Recently, we had an opportunity to speak with Alvaro Celis, Vice President of CDS Channel and Device Sales and listen to his thinking on top performing salespeople, what gives them their competitive edge and what sales leaders can do to train and support them. He shared a number of unique ideas focused around:
- Focusing On The Future With Creativity
- Top Performers Ask Better Questions
- Practice The Way Elite Athletes Do
- Alvaro’s Coaching Tips
Early in the interview, Alvaro said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“What I notice with top performers is that they are future focused. These individuals win over customers by having a healthy and constructive conversation. Top performers do not hold back on creative solutions, they tackle problems in unique ways, and their conversations have purpose to generate more customer value.”
We’ve interviewed hundreds of top performing salespeople over the years and what Alvaro said is 100% true. They typically know what their goals are, have a clear strategy to achieve them and they find creative ways to present solutions that their competitors miss.
One of the most important things a Sales Manager can do is keep asking their team members about the deals they’re working on and how the solutions they’re presenting are better than their competitors? It’s not just about having a solution that’s a good fit, it’s about having a better, more creative solution that wows the decision maker in a way that stands out from the competition.
Top Performers Ask Better Questions
Alvaro said something about buyers that caught our attention:
“Customers are buying outcomes in the business world today. Sellers should not be thinking they have the answers before asking the right questions. Sellers should partner with their customers to co-create solutions to make them more profitable. If you go with an answer before you find the question, you will lose. You will rob yourself of giving your customer the competitive edge.”
This is one of those “head snapping, cold slap of the obvious” insights about selling that we all need to be reminded of constantly. When we coach salespeople at the SalesGym, what we find is they’re usually more focused on preparing their product explanations and presentations before a sales call than thinking through the questions they want to ask. Top performers approach this differently. They think through their questions first and try to anticipate the questions the decision maker(s) is likely to ask and then they prepare for the meeting.
Practice The Way Elite Athletes Do!
Most Sales Leaders we speak with tell us they would like to see more practice between Sales Managers and their team members to improve their skills and get better at the craft of selling. For many Sales Managers, however, regular practice is a hard routine to establish because it can feel awkward and some team members really resist practice. Alvaro had some good advice on this challenge:
“When creating a practice culture, you need to mobilize people by explaining why this is important for them. It is very apparent those who practice and those who have a drive to become world-class. Inspire people to transform themselves with the tools you are giving them, and then they will have a spark and increased motivation.”
Coaching is truly about inspiring and motivating team members to practice with as much intensity as possible. Michael Jordan used to say the key to his success was to find ways to make practice feel like playoff level competition. Jack Nicklaus always advised golfers to practice by hitting fewer practice shots, but approaching each shot as if you were tied in the last round of the US Open.
Intense practice, as realistic as possible in terms of simulating real pressure. is the key to rapidly improving the performance of salespeople, as Alvaro explains:
“Practicing, going through a process, is the most formative experience of all. When salespeople are too methodical in building credibility, their neighbor may outperform them because they have had an aggressive, more consistent training.”
Regular, intense practice builds our confidence and allows us to be more creative under pressure.
Alvaro’s Coaching Tips
Throughout the interview, Alvaro shared some great tips on coaching sales teams for better performance:
- There is only one thing that you need to build confidence, and that is various training experiences that includes coaching.
- A “let me just do it” attitude, micromanaging, and doing other people’s work is one of the most detrimental traits to a sales manager.
- Pushing revenue, having no-fail focus, and not allowing a team to be coached (or recognize their potential) can damage a sales manager’s opportunity for a positive work culture.
- Anytime there is a change in a process, you will initially go through the new process clumsy, less effective, and uncomfortable. There can even be a level of exhaustion. Over time a different mindset unfolds as they see the benefits and it becomes nature.
Thanks to Alvaro for the interview and solid tips on how to generate stronger sales teams!
For videos on how to increase sales utilizing the SalesGym’s “Compete Selling” approaches, check out our SalesGym YouTube Channel!
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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