Farquharson on Business Development: The Top Gun of Sales Attributes
People, you are the top 1 percent of all salespeople. The elite. The best of the best. We’ll make you better. Many of you are probably wondering who the best sales rep here is. That plaque in the back of the room is where we list the Top Gun for each class. Do you think your name is going to be on that plaque? That’s pretty cocky. I like that in a sales rep. Here are 10 other things that I like...
Ten characteristics that make successful reps successful:
1.) They have goals—Take today’s date and add six months to it. As this is a June PI column, this exercise will coincide nicely with the end of the year. So, imagine being at a New Year’s Eve party and someone hands you a glass of champagne while asking, “Did you reach all of your goals in 2015?” What would those goals be?
The best of the best know where they want to end up. They’ve visualized their future in terms of sales, new business, skills, sales rank within their company, and in a number of personal and financial areas, as well. Their success is not random. It is predicted and therefore, it’s expected.
2.) They have a plan—Of course, simply having goals is not enough. There needs to be a plan in order to get from here to there. If the goal is to grow sales by $100,000, where will that revenue come from? Consider three possible sources: New sales from new customers, more sales from existing customers and new sales from new markets.
Growth will ultimately be a combination of the three and there needs to be a growth plan for each segment. The best of the best will reach out to their current account base to make sure that each is aware of the full scope of products and services offered in the hopes of gaining “greater share of customer.” Ongoing new business development is a constant priority and activity and each week, new prospects are added to the mix. And, finally, Top Guns seek to grow their customer base by expanding into new product and service offerings.
3.) They work their plan—Sales growth is the result of a systematic approach, requiring daily sales activity. The common salesperson suffers from roller coaster sales. When things are going well, new business activity stops and, when that happens, they experience lengthy periods of drought that makes California look like a tropical rainforest.
The best of the best stay on task with a daily and weekly regimen, working their prospecting process and accomplishing small tasks, short-term objectives and, thus, long-term goals.
4.) They invest in themselves—New salespeople have a wide variety of needs when it comes to training. As success comes, the common salesperson stops learning, in favor of “Doing other important things.”
The best of the best, however, thrive on education and the understanding that they don’t know what they don’t know. By challenging their abilities and skills, their jobs remain interesting and their income is a direct reflection of their commitment to personal growth.
5.) They seek accountability—Success does not occur in a vacuum. Professional athletes stay at the top of their game with the help of personal trainers. Similarly, Top Guns let their objectives be known and then have someone enforce them, so that procrastination and excuses are not allowed.
6.) They are Big Game Hunters—Top Guns understand that it takes just as much time to write up a $100,000 order as it does a $1,000 order. As such, part of their new business plan is to call on large, game-changing prospects. Because the selling cycle can be 18 months or more, they set their sights on five to six such accounts and keep two more at the ready in case one drops out. They also understand that the rules of the game are different for the larger prospects.
Networking typically plays a bigger part and very often they gain access not through the front door (read: Purchasing), but rather an unexpected entry point. Knowing this, they engage in conversation with everyone they come into contact with, looking for an “I have a friend who works there” moment that results in an arranged appointment.
7.) They are sales-curious—Two reps read the same article about a new law that allows banks to now sell life insurance. The common sales rep scans it, then turns the page to find out what Scott Adams has to say in today’s Dilbert.
The Top Gun sees an opportunity in the piece and plans out the sales call that sounds like this, “I read an article today regarding a new law for your industry. Can we get together so that I can talk to you about ideas I have to help your bank inform its customers on the benefits of purchasing life insurance?” By being sales-curious, opportunities are uncovered where others see only unimportant news items.
8.) They manage their time effectively—All salespeople are given the same amount of time in the workday. The best of the best use it efficiently and effectively. However, they don’t necessarily work more hours. They just get more out of the working day than others through preparation and careful planning, constantly asking themselves, “What is the best use of my time right now?” Then, they make certain the answer to that question is in line with their priorities for the day.
9.) They are motivated—Initially, fear of failure drives the young salesperson. The thought of admitting defeat serves as motivation for making extra sales calls and putting in extra hours on their way to the top. What separates the best of the best from the rest is that once they arrive at the top, they stay there by recognizing that fear can no longer be a motivating factor. Becoming number one is easy compared to staying number one. That requires uncommon drive.
10.) They give to others—Finally, although many Top Guns are lone wolves, they are quick to assist in the success of other salespeople, constantly giving of their time and experience in order to mentor. Very often they find that they receive far more than they give as a result.
There is one more significant difference to note: Ask a common salesperson to define his or her job and you will hear something like, “To sell my company’s products and services at profitable margins and develop long-standing relationships with clients.” Ask a Top Gun and you will hear something different: “My job is to help my customers reach their goals by first understanding their business challenges and then meeting these needs with my solutions. If I can accomplish this, I will ensure customer loyalty, generate revenue for my firm and create a rewarding job for myself.”
Achieve this goal and you earn the right to do a flyby the tower and spill coffee all over the sales manager. PI
About the Author
Bill Farquharson is vice president at Epicomm and a featured presenter on PI Xchange. His Sales Resources page contains archived tips and Short Attention Span Webinars and is found at sales.epicomm.org. Farquharson can be reached at (781) 934-7036 or email firstname.lastname@example.org