It was a San Francisco elevator ride that started me thinking. I was hired to work with eight different sales teams for a client. They were scattered around the country and the project was going to take a full three months to get done. I was in the heart of research that would become my book, The 21 Secrets of Million Dollar Sellers. Each office had three levels of salespeople (my nicknames):
- Up and Comers: They were young and were just starting to build a book of business. They were Tier 3 with production numbers in the $250,000 to $400,000. They were hungry and eager to learn, plus they were under pressure to make the next Tier. There were also veteran sales folks comfortable in the amount of work and revenue at this level.
- Solid as a Rock: These Tier 2 producers were in the $500,000 to $750,000 range. They were seasoned salespeople and the company hoped they were working hard to make Tier 3.
- Pinnacle Performers: These were the elite sales kings and queens. They were million dollar plus producers and most often industry leaders.
I had the opportunity to work with all three tiers in eight different districts.
OK, back to the elevator. I was working with a Tier 2 salesperson that so resembled Brad Pitt that I’m sure people asked him for autographs. We were heading to the offices of an oil and gas executive that the salesman had met at a party. I asked him about his first-time interaction strategy. He told me; “I work it out on the ride up.” WHAT? “I’ve done this a thousand times.” How many times have you met with this potential client? “First time.” WHAT?
What a True Professional Looks Like
There are dozens and dozens of definitions of professional and I’m pretty sure a 90 second level of preparation isn’t in any of them.
Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith are the original Broadway stars of the epic hit Wicked (my second favorite musical of all time, next to Les Mis). Between 2003 and 2005 they did almost 1,000 performances and hundreds of rehearsals. Each performance had to be brilliant. Why? Despite the number of times they sang the same songs, recited the same lines, stood in the same correct spot they knew their jobs;
“ All we ever have is just the next performance. We aren’t promised anything more. To us, EVERYONE in that audience is seeing Wicked for the first time. We owe them spectacular.”
Professionals see the big picture and understand the potential of their impact. They hold themselves personally accountable for their performance. They are constantly building themselves into something better.
That elevator ride pointed me in the prime direction of what is and is not professional. It was an interaction that helped me search for the patterns of pinnacle performers and define what separates and differentiates sales professionalism. Maybe he was overconfident? Maybe he was on cruise control? Here’s what I immediately knew, Tier 3 was a million miles away!