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December 18, 2019

3 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople

“If only we had 10 more reps like [top performer], we’d blow our competition out of the water.”

A common refrain among sales managers, this implies that selling is more magic trick than science, and that great salespeople are born, not made.

Of course, most of us know this isn’t true. Cloning 10 copies of a great sales rep would merely produce 10 look-alikes who might (or might not) have a lick of talent. Because knowledge and skills are not encoded in our DNA, but must be taught, the key to improved organization-wide productivity is to replicate the behaviors of your top sellers.

Over the years, researchers have cataloged dozens of traits and habits that distinguish top sales performers from underachievers, but studies have identified 3 critical behaviors. If your organization is seeking a roadmap to success, these are the habits you need to “clone.”

The 3 Habits That Distinguish Top Performers Within an Organization

1. Spending enough time with customers and prospects.

At first glance, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth a second glance. While it’s true that top performers spend more time with prospects and customers than poor performers, forcing the latter to schedule more sales calls could be counterproductive if the rep isn’t ready (who wants to spend more time with a bad salesperson?)

It’s not the quantity, but quality, of interactions that’s important. First, top salespeople don’t waste their time with unqualified prospects. They are brutally selective when it comes to screening. Second, elite reps seek to build trust and credibility by cultivating long-term relationships. They know when to stop talking, when to listen and when to ask questions. These are active listening skills—skills anyone can master with proper training, coaching and reinforcement.

2. Developing large networks within their own organization.

The benefits of this behavior are obvious. No sales rep is an island. Each is supported by an internal network of executives, sales managers, product managers, technical support staff and other coworkers who can provide the expertise needed to help close sales.

Salespeople who develop strong internal networks, by nurturing personal relationships with the people who support their efforts, can tap into a wide range of expertise at a moment’s notice, leveraging the collective brainpower of a “deep bench.” Salespeople with small (or nonexistent) networks must mainly rely on themselves.

3. Spending more time with managers and other senior people in the organization.

Successful sales reps tend to have good reputations with their sales managers and senior executives. These managers can not only serve as mentors and coaches, but also supply much-needed context for their daily activities. For one thing, a rep who spends a fair amount of time talking with managers and executives will have access to information that the average rep does not, including the company’s overall goals, strategies and priorities.

At a minimum, this will help ensure that the rep’s priorities, tactics and other sales activities are aligned with those of the company as a whole. The rep will know exactly which strategies and actions contribute most to the company’s health and this, in turn, helps the rep improve those elements of their “game” that have the most impact on the bottom line.

All three of these behaviors can be taught, and they can be easily replicated by lower performers when they’re given the opportunity to observe ‘A players.’

By empowering the whole sales organization to capture their wisdom and insights via bite-sized videos featuring tips, strategies, tactics and “win stories,” the best salespeople in your organization can instantly pass along their knowledge, wisdom and experience to the rest of the team. Best of all, their blueprints for success can be accessed by the other reps whenever and wherever they need them most.

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