In the last episode I shared how Breakaway Sales performers are meticulous planners. This week let’s continue that conversation but exploring what further separates the top tier of sales pro’s from everybody else.

Understand The Gap in Sales Performance

I call the space, or difference, between the top 20% of sales performers and the bottom 80% – which is everybody else – the gap. That everybody else is, sorry to say it, consistently dragging sales organizations down. They’re dead weight. Sometimes they know it – they’re tired, bored, or were never energized in the first place. Often they don’t know it – they think they’re doing everything right, but they just can’t connect to the close the way the top reps can. Often there are a lot of excuses for underperformance – let’s see if we can continue to pinpoint some tactics the Breakaways do better than anybody else.

Prospecting With Purpose

Great sales pro’s spend the right amount of time selling and the right amount of time prospecting. What’s the right amount? There’s no magic formula – it depends on your industry, your organization, your customers and other aspects. It also depends on how much you have in your pipeline at any point in time, how strong your organization’s marketing engine is running. But your pipeline has to be full, so if it’s on you to fill it, expect to spend a lot of time prospecting. The key is to be prospecting with purpose.

Prospecting with purpose starts with identifying your key segment – what I call your Beachhead – and analyzing how you’ll approach it. Think creatively about this, and don’t just segment by demographics or psychodemographic. For instance I have a segment called nine by nine, and another I call five by five. That means I want to make nine prospect calls by nine o’clock when no one else is doing it and five by five means five more late afternoon when no one else is doing it.

I try to warm up the call by sending an email or even a good old fashioned snail mail. A week before, I want to warm the customer up, let them know who we are and have an expectation for my call. This is just discipline. This is just part of the pattern. It’s part of programming yourself to do these things every single day. It’s a discipline, you put it in the calendar, it’s sacred, no one gets that time, and you get after it.

Back Wheel Power

Beyond meticulous planning and high performance prospecting is what I call Back Wheel performance. Selling is like a bicycle. The back wheel is your power wheel, it makes that bicycle go. Its product knowledge, industry knowledge, competitive knowledge, and overcoming objections. The front wheel is the relationship wheel, with influencing skills to help you map a customer against a problem in a solution. It’s the wheel that allows you to take all that power to go where you want to go. The frame holds the two wheels together, and consists of your effective personal management, like time and territory management. So to that back wheel – you must have a real grasp of your products and services, and specifically how they fit into your customer’s industry segment or their company. You must learn to articulate that value with total clarity, and this is what Breakaway performers excel in doing.

Racing the Sales Bicycle

There’s so much more to come in future episodes, but as we start to emerge from a time of incredible uncertainty, now is the time to shed bad habits, engage in the right new ones, and start to learn how to ride your bike. Meticulous planning leads to the right mix of sales and prospecting, and to do both well it’s essential that you have the back wheel of product, industry, and customer knowledge to drive your front wheel of relationship and communication skills, held together by your ability to manage your time and territory. If any aspect of the bicycle is weak or lacking – well guess what. You’ll be racing your unicycle while competitors and colleagues learning to master Breakaway performance breeze by and leave you in the dust.

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