Certain salespeople simply outperform everyone else…many times over. I call these salespeople superstars.
Superstar salespeople are in the top 5% to 1% of high-performing salespeople. These salespeople are wealthy. They crush their sales goals. And they dominate the competition.
Whether you’re a salesperson or a business owner, being in that superstar category can mean that you make many times over your potential income.
But there’s a reason why sales superstars only make up a tiny sliver of the population…
There are tons of pitfalls in sales that easily trip up the vast majority of salespeople, keeping them out of the superstar realm.
So in this video, I’m going to show you 7 things to avoid if you want to be a superstar salesperson. Check it out:
If you’ve been in sales for a long time, chances are that you use the word “pitch” a lot when you talk about prospect meetings: “I’m going to pitch this…” or, “I’ve got a pitch meeting tomorrow.” But in reality, pitching is the single worst thing you can do in sales today.
Superstar salespeople do not pitch their prospects. Instead, they focus exclusively on engaging prospects in a real conversation.
If you pitch your offering—explaining the features and benefits of your product or service, and talking about how awesome your company is—your prospects will immediately tune out. Why? Because they don’t care about you, or your company.
Prospects are used to getting pitched all the time by average salespeople. This is why superstar salespeople do the complete opposite. They never pitch. If you want to become a superstar salesperson, lose the word “pitch” from your vocabulary…and never pitch again.
2. “What keeps you up at night?”
I use this question as a proxy for any generic question that’s used to start a sales conversation. It could be, “What keeps you up at night?” or, “I’d love to learn more about your business. Tell me, what’s your biggest challenge?” If you’re starting off sales conversations with questions like these, you’re in trouble. Your prospects, particularly if they’re high-level buyers, will all react to these questions in much the same way: by thinking to themselves, “Why the hell should I answer that question? I don’t even know who this person is. I see no value in wasting my time here.” And can you blame them?
Superstar salespeople never start sales conversations with generic, vague questions. They know that their prospects will immediately shut down—just like they would if they were being pitched. Your prospects need to see real value from you before they’re willing to answer questions.
Superstar salespeople never probe their prospects. Now, they do ask questions throughout the sales conversation—but they’re not probing. There’s a big difference.
The way I think about probing is how a doctor might examine a patient with unclear symptoms. The doctor might do lots of different tests and search all over, unsure of what they’re looking for, to exhaust every possible cause of the patient’s problem. This is the totally wrong approach for sales. Your prospects have specific challenges with specific solutions; any questions you ask should be specific, too.
When salespeople ask random questions from all different angles just to see where the conversation goes, not only do they muddle the direction of the conversation, but they also lose the prospect’s attention. Superstar salespeople have a systematic set of questions that purposefully take the conversation in a certain direction. And this does not involve probing.
You may have never heard of BANT, but I hear it a lot in my community. People ask me all the time, “Should I try the BANT method?” BANT stands for budget, authority, need, timeline. And it’s a really cool sounding acronym. Unfortunately, it’s also a ludicrous sales process.
It makes no sense to start up a conversation by talking about budget, and then authority, which refers to the decision-making process. BANT basically says you should open your sales conversation with, “Hey, do you have any money?” and then move right onto, “Are you the decision maker?” before following up with, “Oh, by the way, do you have any need for what we have?” And then lastly, “So what’s the timeline for making a decision?” The entire process is truly absurd in terms of the natural flow of a sales conversation.
BANT is the dating equivalent of starting off a first date by saying, “So, are you serious about getting married? And by the way, are things going to get interesting tonight with us?” It’s just starting the conversation in the wrong place. I’m not saying that those conversations shouldn’t happen, ever—of course, at some point in the sales conversation we should talk to the prospect about budget, authority, need, and timeline. That’s fine. But these areas are simply not helpful for starting off the conversation. Superstar salespeople don’t use BANT. They simply engage their prospects in conversations about their top challenges and dig deep to learn what’s really going on in their world. Then they get into some of those more qualifying questions later on in the discussion.
5. Be their friend.
Nothing is a more obvious indicator that a salesperson is average or underperforming than when I hear that their focus is on making friends, or on building relationships with prospects. The reality is that your prospects aren’t looking for friendships. And superstar salespeople aren’t looking for friendships, either. What they’re looking for are people who are going to be highly qualified prospects.
In order to be a superstar salesperson, you must be laser-focused on the business conversation. Don’t get distracted by this idea of building relationships or becoming long-term buddies with your prospects. These are not people who are going to come to your wedding, or your kid’s bar mitzvah. That’s not what matters. What’s more, the less you’re concerned about whether the prospect likes you, the more likely that prospect is to want to buy from you.
Because as soon as we’re looking for friends, we’re needy, we’re afraid to hurt the relationship, and it’s obvious. This clouds our judgment. The goal here is not to find friends in sales; it’s to find clients. Superstar salespeople have mastered this. They’re not looking for friends.
6. Hard close.
In traditional selling, it’s all about going for the close. If you talk to an old-school sales manager or someone who’s been in sales for a long time, they might ask you, “So what’s your closing question? How are you going to close that deal?” But the reality is that sales is not about the close. It’s about the process that leads to it.
If your prospects see tremendous value in what you have to offer, and you’ve taken them through a strong sales process, the close is going to come naturally. If you’re focused on that hard close at the end, you’re going to get a big, fat think-it-over, or they’re going to ghost on you. Hard closes make prospects feel pressure…and people don’t like to feel pressure. The way they respond to pressure is typically just squirming their way out of the situation however they can.
Superstar salespeople don’t go for a hard close. Instead, they take their prospects through a process that ultimately leads to a decision of either yes or no—and either way, that’s okay.
Superstar salespeople literally get nauseous at the idea of discounting. Average and bottom-performing salespeople are willing to give discounts all day long. If you’re trying to discount in order to close sales, you’re in trouble. That is not top-performing behavior.
In order to be a superstar salesperson, you’ve got to be focused on the value that you’re bringing to the table. Now, I’m not saying that prospects don’t ask for discounts from superstars. Of course, that happens. But superstar salespeople do not discount their offerings. It’s not about the price. It’s about understanding the prospect’s challenges, the value of those challenges, and the value of solving those challenges. If your offering is in alignment with the value of solving those challenges, there is no need for a discount.
Rather than focusing on discounts, focus on the value that your offering will bring to the life of your prospects.
So there you have it. Now you know 7 things to avoid if you want to be a superstar salesperson. Which of these top-performing sales tips did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
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Why Prospects Push Back on Price, Give 'Think-It-Overs,' and Ghost in Sales Until They Meet a Sales Superstar Who Is Following These 7 Simple Keys
About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.