Why does one producer outperform another producer who has a similar background, training and experience? What traits separate top producers from the rest of the pack?
For many years, sales organizations have invested a great deal of money on profiling their top salespeople to develop competency models that accurately describe which traits set their top performers apart from everyone else. The hope was to use these models to make better hiring decisions, thus increasing the chances of bringing more successful producers onboard.
The reality is that one size does not fit all. Studies show that top producers who specialize in a niche market need a different skill set from those who work in multiple industries. As you might imagine, there is a great deal of overlap as well.
With that as background, I found that some characteristics of top producers are not obvious to most outside observers. In fact, some traits might even surprise you.
Curiosity – Top salespeople are naturally curious. They consistently ask themselves, “Is there a better way to do this?” They are also very inquisitive when speaking with their clients and prospects.
Their goal isn’t just to get through their fact-finding process, but to navigate the conversation with intense interest as well. They want to connect with their clients on a deeper level and develop a better relationship with them. They achieve this by asking relevant questions that spark meaningful conversations.
Follow-up – Top producers are aware of how difficult it is to obtain a new client and how easy it is to lose one, especially through lack of effective and consistent follow-up. So they make sure they deliver on the commitments they’ve made during the sales process on a timely basis. They don’t let too much time elapse without touching base with their clients to give them updates.
After the sale, they have a well-defined written-out process to keep in touch. Some touches are personal; others may involve newsletters, birthday cards, notes and client-appreciation events.
Masters of time – This trait probably doesn’t come as a surprise. You would expect that top producers are good at time management. But they go well beyond it. They are ruthless with their time. They know what the highest and best use of their time is every day. They automate what they can, delegate efficiently and effectively, and know how to hold others accountable.
They also schedule an adequate amount of time to work on their businesses and not just in their businesses. They reflect, strategize, plan, and create goals and progress benchmarks for those goals. During this time, they evaluate where they’ve been, where they are and where they are going. They make adjustments to their plan when necessary.
Passion – Top producers are passionate about fulfilling their mission and vision. It isn’t just about making sales, qualifying for their company’s top club or earning an award. They are enthusiastic about helping their clients achieve their goals and leaving them in a better position than when they first met. They also are devoted to their careers and are always striving to be their best.
Sense of urgency – “Do it now” is the motto of top producers. They don’t put things off until tomorrow, and they get a lot done in a day. I tell my coaching clients that any number of things can happen when you put things off until the last minute and none of them are good.
Having that sense of urgency pushes them to close sales as soon as possible. Having that attitude is contagious. It spills over to staff and other team members. If it’s possible to get it done today, do it.
Life-long learning – It’s easy to become complacent or stale, especially if we are already successful. Top producers are always looking to improve themselves and their businesses. Of course, they want to keep up with regulatory developments, but they also want to keep abreast of the latest technologies and other time-saving tools. Doing so may give them a competitive advantage.
Professional development is high on their list of priorities and this goes for their staff as well. In addition to keeping up with developments in their own industry, they make a point of being knowledgeable about the industries in which they have clients. This is especially true if they work in a niche market.
Not every producer will possess each of these traits, and there are many more obvious ones not mentioned here. But by focusing on these traits, you can elevate your success.