Win The Hill! - What Makes Great Salespeople

What makes GREAT salespeople and sales leaders? While I would love to say that there is a simple formula for success, when it comes to identifying talent, there’s not. Over the last ten years I have had the opportunity to observe some amazing salespeople across a broad array of industries and companies, ranging from Fortune 500 manufacturing distributors, mid-market energy companies, to technology startups. My career, so far, has taught me there is no magic formula. However, when you are in the presence of a great salesperson and see them practice their craft, you know.

So, how can you tell if a salesperson has what it takes to be GREAT? Well in short, they “Win the Hill.” I was decent runner in high school and while there are many things that make runner’s successful, these four principals below are universal. As a sales leader, what I found compelling is that these same principals are also consistent in great salespeople.

1. Love to Compete: Great runners and salespeople love competing and the competitive mindset and internal drive is key to their success. This is what keeps them going mile after mile or “No” after “No”. Sales can be a lonely sport and you must enjoy the “Yes” so much, that it gets them through the miles of “No’s.”

2. Make the last mile the best mile: Mentally, whether running, selling, or leading a sales organization it way more fun and motivating, to be passing people verses just holding on. This positive momentum can have a multiplying effect on sales and produces the best performance. It also sets an energizing tone for your team.

3. Run through the finish line: This one is all about self-accountability. When your running you know whether you ran through the finish or let up at the end. In sales you know when you leave a meeting or finish a year, whether you gave it your best. Running through the finish line keeps you accountable to yourself!

4. Win the hill: This is a big one, this separates the good salespeople from the great ones, the sales people that sprint up the hill and look at challenges as opportunities, these individuals are special. Winning the hill often leads to significant competitive advantage in the minds of the customer and pushes you way ahead of the competition.

Coach Gower, my high school cross country coach, would sit at the bottom of the biggest hill on the course and yell “Win the Hill.” I loved it, to this day when challenges come my way, I can still hear him yelling, “Win the Hill!” Now, thinking about it from a coaching perspective, he wasn’t at the bottom of the hill to just cheer us on, but to see how everyone responded.

There are many other skills that make salespeople great, when you see these four core principals, you just might have something special. Who knows, maybe sales recruiters will start showing up to cross country races, watching racers run up hills. I have tagged some of the great people in my career that have demonstrated these principals.

Win the Hill!