High Performers are different. Their success alone tells us that. This week we take on “10 Things Top Performing Salespeople Need to Stay On Top of Their Game”. it is the 2nd installment in our high-performance selling series. This episode takes a tongue in cheek slightly irreverent look at things top salespeople need but rarely get from their own companies and leadership.
Today’s episode is part of our “30 Things High Performers Need and Want” series that is based on our sales coaching business. You can listen to the full episode of “10 Things High Performers Need to Stay On Top” on our site or your favorite podcast service.
1) Real Help Winning Complex Competitive Opportunities
2) Help Planning How to Maximize Their Compensation Plan.
3) They Want Support and Coaching that Helps Them Achieve More
4) Assistance Getting into Accounts They Don’t Have or Haven’t Been Able to Break Into
5) Confidence They Won’t Get Nickle, Dimed, or Robbed by the Company when they find their next game changer sale.
6) Approaches that Help Neutralize Competitive Threats
7) They want to be challenged on how to grow their current book of business
8) Be Pushed to Go Beyond What They Can Do Themselves
9) Ideas, Skills, and Attitude That Makes Them Better every day, every month and Quarter.
10) Ability to Focus on the Things that Matter
Show Transcript from 10 Things High Performers Need to Stay on Top
Tim Kubiak 0:12
Hi, everybody, thanks for listening and watching. Um, Tim Kubiak knows the bow ties and business podcast and founder of course, Tim Kubiak calm. Today we’re going to continue our series and the focus is
- Things top performing
salespeople need to stay on top of their game with me as usual, Steve, we’re going to do it a bit tongue in cheek a little bit of reverently. But it’s all true. And it’s all things that top performers look at consider need to do for themselves and have from their companies to really reach that next level. So 10 things top performing, salespeople need to stay on top of the game. Number one real help winning complex competitive opportunities. Now, it may seem obvious, but the top performers find themselves selling against better competitors in the biggest deals all the time. And so often, whether it’s their own management, because of constraints of time, corporate expectations, other obligations, or their vendors, suppliers, partners, even their own internal resources, don’t have enough thought around the competitive situation. So team selling is a great way to do this. But what they really need is not platitudes and standard ideas on how to sell in a competitive opportunity. They need a dedicated strategy, they need to understand how to differentiate from the competition. Steve, what are some best practices that top sellers can use, whether in highly competitive large opportunities or marquee win type opportunities?
Steve U 1:49
Well, good morning, Tim. And one of the challenges top performers have, it’s the same thing that executives have, it’s lonely at the top. So when you’re a top performer, who do you call when you need help, usually want to call somebody that’s as good if not better than us. So that’s why top performers, when they have that game changing deal, really do look for some challenging coaching. And what I mean by the complexity complexity is there’s so many people that get their hands in a game changing deal from the customer perspective, they have multiple wants and needs and Buying Criteria. And again, they have different perspectives. So if you can help a high performing sales rep, and I’ll just give you an example. When they outline some of the key people that are going to be involved in the decision process, how about challenging them, and they embrace this challenge about who else do you think might get their hand and making this decision? Who else might influence the approver? On what it is they think might be the right solution? And that’s an interesting conversation, one that has a top performer think, first tell them what to do. And then this whole idea of competitive is that you’re right, Tim, they know they’re their direct competitors. One of the things that we like to challenge our high performers with is Who are some of the indirect competitors, ie those people, especially in today’s selling environment, that are going for those dollars, that CFO has a lock on the budget from a company perspective, you know, there’s other competing priorities. So in addition to the direct competitors, how about those indirect, those make some very valuable coaching sessions, and really give some idea to that top performer what he or she needs to go do next.
