Chuck Mache asked:
Have you ever closely examined why some people are wildly successful at selling, meeting and exceeding every goal placed in front of them, while others lack either the self motivation or certain key skill sets to get them to their next level of growth and performance? After all, they all have the same product, the same tools, and the same compensation structure. They’ve all been through the same sales management-training program. In my experience of 25 years selling, building sales organizations and leading and managing thousands of salespeople, the answer has to do with the fact that virtually all sales’ organizations are comprised of four different kinds of salespeople:
1. The Performers – The Top Producers
These high achieving sales executives are the best at bringing in the numbers, but chances are that you spend a fair share of your time cleaning up her messes. Seems like they’re either sky-high or down in the dumps. When the performer is down, they are out of their selling zone, and productivity comes to a standstill. But when the performer is up, look out world!
2. The Professional – Another Top Producer
This top producer is very consistent, a total team player, even tempered, patient, and consistently bringing in the numbers. Professionals are also part of the elite members on the sales team, but they seem to be missing some opportunities that would catapult them to super stardom if they made some slight changes to their selling game. Instead, they stick to self-proven conservative approaches.
3. The Caretaker – Stuck In A Major Comfort
These are the sales executives that are simply stuck in their lackluster comfort zonesâ€”giving you a solid month about every third month, or giving you about seventy percent of what they have all the time. They have the potential, but they’re consistently mediocre. You just can’t get them to perform the difficult tasks that it takes to produce at top levels with any regularity. Worse yet, they’re passive aggressive. You say to yourself, “If I could only wake them up, they’d be right up there with the best.”
I was giving a speech on “Four People, Four Paths” to a leading company in the California real estate industry where I was emphasizing the importance of knowing exactly who you are. While I was quoting my book The Four Kinds of Sales People and explaining in detail the struggles and breakthrough opportunities for each of the four kinds of sales people, a woman in the audience yelled out, “Oh my God, I’m a Caretaker!” The crowd laughed and I congratulated her on her honesty and pointed out to her (and others who were not so forthright) the tremendous opportunity that existed if she made the conscious decision to change and begin doing the difficult things that it takes to produce top results on a consistent basis.
4. The Searcher – The One That Belongs In Any Career But Sales
All sales leaders have made some bad hiring decisions that result in sales reps that just don’t belong in sales. They perceived a sales career to be easy and they were wrong. Producing top sales is hard work. These misfits are consumed with fear, and if truth be told, they honestly hate sales. They have no real intention of making the necessary changes to be successful. You’re better off helping them find more fulfilling careers.
My point is that while the individual make-up of sales forces may vary, there are always only four kinds. Management’s goal is to get the best to keep getting better while building a team with as many top producers as possible. That means management must influence those that are “stuck” in their comfort zone to break through to the next level. That means management must perform the unenviable task of helping those that don’t belong to find other career paths. In my experience, management gets too preoccupied with these two challenges and neglects the opportunity to get their top producers to reach for their next level of achievement. They have more potential. That’s why they’re the best. And can be even better.
If you want sales to improve, particularly in highly competitive sales environments, then leaders must create a growth-oriented atmosphere that thrives on constant improvement, regardless of market conditions. By the way, that means leaders and managers must also be striving to break through to their next level as well. Sales is about creating and sustaining momentum, and then creating even more of it. Consistently.