These are a few of my favorite things.
- The ability to competitively displace a larger, better equipped sales force. There is just something about an underdog. The more lopsided and unlikely things appear from the outside, the more I admire their ability to punch above their weight class.
- The ability to sell something at a higher price when all things are equal, or even less than equal. Most salespeople want to take price out of the equation as a way to make selling easy. There is nothing impressive or interesting there. What’s impressive is the ability to create greater value—and capture some of that value so you can execute.
- A bias for prospecting. If you want to know what selling is, if you have to boil it down to one thing: opportunity creation. Opportunity creation is prospecting. Nothing happens until there is an opportunity, and it’s impressive to see a group of people who continually do so—even when they have a full pipeline.
- The ability to create a preference that withstands all threats. You have to admire a sales force that can retain their clients. When the preference for the individual salesperson is so strong that their clients are all locked down tight, it’s something worth studying.
- A culture of performance that is bottom up instead of top down. One of the most interesting thing to see is a culture that rejects people who would weaken it. When people expect everyone to play up a level, it’s a stronger culture greater than a leader can build on their own.
- A competitiveness and combativeness that forms the foundation of their mindset and their desire to win. A sales force that loves a good fight is a sales force that will over time take on greater and greater challenges. The willingness to go out and throw punches is often by itself enough to produce results.
- The ability to help others on their team succeed. Great salespeople are always happy to share what they do and how they do it with their peers. By helping others grow and succeed, the whole sales force gets better, and the team as a whole is more and more difficult to defeat.
- A lack of excuses. It’s not your product, your price, or your irrational competitor. It’s not the President or your government. A sales force that makes no excuses is a sales force that doesn’t ever need to.
- A lack of complaining. A sales force that doesn’t complain is rare. There are so many things about which one might complain, like territories, compensation, leadership. Complaining isn’t a performance enhancing behavior, and great sales teams no this.
- A lack of fear. When things go pear-shaped—and inevitably, they always go pear-shaped—a fearless sales force steps up and does what is necessary. If it’s a shift in strategy, so be it. A shift into a new product, one that makes their existing pipeline moot, done.
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