159 The Sales Slug

The Sales Slug 


In the last flash briefing, we covered the traits of the Below-Average Producer. Now, let’s examine the next level down: The dreaded Sales Slug. 


Sales Slugs are salespeople who are either not cut out for a sales career or do not possess the attributes, the energy, or the desire needed to build and maintain mutually beneficial customer relationships. They may have achieved some level of success in the past but due to changes (in their responsibility, their accounts, or their role), their productivity has plummeted. They might be a poor fit for the organization or have personal issues that are limiting their performance level and opportunity for growth.


Sales Slugs might resist following standard sales policies and procedures and are disengaged with their organization. This could have an extremely negative impact on other team members, because one bad employee can drag others down to their level. This creates a multiplier effect and can be very damaging to the sales organization. 


The disengaged salesperson is either waiting around to get terminated or actively planning their exit by seeking other career opportunities. In either case, they take up a position on the sales team but provide little or no productivity. 


Too often, their mantra is “win at all costs.” Instead of building great customer relationships, they leave a trail of scorched earth behind them.


Their resume is always up to date, since their sales career is marked by short tenures with any company… then they either move on or are pushed out the door. 


Sales slugs can represent up to 10% of a sales organization. 


I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on what it takes to become an Elite Seller, visit my website at thetechseller.com 


158 The Below-Average Performer

The Below-Average Performer 


In the last flash briefing, we covered the traits of the Solid Producer. Now, let’s examine the next level down: The Below-Average Performer. 


Urban Meyer, champion football coach, at The Ohio State University and the University of Florida said this: 


“It’s so easy to be average. It takes something special to be great. I don’t want to be around ‘average.’ Did you push yourself to be great today?”


Below-average performers fall into two categories: 


First – Salespeople with good potential who are on the rise. They might be newer hires or in a new sales role. They are learning the required solutions, processes, and strategies but have not yet mastered their craft. They follow the rules and are learning to build customer relationships.


Second – Salespeople who have peaked or never reached acceptable performance. They might have reached their maximum level of competence and are marking time in place. They are not really getting better. They are complacent with their status and not driven to be great. They execute the required, routine tasks appropriately (sending product information, preparing quotes, and taking orders), but have trouble building strong customer relationships and thinking outside the box when deals get sidetracked. 


Below-average performers can handle the mechanical, transactional tasks, but are unable or unwilling to step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to excel and achieve status as a solid producer or an elite performer. 


Below-average performers can represent 30-40% of a sales organization. 


I’m DJ Sebastian, and in the next briefing, we will continue to examine the levels of sellers in the sales organization. 


157 The Solid Producer

The Solid Producer 


In the last flash briefing, we covered the traits of the Elite Performer. Now, let’s examine the next level down: The Solid Producer. 


Pat Summit, champion women’s basketball coach, University of Tennessee, said this:


“Here’s how I’m going to beat you. I’m going to outwork you. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.”


Solid producers represent the nucleus of a sales organization. They work hard and deliver value to the organization by producing good revenue numbers. They have developed a good set of sales skills. They achieved this level of production though good work ethic and attention to detail, resulting in solid execution. They gain sales savvy and improve their intuition through their experiences. 


Solid producers regularly achieve their quota or finish close to it. They substitute any shortfall of skill with strong work habits. They follow the rules and sales processes and build good customer relationships. They are slightly below the elite level—some could rise to become elite, while some have reached their peak performance level and will remain solid producers. 


Solid producers include up-and-coming sales professionals who have the potential to ascend to elite performer status but are not quite there yet. They need to develop additional skills, more sales savvy, and greater intuition. They might overwork certain sales opportunities and not recognize when to leave an opportunity early. Spending excessive time and resources with a failing opportunity separates them from achieving the status of an elite performer. 


Occasionally a solid producer will run into challenges that result in a poor year. They could recover the next year, or they could slip to a lower level and be cast as a below-average performer. 


Solid producers usually make up 40-50% of a sales organization. 


I’m DJ Sebastian, and in the next briefing, we will continue to examine the levels of sellers in the sales organization. 


156 The Elite Performer

The Elite Performer 


This series of flash briefings will examine the composition of today’s typical sales teams and compare those teams to what will be required of next-generation teams in the near future.


Elite Performers

Elite performers have developed the skillset and the mindset to be effective in their craft. They are members of an inner circle, the top tier of sales professionals; they are regular members of the organization’s “President’s Club” that rewards and recognizes their contribution. They got where they are from hard of behavioral, communications, and selling work and an unwavering commitment to success. They have the right mix skills to make sales happen. 


Elite performers have great intuition and business savvy. On the surface, those traits appear to come naturally, but development of those traits usually depends on learning from prior experiences (both positive and negative). 

They prove their value year after year and almost always exceed their quota. They might experience an occasional miss… nearly everyone does. But they become obsessed with examining the root causes of the issues, then refocus and reinvent their approach to get back on track. 


Entrusted with handling the biggest accounts with the largest potential opportunities, elite performers help drive the financial results of the sales organization and enhance company profit. As high achievers who significantly exceed quota, they make up for those in the sales organization who do not produce substantially relative to goals. 


Elite performers are in high demand in the sales industry. They are targeted by recruiting firms, and competing sales organizations would love to hire (or steal) elite performers from other companies. Therefore, sales management must retain their best so that revenue and possibly customers do not leave with them. 


Elite performers typically make up between 10% and 20% of the sales organization. 


I’m DJ Sebastian, and in the next briefing, we will continue to examine the levels of sellers in the sales organization. 


155 Drop the Ummms and Ahhhs 2

Drop the Ummms and Ahhhs 2


In the last briefing, we introduced the junk words “ummm” and “ahhh” and why they can detract from your message. 


Here are three methods you can use to eliminate those offending junk words from your vocabulary: 


1) Awareness – whenever you have the urge to say “ummm” or “ahhh”, substitute a silent pause. Train your brain to insert a silent pause instead of letting your voice blurt out “ummm” or “ahhh”.


Being aware that these junk words are infiltrating your message is the first step towards eliminating them. A pause projects thoughtfulness, not fumbling around for the right words to say. 


2) Audience participation – Practice presenting in front of a small group of peers or friends. Whenever your audience hears you utter an “ummm” or an “ahhh”, have them clap their hands or pound on a table or desk. After a short period of time you will lose the urge to “ummm”. 


You might feel like you’re being conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs, but your communication will be much clearer and far more professional.  


3) Record your own voice – Take time to record a one or two-minute audio of you delivering a sales message. Whenever you say “ummm” or “ahhh”, start the recording over and repeat your message from the beginning. This will help you get through a complete message minus the junk words. 


You can also analyze the recordings to identify when you blurt out “ummm” and “ahhh”. You might find common phrases where you utter the junk words… then you can rework your message to reduce the instances of those offending junk words. 


Experiment with all three of these methods if necessary. One of them will surely work for you and help you speak more clearly and more professionally. 


I’m DJ Sebastian. To learn more about what it takes to Become a Great Communicator, visit my website at thetechseller.com.