429: 8 Skills Every Top Performer Should Possess | Master Sales Series

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A top performer is labeled as such because they internalize the work in front of them. This is not just a job- this is a very exciting life and duty becomes a wonderful opportunity to provide value. This means confidently stamping their name on the day’s work and approaching the next hill ready to sprint.

Our host, George Leith is eager to sneak you some industry insight on common denominators (listed below) throughout every top performer he’s come in contact with over the years- and how he has leveraged these skills in his own career. If you’re looking to outperform or perhaps are in pursuit of some defining skills to focus on to maintain your current output, you’re not going to want to miss this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

8 skills every top performer should possess:
1. demonstrate active listening
2. resilience and grit
3. show empathy
4. always prepared
5. self-motivated and competitive
6. strive to establish trust
7. ask the right questions
8. considered the authority

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George: Welcome to this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith, we’re back with another episode of the master sales training series, and thanks to all the feedback, we have crafted these episodes in season four, based on your feedback, and we’re trying to tackle some of the challenges that you’ve given to us. So I love this topic. It’s the eight skills every top performer should possess. Few things I’d like you to think about before we dig into these skills. Think about the top performers within your organization or organizations you’ve been a part of. They are the contributors that are at the top of the leaderboards. They’re the people that are talked about in meetings. They’re the ones to watch, the ones you want to follow, and the ones you wanna learn from. You often find yourself asking, what’s the secret to their success? How does everything they touch turn to gold? What drives their ability to remain productive over and over again? How is it that they continue to be the top performers? Is it a mindset? Is it their experience? How can I rise up and meet these folks at the top of those leaderboards? The eight skills every top performer should possess coming up next.

(Upbeat Music)

Top Performer Metrics

George: Did you know that employees that were labeled top performers by their managers were three times more valuable than the average employee? It’s not even a small percentage more valuable, it’s like 3X. Meaning, if you are at quota at $10,000 a month, a top performer is doing $30,000 a month, three times you. They’re also responsible for 61% of the department’s output. That’s the old 80-20 rule, although it’s not quite 80-20. 80% of your business or productivity comes from 20% of your performers. And people who consistently demonstrate key productivity skills are 50 times less likely to start projects that never get finished. 17 times less likely to have an inbox with too many unread emails, and 18 times less likely to feel overwhelmed. When I read those stats that our team came up with, the first thing that points to is, I think people who demonstrate key productivity skills are actually good at saying no. And I’ve been really challenged with that in the last couple of years, myself as my workload has gotten bigger, and the fact that I have a real hard time saying no. I’ve got open door policy, I wanna help everybody, I wanna be the leader that people turn to, but I had to get better at protecting myself from myself because if we’re gonna start a project and make sure that it gets finished, we can’t start 50 of them. If we’re going to make sure that everybody gets responded to in our inbox, so that they don’t feel like they’re hanging in the wind, then I need to make sure that I don’t have 500 emails coming in every three hours. And how do we not feel overwhelmed? Well, it’s about ruthless prioritization of our schedules. So we wanna answer those eight skills every top performer should possess. And I really wanna dig into eight key components that I’ve been trying to work on, and I’m not there yet. I got a lot of work to do on it, but here are eight things that I’m deploying right now. Number one–

1. Active Listening

George: Active listening. So what do I mean by active listening? Well, it definitely does not involve texting, talking to somebody, doing a Zoom meeting, and responding to three emails. That is not active listening. Seek to understand the problems or goals of your audience. We need to really understand our client’s challenges, or we need to understand our team members’ challenges, but active listening is the way to do this. Do you ever wonder if you really need that hour in a meeting? You might if you’re only really listening 20 minutes of the time. So, let’s really start to dial in and make sure that we’re active listening. Here’s the three A’s of active listening; attitude, effective listeners keep an open and relaxed attitude to get more out of the exchange. You’re also more likely to get the truth if you’ve got that attitude where you really wanna understand. Attention, you wanna practice some memory games, do a little bit of meditation to improve your focus, get rid of the noise, so you can really focus on the goal. And then practice the go with the flow methodology. So you don’t really wanna steer the conversation that it really gets to be mechanical, you wanna go with the flow and get really good at adjusting the conversation back to the path that you wanted to take, but you’re using active listening as a way to do that. Something like, “Well, that’s really interesting. “I’d like to understand that more.” In my experience, it’s looked like this, tell me how your experience is different.” You know, something like that, where you show the audience that you’re actively listening, and then you’re guiding the conversation.

2. Resilience and Grit

George: Number two, you need to have resilience and grit. I’ve said before persistence wears down resistance. The average salesperson entrepreneur gives up after two calls, like they just give up too easily. You wanna make sure that you’re working harder, but that’s grind, and it comes from a refusal to give up. I’ve found the top performers, I don’t necessarily believe that they actually like winning. I think top performers are petrified of losing. It’s an interesting analogy, right? What do you like better, winning? Or are you terrified of losing? What is your motivation? So resilience and grit, one of the key components.

3. Empathy

George: One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I need to be way better at empathy. You know, the first thing that comes to our mind sometimes when things aren’t working out the way that we expected is, “What the heck is that person’s problem? “Why don’t they get it?” And the reason we ask that question, ’cause we don’t really understand what their problem is. And everybody is dealing with some sort of a challenge. That smile is a mask, or that laugh is actually nervous laughter. It’s hiding the fact that they’ve got some massive challenge that they’re dealing with. And what I’ve found, if you really wanna be successful, whether it’s dealing with a prospect, whether it’s dealing with a team member, whether it’s dealing with a family member- understand what battle they’re in. What’s their gig, how did they get to where they are right now? And then understand that, have some empathy, try to put yourself in their shoes. It helps you to build better relationships, and we wanna be really careful that we’re not so quick to judge. Don’t pre-qualify the prospect, you wanna really seek to understand.

