I was fortunate to manage a rep that after 25 years of selling software, accumulated about $7M. Sure, he had two, 2-comma years which obviously helped with his nest egg. However, the 2 years he worked for me, he made his number only 1 of those years – the year he didn’t make his number, he was ~85%. In short, he didn’t accumulate this wealth by having several huge years, but a career rooted in consistency. I studied his secret formula, and…well, here it is:
- He out-worked everyone. I used to get a call from him several times a week before 8:00 am. Before anyone was up, he was at it. Most people say they work hard, but few do it.
- He operated with regiment. Routine fueled his day and he never wavered on his scheduled daily tasks. He sent Christmas cards. He allocated every Friday morning to prospecting. He did 3 run-throughs before presentations. He always forced me to do a run-through of his QBRs, even though his presentations were by far the best on the team. Every time. This discipline showed in the results of his work.
- He focused on the positive. The sky was always blue with him, however, he was always quick to listen to others’ opinion. It’s almost like he “willed” his customers into buying from him. For most sellers, this attribute has potential to spell trouble…but because he was willing to listen to people who were willing to poke holes and assemble a plan of action, it worked.
- He was humble. This is one of the more under-rated attributes of sellers. It calms customers and puts them at ease, and in due time, they’ll be more inclined to share sensitive political data with you. I always found it interesting that most any time he needed to get time with executives in his accounts, he was able.
- He used a multi-headed selling approach. He understood what his strengths and weaknesses were and used different personalities around him to accomplish specific goals. I remember he once had a competitive deal with an old-school, demanding CIO. While this personality fit well with his style, he struggled to sometimes ask the difficult questions in that evaluation. He was able to engage another stakeholder to ask the tough questions on his behalf. Was magical.
- He was very thorough and detailed. This is an attribute that is uncommon with software sellers. This guy once did a legal review with a customer and ended up with a 13-page word document outlining every issue along with commentary summarized by both sets of attorneys. He used this document both internally and externally as a way to get everyone on the same page.
- He was rooted in faith. He proclaimed to me all the time his motivation was greater than selling software…that he had a calling from his Creator to be a help and a blessing to others around him. This deeper purpose both fueled his motivation as well spewed across to his customers as genuine. Perhaps the most memorable moment with this rep was when he told me about the status update of a health issue with one of the lower level contacts in one of his accounts. As he gave me an update, his voiced cracked…his empathy was inspiring…and his customers clearly agreed. In the end, he was just a good man.
I learned more from this guy than he learned from me, but I’m thankful and blessed to have run across his path!