“The electric light did not come from continuous improvement of candles.” - Oren Harari
I have had the amazing opportunity to work with high-performing sales teams from around the world for almost 20 years and there is one characteristic that sets the top performers apart. It’s discipline. Top performers have the discipline to learn, practice, prepare, execute with excellence, manage time, follow up, and seek honest feedback for improvement.
Ultimately, the question is how good you want to be. How driven are you to get better? Changing human behavior is not easy. Take dieting for example. We know what to do, but it doesn’t just happen because we want it to. Change requires discipline.
Do you want to take your sales results to another level? Ask yourself:
- Why change?
- What would I change?
This is a basic question most people don’t ever fully answer. The truth is, you don’t have to change. When I coach someone who is good at selling, I often ask, “How would you feel if you were selling against a competitive sales person who was one of the top performers in your industry? Would you be excited? Nervous? Frozen?”
The answers I receive are inevitably varied, but what stands out most is that top sales people are generally the most curious about what FranklinCovey teaches. These sales pros are relentless at self-improvement and have the self-discipline to invest time in mastering each element of the buying cycle.
Why are there so few top performers? We all resist change. It is in our factory settings. To overcome change, we need to overcome our inherent resistance. Here is an equation, called the Beckhard-Harris Change Model, which describes the conditions necessary for change to occur:
Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance
In other words, for change to be successful, the product of three factors – the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo, a new vision of what is possible, and the practical first steps to change – needs to be greater than the resistance to change (financial, time, emotional, etc.). Notice that it is the product of the three. If the level of any of those three is low or near zero, you won’t overcome your own resistance.
Here’s a tip for successful change: If you think you can improve (and you have enough dissatisfaction with the status quo), find a partner and commit to a one-hour session each week to practice sales skills.
Be aware that practice does not make perfect if you are practicing incorrectly. Follow a proven sales process and solicit honest input and feedback from someone who is exceptionally good at selling. This is how you’ll know when you are improving and managing your own resistance.
WHAT WOULD MAKE THE GREATEST SHIFT IN YOUR RESULTS?
Of all the things you could work on, what are the two or three that would make the greatest improvement in your results? The best reps apply a proven process to deeply understand buyers’ needs and their buying process. They maximize the use of their own and their clients’ time by having conversations with true decision makers.
Based on our work with tens of thousands of sales people around the world, here are three mindsets (the vision of what is possible) and skillsets (practical next steps) that top sales performers demonstrate.
- DEVELOP THE SKILLS TO FULLY ELICIT THE BUYER’S NEEDS. Deeply understand the buyer’s needs AND the metrics that prove the existence and importance of those needs. Help them determine the COST and/or VALUE of addressing those needs. Learn and practice a process that elicits the clients’ issues, the evidence that those issues exist and impact of resolving them. Practice and get coaching on this skill until it is conversational and, when executed, is clearly serving the client’s buying process. (Even if you don’t get a sale in each meeting, HOW you sell can differentiate you and build trust and respect.)
- NO BAD MEETINGS! What makes a good meeting? The right people are involved in the session for the right amount of time and they understand the decision to be made. All participants understand how that decision will be made from the very beginning. Finally, the right information is presented in a logical, concise manner that enables the stakeholders to make the appropriate buying decision for the meeting. Designing and executing a good meeting may be common sense, but it is NOT common practice. It takes discipline and the right mindsets and skillsets.
- GAIN ACCESS TO THOSE WHO DECIDE. No excuses. Obtain the right information from those to whom you have access now to be relevant when you gain access to those who decide. Based on what we see in the top 1% of performance, this skill can be a tremendous differentiator. What percent of the deals you lost last year were due to an inadequate understanding of your client’s buying process and a lack of access to the real decision makers? We notice that gaining access is an area in which most sales people would do well to improve.
Time to get real. What will you do after reading this? Put it aside and go on to the next urgent thing calling on your time? Or schedule time to invest in yourself?
That is your choice. This isn’t time management, it is choice management. Determine what is most important to you and make choices that reflect who you want to become. It is now up to you. How good do you want to be?