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Learning From the Best

Learning from Superstar Sales Reps

Earlier in my career, I spent some time working at a company that sold software products to most of the companies on the Global 1000. This company had hundreds of sales reps located across the world. Many of them were truly great at what they did.  I remember one sales rep in particular who had been with the company since the very early years when product sets were limited and just a few reps were pounding the pavement. This rep handled some of the biggest named accounts for the company and consistently blew out his numbers.  He had received so many president’s and vice president’s awards that eventually, in lieu of another crystal bowl or a Rolex, the company gave him a bronze Remington statue. He was terrific!

Every company has superstar sales reps – the type of people who make selling look easy. They have an effortless way of taking clients through the sales process and always hitting their numbers. Sure… they may not hit every deal but, more often than not, they get the contract signed. 

At the same time, companies have their fair share of sales reps whose habits should be avoided like the plague. One rep at a different company I worked with was known to sleep under his desk before George Costanza made it “fashionable”. He would sneak out of his office, take the side stairs down eight flights and have a friend pick him up to play tennis. Rather than making calls to service his accounts, he was serving on the court. As you can imagine, that person didn’t last long.

Every day, you have a choice to emulate the superstar sales reps or the sad sack sales reps.  Who you learn from and associate with will have a direct impact on your sales. The impact may not be immediately evident but it will show up in the long run. It can also mark your sales habits and stick with you for months or even years. 

Having this knowledge, you need to realize that one of the easiest techniques you can use to improve your selling skills is to learn from the best.  Learn what techniques and habits are used by the most successful sales professionals to influence customers, close business, increase their sphere of influence and consistently reach their sales numbers.  This can be done by shadowing a sales rep during sales calls, learning about the processes they use or simply asking questions.  It’s easy.  If you know of a conference call that will take place with an important client, sit in and find out what you can learn.  Astute observation can lead you to breakthroughs in your personal selling style.

As you sit on a sales call or just chat for a learning session, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • How does this person treat his/her customers?
  • What process does the sales person go through during a sales call?
  • How does this person spend their day?
  • What skills and techniques elicit positive reactions from customers?
  • What does this person do in the morning before he/she gets to work?
  • How does this person wrap up the day?
  • How does this person handle objections?
  • What techniques does this person use to close sales?
  • How do they handle adversity?
  • What sales tools does this person use to help them sell?
  • What do they do to stay on top of product/service updates?

As you go through this process, come up with your own set of questions.  Take down notes during sales calls and meetings.  If you have a target account that is similar to the accounts this person calls on, ask them how they would handle a situation.  Pick their brain.  Most people will be more than happy to help and, in some cases, may be willing to act as a mentor.

Learn from the best sales professionals. They will often be happy to lend a hand and may have done the same when they were starting out.

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