Mark Richardson: What it takes to be a sales superstar

Top gun sales people know that, now more than ever, changing and evolving what they did in the past is not only important, but essential to see strong results.

July 06, 2011
Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson

I recently met a young remodeling sales consultant who is determined to become a top gun salesperson within the next year or two. I asked him what he was doing to position himself to reach this goal. He said he has a top gun mentor whom he is trying to emulate and to learn from.
He spends several hours a week with his mentor on sales calls while he is conducting presentations. He asks a lot of questions before and after these performances. He sees this process as his sales university.
While most of us know mastering sales can take many years, it is also a learned process and is about successful habits. Maintaining a top gun status is not about sitting back on laurels and tested techniques.
Top gun sales people know that, now more than ever, changing and evolving what they did in the past is not only important, but essential to see strong results. There are many high level sales performers from five to seven years ago that are not at the top today.
But even with the tough sales environment 10 to 20 percent of salespeople are not only having good years, but in many cases they are setting new records. The following are a few attributes and qualities of this top gun class.

No. 1: Attitude

Top gun salespeople today have positive attitudes. They see negative attitudes as a disease or a cancer that they must stay away from.
Top gun salespeople do not let the latest negative news in the media effect them. They see themselves as the “voice of reason” for their clients. Today’s top guns understand that negative thinking and fear also needs to be reduced in order for the clients to come on board.

No. 2: Work ethic

Top gun sales people realize they need to work harder to see the same or better results as they did in the go-go times.
While they believe in a balanced life, they are ON 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This time may be directly or indirectly related to sales. If they are not working on a sale, they are working on things that can generate more future opportunities.
Because the times require creative thinking, this switch is always on. Today’s top guns understand that their clients need more attention, more care and feeding than the past, and that it is their job to provide it.

No. 3: Pace

Today’s top gun fully realizes that time is fleeting; it is not on your side. They are focused on their clients with a sense of urgency. If the client does not have a sense of urgency, then they are masterful at helping their clients create a sense of urgency.
In years past it was reasonable to get back to clients in a week or so with a proposal. Today it is two to three days. The top gun is fleet-of-foot and paces the sales activity to do whatever it takes to react quickly. Because this is the season of unpredictability, the top gun does not assume a prospect will be there tomorrow. They get it done today.

While there are many other specific top gun sales techniques, such as team selling, indirect marketing and making the buying process easy, the previous themes are the common thread found in most top gun salespeople.
Finding top guns is harder than developing them. If they have the internal motivation — like the fellow I met — to become a top gun
salesperson, they have already set themselves apart. They are more likely to make it to that elite class than other would-be diamonds in the rough.
Your top gun may be found by looking in the mirror or across the aisle. To grow and gain real market share, top gun salespeople and approaches are the easiest way to get there.

Mark Richardson is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson is the author of the best-selling book, “How Fit is Your Business,” and a forthcoming book, “Business Themes to Live By,” to be published this fall.

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