I have been extremely fortunate in my career to have outstanding mentors in both my professional and personal life. My father gave me a quote early on that still rings true many years later and applies to all facets of life “The harder you work the luckier you get”. Sure there will be times an associate will land the bluebird opportunity which may temporarily take them to the top. The stay at the top for these folks is fleeting and their claim to fame is no more than a”flash in the pan”
The individuals consistently at the top of their profession have common characteristics. It has nothing to do with bluebirds. One of the most important characteristics is they all add value every day. This applies to direct sales contributors as well as sales management. (I view the sales team as management’s internal customers) The superstars view every customer touch as an opportunity. One of my personal goals has always been when I finished a customer meeting; they would thank me for my time. This is a paradigm shift because traditionally it has been the other way around. Why not? If you made them money, helped retain a customer, fixed a problem, made them more efficient or improved their political position with the company. Is it odd to expect a thank you? I contend it is not and have experienced the gratitude for adding value to their world.
We are experiencing historical challenges in terms of the job market. Regardless of the industry or chosen profession I can tell you there is an undeniable truth if you are adding value every day. It’s simple you become VALUABLE!
At a networking event recently the discussion was team performance and production. Again it is my belief the team leaders entrusted with managing sales teams and those who consistently deliver above average results have common characteristics. There are many who believe in the 80-20 rule. Simply put 80% of the production will be done by 20% of the team. This is a slippery slope and not the common thread among superstar managers. The one characteristic that is timeless in regards to high level production and relates to a team environment is “FULL PARTICIPATION”. Take a look at any championship baseball or football team. Baseball for example, the stats of the first 6 players in a championship lineup have a batting average between 275-325. Full participation! There is a reason the two teams in the Super Bowl have the highest number of players voted all pro. They perform at the highest level by their position. I hired and managed a regional sales team that led the nation in performance 34 out of 36 months. They were just like some of the dominating Yankee teams of the past including the personalities. As the sales manager it was my job to push the right buttons and insure as a team we had full participation.
What were those buttons? That is a discussion for another day.
Elton Ashford has 22 Years successful sales and sales management experience with AT&T Mobility and Qwest. He has held professional sales and sales management roles in which he has consistently overachieved and has been recognized as being in the top 10% of production year over year during his tenure. Elton has lead senior sales professionals in fortune 100 accounts and mentored many of those professionals in to senior leadership positions within the sales and business development organizations. He currently he is a strategic account director for Qwest Communications.