The 20 Activities The Top 2% of Sales Performers Do - and Do Well
I speak and consult in a wide range of industries and I find it hard to find 1 or 2% of the sales personnel that would be classified as great.
Shocking? It should not be because most corporations hire sales personnel that have never been trained, educated and held accountable for greatness. Following their hiring, almost all of them are again not provided with training and education. And then one of them is later named Vice President of Sales - without any skills training and education to be a great Vice President of Sales. The cycle goes on and on resulting in less sales and reduced margins than could be achieved.
Those individuals wanting and needing to be in the top 2% take charge of their own destiny. What do they do? Read on.
1. They work harder on themselves than they do for their employer. Who wins with this philosophy? The individual, the clients - and the employer.
Most industry representatives do not read every trade magazine in their industry. Read. Be an expert. I read over 400 trade magazines monthly. Yep, 400+. Would you hire a speaker or consultant who had stopped reading and learning? No! And do clients want to deal with a sales person who has gone stale? No. And don't just read magazines in your industry. Read magazines from other industries to help you get out of your box. They are usually free. If you don't read, you don't grow.
2. Over 80% of all clients make their vendor selection because they like, trust and respect the sales person. Ask yourself what you are doing to get prospective clients to like, trust and respect you. You have to earn a great reputation as a leader or else you will be stuck in the role of selling something, to somebody, at a price. That's not a profession, but a boring job. Think hard about this paragraph.
3. Are you a giver? Do you give more of yourself to your clients and employer than anyone else does? The top 2% do. If you receive more gifts from clients than you give out, you're in the top 2%. If you pay for golf every time, you're not. You have to give a lot to get a lot. Give your best stuff to everyone.
4. Think of and for clients at all times. Do you cut articles out and mail them to clients. Don't just read for your personal benefit. Read with the eyes of a "servancy business person". If you see an article that would be interesting and beneficial for a client, send it to them so they will find you to be - interesting and beneficial.
5. Be a value-added sales professional. Figure out how you will provide unheard of services that no one else offers. If you don't, you better hope that I do not provide field training for your competitor - and close 90% of you "former" clients.
6. Be more creative than ever before. Always think and act on this question: "what am I going to do to make this the best sales visit they have ever seen"? And be creative before and after the visit. Creativity (emotion) beats logic (technical) almost every time in sales. Win them over emotionally first followed by the details later.
7. Winners understand they can't be status quo. They know that they will never arrive. Even if you become the best in the world, you can't remain the best if you start feeling and acting as if "I have arrived." No Matter how good you are today, you can be 25% better in 90 days. And over 90% of all the sales representatives I have worked with could become 50% better - yes, 50% better. Grow or perish.
8. Those that are serious about their profession become certified. Sales people are like consultants in that only 1 in about 25,000 become certified. I'm certified in both of my professions, a CMC and CPS after my name means that I have earned them - and I earn more. My two big needs are money and oxygen; and designations bring me more of one of them. Earn yours.
9. Don't be a sales person - be a fantastic business person. Fridays are a great day to be such a person. I suggest you forget about making sales calls on most Friday afternoons. How many visits can you make between 1:00 and 5:00? 1? 2? Work at your desk instead. Mail 15 postcards, make 15 phone calls and get organized. Once a month, invest an all-day at your desk and mail 25 postcards, make 25 phone calls and act on every item in this article. Beats 3 or 4 prospect and service visits almost every time.
10. Be a leader in your association. Be a good speaker, serve on a committee or/and run for an office. The message is: don't do what 98% do which is to just show up at the convention or trade shows. Most trade show booths look just like they did the year before. Most advertisements look like they did the year before. Prepare now for you to be different at next years show. You will gain respect.
11. Look, act and be the part. Do you remember that Kennedy beat Nixon in the first televised debate? Kennedy looked the part and spoke with vigor or "vigah" as he pronounced it. He had it all that night: dark suit, tanned appearance and enthusiasm. Nixon sweated and looked pale in his gray suit. Historians state that the election was won that night. Kennedy looked and acted the part to get the part he wanted. And, by the way, Nixon "won" according to the radio listeners due to his content. Get a consultant to help you with your appearance, style and actions. Then get an engineer to help you with the technical side. Not the technical stuff first.
