Required Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming The Ultimate Sales Pro

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Truly successful salespeople—those who experience success even while others struggle—have skills that go beyond the foundational. That’s the premise of The Ultimate Sales Pro: What the Best Salespeople Do Differently. Associate Editor Sam Del Rowe spoke with author Paul Cherry, a sales coach and founder of Performance-Based Results, to find out more.

CRM magazine: What are some of the major challenges facing salespeople today ?

Paul Cherry: Sales managers are stretched, which means less time for one-on-one interaction, training, and development.

There’s also less climbing the traditional sales career ladder within one company. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salesperson will change jobs 12 to 15 times; a lot of companies don’t want to invest if the typical salesperson is not going to stay around.

More salespeople have access to and submit call activities in some type of CRM, which is critically important today. It helps monitor their activities and assess progress. The trap is when managers let the CRM do the managing for them. If sales are down, [a bad] sales manager might say, “Make more calls.” A good sales manager will get on the call to coach the rep to get more sales.

Can you elaborate on the assertion that salespeople need to take empowerment into their own hands?

A good analogy would be getting a college education. Tuition has skyrocketed, yet most people find ways to fund and pursue degrees. Many get loans, grants, etc. They’re taking action, taking ownership, becoming empowered. It’s the same after they graduate. They can’t expect companies to fund and support ongoing professional development; they have to take responsibility.

Ultimate sales pros don’t expect or wait for opportunities, funds, or resources to be handed to them. They don’t react to just the here and now; they think and act like a CEO, always thinking a year or more ahead. Ultimate sales pros are planning, mapping out where they will be, how they are getting there, and taking steps.

What are some of the qualities of ultimate sales pros? 

They have an entrepreneurial/business owner mind-set: They don’t just perceive themselves as sales professionals but as strategic partners/business advisers to their customers, planning ahead to help customers grow, thrive, expand, differentiate, and compete. 

They manage time wisely: They don’t try to be everything to everyone. The typical salesperson is on the phone or face-to-face two hours a day. The rest of the time is doing emails, quotes, customer service, problem solving, meetings, etc. They make sure they spend time and resources with customers and prospects willing to do business with them.

They ask thought-provoking questions. They go beyond touching base, checking in, and “What can I do for you today?” That wastes time, and the salesperson who sells that way only gets a slice of the pie. Ultimate sales pros are motivated to get the whole pie; they deliver much more value; they have a thorough grasp of their customers’ needs [and can] upsell and cross-sell a complete and impactful solution.

How does a salesperson become an ultimate sales pro?

Simple—get off one’s duff and act. Rather than thinking about making a sales call, stop procrastinating. Pick up the phone. 

Take 15 minutes a day to study and review one concept on a sales YouTube channel, blog, or book. Rehearse, write it down to practice the very next day, and document results.

Stop doing low-productive activities that could be delegated to others in the organization. Ultimate sales pros find activities to minimize, delegate, or stop doing and easily add another three to five hours of selling time.

How do ultimate sales pros benefit the customer? 

The ultimate sales pro goes beyond pleasing, serving, nurturing, making the customer feel good, and getting the customer to like him. Ultimate sales pros push, prod, challenge, and motivate customers to step outside their comfort zones, to see the bigger picture, to turn dreams into an actual plan, to see the risks and how best to avoid them. 

Ultimate sales pros have the customers’ best interest [in mind] and won’t hesitate to hold customers accountable. They want to see them succeed. When the customer wins, the ultimate sales pro wins. Now that is a win-win.

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