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Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 4th

Posted on: October 09

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 4th

10 Things Great Salespeople Do

Over the past few years, I have worked with over 300 companies’ sales organizations.  One common denominator in every company is this: Some salespeople were better than others. It wasn’t based on luck or circumstances. The most successful salespeople were doing something different than their coworkers.

Here is a list of 10 things I saw repeated over and over again by the top salespeople:

  1. They read or listened to inspirational material.  Inspiring stories do just that, they inspire us.  We all perform better when we are inspired. The easiest way I know to get inspired is by reading or listening to inspirational stories.
  2. They manage their people time.  For most of us, there are only certain hours in the day that we can meet or talk on the phone with people. The greatest salespeople I have met and observed do not waste people time doing administrative work. They do that at night, early in the morning or on the weekends.  Surveys say that the average salesperson only spends 43 percent of their time talking to prospects. The greatest salespeople spend more time than that.
  3. They spend their time with decision makers.  Recently I reviewed a top salesperson’s calendar of meetings with prospects for the year. Eighty-nine percent of those meetings were with decision makers.  The average was 40 percent. That means for every 80 percent performer there was a 20 percent performer. Great salespeople work hard at seeing decision makers.
  4. They find or create a need before they present their product or service.  One top salesperson I met says he ends his meeting before presenting his product if he cannot find a want or a need for his service.  The very best salespeople I’ve met plan out the questions they will ask to find or create a need well in advance of their meeting. They never move into a product presentation without finding a need.
  5. They have canned answers for common questions and objections.  Most companies I’ve been to with high performing salespeople give their salespeople scripts with answers to the most common questions and objections. The great salespeople take the time to practice and learn them.
  6. They support the company.  The average or below average salesperson is most often the one saying something negative or critical about the company to their prospect.  A critical comment or negative information about the company you work with should never be shared with a prospect. Yet I hear salespeople say, “It’s accounting’s fault. They cannot get anything right.” or “That’s customer services’ fault. They mess up all the time.” or “We are in the middle of a merger.  Things are going to be really screwed up for a while.”  These kinds of statements undermine their own credibility. Duh!
  7. They see opportunity in change.  The greatest salespeople realize that things will change.  Territories will change, prices will change, commissions will change, management will change and even the company’s ownership may change. The greatest salespeople look for an opportunity in the change instead of whining about it.
  8. They learn from others. Great salespeople I’ve known have the naivety of a child. They are always asking questions of everyone on the sales team. They approach their success with humility and grace.  They are constantly searching for the best practices and implementing them.
  9. They use names. They use the prospect’s name. Using the prospect’s name breaks down social barriers.  Using the prospect’s name holds the prospect’s attention. Finally, using the prospect’s name stimulates a pleasure center in the brain. The same pleasure center that is stimulated during sex. Like Zig Ziglar said, “Names are magic.”
  10. They set goals. Not casually spoken goals when your manager asks you, but goals that are written down.  Goals for both activity and results. Goals that have short time frames and goals that once set, stand until death or victory. When the greatest salespeople set a goal they mean it. They do not set “unless goals.” Not “I will do it unless something happens” goals, but goals they mean.

So here is my top 10.  There are lots more, but focusing on these should increase your results. Today is the day. Now is the time.


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