On Becoming A Top Performer

We were asked to contribute to an article that appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune on ‘Tips For Becoming A Top Performer.’  I thought you might find the information we provided — gained from working with our clients — interesting:

The difference between top producers and average performers is often less than what most people think

I am sure that you have you heard this many times as it relates to professional athletes and others.  But the truth is, the ability to perform daily at a consistently high level is what separates the high achievers from the “ordinary” category.  And the key to that is having the personal commitment and discipline backed by process and tools that allow you to do a number of little things just a little better than your competition each and every day.

Top performers recognize that a sale is usually not a single transaction, but rather the result of multiple contacts, or touch points, over time.

You have heard us say that up to 80% of all leads are not followed up on.  At least to the point where the prospect has heard what she needs to hear to feel comfortable buying your product or service.  Part of that is the lack of the right tools and process, and part of it is…

Start by clearly understanding the needs of the person buying your product or service – rational and emotional reasons – and how you can add real, tangible value.

People buy for their own reasons – – not ours (see below).  So it is understandable that if you have a clear picture of your prospect’s needs going in, you will spend more time asking the right questions that show that you “get it” and may just have something worth looking at.

Once you know what the key reasons how a prospect would benefit from your product – keep repeating and reinforcing those points over time.

We’ve all heard that it takes three times before an important point is actually heard.  Teachers know this.  Politicians practice this.  So should all of us.  People need time to process and assimilate information in their minds – – especially if it means investing a lot of time or money.  Respect that – – then give them what they need now, and again, over a predetermined period of time.

Know the decision maker and how to best reach him or her within your budget.

It is important to develop a message that will be the most effective for your target prospect’s decision maker within their respective industry.  First you need to identify who the best person to contact is in the industry segment you are targeting.  Second, you need to know which methods are the most productive to contact that person based on the budget you have to work with.

Be top of mind.

Have consistent, regular communication with the right message. You want to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right message when your prospect is ready to buy, so that you are “top of mind.”

It is difficult to make the number of contacts necessary today to close a sale without a plan, a process, and the tools to leverage limited time.  That is why so many leads are dropped before the sale.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg anymore.  The entry-level technology is available at a very small investment.  The rest requires some good old-fashioned honest hard work to think through the process.  Do it and the results will put you head and shoulders above your competition.

Pre-determine the message, how it is going to be delivered, what the follow-up will be, and how you can systematize and automate as many of the touch points as possible in order to leverage your valuable time.

That’s a hint on how to start!  We use a very elaborate process to identify and think through all possible options to identify what the appropriate next steps should be – – and to avoid reinventing the wheel each and every time.  Leveraging your time while making sure you are delivering the right message is the strategy here.

Prospects look at the whole package – – the sales person, the materials, the presentation – – in judging your product.  Make sure these are telling the right story.

Getting out in front of prospects with the right message is simply the most important – – no question.  Next to that, how that message is delivered sets you apart.  Or doesn’t.  What you say and how you say it, both in words and the medium chosen, are critical.  If you are selling “quality” for example, perhaps your stationery system (business cards, letterhead, etc.) should communicate that.

People buy for their reasons — not ours — and they are looking for honest, straight-shooters who add real value.

We find that encouraging, and a real opportunity for you to differentiate yourself in a meaningful, tangible way.

The good news we hear from customers we talk to on behalf of our clients, is that they are looking for trusted “partners” who they can rely on to think on their behalf and help them grow.  In turn, with success, they are happy to help their partner grow. 

These outcomes don’t come overnight, and they require more than just the “standard drill” of presenting the company line just once to every prospect.  But, a little effort and preparation can go a long, long way to igniting sales.

Posted by John Harden  February 24th, 2009

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