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How to be The Top Sales Rep in Your Industry

By: John Chapin

Ybaa July Newsletter

Recently someone asked me how they can become the absolute best salesperson possible. This question caused me to go back and look at my 35-year sales journey in which I became a number one sales rep in three industries during my sales career and number one in two more during my sales training career when I had to prove to two eventual clients my ideas would work in their industries too by outselling all their sales reps. The plan below takes into account everything I’ve learned about what it takes to be number one in sales anywhere in any industry. It is not the exact path I followed, it is better based on experience and mistakes made. The plan below is unique; I’ve never seen it described in any sales material before, and I’ve seen a ton of sales material. Once you see this plan, I think you’ll understand how it will get you to the top in any industry if you follow it to the letter, no shortcuts, no half effort.

Note: This plan is the what-to-do from a pure execution standpoint. It does not reference character traits you’re going to need to be number one in sales, namely: people skills, empathy, strong personal motivation, at least average intelligence, and an ironclad work ethic. Assuming you have those basic character traits in place, following the below plan will make you the best of the best anywhere.

Step one is to start with best practices and the best sales techniques in your industry. Focusing on these will help you learn good sales skills while also learning about the industry. You learn best sales techniques by seeking out the top sellers and finding out what they say and do in an attempt to do the same and get the same results. You also want to seek out a mentor and/or coach, trainers, and speakers who are also top sales and business experts in the industry. This learning process is typically a three to five-year endeavor at the end of which your knowledge of the industry and your sales skills will be anywhere from good to very good to maybe even great if you’ve learned all of the best and applied it extremely well.

The next step to becoming the best is to pick an industry outside of yours. It really doesn’t matter what they sell to who, it just has to be something different than what you sell. If you sell a product B2B, it may be an industry that also sells a product B2B. On the other hand, you may look at an industry that sells a service B2B or even B2C. For example, if you’re selling construction equipment, you might look at sales skills and best practices in the commercial insurance industry. As one is a product B2B sale, and one is a service B2B sale, sales techniques and industry best practices will differ.

You’re now going to replicate the learning process you used in your industry. In other words, find the top salespeople, along with mentors, coaches, trainers, and speakers who are also top sales and business experts in that industry. By the way, this does not mean listening to everyone. There are very few speakers and trainers in each industry who have truly been there, done that when it comes to sales. Most trainers and speakers have very little sales experience and the few that do, weren’t that good when they were selling. Vet your sources carefully. That said, once you’ve found these people, work with and study them just as you did with your own industry. Some of the practices, habits, and other things you learn, will be the same. In fact, many of them may be. What you’re looking for are the things that are different. The different ways they call on or approach prospects, the different questions they ask, how they look, sound, and do things differently, and how they approach situations differently. Unlike your industry, assuming you put in the necessary time and work, you should only have to spend about a year fully dissecting this second industry to master the best practices and best sales techniques.

Now shift to another industry and learn their best practices and best sales techniques. At this point though you do want to look for variances in either product, service, and/or audience. For example, if the first two industries you picked were products sold B2B, either pick a service sold B2B or a product sold B2C. You can also pick products or services sold primarily over the phone versus in-person. Once you’ve spent a year in this industry, shift again looking for another industry that differs in product, service, B2B, B2C, and/or phone versus in person. Spend a year here and then find another industry. Continue to follow this process by shifting industries yearly.

The longer you follow this plan, and the more industries, and products, and services, and audiences you encounter, the better you will get at selling. Just imagine how good your sales skills will be after doing this for ten or fifteen years or more.

By the way, I am not telling you to actually switch jobs and industries. The objective is to study the other industries and bring the best ideas to your current job and see if and how they can enhance what you’re doing.

In addition, while you’re studying other industries, you should also be reading books, taking courses, watching YouTube videos, and studying other really good sales material. Again, be careful here, I’m not telling you to just watch just anything. As I said earlier, make sure the material comes from legitimate sales experts.


John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages). 508-243-7359

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place.

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