Tim Kubiak 3:39
10 thing top performing, salespeople need to stay on top of the game number two, planning how to maximize the compensation plans. So we’ve done a whole series on this, there’s three existing videos out there that go into pretty good detail. One of them is on maximizing your compensation. The other one, the second part of that series is looking at product and services and profitability mix. And the idea of a game changer sale. And the third one is really on exploiting the compensation plan and understanding that so there’s a lot written there. We’ve got links in the notes here that you can go to that, but see some anything else you want to add to that, that maybe we didn’t cover in those initial videos,
Steve U 4:21
High performers, they love money. We all love money. And that’s a massive driver for high performer and obviously, there’s other things that motivate them. But at the end of the day, if we start and we do that in that series you had mentioned but we start with how much income does that high performer want to make? And what are the implications then, on their territory on the accounts they’re calling and on those Game Changer deals. And when you lock in with a high performer on first and foremost, how much money do they want to make? Then we start peeling it back and talk about those implications. That is how they love have high performance coaching against a certain compensation plan
Tim Kubiak 5:08
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of the game. Number three, they want support and coaching and helps them achieve more. top performers are so internally driven, they want to be the best, they want to have the best results, the best customer outcomes be recognized. And sure, it’s not all money motivation. But along the way, despite the work, they’re willing to put themselves, one of the things they truly want from their management, from people like Steve and I, in our sales coaching business, is the ability to reach higher to have better results to continually improve, Steve, what are some things that they can do that would help a high performer achieve more
Steve U 5:54
What they want him as support. So when, again, a lot of our clients are in the sales or sorry, in the technology business, they need their support of that team that they have around them. So the pre sales engineering team, their direct line management, their post support team, their inside team, and they’d love to have support from the executive team. And one of the things that we continually challenge our high performers with is leverage the best out of that team. And what high performers don’t want is they don’t want that team on a call. And that team telling them what to do, they want that team on the call challenging thinking through what it is they could all do better, and taking it to a whole new level. So at the end of the day, I think a lot of our coaching is helping them assemble their team and direct the actions of that team. And one of the key components is, we’re all in this together. If we think differently, and we challenge each other will actually execute better.
Tim Kubiak 6:55
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of their game assistance getting into accounts they don’t have and haven’t been able to break into. Office often times, when we’re working with top salespeople, there is the conversation about what they have and what they don’t have. And one of the things is they’re always looking for where the business is going. They’re not just focused on what they’re doing today. Because spend cycles change, customers change contacts move on. And the other part of it is they probably, in doing their mapping and planning their business have places they’re trying to get into to grow their business. Anyone that can help them surely run through some walls, get them key introductions, bring them across into new account has real value to them. Steve, what are some best practices that top performers use to grow into new accounts? And who can they leverage specifically to help them do that?
Steve U 8:04
For they, to your point? Look at what we’re in today in this world. Can you imagine if your top customers happen to be in the entertainment business? If you were selling to studios? Could you imagine if your top customers happen to be in the airline industry? I mean, that would be devastating to your current book of business. My experience with hopper high performers is number one, they prioritize. And when I say prioritize, what are the top two or three accounts that they want to get into, and then challenging them to say if those were the only two or three that you could actually make a living in? It’s amazing the insight and innovation and creativity high performers have in getting into those two or three. Too many times management challenges, high performers workflow, you’ve got to add more accounts to your current book of business. But there’s no help after that, back to your point because management is constrained on time they have, especially in today’s world, they’re consolidating management. So there’s more span of control that they have key prioritization. And the mindset that I have to get in is two or three, or I won’t ever be able to make the kind of income that I wanted to make amazing the creativity, creativity and innovation I performers come up with
Tim Kubiak 9:27
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of the game. Number five, confidence they won’t get nickel and dime or robbed by the company. top performers are very good at understanding and we’ve talked about it already how to maximize the compensation plan. One of the worst things you can do as a business owner, a financial leader or a sales leader is not let your sales team Be confident in the results. They’ve changed. This happens in a variety of ways. First of all, there’s the compensation plan, they need to make sure they’re clear on how they get paid. The second thing is, we see companies, when somebody starts to win a lot of business, do unnatural things, sometimes with their top performers, they try to cap them, they try to string out their payments, they add new charges in against the profit of the deal that were never added in anywhere else, it’s a means to control their earnings, that cost companies top sellers. And the other thing is, even if you haven’t done that, if you start to pick apart things you haven’t traditionally done, they’ll lose confidence in that, and it will distract them from selling, it’ll cost your loyalty, it will cost you in ways you’ve never imagined. So being clear with them. And I know it’s so money driven, but it is the truth that their customer is going to have a good outcome, that their reputation is on the line every time they make one of those sales, and ultimately that you’re going to come through and pay them what they expect to be paid, and not try to cap their earnings or change how they’re caught because they did something great. Steve, what are some things top sellers do? Frankly, they continue to have peace of mind? And how should they have this conversation with their management in their ownership groups in advance,
Steve U 11:21
Locking in on that compensation plan. And as you said, part of what we do in our sales performance coaching businesses help them exploit that comp plan. You can’t change things in midstream on a high performer now, there’s always changes and impacts that companies have that might might make them have a change. But if you do that, and this may be is more for the management of high performers, you’ve got to sit down with that high performer and make sure she’s absolutely comfortable with some of the changes and the impact it’s going to have on her business. If I’m a high performer, the challenge I’d give you is don’t be afraid to go to that frontline manager and say it’s not acceptable to change things in midstream and have a conversation about how it’s going to impact you your business. And I’ll just reinforce what you said, Tim, over the last 15 years, how many sales reps that are in that high performing category, have left companies over something that is a nickel or a dime not big on the company’s perspective, but it was a huge issue to a high performer.
