What winning salespesople and firms have in common

I was recently invited to a sales achievement awards ceremony and a few things stood out for me. The most prominent one (selling ethically) was the topic of last week’s column. Today we focus on the other five.

The event was held at a prestigious hotel in town. The naysayers will look to this as a company merely observing its image, but that’s only one aspect: the other, which I chose to adopt, was a company wishing to develop, in the mind’s eye of the salespeople, an image of aspiration, and therefore a desire to achieve. Some things like the desire to strive and be better at what one does cannot be instilled by telling; showing on the other hand stands a greater chance of teaching that lesson.

The second thing that stood out for me was the schedule. It was an event held at breakfast time. We were done by 9am having started at 7.30am. The company respected the salespeople’s time and also knew that because a salesperson is only as good as his last sale, releasing him early enough to face more opportunities makes good business sense. For this reason they were not only focused, they also stayed focused on the subject matter of the morning.

Next, the hall was packed. In total we must have been over 300. The winners however, were about 5% of the crowd. From an army of hundreds only a handful were generals and colonels. And so it is about sales. Those who stand out do so like an oasis in the desert. As for the multitude most watch and wonder; others gossip and downplay the winning; sadly, only a select few, feel sufficiently inspired to learn and emulate. It is true what they say about personal development-many eagerly embrace it’s theory but then shoot themselves in the foot because deep down they really don’t want to change because it means going outside a comfort zone and this is work, change. The sea is full of fish; it’s not full of sharks. As for the sharks in the hall, most bit and bit again, tearing away award after award, with merciless abandon. They had no apologies for winning.

The other thing that shone like a beacon was the winners. It confirmed to me what is pretty obvious but still hits me between the eyes again when it happens. There was nothing special about the array of winners. They came in all shapes, size, gender, height and complexion- just like the”losers”. In fact, standing in a parade you wouldn’t tell one from the other. There was absolutely nothing special about the winners’ physical features. There were short and tall ones; plump and slim ones; dark-skinned and light skinned too; jovial and the stern; impeccably groomed and presentable. Engaging with them, it was evident there were eloquent ones but also those not so eloquent too. And such is the thing about winning-it’s got nothing to do with physical features and everything to do with the mental; nothing to do with the visible but everything to do with the invisible; nothing to do with what the crowd sees, but everything to do with what it doesn’t, as is hidden in the salesperson’s mind.

The fifth thing that cannot go unmentioned is the presence of the company’s full top brass. Like attracts like. The event was about celebrating winners, awarding those who have grown the company’s bottom line. The CEO freely and proudly mingled with them. Achieving is not about becoming CEO-that’s only one way. Winning is being the best you can in your chosen field. The top salesperson in a company most probably has the CEO’s ear; I know one who has that of the Chairman of the board.

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