// Blog

The 8 Categories of the Sales Performance Wheel

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

People often ask us, “What should we do to drive our sales success?”

It’s a complicated question. It’s not easy to decide what to tackle, when to tackle it, what results the organization should be targeting, where you can get the biggest bang for your buck, and what it really takes to get those results without further analysis.

This kind of analysis stymies many a company leadership team. Walk into any conference room after a sales strategy meeting, and you might find something like this on the bulletin board:


When we began analyzing sales forces two decades ago, we saw the need for an organizing framework to cut through all the complexity, and provide a lens through which to view a sales organization with a clear eye. The result: the Sales Performance Wheel.

A Framework for Sales Performance Analysis: The Sales Performance WheelSM



Based on over 70 years of sales research and behavioral science, the Sales Performance Wheel provides a guide to help leaders analyze where they are now and where they need to be, and to make the decisions on how best to get there. The Wheel has been the central model in hundreds of sales organization performance analyses.

The Sales Performance Wheel categorizes the various influences on sales success into eight buckets. The first four concern the organization itself and the performance environment for the sellers. The second four categories relate directly to the people in sales and sales management roles.

The 8 Drivers of Sales Performance

  1. Strategy focuses on the factors that most affect the direction of the sales organization. To achieve long-term success, leaders must develop the right overall strategy, streamline it, and execute it. You can take all sorts of action, but without the right strategy and leadership, it may simply be, as Sun Tzu said, the noise before defeat.

  2. Structure relates to the organization of selling at the company, including sales compensation, territory design, and territory, account, and lead assignment. If you don’t get the structure right, you might not attract or keep the right people, and you leave significant revenue-growth opportunity in the market untapped.

  3. Operations refers to how efficiently the sales organization runs, how activities and outcomes are tracked, and how information is communicated to management for decision making. Without a good handle on operations, sales organizations are inefficient and cost too much. Leaders have no visibility into how the organization is doing or what metrics need to change to drive performance higher.

  4. Enablement is what allows sellers to sell at their potential, including sales management and coaching, sales process, sales method, and all technologies, tools and resources. Where lack of operations makes sales organizations inefficient, a lack of enablement ensures sales organizations are much less effective than they could be.

  5. Talent Management is the organization’s overall strength of people including the competencies of sellers and sales managers, recruiting, selection and assignment, and onboarding. Sales organizations need the right people in the right roles to succeed.

  6. Training focuses on the development of sellers as well as the organization’s culture and investment around training and education. It includes effectiveness overall and in specific areas such as filling the pipeline, driving opportunities, driving account growth, and managing sellers. Sales teams need the skills to be able to succeed. Without effective training, they don’t get them, and results suffer.

  7. Capabilities refers to the skills needed to drive sales performance such as filling the pipeline, driving opportunities, developing executive relationships, consultative selling, managing sales, growing accounts, and more. Sellers need these skills to succeed, but many have significant skill deficits.

  8. Motivation includes seller attitudes, their energy and focus, leadership’s ability to create and sustain selling energy, and the organization’s culture with respect to selling. To optimize your sales force, you need to have a highly motivated team bringing their “A game” day in and day out.

These 8 categories are all deeply interrelated. Many leaders look for that one thing they should be doing to drive sales success. But there is no silver bullet. The secret is in finding the right mix of factors specifically relevant for you that will drive your results to the next level.


Subscribe today to get the latest on virtual selling, insight selling, strategic account management, sales conversations, and more straight to your inbox.

Topics: Sales Performance Improvement