I was reading about how JaMarcus Russell was cut by the Oakland Raiders football team. He was the number one draft in the NFL a short three years ago.
He possessed all the talent anyone could ask for in an NFL quality Quarterback – size ( 6 foot 6 inches and over 250 lbs) and arm strength ( could throw a football the length of the field) and a history of success – (High school state championships, All State, Lead LSU to two SEC championships and two major bowl victories). Yet, something happened to this possible superstar – he failed in the Pro ranks.
So, if Talent or Potential cannot automatically create high performance – what can product high performance? …sales performance?
First, let’s look at the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees. When you look at him, he is under six foot tall, around 200 lbs., has an accurate yet limited arm strength. Yet, even with the physical limitations as compared to a JaMarcus Russell, all he does is set records and win. Hummm. Must be something else in the equation.
Yes, there is something else. Brees has the winner’s edge HABITS while Russell has not learned this important part of the equation of success. The Habits to study, learn, understand the game plays, know the overall strategy, staying focused on the important things, and be a leader by walking the talk.
Unfortunately, this is not only an issue for football quarterbacks, it applies to Business to Business (B2B) sales people. I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with hundreds of B2B sales people. This allowed for me to see who was preforming at high levels and who was only going through the motions. Yes, I too saw a lot of talent and smart people who failed in the world of sales. It was not because of their potential or overall talents – it was the habits they used.
Habits are the things we do everyday. They set the tone of how we do things and when we do things. You need to check your habits and learn what is helping and what is hindering you. Good and focused habits can change your life and your results, yet, it is a choice you must make.
Here is a short list of habits needed for Business to Business (B2B) Sales Success…
- Practice, Practice, Practice – this one is very important. The superstars practice their skills, presentations, and strategy BEFORE getting in front of a customer.
- Learn More – Keep up regarding your skills, techniques and methods. More importantly, keep up with your customers, key contacts, industry trends, financial success of customers and industries, and new developments.
- Keep in Contact – Your customers need a reason to know and remember who you are. Donuts do not do the trick anymore. Provide your key customers with valuable information about product APPLICATION (not details), industry trends, best practices regarding processes they use, early announcements to changes in technology, systems or services and throw in some personal stuff (their stuff – as a softball coach, community leader, awards received, praise from their bosses that you hear about.) in other words, let them know you care about them as a person not just a buyer.
- Follow up quickly – This means as quick as you possibly can – get back with your customer. Answer their questions, phone calls, solve their problems – do what you can to show you are dedicated to supporting them.
- Never Make a Presentation without Knowledge of their Situation – Again, this should be under the topic of common sense, yet, I see experienced sales people who automatically go into presentation mode with or without a problem presented to them. Use discovery methods to uncover the facts, reasons, seriousness, and degree of the problem. Can you fix it or is someone else needed?
- Building Team Relationships – Building relationships with both the customers team members and your own company’s team members can mean the difference in winning or losing business, keeping a happy and satisfied customer, and getting meaningful response times internally to self inflicted problems.
- Continuous Personal Development – In addition to the business side learning, the winners work on their own attitudes, beliefs and motivation. Being a sales superstar can be a lonely adventure, so without others cheering you on or coaching you up – you become responsible for self generating your inner motivation to deal with the fears, disappointments and focus. Be a lifetime Personal Kaizen person.
Remember, Talent or Potential Talent alone is no guarantee of high performance and success. To reach your full potential (like Drew Brees) you must develop the personal habits of the high performer. Study and practice combined with the dedication of being committed to excellence, will keep you focused upon the success habits needed today.