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The Top 1%

Most of us drive a car, and I’m sure we all believe we drive reasonably, or even very well. So what do the racing drivers like Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel do to put them in the Top 1% of their profession?

The top 1% of any profession don’t only do things better than the bottom 99%, they do things differently!

  • Lewis Hamilton spends an hour every day just exercising his neck.
  • The 2003 Rugby World Cup winning team did eye exercises so they could react more quickly
  • What do you do differently to the bottom 99%?

When we look at our own roles in sales or account management we do the things we feel we should. We rarely spend time looking for the things we can do differently.

We also seldom take the time to link up all of our activity to identify where and how we can do things differently.

This puts us in the bottom 99% of our profession. It doesn’t feel good to be told that, but if we’re honest this is true.

So how do we do things differently? What can we do to become that top 1% of our profession?

For starters take some time to assess our own routine, look at what we do daily, weekly or even monthly and ask ourselves: Why? What am I doing and how can I do it better?

We need to be dedicated, the top 1% do all the little things (as well as the big things) to the best of their ability, all of the time. This is what sets them aside from the bottom 99%.

So when we relate this to our sales roles, do we always follow the same qualification framework, asking the same questions to new and old customers? Do we just assume we know the answer to the questions we need to ask, or take for granted it’s the same as the last time we asked? Chances are it’s the same, but unless we ask them we’re not doing all the little things as best as we can, all the time.

How about that deal we’re working on and hoping to close soon. Did we do everything we could to understand our customers’ needs? Was there a compelling event we missed in the conversation? Do we know the full decision making unit and their critical success factors? If we didn’t follow the exact process to find this information we are not doing what the top 1% do all the time.  If the deal comes off and we say ‘that was lucky I was hoping that would happen’ then we certainly didn’t. Hope is not a strategy!

Practice not only makes perfect it makes permanent. By continually going over every deal and looking at why we didn’t get it, or what won it for us, we can start building our winning process. This is what the top 1% do, and guess what? They do it all the time.

As Account Managers, do we know who else within the company we should be speaking to? Do we have a contact plan? A Sales Target Assurance Plan? Because you can bet your bottom dollar that the top 1% will have.

They wouldn’t settle for just one contact, or even two. The top 1% would know who was next in-line to step up, should their primary contact decide to leave, in fact they would have already had a meeting with that person. We may think that going higher is always better, and in some cases we’re right, a CEO or Director is great person to have a relationship with but not the only person. We need to understand our customers, know what they are thinking, what’s going on within the company and who works with who. Not only do we earn respect by doing this, we will earn their trust. Again this is what the top 1% do.  Are we doing it?

Take training as another one, Rod Stewart still takes singing lessons after all these years, do we grasp every opportunity to better ourselves or do we sit back and think “There’s not much more someone can teach me that I don’t already know.’

There are many other examples of where we can be better and do things differently, but you get the picture. To be in the top 1% we not only have to think outside the box so to say, but think of what’s in our box and how well we do that, and can we do it any better or differently.

Do you have the potential to be in the top 1%?