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June 23, 2015

3 Secrets of High-Performing Salespeople

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High-performing salespeople focus on two things above all else: customer needs and crushing their quota. Many of us like to engage in friendly competition, either by trying to beat ourselves or other people on our team. But our main goals are to help our customers and go above and beyond our numbers.

However, from a sales performance perspective, goals aren’t the same as results.

Top salespeople successfully achieve their goals over and over again because they're able to keep themselves on the right track even in the midst of a slump. They know they need to consistently improve and keep the right perspective in order to close more business.

How do the best sales reps stay focused and productive? They are privy to the following three sales secrets.

1) They know that sales performance is more math than emotion.

Selling can be like a rugby scrum. It’s hard to predict, somewhat random, and requires constant recalibration. When you are managing a pipeline or multiple transactions, you need to keep tabs on the details of individual sales pursuits, as well as your overall performance.

The top 2% of salespeople set aside time (preferably scheduled in their calendar) to evaluate statistics on their performance so they can improve. Anything worth doing is worth measuring, and most anything worth measuring is worth improving. Getting yourself in a good rhythm for reviewing your sales activity dashboards and metrics can help you stay on track.

It’s easy to get lost in the emotion. It's tempting to explain away a lost deal because “people just aren’t buying right now” or 25 failed connect attempts because “prospects just aren’t picking up the phone.”

But that’s not a good enough explanation for the modern salesperson, and it shouldn’t be good enough for you. Sales in 2015 is a scientific process, not a random jumble of elements that somehow come together and form a successful deal.

The classic sales process usually includes the following stages: suspect, prospect, lead, qualified lead, opportunity, demo, answering objections, influencer buy-in, decision maker buy-in, close. Those steps will vary depending on your industry and target customer. For example, selling enterprise software or a Learjet is a totally different beast than selling a cup of coffee or a discretionary purchase.

It’s critically important that you identify and define each step in the sales process. Then benchmark each phase so you can compare your individual performance against others in the organization, as well as against your quota and goal. Using the benchmark conversion rates between each step of the sales process, you can carefully evaluate where you need to improve and work to beat those metrics. 

It's wasteful and inefficient to get too caught up in the highs and lows of selling. There is, however, always room for passion.

2) They remember that selling is theater.

Top salespeople are exhausted at the end of the week because a professional sales process is an orchestrated event. You have an agenda to follow, materials to prepare, lines to deliver, and personalization to consider.

And most importantly, because you will be dealing with human beings, a sales presentation can be a bit like Saturday Night Live -- a one-shot deal to convey a certain message to your prospects. There’s rarely an opportunity for a do-over.

Your prospects are human, and they’ll gravitate toward you if you authentically deliver material that solves their problem in a way they can understand. You’ll know the meeting is going well if people are engaged, involved, and have a smile on their faces throughout the entire conversation.

Bringing a bit of theater to your sales meetings can make people feel special and shows concern. Some audiences like a lot of hoopla, while some prefer a low key approach. Top salespeople typically practice and role play to make sure their execution is effective. If a meeting lasts for the right amount of time, provides the right amount of information, and leaves a little room for theatrics, your prospect will leave satisfied, confident that you can help address their need.

3) They always include “the big ask.”

Every sales conversation should be fruitful for both you and your prospect. By providing information about your product and personalized solutions for your prospects’ problems, you’ve done your part.

But don’t forget that you need to get something out of the meeting as well.

A “big ask” isn’t big because it’s convoluted. It’s big because your prospect’s answer will give you a ton of insight into how they’re feeling about the sales process thus far. Keep your question as short as possible.

Here are my “big asks”:

  • Was that helpful?
  • Do you understand what we discussed?
  • What’s our next step?

The shorter the ask, the better. While you should listen to what your prospects say, it’s far more important to tune into how they’re answering your question. Adjust your asks depending on how engaged your prospects are. Remember, the purpose of the “big ask” is to determine how valuable it is for you to continue with your prospect. 

If you get an answer that indicates the prospect was engaged and interested throughout your call, use the opportunity to move the relationship forward. Settle on a follow up meeting date and determine next steps. Step by step you’ll be able to move the sale forward. 

The secret of top salespeople is simple. They use these three principles to guide their sales process and continuously improve upon past performance. And now you have the tools do to so as well. 

How do you make sure your seling is consistently productive? Let us know in the comments below.

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Topics: Sales Strategy

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