developing all-star actions

From time to time, clients ask us to help them get started with developing their actions. While we sometimes take it for granted, the whole notion of a key action is still a relatively novel concept. In this post, we provide a simple framework to help you develop all-star actions.

To review, a key action is neither a task nor a goal…consider key actions as falling into one of three categories.


1. A fundamental skill required to perform a job with excellence that needs to be prioritized and practiced to mastery

2. An activity that will develop a talent into a strength

3. A habit or ritual of behavior required to build and sustain momentum

If I was talking about an athlete, these concepts might be easier to grasp. For example, a pitcher likely has a clear set of skills with respect to throwing the baseball and a logical cadre of talents including extreme focus, high work intensity, mental toughness, and savvy gamesmanship.

To achieve his potential, the pitcher must develop his pitches so they can be thrown with pinpoint accuracy (skills) under demanding conditions (mental talents) over and over against increasingly difficult competition (resilience and momentum through physical conditioning and mental toughness).

He does not win games (achieve goals) by monitoring the scoreboard (tracking results). Rather he develops an ever-improving ability to throw strikes. Thus, he must develop rituals of behavior that hone his skills, build his resilience, and develop a routine that keeps him game-ready. Could you develop a mix of key actions for the pitcher?

Now, let’s think about a salesperson. To achieve her potential, an all-star sales rep must be competent (skills), trustworthy and client-focused (talents), and hard-working (resilient).

SKILLS. She must know her product, client, and competition as well as anyone so she can articulate a compelling value proposition. This requires a strong fact base, a skill anyone can build.

Examples: keeping the rep competent

• Study the product, stay current with updates

• Study the competition

• Study clients (annual reports, press releases, news, social media)

• Study the industry

• Develop account strategies and call plans

• Learn sales tools, technologies, and best practices

STRENGTHS. She must develop her relationship talents into strengths, enabling her to quickly develop trusting relationships with a wide variety of people. These are talents that help her authentically engage people, assess their needs, priorities, and preferred communication style, and respond accordingly.

Examples: developing the most crucial talents

• Practice the pitch delivery

• Arrive early and prepared every time

• Explore connections and interests

• Uncover pain points and unstated needs

• Follow-up in a timely manner

MOMENTUM. And, she must engage enough of the right prospects to fill her pipeline with sufficient business to grow revenue. If marketing feeds her leads, then she must simply maintain enough “horsepower” or energy to engage a sufficient number of them. If she is also responsible for lead development, she will have to find prospects as well as engage them both directly and indirectly.

Examples: keeping the pipeline full and energy high

• Source new leads

• Read and write to develop thought leadership

• Write or speak to build clout and following

• Consistently invest in key relationships

• Connect others and pay-it-forward

• Take care of yourself

Easy right?! Perhaps straightforward on paper, but this is a lot…in fact, this is more than most people can keep up with. That is why we advocate for just 5 to 7 key actions at a time. Prioritize them, build them into habits, then over time replace them with new key actions until you have mastered the whole cycle.

Oh, and what about that last item? Turns out “taking care of yourself” is perhaps the single most powerful and complex habit of them all. We’ll explore that one in a separate post!

So what are you doing to build skills, strengths, and momentum like an all-star?