we expect a higher quality work from our employees, but because we are making them into better people; creating a better person. And, as a result they will go forth to create better people that they come into contact.

True, this is an article on contemporary management. But, also, it is a commentary on something that each of us in the modern world must understand: interconnectedness. So that, when we assist in facilitating the betterment of another individual and they do the same and so one, we are creating a better world for ourselves, our employees and everyone who is associated with our business.

It’s is kind of exciting, wouldn’t you agree, that we are not simply the architects of our department or company, but that we are truly participants in the structure of the world?

Action step: what can you do TODAY to expect more from yourself? If you’re not sure ask your employees, perhaps they can assist you.

Biagio “Bill” Sciacca, a Pocono Mountain native has been a university professional for over three and half decades. He is the Author of Goals Book: Embracing Personal Responsibility in an Age of Entitlement, and Goals Book2: The Fieldbook: Putting Goal Setting to Work. He has contributed chapters to Success Simplified and other works anchored by Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard.

Bill is also CEO of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. and is widely known as a speaker and trainer in leadership, strategic planning and executive education, goal setting, management, and communications.

You can reach Bill at or 570-430-9303.