TALKING SALES 52: “Three things Top Salespeople consistently do”

Salesperson with the world in his hands.         Image (c) Khunaspix


24aaeb9John Smibert asked Bernadette McClelland  to tell us what top salespeople consistently do to be top salespeople.

She answered that there are three key aspects of what successful salesperson’s do. Firstly they focus on their approach to market, the second is the focus of their sales conversations, and the third is their commitment to outcomes they want to achieve.

Bernadette then delved into each of these in order to give us some insight that we can apply to leverage for our own success.  I particularly liked the way she expressed their approach to market – She emphasised that they do not go to market feeling like they have a need to convince” – she talked about the approach as being “an inner conviction to their intention for serving the client” with a strong stance for reciprocity – a win-win.  You can view or read the full interview below.

Bernadette McClelland is a sales leadership expert. She helps bridge corporate goals with revenue potential. She’s a leading author and she’s a keynote speaker..She recently published her book ‘The Art of Commercial Conversations – When It’s Your Turn To Make A Difference’


See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


John: Welcome back, Bernadette!

Bernadette: Thanks, John!

John: You’ve got a lot of experience working with sales teams and sales people, and I’m sure you’ve got a very good perception of what the top salespeople do on a consistent basis to be top salespeople.

Bernadette: Yes, and actually that word “consistent” is quite critical.

John: Yes. Could you share some of that with us? I’m sure the salespeople that are striving to be in that position would like to learn from your experience.

Bernadette: Look, I think there’s probably three aspects of the sales role: one is the approach to market, the other is the focus of their sales conversations, and the third one is the outcomes they actually want to achieve.

John: Okay. Can we talk about each one of those briefly?

Bernadette: Yes. So, if we look at the approach to market, they tend to have a really strong level of conviction. A lot of salespeople actually go to market and they try to convince, but it’s really all about what are the beliefs that the salesperson has, what is their level of conviction?

John: Right.

Bernadette: And they really have made that first sale to themselves.

John: So this is your inner conviction.

Bernadette: Totally, totally.

John: A conviction to what?

Bernadette: To their intention for serving the client.

John: Serving the client.

Bernadette: But also to generate revenue for themselves and their company, so it’s got to be a win-win.

John: Sure.

Bernadette: It can’t all be about just getting the deal.

John: I recently spoke with Ian Lowe, and he talked a lot about ‘giving’. The salesperson’s a giver, but they also need to learn how to receive as well.

Bernadette: I agree with that too, I agree. So, if you go to the second part of that – what I’ve mentioned before – is the focus on the conversation, and there it’s really all about taking the attention away from the product, that I’ve spoken about earlier, and being able to really have a consultative conversation, but chunking it up – as we spoke about before – to context. So they’re able to…

John: The context of the customer environment, the customer needs.

Bernadette: Correct.

John: Yes.

Bernadette: Correct. And then, of course, the outcome is not just signing the contract – where it’s always been in the past, as we know – it’s really all about how do we conspire for our client’s success and contribute to their business growth.

John: I like the thinking around the fact that selling is not driving a transaction, it’s driving a relationship and value to the customer through that relationship, helping them achieve things knowing you’ll get something in return.

Bernadette: And it’s that law of reciprocity.

John: Exactly.

Bernadette: You can’t go past it. I mean, Cialdini talks about that as one of the laws of influence. So, when you come from that real space of wanting to have a conversation with a potential buyer and you’re present to that conversation then you will naturally ask the right questions.

John: In their context.

Bernadette: From their world, yes.

John: Yes.

Bernadette: Absolutely. So, for the salesperson who is really successful, they have the ability to do that because they stand in their power and they have that level of conviction.

John: I like it. Can you summarise the three again?

Bernadette: Yes. If we look at the approach to market, the way I like to look at it is: for any salesperson to go to market they’ve got to have value in themselves.

John: Yes.

Bernadette: So that’s really, I suppose, what I call the sales triad, it’s three levels of leadership. You need to have that ability to have that personal leadership.

John: That conviction.

Bernadette: Correct. You need to be able to bring the value of your offering to the client through your thought leadership, and how you can sell your ideas basically.

John: Right.

Bernadette: And thirdly, it’s the sales leadership, and that is around the value to the market as a whole. That’s what I call the sales triad.

John: And you’re saying all the top sales guys…

Bernadette: They’ll have those three components and they will practice them consistently.

John: I like your thinking.

Bernadette: Thanks!

John: Thank you very much for your experience!

Bernadette: Thanks, John – thank you!


More interviews with Bernadette McClelland:


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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