Recently, we had an opportunity to sit down with Andres Sintes, Global Senior Director, Partner Digital Transformation & Industries, at Cisco Systems. He treated us to his perspective on what makes top-performing salespeople different, what gives them their competitive edge, what sales leaders can do to train and support them, and what new sales people can do to start down the road to becoming a top performer. He shared a number of unique ideas focused around:
- Inspire Your Customers
- Top Performers Truly Listen
- Focusing on the Metrics Isn’t Enough
- Andres’ Tips on Becoming a Top Performer
Early in the interview, Andres said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“Our guys that are the most successful are more concerned about getting the customer inspired and wanting them to conceptualize their ideas without feeling the pressure that they have to give you a decision right away.”
We have all heard or likely used the expression “the art of sales”. If sales is an art form then the Sales Professional is the artist. Just as it is the commissioned artist’s job to bring their client’s ideas to life, it is the salesperson’s job to paint a mental picture for the client that leaves them inspired and wanting to move forward.
Top Performers Truly Listen
At SalesGym we have interviewed hundreds of top-performing sales professionals over countless hours. Our research indicates one of the most crucial and often underutilized sales skills is the ability to actively listen to customers. We have found that about 70% of all salespeople talk too much throughout the sales interaction and when they do allow the customer to speak, they’re only listening with the intent to respond. That is to say the salesperson is thinking about what they’re going to say next instead of being actively engaged in the customer’s message.
“Top performers inspire their customers and get the customers to WANT the benefit without feeling any pressure. This is accomplished by the sales representative truly listening to what the customer is concerned about and thinking outside the box on how they can best help them.”
The type of active listening Andres is referring to is precisely what sets top performers apart. Demonstrated active listening will lead to a deeper relationship with your customer in which the customer feels valued and appreciated. This perfectly positions top performers to ask relevant questions and make a recommendation using the values and language of the customer.
As Andres puts it,
“The best ones talk about the proposition in the context of asking the customer what problems they want to solve rather than selling on the benefits, functionality, etc.”
Too often salespeople attempt to rely on the features and benefits of their product to motivate the customer to action. If all you are selling is the bells and whistles, there is nothing to separate you from the remainder of the white noise in the marketplace.
Andres summed it up best when he said,
“[Top Performers] focus on the outcome rather than the features and the functionality.”
Focusing on the Metrics Isn’t Enough
At SalesGym our research has revealed many insights into not only sales performance, but also sales coaching and training. One such insight that almost always takes sales executives by surprise is the limited effectiveness of most sales managers when it comes to coaching.
Our research has revealed that a great many managers focus on the numbers in meetings or one-on-ones with their reps and a small percentage of managers understand the type of coaching that will lead a salesperson to positively change the behaviors that drive those metrics.
“If you stay single-minded on the metrics, then you might be great at acknowledging the fact that people need skill development. Managers notice this, yet they don’t drive it or lead it and only focus on the metrics. Only focusing on metrics is simply not enough to be a great manager.”
There is no one, in sales or otherwise, who has come to be a top performer based exclusively on their own efforts. All the greats have coaches. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice achieved heights in their sport never before seen. They each, without exception, had a coach who understood what is required to lead extraordinary individuals to achieve unparalleled performance.
Andres characterized what it takes to drive performance in this way,
“When a leader becomes proactive in driving results on all levels, not only does the team mesh well, but you set yourself up for success.”
Andres’ Tips on Becoming a Top Performer
The road to game-changing, life-altering performance can be long and fraught with peril, but the journey starts at the core of the sales professional. It takes a special mix of grit, conviction, and coachability to become a top performer. As our interview came to a close Andres distilled his years of experience, regarding becoming a top performer, to these three simple tips:
“Any new salesperson has to believe in what they are trying to sell versus just going through the script.”
“Always be open-minded to everything. Avoid the preconceived notions, be curious, and don’t be shy about asking questions.”
“Be collaborative. Everybody has insights to share, especially since you don’t know it all.”
Thanks to Andres for the interview and solid tips on how to become a top performer! 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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