The 1 Percent Club
Don’t fail one step before success. Go the extra mile to be part of the 1 Percent Club! You become a superstar by applying three parts of a formula: focus, persistence, and time.
THE KNEE OF THE CURVE
Are you familiar with the term “knee of the curve” (see figure)?
The vertical axis in the graph demonstrates performance levels; the horizontal axis measures time.
The curve represents the long, slow ascent toward success. It is the plodding process of constant improvement and perseverance. There are slow gains at first. In fact, it might feel like there is no improvement at all. But this is about pressing on when you want to give up and perfecting your craft. It’s about delayed gratification.
And then . . . boom! There is a tipping point that suddenly vaults your performance to sky-high levels. That moment in time is represented graphically as the knee of the curve, that moment when your results suddenly skyrocket.
The Beatles kicked off the so-called British Invasion of the United States in the 1960s, taking the country by storm. Seemingly overnight the Beatles were everywhere. You could not walk down the street without hearing a Beatles song. You could not turn on the television without seeing a Beatles performance. Young people went wild. Old people plugged their ears.
The Beatles were an overnight sensation. And it only took them years upon years of unheralded and grueling work to become so. Few people are even aware of their all-night stints in small, dimly lit clubs in Hamburg, Germany. The group played for endless hours to sparse crowds, but during that long process they found their identity.
If you were to chart the progress of the Beatles, you would see a long, slow, and nearly parallel line along the horizontal plane. And then they recorded Please Please Me, their first LP, and everything changed. The knee of the curve.
How many sales professionals have labored long and hard doing the same things as everyone else, only to find that their success is somehow limited? Where is the knee-of-the-curve moment for sales professionals?
I’ll tell you where it is: follow-up! Follow-up is the missing link that vaults mediocre salespeople to extraordinary levels of success.
But wait a second, Jeff. If follow-up is the simple answer, why don’t more salespeople do it? Why is follow-up the forgotten task?
Because it’s not sexy. It’s not the part of the process that salespeople enjoy the most. It requires diligence and patience and stamina and discipline. It requires something that is woefully lacking in society today: the acceptance of delayed gratification.
It requires the Big P: Persistence.
Persistence is about staying on the court and practicing your jump shot for an hour after your teammates have gone home. It’s about plucking a guitar until your fingers bleed to play one particularly difficult riff perfectly. It’s about staying in the crime laboratory and poring over evidence for the eighteenth time, looking for that missing clue that will solve the case.
Top performers do not rest until every performance box has been checked. It’s not about doing what is comfortable; it is about doing what is right.
You gotta want it. And you gotta want it pretty bad to stay with it.
THE BILL PORTER STORY
You may have seen Bill Porter when he was featured on the ABC show 20/20 back in the 1990s. Or perhaps you caught his story in Door to Door, the movie made about his life. Bill Porter was the number-one salesperson in the United States for Watkins Industries, a manufacturer of health remedies, baking products, cleaning supplies, and other household items sold door-to-door by a massive salesforce.
Why all the attention over a door-to-door salesman? Bill Porter had one of the toughest routes in the hilly Portland, Oregon, area, a route he traveled on foot seven miles a day, every day. Not easy to do for anyone; much harder if you have cerebral palsy. He slurred his speech. He typed his orders with one finger. He was once hit by a car. And he never, ever, ever quit. Bill Porter worked for Watkins Industries as a door-to-door salesman for 40 years.
Bill Porter became internationally famous—they even made a Japanese movie about his work—but he was no overnight sensation. He hit the knee of the curve after countless grueling hours, days, years.
How much Bill Porter do you have in you? How willing are you to go the extra mile? Scratch that. How willing are you to go the extra seven miles?
Being the best of the best doesn’t happen because of a wish or a hope or a goal. It is a spot reserved for men and women who take action. And who keep taking action. And who never stop taking action.
MEMBERSHIP IN THE 1 PERCENT CLUB
What is it like to stand in the top 1 percent of your peers? What does it take to find yourself in such an uncrowded space? How does one qualify for the 1 Percent Club?
I’m referring here to the 1 percent of all sales professionals who are truly complete in what they do. Maximum effort and perfected application of skill in all areas of the sales process.
The 1 Percenters don’t cut corners. They carry extreme amounts of achievement drive; they have to win. The 1 Percenters are sickened by the very idea of being like everyone else.
Members of the 1 Percent Club are:
• Driven: They don’t rest unless they have given their best effort.
• Methodical: They understand that processes aid in their success planning.
• Focused: They are not easily distracted by what is unimportant. They live in the zone.
• Bold: They lean into their discomforts. They embrace the challenges where others falter.
• Persistent: They don’t give up. Ever.
Is it hard to get into the club? Yes . . . and no.
You don’t simply apply to this club. Desire alone does not give you membership. The entrance fee is years of proven dedication and corresponding results. The club has no interest in “overnight successes.” There is no place for those who simply milk a good market.
THE MISSING INGREDIENT
What keeps people out of the 1 Percent Club? You guessed it: a poor record in the area of follow-up. You simply cannot be a complete sales professional without proving your commitment to this critically important discipline.
Put another way, complete success with incomplete effort is not really complete success.
Can follow-up really make that big a difference? I say, emphatically, yes! And here’s why. Follow-up:
• Separates you from the crowd. You will never be accused of being like every other mediocre salesperson putting in the minimum of effort.
• Grows your confidence. You become bolder and surer of yourself when you know that you are doing what matters.
• Gains attention. People notice when you are pursuing diligent follow-up efforts. Your boss notices, your peers take note, but mostly your customers pay heed.
• Makes you memorable. When it comes to making a final decision, customers will remember you because you gave them very good reasons to do just that.
Follow-up is the one thing that will have the biggest impact on making the 1 Percent Club.
THE COMPOUND EFFECT
When you are finished with this book, I encourage you to read The Compound Effect. Darren Hardy’s short but powerful instructions will teach you important truths about the power of persistence over time.
The Compound Effect suggests that little things, done properly and over time, will have a huge payout. You may not see instant success, but in the long run your success will grow exponentially.
Follow-up is a perfect example of the Compound Effect.
Follow-up isn’t about a program; it’s about a habit. It’s about doing the right thing, over and over again, day in and day out.
It’s about a very long walk, a walk you are still taking when others have dropped out. It takes focus, persistence, and time.
No one accidentally climbs a mountain. No one accidentally builds a home with their own hands. No one accidentally becomes a self-made millionaire. And no one accidentally joins the 1 Percent Club.
Are you in? Prove it. Don’t tell me. Show me.
1. How would better follow-up compound your effectiveness?
2. What are some of the things you’re already doing well to be a “complete sales professional”?
3. What is the one biggest change you can make in your follow-up approach to move along the path to be eligible for the 1 Percent Club?
4. How will you continue applying the skills you’ve learned in earlier chapters to build the follow-up habits you need for greater success?
Now Do This:
The 1 Percent Club has plenty of room for more complete sales professionals. You can be the next 1 Percenter. All it takes is follow-up. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. Now go do it!