There are many theories on the differences between top performing sales professionals and their underperforming peers. Given the divergence of opinions, it can be challenging to determine why some sales reps excel while others have a much more difficult time achieving their target. However, there are a few notable principles that correlate with higher performance and suggest a causal relationship (A reminder from Statistics 101: Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, though in this case it does). Today we’ll be looking at four key traits we’ve identified as hallmarks of top-performing reps.
- Top Performing Sales Professionals Display Empathy
Empathy is an essential tool in sales – we’ve written previous posts expounding on this (including our discussion of why it’s both the most difficult and valuable sales skill), but it bears repeating. Top sales performers are attuned to what customers want and provide solutions accordingly.
That involves listening to what the customer is saying (verbally, in body language, and in the negative space of what they aren’t saying) and asking thoughtful, purposeful questions to uncover crucial information and act upon the ensuing revealed client needs.
Top performers also master relationship building with buyers, based on careful cultivation of trust and respect. They establish credibility by sharing information that is in the customer’s best interest – even if that means challenging or changing a client’s current thinking. Star sales reps also display genuine caring about their buyers as people and align proposed solutions tailored to customers’ individual business needs.
- Top Performing Sales Professionals Adapt
Top performing sales professionals are quick to think on their feet and respond to changing environments and situations. If a customer is not receptive to a certain approach or communication style, these sales stars are able to quickly shift to an alternative and continue driving the conversation.
Developing adaptability means preparing for and anticipating possible shifts and objections before the meeting, recognizing real-time when something isn’t working, and adapting in the immediate moment.
- Top Performing Sales Professionals Are Consistent in Their Approach
Top performers have honed their ability to focus on high value sales activities that help achieve desired outcomes. These precise activities will vary depending on their employer’s sales process, products, and target buyers’ behaviors and own processes, but the A-level reps will learn and know these activities, delivering them consistently.
The key to achieving high results month after month and quarter after quarter is discipline. Specifically, having the dedication and consistency to develop and stick to the fundamental activities plan with discipline and consistency – even in slow periods.
- Top Performing Sales Professionals Are Proactive
Sales professionals often have to strike a balance between being too aggressive off or too passive. Passive sales reps in particular, who are sensitive to the latter possibility, can be prone to fear of being perceived as a bother. This can often lead to missed opportunities because of failure to recognize when there’s momentum to drive the sales process forward. Remember, objections that aren’t a no are still a sign of interest and engagement, and even the nos are just rejections based on the current situation. Keep them stashed in the pipeline and be prepared to circle back when circumstances change.
Top performing sales reps understand the importance of being proactive and not leaving any step during the sales process to chance. They anticipate customer needs and potential responses, and are prepared to overcome obstacles that may delay progress. Nor do they become discouraged by roadblocks that appear – there’s frequently solutions to remove or navigate around obstacles.
These aforementioned traits tend to be commonplace in top performers. What’s even more important to note: while some are born with these abilities or develop them early on in life, for many, these are skills and habits accrued during their working lives. It’s never too late to learn these traits and develop them for the good of your career, your company, and your clients.