Susan's Blog


Top of the Yellow Band

Here’s a special but challenging memory at the top of the Yellow Band, 25,000 feet, on Mt. Everest our first year. The Jet-Stream winds set in on our way up to the death zone.

Perseverance In the Face of Obstacles on Mount Everest

Perseverance is like a muscle that becomes stronger with exercise and practice. It’s a habit that enables you to approach every personal or professional challenge with focus and determination. We believe that perseverance is the key to a successful and rewarding life.”

In this video, Phil narrates as I climb up the ice flow—it was a much tougher session that we’d anticipated because of a collapse at the top. Tough or not, there was only one thing to do. Keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, take lots of little breaks, and keep moving toward my goal. 

“Perseverance is the singular quality that Everest summiteers and professional leaders have in common. They both recognize that pain is temporary. They persevere through thick and thin because they have an inner beacon of confidence to draw upon when the going gets tough. They also choose their teams with care. As Sue’s husband, Phil, often said, “Surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit.”

This is an excerpt from Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales:

Use Teamwork to Reach the Top

In sales, it’s important to realize that being a part of a team is a major benefit and can lead you a more successful career path; in order to achieve your full potential as a top sales performer, you must grasp the strength that comes with being a part of a dependable group and take full advantage of it.

For most climbers, going it alone is neither the safest nor the most efficient way to reach the summit. Inevitably, soloists run smack up against the limits of what they can achieve on their own. Without the support and experience of a team, they can expose themselves to extreme risks that reduce their chances of a successful outcome.

In sales, too, lone wolves can leave themselves vulnerable when they fail to forge the long-term relationships, teams, and networks they need to achieve at the highest levels throughout their careers. They may find intermittent success thanks to their great instincts, confidence, and drive to achieve. But these attributes will only serve them well for a while. Inevitably they will experience a major setback, such as a lost sale caused by their failure to consult with colleagues to confirm the technical feasibility of a proposed solution.

Top sales performers refuse to be stymied by their personal limitations. They set lofty goals and find ways to achieve them on an ongoing basis. Because they recognize that they must rely on others, they establish partnerships with influential members of their civic and business communities to acquire industry knowledge and client access. They invest in building strong relationships with their company’s leaders to secure the organizational resources they need to mount successful sales campaigns. Then they leverage these relationships to recruit and lead cross-functional teams to the summit of sales success.

On Everest, climbers rely on Sherpas to help them reach the summit. In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler shows you how to build and lead your own “Sherpa Team.”

Remember to follow these tips and invest in your relationship with your colleagues and team; this will inevitably help you advance in your career as a top performing salesman or saleswoman down the line.


Become a Trusted Guide for Your Clients

When you work in Sales, you must act as a “guide” to your clients and ensure you’re demonstrating the skills and attitude they require to trust you. Developing the foundation for a long-lasting, solid relationship is crucial and sets the tone for the interactions you have with your clients; these simple tips will help you grow a strong connection with the people you do business with.

When you meet with clients, encourage them to speak openly about their challenges, needs, and concerns. Ask leading, open-ended questions that tease out every detail of every problem as well as their perceived implications. You can’t earn your client’s trust and serve as their guide without first knowing where they think they need to go. Listen and be patient. You’ll soon get your chance to shine!

On the mountain, guides are masters of planning and preparation. The same is true in sales. Carefully map out all of your questions well in advance of the meeting. Make sure they address every individual’s specific concerns, roles, and responsibilities. But don’t stop there. Practice your questions so you can focus on listening, not speaking. Take careful notes. Make the meeting count.

In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler recommends you spend time acknowledging your client’s perceptions and initially show restraint in expressing your own ideas, although you may be nearly ready to explode with proposed solutions! In doing so, you’re establishing the groundwork for a sturdy relationship based on mutual trust.

De-Clutter to Climb to the Top

If you’re in sales, you know that clutter and a lack of organization in your life can lead to superfluous stress; the steps to declutter and prioritize seem easy, but as various tasks pile up, so does the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious. However, there’s a simple way to prevent the clutter from deterring you from focusing on your goals of generating revenue and reaching the top as a successful salesperson.

In mountain climbing, there’s no ambiguity about the need to travel light. The more weight you carry, the harder your journey will be.

In sales, this takes on another meaning.

We’re living in an age of information overload. As salespeople, we’re burdened with blizzards of e-mails, endless meetings, and countless demands on our time. It can be all too easy to become overwhelmed. Suddenly we may look up and discover that our best-laid plans to focus on revenue-generating activities have been derailed. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to success is to de-clutter both our personal and professional lives. In short, we have to take some of the weight out of our backpacks!

How can you do this? The first step is to jettison everything that stands in the way of your ultimate vision of blowing away your quota and becoming a top performer. That means setting priorities every day and then completing every task needed to fulfill them as efficiently as possible.

Start every morning by carefully assessing which activities must be accomplished that day, which can wait, which can be delegated, and, best of all, which can be eliminated entirely.

“I do that already,” you may be grumbling to yourself as you read this. Every day, you diligently compile a “to do” list of everything that’s on your plate. But, if you’re like many salespeople, your list is an unstructured collection of tasks that don’t reflect the priorities required to achieve your vision or provide a realistic time frame for completing them. Lists like these simply don’t work.

As salespeople, we should think of our “to do” items as physical objects that we place in our backpacks to help us achieve our daily mission. We must pack with care and purpose. We must delay, eliminate, or reassign any activity that doesn’t help us ascend “Mount Quota.”

