Two recent training projects have uncovered things that separated the above average from the exceptional salesperson. Although there is nothing particularly new in our findings we were still struck by the performance difference they created. All of the examples are from business to business environments performed or exhibited by people who are at the top of their game:
- Demonstrable tenacity. We found these high performers did the following: they bounced back more quickly when a rejection happened. They made one more call, squeezed in one more appointment and generally stuck at it just a bit more.
- They offered their existing customers superb levels of service. Not making sure their organisation did what it should do (they expected that to happen) but thinking about the additional things that would make the customer happy. Sending through interesting articles, making useful introductions, providing additional copies of presentations, turning up to show support at key internal customer meetings and making their mobile number available 24/7 were just some of the ‘delight the customer’ things we came across.
- Instant or near instant response. Using technology to respond immediately after a meeting by writing the notes up on the train and e-mailing to the customer, processing orders from the car before leaving the customers premises, sending a thank you text as they left the customer’s building were three examples of showing how much they valued the customer.
- Being incredibly focused on what the critical success factors of the job were and making as much time available to them as possible. If a key activity is developing a professional network of introducers, they would schedule proper time for doing that; if they knew from their conversion ratios that they needed to speak to 100 prospects per month on the phone to hit their quarterly new business targets that is what they would do. They drove the job around focused business activities, rather than allowing the job to drive them with ‘blue sky’ opportunities.
- Really believing in what they were selling. Their conviction was tangible.
- Not crossing their own ‘line in the sand’. They had the self-confidence to say no when required, to turn custom away when their values were conflicted, or in one case to lose the top spot in a sales campaign because they wanted their customer to have the right product which wasn’t included in the campaign incentive.
- Personally very organised. Productivity is highly related to personal organisation. Our top performers really did know how to fill their day with productive activity. Interestingly some worked fewer total hours than other lower performers. Being a workaholic is not a requirement for being an exceptional performer.
- Effective in the deployment of the essential sales skills. They know how to make an appointment, open a sale, ask the right questions, introduce needs based benefits, write proposals, handle objections, negotiate if necessary and close the sale. And they know when to shut up, when to leave and when to give up a lost cause.
- They love their job. Not in a ‘things are always perfect’ way, but as a reason to get of bed and enthusiastically and positively engage with the day.
- And finally…… They are only easy to manage if you let them get on with it. These people performed best when treated as a professional. Managers who had the confidence to coach them as equals rather than manage them as subordinates obtained higher levels of performance.
None of these 10 things in themselves were significant. It was their compound effect, the way each contributed to the other that was. What was particularly rewarding was when we saw a salesperson ‘get it’ because then all the things fall into place, they come together as an holistic set, a mind-set of high performance.