12. Prepare and stick to a plan. 98% of salespeople operate without a solid plan because as they say "I don't have time to plan." Start with a 12 month plan and work it backward into quarters, to the month, to the week and then by the day.
13. Develop a Target Account Program. Start by identifying the 3, 5 or 10 accounts that merit an all-out effort by you and your associates. Then list every action you will take with deadline dates. Do more for them than anyone else has done before. Many sales people start to settle in after they land an account. Catch those settled-in sales people flat-footed.
14. Keep a voice recorder on your front seat to capture ideas that pop out of your brain when you least expect it. Use it to dictate letters while driving. "Not any big deal" you might be thinking, Well, it is. One, you don't want to forget the ideas. Secondly, why dictate letters in your office when it could have been done in driving time? Pick up just 5 minutes a day and you will gain 20 ½ hours annually.
15. Manage your time like it is your major currency - because it is. Major time should be invested into major things such as Target Accounts. Minor time should be spent on minor things such as minor accounts. Don't spend the same amount of time with someone who can buy $50,000 as you do with a $500,000 client. Harness your time so you have more time to make more money. I wrote this article on the weekend - not between 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM on a weekday. 8:00 - 5:00 on weekdays is client time.
16. Choose your role model carefully. Pick someone who is in the top 1 -2%. It may even be a competitor. Ask, "who am I currently hanging around and what are they doing to me"? If you make $50,000 and truly want to make $150,000, do you hang around someone earning $50,000 or someone earning $150,000? New entries to the speaking and consulting professions call and write constantly asking for my help as their role model. They hardly ever offer to help me in return. And if I finally ask for their help, I get "I'm too stressed out" or "I'm too busy right now." These individuals will never make it to the top. They think wiifm (what's in it for me) and not "how can I try to repay you"? They are takers that don't believe in the "give to get" philosophy I shared earlier. One person I have given hundreds of hours told me today "I will do it tomorrow". He asked for my help weekly. The message is to mimic your role model. Try to, at least, help them as much as they help you.
17. Encourage your corporation to invest in training and 1 on 1 education. They invest in equipment and more equipment, but few are progressive enough to invest an adequate amount into training and education. If your employer is too short-sighted to understand, invest into 1 on 1 training for yourself. It's not a cost. It's an investment. It will come back to you in big-time dollars.
18. Take a little quiet time once in a while. While serving as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, I used to send the entire sales force off, twice a year, to a park, hotel room or wherever just to think. No phones. They took their annual plan, day planners, position descriptions, etc. They were to think, "what am I doing that I should not be doing"? and "what am I not doing that I should be doing"? the brain works much better when there is no stress and no noise interruptions. I spend 100 days a year providing 1 on 1 executive and sales coaching - and I conduct the sessions without interruptions. These sessions are better than classroom training any day. Why? Because we focus just on the specific challenges for one specific person. Go alone or arrange for a 1 on 1 coaching session. Use your brain not the odometer or frequent flier miles.
19. Conduct a needs analysis with every prospect and every client. Always ask a question such as "how can I personally serve you better"? With a prospect that you have called on for a while, try "Sir, I have been calling on you for 17 months without success. I must be doing something wrong. Will you please tell me what it is"? Whatever the questions are, listen intently to every response, take great notes and act. Great selling is listening - not talking.
20. Be open to change - really open because being in the top 2% will probably require radical adjustments. This is a fast - changing world. Be ahead of the curve or leave the profession. We change jobs, friends and spouses. Why not us?
I have heard that your industry is a very technical one. It's not. Sending a space shuttle up into space is very technical. Yours is primarily a people business. Who develops and produces the products? Sells it? Buys it? People. I make sales calls for my clients all over the world and I ask for the toughest ones - and we close 90% of them. And.I know little to almost nothing about the industries. I can get the technical information from my client's technical personnel. My job is to get my client's clients to WANT to buy from us - and NEED us. How? Just start with the above steps.
Just about (some are not meant to be in this profession) anyone can be in the top 2%. This applies to sales departments and sales representatives. Will it be tough? Of course it will. Are individual and corporate greatness worth the prices to pay?
It's a very easy answer for smart and progressive people.