How Outstanding Sales Professionals Achieve Extraordinary Results, Time After Time

Have you ever wondered what kinds of activities top-performing salespeople do to achieve amazing results and hit their sales goals consistently?

You may be tempted to think they employ sophisticated strategies to attract those coveted clients. Or maybe they use cutting-edge tools and tactics to land lucrative deals. Or maybe – just maybe – they possess special talents and abilities that others don’t.

And while some of those things may, in part, contribute to a top performers’ success, it’s not the whole picture. In fact, it barely scratches the surface because the truth is, it’s not the activities or tools that are responsible for moving the needle on a top performer’s results.

It’s his attitude and mindset that determines the outcome of his efforts.

Let me give you an example:

Recently I led workshop that was attended by the small sales team of a company. We played out some real-world situations that salespeople might face in their day-to-day roles. And, as is usual in these settings, there was one person who objected to the strategies I was sharing saying it wouldn’t work in his market because his industry was declining. No matter what strategy or tactic that was offered, he refused to adjust his way of seeing things.

During a break, I said to the CEO of this company, “I’m guessing this person is not one of your top-performing salespeople.”

The CEO looked at me and replied, “I know you don’t know much about my business, but how did you know he isn’t a top performer?”

“Because he’s full of excuses,” I said. In this salesperson’s mind, the reason he’s not performing well has nothing to do with his attitude or behavior. The reason for his underperformance is due to external factors. His mindset, in other words, is focused on those things that are outside of his control.

In contrast, top performers focus their efforts on the things they have complete control over: their attitude and behavior.

Here are a few things top performers do that have a direct impact on their sales:

They don’t make excuses. Or blame the customer or the market for lackluster sales. Instead, top performers figure out where their efforts will yield the greatest results. They direct their energy toward the activities they can control: building relationships with real-potential prospects, follow-up, and lead generation.

They don’t waste time pursuing dead-end opportunities. Top-performers understand that the goal for every interaction is not to make the sale. Instead, their goal is to figure out:

• Is this opportunity a good opportunity or not a good opportunity?

• Is this opportunity worth pursuing or not worth pursuing?

Every opportunity is not going to turn into sale. Top performers know that their job, when they first encounter a potential prospect is not to set the appointment or make the sale. Their job first is to qualify the prospect. They first make sure the opportunity is worth pursuing in the first place.

They begin every sales encounter with a healthy dose of skepticism. They ask themselves: Does this person have a problem that’s worth solving and if it is worth solving, is it one that my organization excels at solving? If so, then they know they’re off to a great start. If not, then they know that, maybe, the prospect isn’t such a good fit.

If they find themselves in a competitive sales situation where a prospect is shopping around for outside vendors – perhaps wanting to switch away from an existing vendor they have worked with for years – they don’t immediately jump through hoops trying to convince the prospect they’re the better choice. Instead, they ask questions like:

• Can you tell me some of the things you like about your existing vendor that maybe we should emulate?

• If you could change one or two things about your existing vendor, perhaps something they don’t do that you want them to do or an offer that they don’t provide, what would that be?

• Are there other things in your organization that you wish you could do that you don’t have the budget to spend on? And if we were able to help you find the money to do that, would you be willing to consider this project?

In each case, top performers probe deeper to gather more information before launching into a sales pitch. They take the time to learn and understand the needs of the customer rather than focusing strictly on how to close the deal.

Effective sales is not about convincing, it’s not about persuading. It’s about uncovering the best solutions to ensure the results the customer needs.

Top performers know this. And that’s what sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

By Ian Altman