Top Performers - The Ignition Key
"Once a month now, we have a Top Performer Dinner that we host and bring in 2-3 Executives from other parts of the company like finance, operations and manufacturing. We put together a good agenda that gives the Sales People and Sales Managers a chance to diplomatically express some ideas on what could be done to help the Sales People generate more deals. It is a real eye-opener for the Executives that don't interact with Sales People much. They hear the good, bad and ugly and it makes a real difference. It helps tear down barriers and walls too. It's amazing how often we now see guys in Finance picking up the phone and asking for advice from our Sales People because they met them at these dinners and are now friends. It's a really good technique to help the whole company become more customer-focused.
Jerry L. - SVP Sales
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"I remember vividly the first time we brought a couple of our Top Performing Sales People into new hire training to give a demonstration of the sales process and do a 60-minute Q & A session. We were really nervous about what they would say because it was impossible to filter their responses.
At the end of the program, nearly all the new hires told us the most valuable element of the entire training was seeing the examples the Top Performers gave and getting a chance to hear directly from them what it takes to succeed.
We have since really expanded their role in all of our Sales Training and it has had a huge impact. We bring in the Top Performing Sales Managers too. It brings in a lot of great energy and has helped our Training Team build a better and more cooperative relationships with the field. Can't recommend this strategy enough.
Tom P. - VP Training
Networking Hardware Sales
Top Executives need to interact with the Top Performers (Sales People and Managers) much more frequently than they usually do. When Senior Executives get most of their information from other Senior Managers, it is typically filtered and sanitized to reduce over reaction. Top Performers have a way of communicating what is going on in the trenches that is NEEDED higher in the executive ranks. This raw, unfiltered view of what customers are saying is like a vitamin booster shot for Senior Executives. Sure, Top Performers can be rough around the edges, but the benefits of pushing field level customer information into the minds of the top decision makers is a huge benefit that many organizations simply ignore.
Outline of Key Points in this chapter:
"We took your advice and made a bunch of recordings of our Top Performing Sales People using the sales process. We made recordings of the elevator speech, value proposition, how to overcome frequent objections, how they summarize a discovery interview, how they tailor solutions, pretty much every step. We now use those recordings constantly in training and, more importantly, Sales Coaches use them in their interactions with their teams. They are used in sales meetings, on our e-learning platform and even played in executive board meetings.
I am convinced that these recordings are the key that got more of our Sales Coaches actually practicing with their people because with them, even if the Sales Coach can't do great demonstrations, they can fall back on the recordings for support.
There are so many ways to use Top Performer recordings I can't believe we didn't do it before. It's interesting how Sales People now want to be recorded to be part of the influence team.
Christina R. - VP Sales
Luxury Travel Sales
"We took your advice and really started listening to our top performing Sales People and Managers. We assigned Executives as mentors that met with them every month to ask them what we need to do to improve the customer buying experience. We brought them into new hire training. We took them out to dinner with the CEO. We gave them a newsletter to give advice to the rest of the team. We brought them into strategic meetings too.
It made a huge difference. The way we think has changed. Top performers are very customer-focused. They don't want to hear excuses about why we can't deliver, they want problems solved. It's a very profound change that has made us much better."
Alison Z. - Sales Executive - Heavy Equipment Manufacturing
Every organization has some top performers. How they interact with them and tap them for ideas, direction and advice is critical to the success of the rest of the Sales Team. Top Performers generate better results because they see things differently, have better skills and capitalize on opportunities better. Sure, some Top Performers are lucky or have a territory advantage, but those aren't the people we're talking about. We're talking about the Sales People and Sales Managers that generate better results, consistently. They are a powerful source of direction and can become something of an oracle for solving problems if they are valued and really listened to.
This seem so obvious but amazingly, most sales training have few, if any, Top Performers come in and give examples and demonstrations of how to execute the sales process. This is a huge wasted opportunity. Top Performers are nearly always more credible, persuasive and convincing than Sales Trainers and it can be a huge burst of positive energy to incorporate them into Sales Training. It can be done efficiently by having them come in for an hour after lunch as opposed to spending the entire day there. Expose new hires to Top Performers early with recordings and live interactions and their performance will accelerate.
Remarkably, very few sales organizations I've come across go to the effort of recording their Top Performers to capture how they explain competitive advantages and differentiating factors or how they leave voice mail messages to get past the gate keepers. There are probably a dozen different aspects of the Consultative Sales Process that are MUCH EASIER to learn if we can first hear how Top Performers do it and simple, inexpensive audio recordings are a great way to do this. It is astounding to me how few organizations have these recordings when they are so valuable. These are the most important training tools of all. We learn best from demonstrations and when we capture great demonstrations by credible Top Performers and share them, the entire organization learns simply by example which is the best way to learn.
Every great sales organization, I've worked with over the years has a near fanatic focus on listening to top performers and taking their advice on how to improve the sales operation. In nearly every case, the really poor sales organizations find their top performers to be something of a nuisance... loud... over confident... pushy. They tolerate them because of their productivity but they don't seek them out for direction. The contrast is striking.
Top performers are the life blood of a great Sales Team. They know what works, what doesn't and they are acutely aware of what they are doing differently from the rest of the team. It's great and important to compensate and reward them well, obviously, but it's even more important to, in a sense, organize the company around them. They need to be questioned, studied and LISTENED TO not because it makes them feel valued, but because they have the most important nuggets of information and advice that Management needs to understand in order to improve the rest of the Sales Team.
Every Sales Executive should know who the top performing Sales People, Sales Coaches and Sales Trainers are not because they see their names on lists or data reports, but because they talk to them on a regular basis and seek their opinions and advice. The key questions they should be asking include:
Most of the answers to how to create more Top Performers at a faster pace can be found by simply observing how Top Performing Sales Managers interact with their Sales Teams and how Top Performing Sales People interact with their customers and prospects. This cannot be emphasized enough. Way too many Sales Executives have absolutely no idea what their Top Producers are actually doing that generates their results. Sure, they're aware of their numbers and productivity stats, but that doesn't inform them of HOW THEY DO IT.
When Top Executives really understand what Top Performers are doing, they can make better decisions to allocate resources to enable more Sales People to do what they're doing. It sounds simple because it is. The side benefit is that all this extra attention helps recognize and appreciate the Top Performers which generates better morale and team energy.
Top Performers are the most valuable resource of a Sales Organization and they need to be treated that way in ways that go far beyond compensation and rewards.
Chapter Overview and Selected Quotes likely to be used