It seems like there’s at least one sales master on every team. Even if you’ve been in the sales profession for a short time, you probably know exactly who that is on your team. It’s the person who can seemingly come and go as they please.
There are days when this person doesn’t show up to the office as they’re only there when it’s necessary they be there. They might do a morning or afternoon check-in with their manager over the phone, but that’s usually just a conversation about next steps with a client or to get an approval to move a deal forward. And those calls are very brief.
Their monthly, or bi-monthly, forecast meetings are usually brief as well, unless there’s a something to address for a client to secure the order. They know with astounding accuracy which agreements will go forward in the next 30 days and which will take longer.
You’ve probably never witnessed this person missing their quota. In fact, a “bad month” for them is being just above the sales minimum set forth by the company. They seem to be constantly writing new orders and always seem to be at the contract stage with several clients.
Their clients love them. That’s not an exaggeration. Their relationship with their clients is so good it acts as a near iron-clad defense against competitive attempts to steal them away. I know this well. It’s damn near impossible to win over a prospect when they are a client of these sales professionals.
This master knows their position in the company. They know that, barring some anomalous and catastrophic corporate disaster, their position is extremely secure.
Sales managers have a healthy fear of this person. The idea of losing such a key performer is so devastating that the manager will do whatever they can to help them continue to be as successful as they can be. They know that replacing this person would be incredibly difficult and costly.
Every successful sales team I’ve been on has had at least one of these masters on their team. Rarely have I seen more than one, though there is usually a strong second and third place person.
When I have worked for companies that did not have such a master, the sales departments were riding a bus to struggle city.
Why do I tell you this?
Because it should be your goal to become this person. Most of us get into sales to make a decent income, where our future is controlled by the effort we put in. The more we master our craft, the more freedom and flexibility we are afforded.
That’s the key here. These sales professionals are masters of their craft. They know the sales process and have adapted it to their own personality, emotional intelligence and work ethic. These masters have become so good at relating to their clients, understanding their needs and expectations, finding creative and unique ways of matching their products and services to meet every possible criterion, that it looks effortless.
How do you become a master?
1) Learn from one. It isn’t going to be easy to get the time of someone like this in your office. One of the things that makes them successful is they guard their time carefully. Ask to go on appointments with them and watch what they do. Observe how they interact with everyone they know in the company. Offer to cold call in their territory with them. Learn from their techniques. You might also offer to drive, so you can ask questions to and from the meetings.
2) Identify your personality, style and emotional intelligence. It might take a little time to identify – self-reflection isn’t always a comfortable process – but when you understand your strengths and opportunities for improvement, you can make any sales training custom tailored to your personality. The more you adapt skills and training to who you are, the easier the sales process and relationships with clients will be. You become more natural and authentic.
3) Never stop learning. This is true for both your product and service knowledge as well as your sales skills. You’ll always be learning about new products and service offerings from your company. Continuously learning new sales skills and sharpening existing ones will keep you operating at peak professional level.
4) Never stop learning part 2. Your clients. Learn about them. Understand who they are as a company. Get to know their business philosophies and identify where your interests align. Where appropriate, become as entrenched with the people who work there as you possibly can. Pay attention to the little personal details your contacts reveal. Use those details to find ways to make their lives better. Constantly look for information about them in the news and be the first to congratulate them when they’ve been acknowledged.
5) Keep your tools sharp. Keep your skills on the cutting edge by continuously focusing on basic sales skills as well as advanced techniques. A practitioner of the martial arts must keep practicing their basic techniques as they work their way to black belt ranking. The advanced skills are generally enhanced versions of basic techniques. This is equally true in sales. Practice your art constantly.
These are just a few ways to become the sales master on your team. There are certainly more ways, and I’d encourage you to be on the lookout for them. Of course, I’m omitting the obvious here such as constantly prospecting to build and maintain a healthy sales funnel.
Just know this – the sales master on your team was once in the position you are now. What separates them from everyone else is the willingness to perfect, adapt and hone their craft.
That’s the wonderful thing about a career in sales. You can be that person.