According to a recent study in the Harvard Business Review, only 12 percent of salespeople are rated as excellent by buyers. That percentage is shockingly low. So, if your benchmark is excellence, there is an 88 percent chance you can improve.
Our world is becoming increasingly commoditized. Products and services are viewed as similar or exactly the same. With merger-mania, corporations blend in and look the same. However, the salesperson remains the unique dimension for creating value.
In our groundbreaking best-sales-practices study, we identified ten characteristics of top-achieving salespeople. We interviewed over 600 customers to identify these characteristics. In our latest edition of Value-Added Selling, we provide an in-depth analysis of top-achievers and how they create personal value. Here is an abbreviated list to help you create more personal value like a top achiever.
Do you study your opportunities? Do you study your craft? Do you study the industries in which you sell? Top achievers do. Customers want to work with knowledgeable experts. In fact, “knowledgeable” was the most common descriptor of top achievers.
Study your target opportunities, study their industry, and study your profession. The more you learn, the more value you create. If you’re not spending two hours per week studying, you’re missing an opportunity to create more value.
Don’t expect this investment to provide an immediate gain. Instead, take a long-term view. Professional study is like amassing a large inventory of value-added insights and ideas. Each new thing you learn is placed on the shelf. When the timing is right, you’ll be able to pull from your inventory and deliver your value-added insights in a compelling way.
If you want to be a top achiever, then study and research like a top achiever.
Top achievers get things done. When nobody else has inventory, top achievers find it. When customers need something pushed through, top achievers take care of it. Top achievers focus on results, enabling customers to achieve their goals.
Top achievers abide by the mantra, if it is to be, it is up to me. Top achievers understand how to get things done internally. They understand the internal workings of their company. And they apply pressure, when needed, to get things done for the customer.
If you want to be a top-achiever, then deliver results like a top achiever.
How would you describe your personal and professional relationship with your customers? Our research shows that customer relationships matter to both salespeople and customers. In our latest buyer’s study, we asked a group of decision makers why they would choose one supplier over another. “Relationship with the salesperson” ranked more important than price. So much for the pundits who think relationship selling is dead.
Relationship building is more than just showing up with donuts. You need to show and create value. Strong relationships are built upon the foundation of trust. Meaning, the salesperson must deliver the good news and the bad news.
Top-achieving salespeople know that the sale is about the customer. They make it a point to focus more on the customer’s needs than their need to sell. They make it their mission to make the customer a hero.
Entertainment is critical to relationship building. In fact, 71 percent of top-achieving salespeople indicated they use entertainment to build stronger customer relationships. Entertainment dollars are not an added expense. Entertainment is an investment in your customer relationship. But entertainment alone, is not enough.
If you want to be a top-achiever, then build relationships like a top achiever.
Top achievers don’t look for products to quote, they look for problems to solve. Top achievers explore problems like an investigative journalist. They ask questions, research, and expose problems. Oftentimes, top achievers inform customers of a problem they didn’t know they had.
In our training seminars, salespeople often say, “Well, it’s hard to find problems to solve.” With this attitude, no wonder it’s hard to find problems to solve. Problems aren’t always easy to find or obvious to solve. That’s why most salespeople give up.
The key is opening your eyes—problems have a funny way of hiding in plain sight. Salespeople are often blinded by their own ambitions. These sellers focus more on making a deal than making a difference. What if you approached an opportunity with the mindset of solving problems versus selling product?
If you want to be a top achiever, then solve problems like a top achiever.
Only 12 percent of salespeople are rated as excellent. This same study showed that 65 percent of salespeople are rated as average or poor. There’s a good chance your competition is an average value creator. Your personal value produces a significant competitive advantage. The worth of a salesperson is measured in the value they create, not the discount they give. The only limit to your personal value is the edge of your imagination.
Paul Reilly is a speaker, sales trainer, co-author of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), and host of The Q and A Sales Podcast. For additional information on our keynote presentations and seminars, call 636-778-0175 or email Paul@ReillySalesTraining.com. Visit www.TomReillyTraining.com and signup for our free newsletter.