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Author Lisa McLeod on What Makes a Top Performer in Sales

By Brendan Byrnes - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:00AM

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This is what sets a strong sales performer apart from the rest.

Brendan Byrnes: I'm Brendan Byrnes, and I'm joined by Lisa McLeod. Lisa is the author of Selling With Noble Purpose. Lisa, thanks so much for joining us.

Lisa McLeod: Oh, I'm glad to be here.

Brendan: Let's just get right into it. One of the big revelations of this book is, it's not necessarily monetary incentives that drive sales people, but there's actually a bigger driver, and that is a sense of purpose. Can you talk about how you came to this conclusion, and when you did that?

Lisa: Well, I've been a sales leadership consultant for about 20 years -- I'm giving away my age here -- and I had an experience. It was a single experience in the field with one particular sales person from a biotech company.

I run a sales leadership consulting firm, so we were out working with salespeople, trying to determine the age-old question, "What is the difference between the top performers and the mid-performers?" That's what every company wants to know.

I was out with this one rep, and she started talking about the impact that she had on patients, on doctors, and she spoke about it in a really emotional way.

Now, this was a double-blind study, in the sense that we did not know who the top performers were and who the mid-level performers were. As this one particular rep started talking, she said, "You know, I think about the patients every day, and it's my sense of higher purpose."

I went back through all the interviews from all the reps, all around the country, and I found seven who all spoke about that sense of higher purpose. I told the company, I said, "I think these are your top seven reps," and I was 100% right.

Brendan: Wow.

Lisa: So I actually stumbled upon it by accident, but it connects with what we already know instinctively to be true. We can tell if a salesperson is there to close us, versus if they're trying to truly help us. The problem is, most organizations in a sales force will focus on the monetary reward for the salespeople, and what's missing in the narrative is how they make a difference to customers. 

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