Tim Kubiak 12:35
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of the game number six approaches that help neutralize competitive threats. We talked early on about winning complex competitive deals, and the awareness that top salespeople have an understanding there’s competitive competition out there. But beyond that help, top performers need a way to neutralize those threats to separate themselves from their competitors. They know who they are, they know what they’re selling against, they’ve probably done an amazing job in understanding what’s going on, and how they’re positioned inside their accounts. Now what they need is help from the other members of the selling team, from their engineering or their product people, their sales leadership, and if applicable, their finance group and their ownership group that helps take those threats out of the game that really changes what they’re doing, and how they see it. Steve, what are some other things that top sellers can do to help neutralize competitive threats both on their own and with the support of others?
Steve U 13:47
It’s the mindset and the mindset that any game changer complex deal is competitive. And again, I think our high performers do a great job today of understanding their direct competitors. One of the challenges that we always give them is, what do you think they’re going to do in order to change the outcome of this game changer opportunity. And when you put on the lens of that competitor, it’s amazing all high performance a lot. I’ll tell you if I was them, and I knew I was competing against me, I would do these things. And if you also have a team call with team meeting, and you have that kind of discussion, now you can deploy your team to start understanding the competitive threat as well as neutralizing it. And kind of the last thing is, you know, we have a lot of fun when we challenge sales rep to say once we craft that strategy, it’s a go. It’s a winning strategy for that competitive deal. We’ll take a second and then take an entire working session to say so now that we have our strategy, what do you think your competitor is going to do if they knew your strategy? If we leaked out your strategy to them, what would they do? to neutralize it. And it’s amazing again, the innovation, creativity and action plan that comes out of those sessions.
Tim Kubiak 15:09
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of the game. They want to be challenged and how to grow their current book of business. A little while back, we talked about expanding into new places. But one of the things top performers are always looking for is how they’re going to gain mindshare, wallet, share and market share inside their existing accounts. So they’re looking at how can they capture more spend that’s already there? How can they get more ears to listen to what they’re saying? and have their internal coaches or champions inside the customer? Carry them into new areas? And how
can they add
additional services and capture more, if you will market share of that customer spend and separate themselves from their competition? as we’ve talked about, but how can they make their offers stickier. So it’s harder for the customer not to do business with them, it’s harder for them to not be given a shot at the next transformation are the next opportunity. See thoughts on the best practices top salespeople can use to grow the current book of business?
