Listen to your top sales people

Today, I spoke to a large medical distributor sales force at their national sales meeting. I had the pleasure of eating lunch with their award winners–about ten of them.

Whenever I meet top achieving salespeople, I pick their brains. I’m impressed with their success and fascinated by their motivation. I like being their student as well as their teacher. The question I asked each of them was: Why are you successful? Here is a sampling of their responses.

1. It’s my work ethic. I get out and make my calls.

2. I never make promises I can’t deliver on.

3. I love to cold call.

4. I’m the customer’s go-to guy. I have a lot of experience that I use.

5. I deliver on my promises and manage customer projects well. They know I will get it done.

6. I stay current on changes in the industry.

7. I am part of a team and I know that. I’ve got the easiest job on the team–selling.

8. I don’t promise what we can’t do.

9. The customer is always first. I’m flexible with customers. I work for customers.

10. My word is my bond.

11. I’m positively paranoid about losing business. This keeps me on my toes.

12. I like the relationships and friendships I’ve made in business.

13. It’s my competitive nature, my passion for the job. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy doing business with my customers.

A few things struck me. First, no where did any of them mention a specific technique, such as closing or negotiating. Their success is performance driven, not technique based. This means no games with customers. Second, I was in the room with ten top sales people but there wasn’t a big ego in the room. In fact, most of them talked about the importance of other team members and customers. They were noticeably uncomfortable bragging about themselves. This is indicative of people that will subordinate their egos to a cause greater than themselves. Third, they take pride in their profession. They understand that professional sales people earn the customer’s trust by delivering on their promises, honoring their word.

Tom Reilly is the author of Value-Added Selling and Customer Service and Crush Price Objections is more than a department: It’s an attitude! Reilly is also a professional speaker and you may reach him through his Web site:

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