What do I mean by ‘Holistic Sales Pro’? Let’s start with one definition of ‘holistic’: “ it is characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole”. Top sales producers are a combination of skills, abilities, attitudes, beliefs, values and motivations. Just like there are hundreds of recipes for apple pie, there are as many recipes for being a top producer; but there are always common elements that must be present.
First, let me begin the article with a ground rule. I talk about top sales professionals as an all-encompassing group with common skills. But I recognize there are always outliers. For example, you may know a top sales producer with little empathy. Or another who hasn’t cracked a book since high school. So let’s apply the 80/20 rule to this article. 80% of top sales producers will demonstrate most of the traits and attributes that I will describe here.
Top producers take reasonable steps to protect their physical and mental health. They recognize they must look after themselves in order to properly look after others. Wellness (both physical and mental) is a priority!
Top producers are fuelled by passion for what they do. They strongly believe in themselves, their product, their company, and they have a mission in life. They believe their work has purpose! They are driven people with lofty personal goals and high personal standards. Money is a reward for these efforts, not the motivation!
Top producers have great attitudes. They are positive but realistic people. They possess a healthy skepticism.
Top producers have a powerful desire and intent to win. They have perseverance and discipline, and true fire in the belly. They are laser focused on their objectives, and not easily discouraged by adversity or setbacks. They have grit! (Google ‘Angela Duckworth Grit’ Ted Talk).
Top producers are empathetic and have a strong desire to help their clients to make good decisions. They become students of selling and keep their market knowledge and industry knowledge current much like any other professional would in a changing world. They are problem solvers!
Top producers have fun doing what they do, and they think creatively. They understand that a single solution presented in a single manner does not fit all situations. They like what they do, and they’re proud to do it!
Top producers are great managers of time. They have a sense of urgency for the crucial, not the merely urgent. They block time for critical activities. Top producers embrace the principles of ‘Eat That Frog’ (by Brian Tracy). They do not shy away from prospecting, they embrace it as the pathway to success. They effectively weave and blend the important things in their work life, and personal life and find harmony between them.
Top producers embrace Covey’s 7 Principles, especially the philosophy of abundance and the notion of ‘Win Win, or NO deal!’. They have a high sense of right, and wrong and possess a high level of personal integrity. They often have a feeling of gratitude. They radiate ‘confident’ humility!
Top producers are conscious of managing stress. While many top producers exhibit type ‘A’ behaviours, the best ones don’t get carried away by their emotions. Top producers do not usually suffer from stress, but sometimes are carriers! 😉
Top producers study the art and science of selling. They take the time to read (broadly) and are always seeking improvement and the ‘slight edge’ of incremental gain. They embrace the spirit of Kaizen, the Japanese word at the foundation of a methodology of continuous small improvements. They understand how incremental improvement (with the attendant opportunity cost) leads to exponential results!
Top producers seek out mentors! And when they reach a level of excellence, they gladly assume the position of mentor when asked.
Top producers are aware of, and work on their ‘EQ’. They understand that they deal with people, and we are all emotional creatures. They value the relationships they have with others. Some research tells us that 90% of top performers across a range of job types have high EQs. A coincidence?? A high IQ is not enough!
Top producers are likable people. One of the many reasons people like them is that they’re great listeners, and very curious. Often, they have a delightful sense of humour, are self-deprecating, somewhat humble (while still exuding confidence) and strive to be helpful.
Top producers do not believe that their customers are always right! They know that customers are often wrong, sometimes misinformed or trapped in their paradigm. They have the willingness and ability to ‘challenge’ the client (read ‘The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of The Customer Conversation’ by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson , a great read!). They do this skillfully, with clarity and finesse.
Top producers, either intuitively or by design, balance their activities and hone their skills such that they exceed their objectives consistently in an effective and efficient way. They are either on the curve, or ahead of the curve; but rarely find themselves behind the curve! They have a ‘balanced scorecard’ whether they are aware of it or not.
Top producers do not wait for the absolutely ideal conditions before acting. They assess, adapt, and get on with it while others wait for ideal conditions to occur.
Top producers are methodical. Their consistency comes from having developed effective methodologies and applying them constantly.
Top producers understand that perfection is unattainable. But as they strive towards perfection, they hit their level of excellence. Often, the drive for perfection is a zero-sum game!
If you agree that most of these described characteristics are indeed the attributes of a ‘top producer’, what can you do with this information? One thing you might consider is to (un-scientifically) rate yourself, as honestly and objectively as you can in each category, with the score out of 10. Where you have scored yourself and 8 to 10, congratulations! Continue to monitor these areas of performance so they don’t deteriorate. If you have scored yourself seven or eight in some categories, is your average eight or nine? You have an area for improvement, but not great concern. If you have several categories that you would objectively rate yourself below seven you have a blueprint for self-improvement. And if you want to get really bold, consider sharing this article with a trusted colleague, and consider giving one another honest feedback. Some risk involved here, especially the risk of hearing some things that you perhaps would rather not here! Self-awareness is the first step in successful change management.
The good news is that there is an astounding amount of resource available to help you improve your performance in and holistic way. Good luck in your journey of growth!
This is the wrap up article in a series of 10 articles on the traits and habits of highly successful sales professionals. Please consider providing some feedback by leaving a comment. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read future articles, please consider following me on LinkedIn.