Steve U 16:22
Mapping what that that book of business looks like? So again, if it’s a territory, what are those 10 accounts that are, you know, generating 80% of your book of business within that account? Who are the key people? And who are the additional people that I need to meet? And I always think back to Andy Grove from Intel, his line of only the Paranoid survive, that is so true in today’s world. And if if we get our high performers and they they accept that kind of challenge, that if they’re not continuing to develop new relationships, understand who else could be involved in future quarters and getting their hand and making decisions? It’s one of those things that, oh, it’s uncomfortable, because I’m already a high performer. The challenge then in front of them is to say, well, who else should I know? Who else do you think could come in as a competitor, and put together some plans to expand and neutralize any competitive threats. But again, high performers out there listening to this and those that aspire to be a high performer, only the Paranoid survive, you do not sit and settle, you always have to move forward
Tim Kubiak 17:40
10 things, top performing salespeople need to stay on top of their game. Number eight, be pushed to go beyond what they can do themselves. We use a ton of athletic references. And it’s true for artists, it’s true for intellectuals, really, it’s others challenging you that drives you to your greatest heights. I tell the story a lot myself, I you I’m an aging strength athlete, and my best lifts never came on my own no matter how intense I was or how hard I train, it came when there were others. They’re not just to keep the weight from crushing me, but also to cheer me on to give me that little nudge that extra push the two fingertips on the edge of the bar just to take enough weight off so I could really director and top performing salespeople need the same things is internally motivated as they can be. They need people that will help them see their abilities beyond what they are today and help them really drive towards being better and achieving more. Steve, what are some practices that you’ve seen top salespeople do to help push themselves far beyond what they were doing? Despite being the number one or number two person in giant corporations?
Steve U 18:54
You said it to Tim we we we we embrace this idea that professional athletes at the top of their game? What did they do at the end of every season, they continue to push themselves to get even better? Why do they do it? They know that there’s always somebody ready to take their job. And I think in our in our high performance sales world that we live in high performers act the same way. And I think of the the guys and gals that we’ve coached that 100% of the time always want to do more. Yet again, because of the constraints of internal management. They’re at the top of their game. So they’re the number one sales rep. So how do you aspire to do better if you’re number one, one of the key components of our coaching premises, you can always do better if you’re willing to challenge yourself and get better. You’ll wake up at the end of one year and say my goodness, I had unprecedented results. And the next day you’re going to get started again to go make it happen. And again, if I can give the world the high performers out there One of my favorite stories was when the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick so whether you like them or not, the fact is they went a lot. And they just won the Super Bowl. And all of the the celebrations and everything were happening. There was a quote in usa today about what did Bill Belichick think about he said, he just feels like the other NFL teams are 10 weeks ahead of them. Because he was on that Super Bowl journey. He’s already thinking about how to get back to the Superbowl. Same things true in high performance sales.
Tim Kubiak 20:37
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of their game, ideas, skills, and attitudes that make them better. If you do the same thing forever, you don’t want to lose what’s working. But you always have to challenge yourself to innovate, you have to broaden your viewpoint. And it may sound obvious, that’s not just product knowledge. That’s not just contacts inside of customer. It’s not just what’s going on in your industry. macro trends change things overnight in today’s society. So you need to be aware and an expert in what you do. But you also need to take some of your thoughts and your best practices from other areas and apply them to your business. Part of it is skills. Selling is a skill. Yes, it’s a talent. But there are functions you have to have there. Are you looking at how you’re planning your business, how you’re executing against that plan, how you’re measuring those results, other than the sales? And what are the leading and lagging indicators that Steve will talk about a lot in coaching clients that are showing whether you’re being successful or not towards that ultimate result. And finally, attitudes, attitude is everything. And you know what, sometimes you have to be confident, sometimes you have to be humble. But what you can’t do is let your own self talk, take you in the wrong direction. When you’re on top of the game, you’re never as good as you think you are. But you’ve done the work to get the results you get. And when things aren’t working 100% not letting that chew away you because you’re also never as bad as you think you are, or as others are telling you. And keeping that positive focus towards what the goal is. And moving through the setbacks to save what are some other things, you’ve seen some of the very top professionals the million dollar a year plus earners that you work with, do to manage their ideas, improve their skills, and keep the right attitude.
Steve U 22:42
Top performers just had their best year ever. And I look at our business. Now, Tim, and you think about some of the challenges that are out there. And our business is bigger and busier than ever. Why is that? high performers are looking at a new way. They’re always challenging themselves. And as you said, the attitude if if I’m as good as I’m ever going to get, I’m not going to be interested in learning anything new with skills. I’m not open to any new ideas. That’s not what we see in high performing salespeople. And I’ll tell you, you know, skills is such this. There’s so many companies out there. And there’s some great companies that teach skills. But it’s an independent skill not tied to an overall strategy. It’s an independent skill not tied to an overall tactic. And what we need to make sure is that that high performer has that attitude that they want to get better if they want to get better. They’re open to new ideas. They’re open to new skills, always evolving, high performers. The key here is they have an attitude that they can always get better. They’re never, they’re never satisfied with current results.
