What are the similarities between a neurosurgeon, a navy SEAL, a trial lawyer, and a fighter pilot? Many people consider these professions to be elite, with high barriers to entry and retention. These professions attract many candidates every year, despite the high barriers. It would be fascinating to use the same strategies and tactics that were used to create elite professions in order to build elite sales teams. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just use the existing wheels for these professions.
Strategies #1: Increase the barrier to entry and retention
An attorney and a neurosurgeon attend six to sixteen years of school. A Navy SEAL must endure ‘hell week,’ while a Marine must complete boot camp. Do you think it is challenging to find a job in your sales team? Or does it simply come down to passing a few interviews and building relationships? Is it hard to stay with your sales team? Competitive and sharp people won’t be part of a team where anyone can join and stay. They want to be part of a team that is elite and where everyone understands the high cost of membership.
Excellence is not attracted to inertia. Top producers choose to stay with teams that have a high barrier of entry and are not low. AfterBurner CEO James Murphy is the owner of a training company that includes fighter pilots. His company teaches companies how they can apply the same processes that were used to develop fighter pilots to improve their corporate processes. James said that it is the most challenging part of working with corporations to get them to set higher standards. Companies fear that raising the bar will lead to people being lost. They will lose …. ordinary people. This allows them to create a culture of ‘top guns’ that attracts… you guessed it, top guns.
Strategy #2: Teach your team how to be the best.
Rod Walsh and Dan Carrison are the authors of “Semper Fi,” a book about a business based on principles they learned as Marine Corps enlistment. Marine Corps units are well-trained fighting units, and they are often the first to go into battle. Marines expect you to think like a marine. They cannot afford someone who is not able to react under fire. The marines train their recruits 24 hours per day. A drill sergeant will ask a private to recall one of the 100 phrases from the marine guidebook. The marines can teach sales organizations a lot. How are many sales managers able to approach a member of their sales team and ask them what the core values are of the company?
This pop quiz will test your knowledge of sales marines.
Private: Send me your 30-second commercial.
o Private: Identify the top objection in your business and provide the correct response.
o Private: What are the core values for this company?
Private: Who are your top ten targets this year?
Private: Who are your top ten most important clients? How do you serve them?
Sales soldiers are often sent out without proper training or equipment. This results in increased turnover, decreased sales and decreased motivation.
Strategy #3: Recognize and raise your hand
After a person has been qualified, an elite organization will continue to raise the standard for excellence and recognize those who excel. This is how elite sales organizations create the environment for excellence in sales:
o Establishing special clubs that offer more than just a sales goal. The entry criteria for the club could include achieving the sales target, cross-selling for another division, customer satisfaction scores, and customer retention rates. Club memberships are for the top salespeople.
o It is important to get public recognition when building elite sales teams. Although many men don’t like jewelry, it is likely that they will wear a Super Bowl band. These are only a few of the symbols that can be used to recognize an individual. It is not essential what the item represents, but it is essential that the symbol is recognized. The symbol should indicate that the individual is part of an elite club.
Last note: Don’t confuse elitism and snobbery. Elite groups often have members who are grounded and confident. These attributes are acquired by achieving success in difficult situations.
Colleen Stanley, founder, and president, SalesLeadership, Inc., is a sales strategy company that helps to drive revenues. They examine all aspects of sales to identify missed sales goals and slow growth. The EI Selling System is a powerful and unique sales program that combines emotional intelligence with consultative selling skills. SalesLeadership’s expert team focuses on small- to medium-sized companies that want to increase sales and decrease the game playing and gimmicks that are often part of the sales process.
Colleen is a national columnist for the Business Journals. She co-authored ‘Motivational Selling’ and is also the author of Growing Great Sales Teams: Lessons From The Cornfield. Colleen was the featured speaker at the 2006 New York Times Small Business Summit on sales. Before starting SalesLeadership, Colleen was vice-president of sales and marketing at Varsity Spirit Corporation. Sales grew from 8M to 9M during her ten years with Varsity.
We offer training and consulting services:
Benchmarking, selection, and hiring top sales talent
Consultative Sales Training
Leadership Training for Sales Managers
Sales Presentation Skills
Major Account Sales
Prospecting and Referral Training
Customer Relationship Management
Analyst in Professional Behaviors
Analyst in Professional Values
TriMetrix Professional Analyst
Analyst for BarOn Emotional Intelligence Quotient Inventory
Sales Call Reluctance Analyst