I'm often asked by fellow peers, "How do you consistently overachieve your number? How did you finish #1 in worldwide sales at back-to-back startups? What should I be doing differently? What do you attribute your success towards?"And the list goes on. Here's the good news. It's not hard to stand out of the crowd anymore. David Goggins, Navy SEAL and best selling author of "Can't Hurt Me" says:
It's so easy to be GREAT nowadays because everyone else is WEAK." So damn true. In my 15+ years of sales experience, I can tell you that 60-70% of the workforce is lazy and they don't truly work hard. Many come in late, leave early, cut corners wherever possible, complain endlessly, and blame others for their misfortunes. I'm sure right now you can think of at least 3-5 people at your job that fit this mold. The truth is, like anything you do, if you put in the work required to succeed - YOU WILL STAND OUT undoubtedly. This leads to the first reason why I consistently overachieve.
1. I SHOW UP
To be one of the elite, you need to SHOW UP. You must be present at all times. This means, not missing your prospecting hour that's blocked off, not missing your weekly sales training, taking out your existing customers on a consistent basis, being in front of your partners weekly so you're top of mind, being in constant communication with your leadership, attending your industry events, putting on your own events, posting on LinkedIn, etc. It amazes me how many sales reps I come across say they work hard but they don't do half of this basic shit. How the hell are you going to overachieve your number if you are not "present?" If nobody knows who you are, how are you going to sell anything? The guys and gals who are consistently at the bottom I can tell you are not "showing up." They skip this vital #1 step. Sales is just like exercise. It's easy to make up excuses why you can't go to the gym or why you can't go for a run. "It's snowing outside, I'm too tired, I don't have time, I got too much to do, I will go tomorrow." It's all bs excuses. Average sales reps say the same thing. They didn't prospect today because they were "too busy." They didn't attend attend their weekly sales training because it was recorded and they can "watch it later" - we know that's not happening. They don't take their existing customers out to lunch because "they already bought from me." They don't stay in front of their partners because "that's the channel person's job." They don't post on LinkedIn which just happens to be where their customers hang out. And just like exercise, if you don't "show up" on a consistent basis, your results stay "flat and fat." If you don't show up, how are you gonna fail? If you are not failing, how are you going to succeed?
I show up whenever I can, wherever I can. I've built a brand for myself because of it. My entire network knows what I do, knows who I work for, and can easily find me since I'm always present. I make it easy to do business with me.
"Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds" - Gordon Hinckley
The second thing I've observed over my years that has made me different is that I don't waste time. I don't waste my time, I don't waste my prospect's time, I don't waste my boss's time; I strive to not to waste anybody's time. Our day is too damn short. Life is too short. Wasting people's time is an outright sin and I hate when people waste my time.
2. I DON'T WASTE MY TIME
Let me start off by giving you an example of something I do that might be uncomfortable for you to do but I recommending giving a try. This is something that takes some swagger and some finesse to pull off but since I started doing it a few years back, I've brought back an endless amount of hours back to my day that were then used on revenue generating activities and my W-2 has skyrocketed. It's a simple question that I start every new meeting with a prospective customer:
"Why are we here?"
This one question changed the game for me. It opened up a lot of doors for me and even better, it closed doors for me. Closed doors? How is that better? Because it's not time wasted! Have you ever spent a shitload of your time on a prospect that you thought you were for sure gonna get a deal out of but never did because they weren't really qualified or it is the wrong person? Of course you have, we all have. These are the prospects that LOVE your product and wish they could have it. They tell you how this could solve all their problems. They can barely sit still during your presentation because of how excited they are (which also means they are not the decision-maker). They even flat out tell you, "We need this solution asap." Truth is, back in the day, I used to think this was a deal. I would even start calculating my commission in the parking lot after a meeting. I would soon be sorely disappointed because this person really had no budget, no timeframe, no need for change, had no juice, hadn't looked at anything else yet, and ultimately this "deal" ends up being a tremendous time suck. Just because someone loves your product doesn't mean there is a deal there.
