As you can imagine, I am often asked by sales leaders anxious to recruit the best salespeople they can afford, just what is it that makes a consistently top performer; what are their characteristics, where are their strengths, and what differentiates them?
Over the past twenty-five years I have trained and developed more than one hundred thousand sales professionals from foundation right up to “master craftsman” level and this has given me the opportunity to formulate an accurate profile of a Top 5% Achiever.
So What Is It That Top 5% Players Do?
- Position themselves with the real decision-makers and avoid those without ‘approval power’. They are able to first identify and then access the formal decision making unit.
- Not only get the order but a satisfied customer, repeat sales, enthusiastic reference sites and constantly increase sales penetration within their accounts.
- Know how to minimise the uncertainties of a cold call on a new account, by careful planning and rigorous opportunity assessment.
- Recognise when to treat an old account as a new prospect and keep the relationship fresh, alive and maintain profitability
- Never entertain business they do not want because they recognise that it takes just as long to work an unprofitable opportunity through the sales funnel, only to lose it at the death, as it does a profitable one. They trust their own judgement but also rely heavily on objective assessment.
- Readily identify and know how to deal with the four different buying influences present in every sale.
- Understand how to prevent sales from being sabotaged by an internal enemy. They insulate themselves by developing strong allies within.
- Are able to recognise fail-safe signals that indicate when a sale is in jeopardy. This comes from experience but also information supplied by their allies.
- Are rigorous in tracking account progress and are able to accurately forecast future sales because they use proven methodology, which allows them to weight every opportunity in the pipeline.
- Avoid ‘dry-months’ by allocating time wisely to their critical selling tasks i.e. Prospecting for new business, covering the bases with existing opportunities and finally closing the best few.
In summary, the very best sales performers do not achieve that status overnight. They work tirelessly to develop and hone their skills-sets, insist on regular top-up coaching, and seek out those who are outperforming them, so that they may learn and improve still further. They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of their industry and sector.
Finally, they concentrate on eliminating any weaknesses and are anxious to be assessed and receive feedback on a regular basis.
They are selling quite literally on top of the world!
I deliberately highlighted the “coaching” element, because it is my view that around 80% of sales managers/leaders around the globe lack the necessary skills and experience to coach their teams effectively. It isn’t their fault they have never been taught this fundamental pre-requisite of successful management, but the smart ones are waking up, recognising that vague caffeine-related aroma, and seeking out appropriate guidance. The good news for them – and you? – is that on Wednesday both you and them have the opportunity to attend a FREE 45 minute masterclass with one of the world’s leading sales management experts, Dave Kurlan, Founder & CEO of Kurlan & Associates, and Objective Management Group. I will be hosting the event, so do please join us for this second session in the 2014/2015 Top Sales Academy series – please register HERE