What makes a “top performer” a top performer?
If you hold interviews with the most successful salespeople in the world and ask them, “Why are you successful?” they’ll give you their take on it, but it will not be the right answer. They will give you symptomatic responses like, “I get up early in the morning,” or “I work hard every day,” or “I’m willing to do what other people are not willing to do,” or “I ask a lot of questions,” or “I put my customers first.”
All of those answers and characteristics will not help another salesperson to become more successful.
I would rather hear something like, “I have coffee with one customer every morning at 7:30,” or “I pre-prepare three questions before every sales meeting — engaging, thought-provoking questions about what I believe are the emotional elements of my customers desires,” or “I take notes when the customer is talking to be certain I capture his needs and my promises.”
The differences are subtle.
Most successful salespeople have no concept of why they are successful, or perhaps they have no ability to make it clear — or even, never gave it much thought.
Yes, the salesperson asked a lot of questions, but the secret is to get to the motive of the person wanting to buy. The questions the salesperson asks should draw out emotion and buying motive and, as a result, create a buying atmosphere.
So, when I interview a successful salesperson, I want to make sure, if I’m asking him or her why they are successful, that I’m getting to the “what they actually do” behind their perception of why.
Yesterday, I interviewed two multi-million dollar producers. I asked them what they did to get to their top position. Here are the net results (what I asked plus what they said plus how I interpreted it plus how they agreed it really was after I restated/reworded it):
1. They persist without being a pest. They follow up professionally and consistently with value messages and firm reasons to buy. The key: Never miss one follow-up.
2. They build real relationships. It’s more than just a sale; they invest quality time with each customer beyond the sale.
3. They receive a high percentage of repeat orders without a bid, quote or proposal. This is a result of trust and relationship.
4. They pass on the sale if the deal isn’t a good fit or good profit. They are not afraid to lose a sale or pass on a sale if it’s a no-profit one, or one that goes outside their business safety.
5. They make recommendations that favor the customer, not the salesperson’s wallet. They do what is best for the long term, not just to make the sale.
6. They think “customer,” not “sale.” That strategy leads to customer loyalty.
7. They think “ask,” not “tell.” Great salespeople discover needs and motives by asking, not giving a sales pitch. (Secret: They don’t use the slide deck provided by marketing because it didn’t help them make a sale.)
8. They think “friendly,” not “professional.” Their relationships are enhanced by the relaxed attitude found in friendships.
9. They think “service,” not “quota.” They found the better they serviced their accounts, the easier it was to get the next order. They never worry about their “sales plan” or quota.
10. They are accessible and available. All of their customers can text when needed.
11. They are trusted by their customers. The trust they have has been earned slowly over time. Customers ask their advice before they buy.
12. They are truthful at all costs. Relationships based on truth end up being relationships based on trust.
13. They are experts about their product and their market. Their customers want to know their salesperson is an expert, not just a nice guy.
13.5 As a result of all the other things they do for their customers, they get referrals, often without asking. Referrals are not just leads, they’re report cards.
Now you can say anything you want to about this list. But be careful what you say because this is from salespeople who make big sales and are putting major money in the bank.
How major are you?
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books. His “21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling” is available as a book and an online course at gitomerVT.com. For information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or email Jeffrey personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.