At SalesGym, we’re always on the lookout for sales executives that have interesting and timeless insights into top performers, coaching, and building better sales teams. In a recent interview with Dustin Ellis, VP Sales at Flight Centre Travel Group – Canada, he shared what he’s observed over the years about top performing salespeople and how to increase the success rate with newly hired sales team members.
- Characteristics Of Top Performers
- Out Of The Friend Zone And Into The End Zone!
- Insights Into Training New Salespeople
Early in the interview, Dustin said something that set the tone for the rest of our conversation,
“Great salespeople are highly effective at asking questions and listening. They truly want to understand so they can determine whether there is an opportunity to assist. The best is also the best because they don’t waste either parties time if there is no opportunity.”
We’ve noticed that top performers are just as eager to push the low opportunity prospects out of their follow-up folders as they are to move the sales process forward with the high potential prospects. It’s often a pipeline saturated with lots of “maybe’s” that are just wasting the salesperson’s time and that’s something top performers are often on guard about. The key is to spend minimal time with low capacity opportunities.
Characteristics Of Top Performers
There’s no getting around the inescapable reality that 90% of the top performers in sales have more self motivation than the rest as Dustin explains,Top performers have unwavering drive. They are resourceful and fearless in their efforts to build and present the winning case. - Dustin Ellis, VP Sales at Flight Centre Travel Group - Canada Click To Tweet
Another big advantage top performers have is they learn how to focus in on what matters most to the decision maker as Dustin points out,
“Top performers lead with outcomes that have the greatest meaning to the person they are speaking with. They then position their value strategically to ensure the prospect understands how they will deliver said outcomes.”
We’ve found, at SalesGym when training sales teams, it’s essential to train the sales team to understand their competitive advantages and differentiating factors so well that they can then tailor them into the conversation in a way that is more insightful and relevant to the decision maker. Dustin has noticed something similar,
“The most successful Business Development Managers use their knowledge and skill to confidently trigger the sales process by providing complementary value or by challenging the status quo to spark continued interest. With most products and services being considered commodities, they understand the importance of immediately differentiating themselves as the expert to establish a higher level of trust vs their competitors. Top performers are confident and err on the side of confidence versus arrogance.”
Out Of The Friend Zone And Into The End Zone!
Although selling is largely about building rapport and trusting relationships, it’s interesting that relationships can get in the way of doing more business as Dustin points out,
“Less effective salespeople can be so empathetic they get stuck in the “friend zone” whereas top performers have the ability to transition from that same level of empathy into solutions that will address and overcome challenges. They remain focused and balanced in their approach to win the business. We refer to it as “Get out of the friend zone and into the end zone.”
Dustin points out that one of the most important purposes of a good sales process, with steps and terms the entire sales team learns and understands, is it enables more effective training and coaching opportunities,
“We occasionally see challenges with top performers who were successful naturally and it often is hard for them to explain what and how they do things. By adding structure to our sales process, we can be more pointed and specific where and how things need to be adjusted. The structure acts as a foundation so there is consistency for not just one coach, but for all.”
Often, what salespeople need to be reminded of is to simply get into action … pick up the phone … schedule some meetings … start interacting with decision makers and influencers with a higher pace, as Dustin explains,One of the worst bad habits salespeople get into is paralysis by analysis. Be prepared, but pick up the phone and do the activities. - Dustin Ellis, VP Sales at Flight Centre Travel Group - Canada Click To Tweet
Insights Into Training New Salespeople
Dustin and his team have spent considerable time thinking through the initial training process and has identified three key elements that are helping his organization generate better results:
- "For our 'newies', we do a five-day boot camp where we walk through effective lead sourcing, cold calling, the consultative sales process and product lines. The final days are spent applying what they learned through role play scenarios. During this time our National Sales Trainer and other Sr Regional Sales Leaders exercise varying coaching practices. We use a feedback model to hear their thoughts on what they did well, what they would’ve done different and what was tricky. Leadership then provides specific advice on how to tweak things and they try again. Roll play repetition with consistent feedback to apply and practice is key to them establishing confidence and finding early success.”
- "Following our boot camp, we have our salespeople video their best role plays. They end up doing dozens of roleplays with their team leaders trying to get it nailed down and we’ve seen huge improvement. We use these videos to not just coach the BDMs but to then coach the Sales leaders as well.”
- "Our best leaders know that if we want our frontline salespeople to improve they must be honest and disciplined with why, how, what and when they coach them. If they are lenient and grade them at 87%, then there is less incentive for them to improve versus if they provide an honest score of 67%. By positioning the specific feedback honestly, the gap for improvement is exposed and it actually motivates them to try and improve quicker and more effectively.” "Our best leaders know that if we want our frontline salespeople to improve they must be honest and disciplined with why, how, what and when they coach them. If they are lenient and grade them at 87%, then there is less incentive for them to improve versus if they provide an honest score of 67%. By positioning the specific feedback honestly, the gap for improvement is exposed and it actually motivates them to try and improve quicker and more effectively.” >
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