Tim Kubiak 23:55
10 things top performing salespeople need to stay on top of the game brings us to the 10th thing, the ability to focus on the things that matter. Using a modern analogy. Everyone talks about multitasking, but studies that come out that you’re not as effective, you don’t really get as much done. This isn’t a time management thing, right? This isn’t a Oh, go block these hours off and do this. What’s top performing salespeople are able to do though, is block out the noise around them and focus on the issues in items that solve problems for their customer, that drive their business where they want to go, that expands what they’re capable of enjoying, and they don’t get distracted. Everything in the periphery really is not even seen. Steve, what’s some things that top performers can focus on that will make a difference in their business.
Steve U 24:54
He said it that what they’re really good at is they’re really good at not doing a lot of things. They’re not doing those things because those things are out of alignment with what drives high performance sales and results. The second is, again, prioritizing those two or three things. And I and you hear this all the time. But it’s so true in high performance sales, they work on the hard things first, whereas medium and low performers work on the easy things first, and they hope that it takes all day to do it. So they never have to attack the hard things, high performing sales reps. When we coach them, we asked them what’s the most difficult challenge you’re dealing with this week, and let’s attack that first. And they’re always up for that challenge. Again, in the theme of this, they bring in their teams, they bring in all of the folks that can help them deal with that massive challenge, and they get that done, then they move to that next level of prioritization. So I you know, your visual is so true, they’re laser focused. And they know if they remove the hardest obstacle deal with the hardest issue, that the revenue and gross margin and compensation will be there to follow.
Tim Kubiak 26:09
So I’m going to stop for a minute,
and I’m gonna talk about the value of coaching. And as usual, we’re going to talk about it in terms of sales, performance coaching, but we’re going to use a sports analogy. So a lot of times when we begin discussing coaching, whether it’s with a chief revenue officer, a CEO, top performing sales person, you know, or anywhere in that organizational chain, people say, ah, sales coaching, it’s like therapy, I come in, I tell you what my problems are, you nod your head, and I go out, and I feel better for it, and then I can do my job. That’s not what coaching is in athletics. That’s not what coaching isn’t business. It’s not what performance sales coaching is.
The value of coaching
allows you to have different perspectives, to explore those ideas and challenges to create actionable plans and install best practices. Steve, I know you’ve got a great analogy from the sports world on baseball. So if you can talk about how even top performers in sports look to improve, and that’s tie that back to what we do with our clients.
Steve U 27:30
Yeah, I mean, this article came out, I thought it was so appropriate for this subject. So the Major League Baseball nationally, again, MVP last year 2019 was Cody Bellinger, from the Dodgers. And one of the things after celebrating a great year when an MVP falling short of the World Series. Again, he had a great individual record, but he ultimately wants to not only stay on top of his game, but win a World Series. What did he do, he actually went into a film room with his hitting coach guy named Brandt Brown. And they looked at and analyzed his swing, and figured out a couple of adjustments, not major adjustments, minor adjustments, that could take his game to a new level. Now I want to draw that same analogy to high performing sales reps. And what coaching is coaching is getting a sales rep in a film room, and looking at their accounts, looking at their opportunities, and doing that using coaching platform so you can coach against it and make progress against it. And when you make progress against it, then the leading indicators of additional pipeline will come through the lagging indicators of success being revenue and gross margin. But I’ll leave high performers with this. Imagine that you’re you just had your career best year, you’re the MVP of your company, you’re the MVP in your region, you’re the MVP in your industry, would you be willing to sit in a film room and figure out what you could do better? My belief is you’d say yes. And that’s why again, in today’s world, we’re seeing such an uptick in our coaching businesses that these high performers want to get better. There’s changing times out there, they want to sit in a film room with us. They want to look at their business, and then they want to take actions every week to improve that. So again, I’ll end it with if the National League most valuable player would be willing to sit in a film room and come up with adjustments with their coach. And oh, by the way, makes a lot of money. I know our high performance sales rates make a lot of money, but think about how much money the National League MVP makes. I think he’d be willing to do the same