Sales Stars: Defenders Of The Galaxy


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Have you ever wondered how two companies can offer a similar service but one is good and the other is bad.  I believe that often the cause of the bad service offering is rooted in the culture of the leadership of that organization.  Typically there is a culture of arrogance that starts with the leadership but permeates throughout the organization.  These companies become complacent and aloofly feel that their offer is great (as is), and refuse to listen to feedback from prospects.  Please realize that I am not referring to customer feedback.  If they are already customers, most companies (even arrogant ones) will listen or even seek customer feedback.  The feedback I am referring to is from prospects; those who have recently bought and those who did not.  The insight into what about your offer is compelling, and what is not, lies within this group.  Possessing this buyer knowledge is invaluable to any organization looking to grow and evolve their offer into one that buyers cannot refuse.  Where can you obtain this precious information?

This information comes from Sales Stars.

In case you have trouble spotting them,

Look Here,

They are consistently in the top half of your sales performance indication list for revenue production. They have the ability to give great sales presentations, the ability to sell when others aren’t, and the ability to manage their time effectively. But one thing that often gets overlooked is that the very best salespeople in the world are also a kind of corporate Special Forces. They are Commandos in the war against mediocrity.  They are fierce competitors, always on guard against anything that would jeopardize the business that they have earned and most of all, the voice of the customer to their own organization.

Managing top performers is not always an easy task.  A balance needs to be struck between challenging them to be the best they can be and leaving them alone so they do not feel micromanaged.  Anyone who has managed, been managed by or is a top sales performer can attest to the many personality quirks that come along with elite performers.  However, a common thread among the best of the best is that they have little tolerance for anything that could tarnish their reputation.  To that end, when the company they represent drops the ball, they are the squeakiest wheel.  Any company would do well to listen attentively to their top performers and to adjust their operations accordingly.

The Upper Management Eclipse

It is common these days to see sales management executives concerned primarily with the appearance of their performance, instead of the efficacy of it.  Many times, these sales managers focus more on what will make them look good to their direct reports instead of focusing on how their company can do good for their most important investors – their customers.

Often times, organizations get stuck doing the same thing over and over again but in today’s economic climate that just doesn’t cut it.  Listen to your sales leaders – they have the direct knowledge of how your company is perceived by those who truly matter most.  If you want to know where to invest in your offering, if you want to know which initiatives to pursue, and if you want to know how you’re really doing as a company, just ask your top sales performers.  Better than any crystal ball is the insight of those who’s very living depends upon living up to their word.  When their word depends upon the performance of others, salespeople get understandably sensitive when other people don’t live up to their end of the bargain.  In every salesperson’s job description, right along with new business development goals, there should be a section that clearly appoints them and explicitly charges them with the task of holding their own organization accountable to deliver on its promises.

No one else has this depth of insight and clarity of vision into the things that make or break sales effectiveness.  No other department has this level of motivation to get and keep customers.  We all know that effective sales are the lifeblood of any organization.  Even if your salespeople are telling you things you don’t want to hear, and even if you have some serious doubts about their motivation for doing so, try to glean some thread of truth from the things that they are saying.  It just might be that you will find that the words and thoughts of your sales stars are truly prophetic and might help you avoid fiscal catastrophe.  My recommendation is, if you currently do not have a forum to share brutally honest feedback, put it at the top of your to do list; you will thank me later.

Obviously, this type of ‘voice of sales/voice of prospect’ forum must not be allowed to supplant selling activity, but if you hire the right people, this will not be an issue.

Please share ideas for establishing an effective forum for sales input.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Tyner
Need to build relationships with key decision makers? KinetiCast enables you to create send and track a personalized pitch to the right person at the right time. Connecting you to prospects and customers. Take Cold-calling, Qualifying, Sales Call prep and follow-up and, large account management to new levels.


  1. David: this is thought provoking. But gad! My experiences and approaches are much different. But since you requested ideas, in the interest of time, I’ll focus on the differences, and not on where we agree (though we do on a few things).

    Mainly, the idea of evolving vendor offerings into solutions that buyers ‘can’t refuse’ warps strategies and tactics because (short of blackmail and coercion) buyers can always refuse. That fact will shape much more effective strategies and tactics than trying to reach an unreachable objective.

    Second, no portion of a salesperson’s job should be to holding the organization accountable to deliver on its promises . . . unless . . . selling is not what the organization really needs the salesperson to accomplish (Been there, done that. Won’t do it again). The organization is accountable to the salesperson to deliver what the customer expects, and it’s the salesperson’s manager’s job to hold his or her peers accountable.

    Third, agreed! Some sales stars have great customer insight. But how do you define a ‘sales star?’ Percent of goal? If Tim is 110%, he’s a star. But what if Tim is making his number on selling legacy products to two “cash cow” clients–and getting his rear end kicked everywhere else in his territory? Does he have better insight than Troy (85% of goal), but who is managing a greenfield territory?

    I’ve seen many top performers who are set in their ways, and don’t have a full picture of the selling challenges that others face. I’d recommend casting the insight net much wider, and even solicit the opinions salespeople failing to make goal. I’ve found more often than not, they know what customers want, and what they don’t want. Because for them, something isn’t working, and they often know the cause. Shouldn’t we go after their opinions, insights and knowledge–rather than just putting them “on plan.”

    But for me, the direct opinions of customers and prospects–and non-customers and non-prospects–yields the closest we can get to “the truth.”

  2. Andrew,
    Thank you for your comments, I agree with what you have laid out here. Just to clarify, the main message of this post is to listen to prospects. A customer is the best source for refining customer service and product performance improvement.

    A prospect, especially one who did not buy is one of the best untapped resources to gain precious insight into what it takes to refine a sales message. If a sales message cannot be refined, simply because a company cannot live up to the claims, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

    Andrew, similar to your post about sweeping sales problems under the rug, this idea is about establishing a forum to hear from the frontline soldiers who have unique insight into what is motivating prospects to buy or not. Again, the minute the prospect becomes a customer, they have already sipped the Kool-Aid, and may not the most objective of observers. I am looking for testimonials, then I don’t mind Randy or Paula. But if I’m looking to refine my sales message and sell more I need Simon and a lot of it.

    I really appreciate your insight into the fact that organizations should cast a wide net even beyond people who are at the top of sales performance reporting. I wholeheartedly agree with this and want to reiterate that it was more about performers were consistently in the top half of their peers. By looking at people who are consistently top performers in the top 50% say, it avoids looking to the edge case individuals who are the recipients of a lucky bounce or two.
    Again thank you very much for your thoughtful comments.



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