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What Does Sales Greatness Look Like?

In meeting with an individual or executives, I often hear, “I/we want to be great (or even good).”

It’s often expressed:

  • “I want to be a great sales person!”
  • “I want to be a great sales leader!”
  • “I want to have a great sales team!’
  • “I want this sales/call meeting to go great!”
  • “I want to do great deals!”

The concept and aspiration can be applied to virtually anything we do, down to the most minute level–a great email prospecting campaign.

Riddle Me This

After people describe this, I ask, “What does greatness look like?”

Most of the time people look at me cross-eyed, “Well, it’s just great!”  Or, “I’ll know it when I see it.”

Alternatively, they describe it in other vague terms, “I want to hire only A players, I want us to be seen as a leader.”

Or it’s expressed in outcomes, “Exceed quota.”  To this, I normally ask, “how do you know you are doing the things that enable you to exceed quota?”

These responses provoke me to respond, “How do you know what drives greatness in those areas?

Again, they look at me cross-eyed, often they say, “Typical consultant, just asking esoteric questions!”

Find the Context

But then we dive into it.  There’s usually a context that we focus on.

For example in hirings, “What’s an A player look like?”  If we don’t have a “picture” of greatness, for example a Sales Competency Model, how do we know what we should be looking for. What attitudes, behavior, experiences, skills, competencies do we look for that indicate the person is likely to be an A player?  How do we sort through all the candidates we might consider if we don’t have picture of greatness against we evaluate each candidate?

If we are struggling to win or maximize our win rate and share, we need to focus on our sweet spot. “What’s your ideal customer look like?” Who are the customers that have the problems we solve?  How do we characterize them richly? Within the enterprises, who owns the problems we solve?

If we struggle with winning when we compete, “What’s a great deal strategy look like?”  If we have no sales process and aren’t using it, then we aren’t executing the things we need to do to win. The sales process represents our best experiences at winning.  It represents the starting point from which we develop and execute our deal strategies.

If we struggle to execute high impact sales calls, consistently getting customers to move things forward, “What’s a great sales call look like?”  Now that we know what great sales calls look like, we can develop sales call plans, we can design meetings that enable us to consistently execute great sales calls.

If we want healthy pipelines, we need to model a healthy pipeline, we have to have to establish metrics and goals for what a great pipeline looks like, so we understand what we need to do to get there.

If we want to performers, we need to define what great performance looks like and set performance expectations–which is more than just setting quota.

We need to understand what greatness looks like for everything we do in sales.

We can’t aim for greatness, or even goodness in anything unless we can visualize/articulate what greatness or goodness looks like.

We have all sorts of tools to help us identify what greatness is, I wonder why we choose not to use them?

david-brockDavid Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more of his blogs here.

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