High-priority tasks are usually the most difficult ones, so they create the heaviest loads. These are the phone calls we don’t want to make, the industry research we need to conduct to understand a new client’s business requirements, or the meeting with a prospect who now seems to be leaning toward a competitor.

If you’re like most salespeople, you may find yourself focusing primarily on easy tasks. You probably devote too much time to doing busywork, attending unproductive meetings, and in general, reacting to other people’s priorities. Just think how many sales you could have closed if you had spent that time meeting with prospective clients instead.

In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler encourages you to take a step back and focus on the heaviest, most difficult tasks that are sitting at the bottom of your pack first. Once you start putting energy into those, that debilitating load that’s been on your back since you initially scribbled down your to-do list will disappear and you’ll be one step closer to meeting your goals and climbing to the top.

No Short Cuts to Success

No Short Cuts to Success

This video finds the Everest climbers at the base of Lhotse, which is part of the Everest Massif. Here, Phil, the group’s guide, speaks about climbers’ desire to take short-cuts up the mountain—whether it’s by skipping acclimatization, or by taking a dangerous path up the mountainside rather than zigging and zagging to keep it safe and manageable.

Leadership speaker Susan Ershler, who has climbed the Seven Summits—the world’s highest mountains—has also reached peak performance in the business world. During her keynote speeches to Fortune 500 companies, Susan describes the importance of creating a plan for success that allows you to practice and optimize your habits—and the importance of not trying to take “short-cuts” to the top, leaving yourself vulnerable for costly missteps.

Successful climbers know they must “approach the trek with Intention.” They carry sufficient weight to prepare for the physical demands ahead and make sure to acclimatize their bodies gradually to the changing altitude. Most importantly, they begin the mental transition from trekker to climber that prepares them to summit the highest mountains in the world. Sue and her partner John arrived at Base Camp healthy, fit, and prepared for the challenges ahead. Thanks to their yearlong process of projection and preparation, they were ready to execute climbing Everest.

You must get to a mountain before you can climb it. In sales, prospecting is the trek that takes you to an opportunity. Traditional prospecting methods, such as cold calls, mailings, and special events, should be considered, depending on the types of products and services you’re selling. It’s also helpful to devote time each day to developing new client relationships. But, don’t forget to reach out to your existing clients too! You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into developing these relationships and these clients are your best source of new business. Yet too often, sales reps overlook this simple fact, focusing almost exclusively on finding new clients while neglecting existing ones.

A little excerpt from Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: “Top performers work hard to strengthen their relationships, connecting with their clients on an ongoing basis to ensure they understand their emerging needs. They update their Account Plans so they can anticipate and pursue new sales opportunities. They know that maintaining a high level of customer touch is a surefire way to meet and exceed their quota.”

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day! On our third climb of Kilimanjaro together, highest mountain in Africa, 19,340’, eight women were on our climb. Whether in your 20s to 60s, all women were strong and fun.

Susan Ershler - International Women's Day

Networking To Reach the Top

Networking to Reach the Top with International Leadership Speaker Susan Ershler

Networking can be a daunting activity. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or even what to do. To make the process less complex and more organized, we’ve provided some best practices about networking and how to get started to make the most out of the experience:

First, you’ll need to scout out the best candidates. Then, you must demonstrate a genuine commitment to helping them achieve their own goals and objectives. As always, this takes discipline, focus and planning.

Here is a list of some of the best networking settings to find potential members of your Outside ROPE team:

After you know where to go, how do you proceed?

  • Remember, more is not always better. Focus your efforts by creating a “Top Ten” list of candidates who can introduce you to prospects or provide you with some other competitive advantage. They may be industry pundits or leading thinkers such as scientists or educators. They may run prominent businesses or head up important trade organizations. Carefully consider how you can benefit them too. Then check the chart above to see where you’re most likely to encounter each of them.
  • Be Prepared. You never know when a networking opportunity will arise, so make sure you always have pertinent information on hand about yourself and your company.
  • Don’t Lecture, Listen! People at networking events want to talk about themselves, and you need to let them!
  • Be Engaged. Never lead with your “Elevator Pitch.” People don’t want to be “sold.” They want to meet interesting people with balanced lives. Share your personal side. Smile and be enthusiastic. Strive to make a connection, be authentic, and remember to ask more questions than you answer.
  • Give to Get. Good relationships benefit both parties, so be sure to ask everyone you meet to share his or her goals and objectives.
  • Follow-up. This is the key to networking success. Send personal notes to your best candidates thanking them for their time. Share a bit of pertinent news about an upcoming industry event or let them know you’ve made an introduction on their behalf. Most importantly, follow up on your commitments to do something for them!
  • Never Stop Networking. As you can see, building your Outside ROPE team is an ongoing process that requires careful planning and dedication. Your network will be critical to your long-term success, so develop it with diligence and care!

Order your copy of Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales—and take your sales performance to new heights!

Evaluate Your Performance—Often and Honestly

In this video, I’m resting in our warm tent at Camp 1, at 19,800′ in elevation, after an arduous day of climbing. Phil flips on the camera and checks in with me. “How do you think about your performance?” he asks.

I answer, honestly, “I’m always going to be slow, but I think it went pretty well…” Then I mention, “We shaved an hour off our time from last year, which is good.”

Why are we talking about this?

Continue reading “Evaluate Your Performance—Often and Honestly”