4. Always Prepared

George: Next up is always being prepared. You wanna be prepared, you know, I have to admit, I would come to some of these recording sessions and the first time I’d read the script or the research was when I sat down. Now, I’m blessed with flow because I can probably pull that out and do an average episode. I think you folks- if you’re a long-time listener will know what an average Conquer Local Podcast is compared to above average Conquer Local Podcast, and we’re a long way from perfect. But being more prepared, and I’ve made a conscious effort in season four to be a lot more prepared- this will help me to bring better insights to you the audience that have given us your time and invested in being one of our listeners. So keep that in mind, we can always be better prepared.

5. Self-motivated and Competitive

George: While self-motivation- that’s a constant challenge. Like there are all sorts of days that I just wanna go back to bed. And I’d like to consider myself to be one of the more self-motivated individuals on this planet for reasons I won’t get into. But I have my drive and it’s there for a reason, but there are days when I just wanna stay in bed, and that is perfectly normal. It took me a long time to be that vulnerable and then tell people. Because it was like, no, you need to come forward, and you need to not tell people that you just wanna give up. But it’s gonna happen, and top performers are constantly starting and working to win every day. They don’t have to be pushed, they expect failure and they learn from it, they expect to not always knock it out of the park and to grind hard. And one of the ways to stay motivated is to be competitive. And I like to compete with myself. I really wanna wake up every day and hope that I’ve done it a little bit better than I did it the day before, and if that is an iterative process, I better be a hell of a lot better today than I was 10 years ago. Most people would say that that is the case, but it’s not been easy, and I’ve had to maintain a level of self-motivation. Now I have the privilege of working with some of the most driven and motivated individuals on the planet, but yet I still have to have my own motivation. People aren’t gonna do this for you, folks, you need to have this as part of your DNA.

6. Strive to Establish Trust

George: You wanna strive to establish trust, and then you wanna protect that trust with everything in your being. Because getting the trust of a client, prospect, family member, team member, brother, sister, aunt, dog, cat, doesn’t matter, is one of the hardest things that you can ever do. It comes from keeping your promises, comes from returning calls, being maybe a little bit early to a meeting. I actually, yeah, I’m getting there. I think nine out of 10 I’ve been early to lately, I’m working on that. I talk a lot about the trust matrix as a part of sales. I think that a trust matrix is a part of life. So if you think about it, we put fear on one side of the scale, and we put trust on the other. We wanna constantly be making deposits into the trust side of the scale. And what happens is, the fear diminishes. It’s like, “No, I don’t have a fear for that.” That person has proven to me, time and time again, that they’re gonna keep their promises. They always come through for me. So make sure you’re striving to establish trust and then protect that thing with everything in your being because it’s really hard to get back if you lose it.

7. Ask the Right Questions

George: You wanna make sure that you ask the right questions. Seeking to understand is a skill. Top performers are really good at asking questions. Remember I was on a call here about a month and a half ago, and I was with a younger rep, we were doing some needs analysis. And at the end of the call, they said, “You didn’t present anything.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but we got an hour’s worth of learnings.” We know exactly where we need to go on the next presentation, plus after all of that time of understanding the prospect, they’re prepared to make a further investment. So a lot of times what I find young sellers doing is they just rush the prospect through the process because they already know how to solve their problem, but they haven’t established the trust. It’s a key component.

8. Considered the Authority

George: You wanna make sure that you’re asking those right questions, and what all of that will do is make sure that you’re considered to be the authority. We wanna work to become the trusted expert, that’s in sales, but it also is in leadership. Are you the person that has the right answer or can get the right answer time and time again? And as a top performer, we have to be prepared to promote ourselves. So on social media channels, we need to develop our own content, we need to amplify that content. One of the ways you become a leader in the industry or a leader in whatever circle you’re in is to promote that thought leadership. Yes, it’s bragging, but there is a fine line between bragging and marketing. So if you bring it out there and it’s true, and you put some proof points against it, that is marketing, and it is talking about the things that you’re very good at and why you should be considered as an authority.


George: So those eight components are what every top performer should possess today. And as I mentioned off the top, they’re things that I’m working on right now, so this topic was very easy to put together. It’s one of my goals for 2021- is to make sure that I’m doing less things. So, that’s why there’s only eight here and not eighty because I probably could do enough research to come up with eighty, but we’re gonna focus on eight. And there are eight things that are proven to move the needle and to make you that trusted expert and a top performer. So in conclusion, I wanna give you the list again, so that you can write it down and start to map yourself against these components, the eight components to be a top performer. Demonstrate active listening, make sure that you are working with resilience and grit on a daily basis. You wanna show empathy. Always be prepared, maybe even a little over-prepared. Make sure that you’re working on self-motivation, but competitiveness is a really important component so that you can continue to have that self-motivation. Always strive to establish trust, ask the right questions- seek to understand. And work to be considered the authority. By weaving these principles into our everyday tasks, we turn practice into performance. So pick one out of the eight, and then work through that entire list of eight. And if you need some other motivation, lean on the words of Katie Couric. I always like to quote Katie Couric at the end of a podcast. No, I’ve never done that before, but I’m gonna do it today. “Work hard, and then work even harder.” Thanks for joining us on this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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