Don’t Be Afraid to Give Up the Good to Go for the Great

By Jeff Beals

The 19th Century industrial magnate John D. Rockefeller famously said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

The struggle to move from good to great has captured the imagination of ambitious people for centuries if not millennia.

And it’s not just individuals. Good companies have long fixated on achieving greatness. In 2001, Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, which changed the way executives talk. For example, “get the right people on the bus,” is now firmly rooted in the global lexicon of business.

In the book, Collins asked big questions…Why do some companies do well when a similar competitor languishes? Why do some companies transition from being merely successful to being truly great? What traits separate the good from the great?

I like to ask similar questions about individual people especially those who sell things for a living – Why do some sales professionals race to the top right away while others spend 40 years wallowing in mediocrity?  Why do 20 percent of sales reps win 80 percent of the business?

After studying top-producing sales pros, I’ve come up with a list of things that can turn you from good to great:

The Foundational Stuff – For starters, the great ones have mastered all the things that “good” sales people do such as working hard, overcoming prospecting reluctance, ethics, professionalism, time management skills, self-confidence, maintaining good records, etc.

Attitude – Top producers religiously abide by three words: responsibility, authority and accountability.  They accept total responsibility for their lives and careers, they know they have the authority to carry out their responsibilities, and they are 100-percent accountable for whatever happens.  If they succeed, they graciously accept credit and never chalk it up to “luck.”  If they screw up, the take full responsibility even if they got a raw deal.  They never blame, and they refuse to be victims.

Creativity – Successful sales pros think of good things to sell and then find the right client for the idea.  Top producers often put the idea of making a purchase in the would-be client’s head long before he or she would have thought about it on their own.  Don’t wait for the ideal customer to come to you; proactively create new clients.

Persistence – In today’s crazy world in which many of your clients are simply too busy to talk to you, it commonly takes 10 or more email and voice mail messages before you reach someone.  Don’t give up.

Quick Thinking – Many deals almost die as you near closing time because of some last-minute “crisis.”  This is where outstanding salespeople shine.  Think on your feet, come up with alternatives, get the two sides to come to the table and don’t panic.

Listen Intensely – To be a top producer, you have to listen and truly hear.  It’s generally best to listen twice as much as you talk.  Great sellers don’t script questions; instead they write down the information they need and then ask the prospect whatever probing questions are necessary until they have all that info.

Extensive Product Knowledge – A great sales pro knows what he or she sells. If there were “Ten Commandments of Selling,” one of them would definitely be, “Know Thy Market.”  You need to be able to rattle of facts quickly and know the product intimately enough to answer the detailed questions that come deep in the selling process.

Speed Kills – Now that consumers can find information instantaneously, they expect super-quick service even when dealing with complicated, B2B purchases.  Responding to emails/voice mails within 24 hours simply isn’t fast enough anymore.  We must be as responsive as possible.

Think Long Term – The best sales reps realize that a short-term or self-serving gain is never worth the long-term price.  There’s an old saying that goes, “Client before commission.”  Those who follow this never seem to have trouble making a lot of commission in the end.

Constantly learning – To be a top-one-percenter in sales, you must constantly learn.  Top producers are always looking to improve, always looking for an edge.  They also hunt for new technologies that can make them more efficient or differentiate them from the pack.  Also seek out mentors and coaches.

Think Big –The smaller the deal, the bigger the headache. Don’t waste much time on deals that pay very little. Time is the single scarcest resource in the world.  Use your time in such a way that delivers the biggest bang for the buck.

Specialization – Drill deep in order to go broad!  Those reps who become experts and spend at least 75% of their time in one specialty area, almost always do better than the generalists.  People pay a premium for true subject matter experts.  It’s why surgical physicians bring home more money than general practitioners.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

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