The difference between the home run hitters and those that strike out is that the big hitters sniff out these "looky-loos" early and often and move away quickly so they can focus their time where it matters. So how do you know what's real and what's not? That's a whole other article but I can tell you one way to get pointed down the right path from the start is to ask, "Why are we here?" You are busy, your prospect is busy, what is the REAL reason for them to take this meeting? Is there an urgent project? Is there a new regime that's driving for a change? Are they enduring a lot of pain with their current solution? Or, did they take the meeting because they wanted to get you to stop calling? Or, are they just "looking" to see what solutions are out there? Or, my all-time favorite, they took the meeting because marketing gave them a gift card for it. Whatever the reason is, when you ask this important question (and shut up after you ask it), they will spill most, if not all the beans. I have had customers go on 10 minute tangents and answer pretty much every qualifying question I was gonna ask without me asking. In any case, the customer tees up the entire purpose of the meeting for you by you asking this question. It will either point you towards a deal or the door. If you are told, "I'm just looking" or, "Honestly, I just took the meeting because of the gift card"or "No reason in particular..." you should proceed with extreme caution and work towards getting the hell out (respectfully).
"Focus on being productive, not busy." - Tim Ferris
Another way I don't waste any time is how I spend "downtime" throughout the work week (which I consider to be things like driving to and from appointments, working out at the gym, before bed time, when I first wake up, etc). I use those minutes to self-educate. How are you spending your "downtime?" Are you checking Facebook & Instagram? Are you watching TV? Are you playing video games? Are you watching cat videos on YouTube? This is a horrible use of precious time. The rich, the poor, the middle class all have one thing in common that will never change. We have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8,760 hours in a year. Life is short. Every minute is precious and if you don't spend your downtime doing something that makes you grow physically, mentally, and financially - just know that you are directing yourself towards mediocrity. A Players, Big Hitters, Billionaires, are all spending their downtime to invest in themselves and their future.
"Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune." - Jim Rohn
This leads us to my third and top priority which is to invest in yourself.
3. I INVEST IN MYSELF
Investing in yourself is the most important thing any successful person will advise you to do. This is truly what separates the strong from the weak, the smart from the stupid, and the rich from the poor. I have to admit, after college, I didn't invest in myself. Other than working out at the gym here and there (in a half ass manner), I did nothing but spend my free time chasing girls at bars and curing hangovers. I did this for the first 10 years of my career. I would put in my 40 hours of bare minimum work and then tailor the rest of my time towards partying and socializing. It wasn't until 2012 that it dawned on me that I wasn't getting better at really anything in my life and at the rate I was going, I would have probably be dead if I didn't change. My relationships were a revolving door, my career was less than stagnant, my fitness level was mediocre, I hadn't read a book since college, and my overall health was deteriorating from the excessive partying. Joe Paterno once said, "If you're not getting better, you're getting worse" and that was definitely my case. I soon realized that this was not the life I wanted to live and knew I was better than this. So...I got my shit together. I started spending my spare time taking care of me. I hit the gym every day. I changed my diet. I cut back the drinking and going out. I starting reading self-help books. I started listening to sales podcasts. I starting pushing myself to be the top rep at work. I started investing in myself everywhere I could. The result: I earned more money in the next 5 years than I did in the last 10 by threefold. I got in the best shape of my life. I focused on relationships that would take me somewhere (which led me to my beautiful wife and two amazing children) and I felt more confident than ever before. Self-education has made me feel like I can conquer the world.
“Invest in yourself or no one else will – stop being afraid of what could go wrong & start getting excited about what could go right.” - Tony Robbins
Start reading books. Don't like reading, then start listening to them (download Audible). Listen while you're driving, working out, while you get ready for work, before you go to bed, etc. Start listening to sales podcasts. They keep you current and keep you sharp (here are the one's I recommend: "The Top 5 Podcasts That Will Make You Rich."). Start working out and work out like you mean it. It's not only good for your health it does wonders for your confidence. Remember, if you can't take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of others? Self-educate as much as possible folks. This will take you all the way to the top in everything you do, not just selling.