The August issue of Gulfshore Business celebrates the Best of Business, our annual readers’ choice poll. Considering the expression “the customer is always right,” these same businesses have already won in the eyes of their customers long before they were noted in the magazine. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists, and let me take this opportunity to write about an experience that helps to connect being the best with sales.
So what does being the best at sales really mean? Is it just about money? Most business owners probably do look at their sales force through the prism of dollar yield. However, by looking between and beyond the numbers, there is a lot more than meets the eye in making a successful salesperson.
I recently attended a meeting with other sales managers for Open Sky Media (the owner of Gulfshore Business) during which the topic turned to identifying the qualities and characteristics of the best salespeople. We were all given reports containing month-by-month results for the salespeople across the company. Examining the figures, it quickly became apparent that the highest performing salespeople shared three primary traits.
First, the best salespeople all had longevity in sales and with the company. The top-performing salespeople had been with the company the longest and most of those had extensive sales experience in their careers before they came to us. On the opposite side, all of the lowest performing salespeople had been with the company the shortest amount of time, with most of them being new to sales at the time they were hired.
Next, the best also had the largest total list of accounts, as well as the most new business and the most renewals. In some ways, this is not surprising because the best salespeople build their following of customers over time, as well as acquiring the running accounts of other salespeople that may leave over that same time. Thus, they build their territories two ways—by gaining business on their own, and by gaining the trust of their sales managers who then transfer running business to them to maintain and build.
Finally, each of these salespeople had a maximum volume that they were able to carry and continue to thrive. While top performers rarely, if ever, turn down opportunities, there were obvious ceilings as the salespeople progressed over time. All the top performers were selfmotivated and motivated by money, including their ability to grow personal earnings. It is an important task for sales managers to continue to motivate the top earners once they’ve reached that maximum.
By connecting your best salespeople with your customers over the long term, everyone wins. Hire the best, then identify talent and cultivate, motivate, and propel that talent to sell and succeed.