Here’s great insight I learned from inside a team of elite sales coaches at giant South African finance firm, Old Mutual.
They began a programme around 1999 specifically tailored to top performers.
It was called “Managing Your Practice”. The title derived from aiming to be seen in similar light to a doctor by clients. Eluding to the care you must take over your prospects being akin to that you’d expect in a surgery.
They looked on the numbers and invited only the country’s top 25 salespeople.
The two-and-a-half day retreat began with each attendee candidly writing where they, individually and as one of the best, wanted to get better.
Apparently the usual suspects emerged most; broaden account base, sell-in more products, shorten cycles.
A key thrust of the course was how to be “extraordinary”.
It was nailing this in the mind of the customer that was considered to make the crucial difference.
Before the farewell lunch, each confidentially shared their list of ideas they were going to go back and work through.
My initial reaction was how inspired a discipline to take only the cream.
I’ve delivered countless days of sales training. And I loathe the one-size-fits all story.
All salespeople are not created equal. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to segment your sellers in pretty much the same way you might do so with your target market.
Also, I cannot use polite words to explain my disdain for two particular types of attendee that are equally venomous. Not just for the course in hand, but the whole salesteam they are part of.
First you have the trundlers. They think they are good. Their figures suggest otherwise. Yet somehow they stay in post. Clinging on. So what do they, those most in need, do during the sessions? Flick through their smartphones. That’s what.
Next you have the self-styled number ones. Even worse, they may well indeed be near the top of the pile. And they know it. In fact, they think they know it all. Surely this is a waste of their time. And they can’t bear to share their wisdom with colleagues. So they disengage. There in body, but not mind. Dismissive, disturbing, destructive. What a shocking example to set.
So why let these toxic attitudes seep into the rest of the team?
And I can see how making the grade for the extra-special training could be a real incentive too.