"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."
~ Wayne Gretzky
I'm perplexed and pondering on the direction to stay the course with my blog. When I started blogging, it was clear to me to share my knowledge accumulated from 20 plus years of successful sales results. I thought perhaps others would be interested in what I did or how I thought I may have done things differently to gain the notoriety and claim to fame I did in sales. I took a look at most of the infamous sales bloggers, trainers and professional online coaches out there in 2010.
I began my journey by just telling it like it is. Of course, attempting to take into account, most people think sales folk are braggarts, boosted egos and smooth talkers. I didn't think, nor did my career seem to prove, that in order to be successful in sales you had unique and different qualities of mass perception.
The qualities of success in sales, in my opinion, in my own path, seem to prove otherwise. I uphold my stand .. those that are successful in sales put their customer first, their organization second, and themselves last. Ironically, they end up being first, their customer second and organizations second and their personal lives last. Ultimately, their results uphold them first with their company, first with their customers to the detriment of their personal lives.
"Every strike brings me closer to the other home run."
So how does one manage such a split expectation? How do you balance the needs of your company, take care of your customers' wants while being considered among the best? Great question.
Most top performers do it instinctively. Even more, have a passion for serving their customers. The top tier take care of their customers while ultimately understanding the needs of their organization. Unfortunately, those same people are bench marked as high achievers. To the demise of their colleague relationships, personal life balance.
What drives them? Another great question. The desire to be the best? Sorta,... to be sure. To see their name at the top of the marquee,...probably. To have their competitors know their name,... very likely. To be the first name their customer(s) think of when they have a problem to be solved or a need to be solved ... definitely, not a maybe, so.
Many organizations, sales cultures, try to examine their best performers into predictive metrics for hiring. Often resulting in not achieving the ultimate utopia in sales personality or performance. Why is it so difficult?
I would say because there is disconnect between the organizational culture, the human resources hiring process, the sales management process and the evaluation metrics.
Call it an instinct. Think about it. Companies outsource the hiring to a third party "Sales #1 Recruiting Organization" with impressive power points, convincing story, with impressive credentials of the person or those assigned to deliver the perfect candidates on a silver platter.
I think back to asking one of my greatest mentors and examples Jim T***, when he had moved on and I asked to get together with him in panic, gasping that I had just been assigned the responsibility of hiring and managing a sales team.
Jim's advice? Hire em, train em and send them out into a territory, then watch them like a hawk. That is probably the operative most organizations use for their sales force. Some with bigger pockets will have a third party do the hiring, a third party consultant establish the metrics and then an under trained sales manager manage by metrics. Least of their qualities is how to motivate an achiever, (Unless they examine the best professional coaches on how to extract the highest achievement from their players. Egos, financial reward, notoriety, distractions aside.)
I imagine if I didn't have the mentoring I had, the patience allowed me, nor brutal metrics to compare me with, I would never have tested the waters, got into the groove and figured out instinctively what questions to ask, who to speak to, and how to establish customers' evaluation and continuation of business as the true metrics.
The best of the best understand all of the matters aforementioned. They ultimately hold the desires of their personal lives foremost. That may be shocking to many. The best strive to meet goals in their personal lives that they understand sales can allow them to achieve. Besides the risk of entrepreneurship, savvy sales professionals strive to put their family and goals first, knowing instinctively that exceeding their companies sales goals, how they fit into that picture, matches their personal goals.
The ultimate achievers get it that they will not meet any of those goals without having customer advocates. The only way they can have advocates is by asking the right questions, solving the right problems, fixing the right issues to the exceptional satisfaction of their customers.
It is like playing dominoes. One cannot fall into place with the others without everything being held in place and then continue on in succession and with consistency.
So go ahead, hire those consultants. Use those clever diagnostics to predict the outcome of a candidate. Realistically, like sifting sand to leave only a minuet grains left, that is what your sales predictably leaves you with.
There is no magically formula. The best of the best exude metrics, diagnostics and examinations. They are unique. They know who they are. Do you?
"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."
~Franklin D. Roosevelt