Recently, we had an opportunity to connect with Christopher Perry, President, GSMS with Broadridge Financial Solutions and hear his insights into what distinguishes top-performing salespeople from the rest and how Sales Leaders can create an environment that attracts and builds more of them. His thoughts were focused around:
- The Impact of the Comfort Zone on Salespeople
- Wrapping the Solution Around the Customer
- Train Salespeople Like World Class Athletes!
- Chris’s Advice on Sales Leadership and Coaching
Early in the conversation, Chris said something that gave us a great starting point for the interview. He said,
“There are three things that make great sales performers. First, they have a great ability to get other people to do their job and work on their behalf. Second, they have a great process that allows them to scale and grow. Third is that they understand what is means to always-be-closing and always-be-opening.”
The top performers we coach at the SalesGym have a wider variety of skills than salespeople in the past and can think more creatively about building relationships with decision-makers and influencers. They apply this creativity to build consensus and figure out how to challenge the thinking that causes resistance in a way that doesn’t fracture relationships.
Chris shared an interesting perspective he has on what holds average salespeople back,
“One of the major problems for underperforming salespeople is that they are single-threaded. Meaning that they only focus on one aspect of success in sales at a time while ignoring all the others. They are sequential thinkers, not parallel processors.”
The Impact of the Comfort Zone on Salespeople
Recently, in a conversation I had with a tech executive, she asked me why I think top-performing salespeople are paid so much? After working with them on training and consulting projects over the last 25 years, I’m convinced that good salespeople have an ability to connect with people and nudge new relationships forward in ways that typically cause tremendous anxiety for others. They can ask the questions others can’t, they are willing to call and ask for appointments when there’s strong resistance and they find creative ways to lower that resistance and create receptivity. These are very difficult skills to find and develop and, as a result, the market rewards them.
Chris explains an aspect of the challenge salespeople face,
“Part of the reason that many average performers stay average is because they refuse to get out of their comfort zone. It is easy to fill our days with busy work thinking we are productive, but we aren’t going to reach our full potential if we don’t break out of our comfort zone.”
Top performers take risks that cause anxiety and train themselves to perform well outside the comfort zone where emotional anxiety and fear peak. Chris explains,
“As salespeople, we are unemployed every morning. Low performers rationalize their day, high performers choose to get out of their comfort zone and make some money. Sales is about establishing trust. It’s about establishing a real relationship with people. Part of that is being able to be a chameleon. That comes by authentically being who you need to be for the circumstances that you are in.”
Wrapping the Solution Around the Customer
Chris shared with us some interesting ideas leading to a term we’d never heard before:
- The evolution of the sales professional is ongoing. Years ago, much of the selling that was done was anecdotal, but now with the advent of data and analytics, we are seeing a much more sophisticated way of selling.
- We live in a world now where making a sale is no longer a one-to-one process. Making sales is now a complex multi-dimensional phenomenon
- Salespeople used to be on the frontline of information about a product. Now, information is so easy to obtain that customers already know almost all the information about a product, so it is up to the salesperson to create a great experience for the customer by wrapping the solution around them. At the end of the day, sales are just a symptom of a good communication process.
Because of the internet and how easy it is to find information about products, services, and pricing, salespeople that gain an edge on their competitors, through their advanced communication skills, are able to craft a solution that connects intimately with what matters most to the decision-makers and influencers. They do this in a way that connects to bigger-picture business performance issues and gives the buyer the experience of buying a comprehensive solution from an expert, not just an average salesperson.
Train Salespeople Like World Class Athletes!
Over the years, we’ve found that a pretty high percentage of top-performing salespeople come from a sports background where rigorous training was just part of the average day. Chris explains how important training is when it comes to building top performers:
- In order to be a world-class salesperson, you need to train with vigor. Look at Michael Phelps, he is a world-class athlete who has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which have been gold. He is in a class of his own. In order to be in a class of your own, you need to train like you are. That same principle is how salespeople can be world-class.
- Training and practice allow you to be ultra-responsive to any kind of situation that comes your way. Just like we are not equipped to be first responders to a car crash, average salespeople will find themselves falling short if they have not trained and practiced.
- Practice should almost mirror what happens in a real sales call. Just as you don’t want an EMT who has never dealt with blood, a practice environment in sales should give salespeople experience they can use.
- There are a lot of salespeople today who are scared and posing because they don’t really know what they need to know and do in a sales call. Good salespeople know what to do because they are constantly learning and developing.
Chris’s Advice on Sales Leadership and Coaching
At the end of our interview, Chris gave us some solid advice for sales leaders looking to build a stronger sales team that attracts and retains top performers:
- Sales leaders need to know that the fish rots from the head. As a sales leader, I strive to be involved in our learning initiatives and I spend a lot of time with the people that report directly to me.
- Sales leaders need to know the difference between management and leadership. Management is the day-to-day administrative actions that need to get done. Leadership is having a vision of the future and where you want to go. Once the sales leader has the vision for the future, they have the responsibility to prepare their team and lead them to the future.
- As a sales leader, it is not good enough to just meet your goals. You need to be able to meet your current goals as well as look toward the future because goals are always going up. The hurdles are constantly getting harder every year, and if you’re not working on priorities that will help them become easier, then you are just causing your here-and-now to be harder.
- My advice to new sales leaders is to not be afraid to do something different if what you have been doing is not working so well. Doing things that fail over and over is a recipe for failure and losing your job. The second thing I would advise is to take the things that are working and expand them. The third thing that I would recommend is spending time developing your lower performers and refining your top performers.
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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