5 Lessons from a Superstar Sales Rep

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By Marc Wayshak

Plus one bonus Lesson from “The Mad Wizard of Sales”, Scott Messer

You know those new salespeople who roll onto the scene, make big waves, and have the old-timers scratching their heads asking, “Where did they come from?” Stephen Higgins is one of those salespeople.

Although Higgins only began working on the consulting side of sales when he joined in-bound marketing titan HubSpot in 2015, he hit over 200 percent of his goals in that first year alone–and he’s crushed his sales goals every month since. When I heard about Higgins’ rapid success at HubSpot, I knew I had to sit down with him to hear exactly how he does it. Here are 5 lessons I learned from this superstar sales rep: 

  1. Don’t start with selling.

When Higgins first sits down with prospects, selling isn’t his number one goal. “In essence, I actually do very little selling,” Higgins explains. Instead, he commits to a deep-dive discovery process to understand his prospects’ businesses, what they hope to achieve, their deepest frustrations, their growth goals, and what they’ve tried so far. Only after he fully understands his prospects’ needs does he speak to how his product or service can help.

The result? Since Higgins focuses on getting to know his prospects up front, he’s ultimately able to present offers that actually make sense to them. “I listen to what people’s problems are, I understand exactly where they want to go–and then I say, this is what you need to do, and this is how we at HubSpot can help you to achieve that,” Higgins says. Then, he closes the sale.

  1. Admit when it’s not a fit.

Higgins knows that in order to close more sales, salespeople must earn the trust of their prospects. “One of the most important things to do in the discovery process is to be really honest with your prospects,” Higgins advises. That starts with admitting when it’s not a good fit. If, during the discovery process, it becomes clear that a business isn’t ready for his solution, Higgins simply says, “Look, guys, this is not a fit for you right now. You need to focus first on priorities one, two, and three.”

His honesty surprises prospects and presents him as an expert, while at the same time showing them that he cares more about their success than closing a sale. Then, when six months go by and they’re finally ready to address the problems he can help them solve, prospects are far more likely to turn to him as a partner they know they can trust.

  1. Befriend the marketing department.

If you see your work in sales as separate from work being done in the marketing department, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to get qualified leads and close more sales. “Far too many companies have marketing doing their own thing, and sales doing their own thing, and the two of them are at odds all the time,” Higgins notes.

Instead of putting his head down and only doing what’s on his desk, Higgins seeks to collaborate with the men and women in his marketing department. He shares what he’s looking for in a qualified lead, his insights on what type of content might interest them, and the results he’s seeing from their different marketing initiatives. By working closely with marketing to better understand and serve his ideal client, he knows he’ll receive more qualified leads and close way more sales than he would otherwise.

  1. Surround yourself with like-minded people.

There are two types of salespeople: Those who are eager to grow and succeed, and those who just want to get through the work day so they can clock out and head home. If you surround yourself with the latter, you’ll only stunt your own growth–no matter how talented you are. “Talent is great, but what you really need is the environment,” Higgins explains. “Whether socially or professionally, you’re the sum total of the people you spend the most time around.”

To that end, Higgins surrounds himself with coworkers who believe in what HubSpot has to offer, constantly chase down new leads, and consistently close sales. Their energy is contagious and allows him to enter his own meetings with confidence, so he stands out from the crowd and forms genuine connections with his prospects.

  1. Set daily goals.

Lofty annual goals have their place, but they can also be overwhelming. Higgins stays on track by sticking to a daily goal. More specifically, “The minimum I allow for myself is two new opportunities per day,” Higgins says. “That’s the absolute minimum, so I work backwards from there.” He starts with the leads that come from the marketing department, but when those run out, he reaches out to people who are using the free version of his company’s product.

This not only allows him to get their feedback on the product, but also to learn about the problems these prospects are facing to see if he can help solve them. Every day, no matter what, “I will never, ever miss my two opportunities,” Higgins insists. As he sticks to that daily goal, he can’t help but crush his bigger goals along the way.

Which of these superstar sales tips will you implement in your own approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Bonus Lesson: 6. Find a sales coach

Top performers in every aspect of life, from sports to business executives, all use coaches.  Sales coaches aren’t emotionally involved; they are only interested in helping you perform your best by helping you break down your barriers and give guidance on how to handle specific situations.  Additionally, they likely know more about sales than you do so take advantage of one.  Call early, call often!

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