Ever look at a sales rep and think, “Man, that is one monster quota-maker!” I have been there, and I’ve learned that top-notch sellers are fundamentally different, seemingly at a nuclear level. I have been fortunate to work with a number of these unicorns; people who blow their numbers out of the water quarter after quarter at my company, Swarmsales. During this time, I have also noticed five things they have in common.
They constantly network: Not to sell, but to continually expand their connections. I asked quite a few of them why networking was so important, aside from the obvious reasons. The one answer that I found very interesting was, “Because it allows us to see trends. See if similar companies or people in roles are seeing the same problem. If they are, then we have a market opportunity developing.” Networking is like ground zero for your customer-trend metrics.
They know the internal/customer process in depth: One of the most important things, I think even more than knowing your company’s products, is knowing the process. That goes for both your company and your clients. I identify with this trait the most, as I had to know the process on both sides before I could successfully deliver the results my clients were hoping for. For example, at Oracle, selling involves a long, arduous approval process that goes all the way up to Larry Ellison’s office. When I was there, I used to joke that selling the end client was only 25 percent of the effort; selling to Oracle was 75 percent. Luckily, I was able to master the internal process and use it to drive deals through with appropriate justifications. Similarly, knowing who signs or approves at an end client’s side is very important.
They constantly ask if priorities have shifted: Continuous validation and ensuring the company focus hasn’t drifted is also a great trait. Top sales reps look at initiatives they are currently focused on and continually make sure that the same metrics, economic buyers, decision-making process, decision criteria and identified pain are still valid. They ensure the champion remains absolutely supportive of the solution and feels like she owns the product. If you don’t constantly check in, you will find projects may not make it over the finishing line. You’ve burned precious resources and time.
They can multi-task: Ever do an enterprise deal at Oracle or IBM? It will put hair on your chest. These transactions are so complex and have so many moving pieces you would be absolutely amazed. A $100 million sale doesn’t just happen. It takes a vast array of coordination from one master organizer who brings together the accumulation of product specialists, technical leads, client resources, procurement, finance and legal to align toward a single goal and close the deal within the defined date. Average sales reps manage anywhere from five to 10 transactions a quarter. Top tier sellers manage an average of 15 to 20 deals.
They are always looking for new products to sell: Typically a sales rep is limited to a set portfolio of product and services; however, top sellers are constantly looking at ways to be part of every initiative. There are two reasons for that. First, if a company enters their defined ecosystems, yet doesn’t integrate with the existing foundation, they might end up displaced. Essentially, it may introduce a crack in the foundation. The second reason is that they don’t like to lose. Every time I sold, I looked at how much of the annual spend I could pick up, and if I didn’t have a product in my bag, I made sure I found someone within other product groups or the partner network that had an offering and brought them in.
This is a great guiding light for how to spot which sales reps can be wildly successful for your business. We are excited to have them on our marketplace and look forward to sharing more of our learnings.
Agree? Disagree? Think there’s a trait that I missed? Let me know in comments!
Ankur Srivastava is the CEO and co-founder of Swarmsales.