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Are You The “Top Gun” In Your Market?

The recent release of the highly acclaimed movie “Top Gun Maverick” inspired me to reflect on what it takes to be a a “Top Gun” banker or sales person.

In the Top Gun films, only the best Navy pilots can qualify for this elite training program. Accordingly, the term “Top Gun” has become synonymous with being the best at what you do.

So can we have a “Top Gun” banker or sales person?

Of course we can.

The “Top Gun” in each market does not necessarily need to be as reckless, arrogant or good looking as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise), but they usually are the most successful by:

  • Consistently exceeding growth/sales targets and winning new customers.
  • Constantly engaging customers, prospects and the community.
  • Always being seen in their local market.
  • Being highly regarded by colleagues, customers and competitors for their expertise.
  • Generously sharing their time and expertise with others. 
  • Confidently achieving their professional and personal goals.

Are YOU the “Top Gun” in your market?
Do you have what it takes to be “Top Gun”?

For years, my teams and I have aspired to dominate our markets and be the BEST bankers (and bank) for our local communities. And I’m proud to say we regularly achieved “Top Gun” status and the success attributes listed above.

Inspired by the Top Gun movies and my success, I thought I would share my six tips for becoming the “Top Gun” in your market.

One of the most important hallmarks of any elite (successful) banker or sales person is their passion and drive. They love what they do and are thrilled that they get to do what they do for work.

They are also highly competitive. They want to be the best and be regarded as the best in their market (community). 

Yes …. banking is a “team sport” so you need to work well with others. Let’s not mistake passion for arrogance. 

To be “Top Gun” it is essential that you love what you do. You get a rush from helping customers and colleagues. You’re self driven and highly self motivated. And a little (or very) competitive.

“You Feel the Need ….. the Need to Succeed”

In the Top Gun movies it is very clear that each Navy pilot knows their fighter plane and certainly knows how to fly it (use it). They have studied and mastered their tools. 

How well do you know your tools?

Do you thoroughly understand all your amazing products and solutions so you can confidently offer them to customers and position yourself as an adviser ….. rather than a “used car salesman”?

How are you leveraging your bank’s (company’s) technology and processes to get the job done right …. and more easily?

Take the time to truly master your tools so you can outmaneuver your competition and win more customers.

Why do you think Navy pilots are called “Maverick” or “Goose” or “Iceman”?

Their call sign reflects their character, captures their history and makes it easier to remember what makes them great.

What’s your “Call Sign”?

How well can you articulate your value proposition?
How do you distinguish yourself from your competition? 

Every banker or sales person knows how to talk about “Features & Benefits” but WHY would the customer want to buy from YOU? What makes you special, different and the best?

They call me Sales Coach Joe “Fire Bolt” Micallef because I have always been super passionate about helping others and energizing them to take action and achieve success.

What’s your “Call Sign” (nickname) and are you brave enough to use it?

Even the best of the best know that they can always learn how to do their job better. 

No matter how experienced or successful you are, if you are not constantly learning then eventually you will become less effective and less competitive. Eventually you will lose …. because your competition got better than you.

All Top Gun pilots must attend regular training. Heck, the entire movies are about learning.

Before you claim a pilot’s job is more complicated than yours, I want you to reflect on how many “moving parts” there are in your business. What impact will it have on your life and the life of others if you’re willing to learn how to better work all those moving parts?

The ONLY way to become “Top Gun” is by committing to a regular learning cadence. And if you think you already know a lot, then teach others.

Elite pilots spend a lot of time learning, but they also spend a lot of time flying. They put their learning into practice and they bravely take risks so they can achieve greater success.

Are you sitting there waiting for the phone to ring or for a potential customer to walk into your office/branch?

That’s NOT what a “Top Gun” does.

A successful banker or sales person commits to regular monthly business development activity. They have an activity plan. They do, do and do some more.

“Top Guns” are not afraid of rejection. They take risks and get outside their comfort zone – firmly believing they can make a difference and relying on their training, knowledge and expertise to overcome any obstacles.  

If you are passionate about your job, know your tools and your unique value proposition, and have committed to regular learning, then all you need to do now is take constant action – and you WILL succeed.

If you can commit to the first five attributes/tips, then you are well on your way to becoming the “Top Gun” in your local market. 

But never forget WHY you want to become “Top Gun”.

As the old saying goes …. “All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl”.

It is essential that you have fun along the way. Take time to celebrate your victories. Enjoy the benefits of your success. 

This attribute/tip is as critical as any of the others. Just ask Tom and his mates why they are racing on their motorbikes, dog fighting in the sky, playing sport on the beach and singing bad karaoke at a bar.


In the latest Top Gun movie, Maverick is threatened to be replaced by technology but he eloquently responds with, “Maybe so …. but not today”.

Despite all the advances in technology, there will ALWAYS be a need for great bankers and sales people who take the time to understand a customer’s needs, challenges and goals and confidently offer valuable solutions that make the customer’s life better.

THAT’s what being a “Top Gun” is really about.
Do you have what it takes to be “Top Gun”?

For a visual overview of these six tips please click the image below to watch my 16 minute sales training video which includes plenty of cool highlights from Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick.



Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. For more advice on how to become the “Top Gun” in your market please email or visit the webpage

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