March 4

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Top sales performers do these things consistently

By Ralph Varcoe

March 4, 2021


If, like me, you enjoy cooking, then you’ll know that perfecting a dish is incredibly difficult. It’s all about getting the balance of ingredients just right, while adding each one to the pan at the right time is key. Too much or too little of an ingredient, or adding it too soon or too late, means you’ll end up with an average meal instead of a world-class one. That’s the difference between most of us home cooks and top chefs. They do the right things and they do them time and time again. Top salespeople are no different. They learn what works and they keep doing it. Top chefs and top sales performers perform every time.

As a business partner of the Objective Management Group (OMG), the pioneer and industry leader in sales force evaluations and sales candidate screening, I identify what top sales performers do. From this, I can improve the performance of your team and help them deliver success every time.

Beware of bogus lists

But first a warning: take no notice of lists that attempt to tell you what the best sales performers do based on observations and opinions. I’ll share one with you that was doing the rounds a few years ago.

1. Time management
2. Handling day-to-day stress levels
3. Effective questioning
4. Understanding of the prospect’s buying process
5. Extensive knowledge of the competition
6. Willingness to walk away
7. Always learning
8. Drive to win

The list has some interesting points, but it’s based on opinion not science. It was drawn up from Quora, the Q&A site on which anyone can post answers to another user’s query, and sales reps posted what they thought the top salespeople did to perform well.

Now Quora is an interesting site, but are the answers on it really the source from which you base the future wellbeing of your company? Salespeople are going to be inherently biased and self-affirm what they already do – whether it’s right or wrong. Yet the list was widely syndicated in the sales media and no doubt adopted for use by many sales managers.

A list based on science

I evaluate sales staff using the 21 core sales competencies people need to sell, which were identified by OMG in 1994. They have proved highly effective in understanding sales forces all over the world. Here is my list, based on the evaluation and the assessments of more than two million salespeople and teams.

1. Strong desire for sales success

Not surprisingly, this is the most important competency of an A-list salesperson, with 100% of the top one per cent of the best sales performers having a strong desire for sales success compared to a big, fat zero for the bottom five per cent of sales performers (if you can call them performers). Yet, despite the over-riding importance of this competency, some sales managers are unable to identify it and continue to hire people who just can’t sell because they don’t have the desire.

2. Goal orientated

Another critical competency of a top sales performer is being goal orientated. A full 100% have this competency compared to just 16% of the worst salespeople. As with cooking the perfect meal, there are many steps in the selling process, but the best sellers will always keep their eye on the end goal: the sale.

3. Trainable

The numbers here are a staggering 99.5% to 0%. Top performers want to learn how to succeed, are prepared to listen to coaches, then put their new-found skills into practice. The others either refuse to listen to coaches or just can’t learn the skills being handed to them. It’s no wonder one group can sell and the other can’t.

4. Strong commitment to sales success

Having a desire to sell (number one on the list) is important but it’s no good if someone with desire doesn’t do something with it. The top sales performers are committed to succeeding (as is seen from their competency to be trained and learn) and that’s why 99% of them have this competency compared to 33% for the others.

5. Comfortable talking about money

Some people are squeamish when it comes to discussing money, which is strange when we all need it and devote nearly every day to earning it, saving it or spending it. It’s not a problem you’ll find with the top sales performers, with 98% of them being comfortable talking about money. Only 2% of the worst performers are, however, so it’s no surprise they aren’t successful at selling.

What to do next

The percentage differences between the best 1% of sales performers and the worst 5% of sales performers in these critical competencies are stark. So why are some companies continuing to hire people who can’t sell, and why do they continue to send out these people when they have such a low chance of getting a sale? Quite simply because many sales managers are not identifying the best (and the worst) sellers and, therefore, can’t act on it.

During my sales team evaluations, I evaluate the 21 core competencies needed to sell for each of your salespeople, compare their individual attributes and produce an evaluation report. Only then can I ensure each person is in the right role, plus create tailored coaching and training programmes to help them sell better.

I also ensure you hire the right people going forward. Our sales candidate assessments use the 21 core competencies to eliminate the human bias of interviewing. The assessments provide a money-back predictor of sales success. The reports also provide huge amounts of information from which bespoke training and coaching programmes can be set up to ensure each hire is selling as quickly as possible.

Then, to improve your team, in not only the list above but all 21 core competencies, sales coaching is used to coach individuals or teams. Training is also provided in specific areas of sales such as selling value, consultative selling, hunting and reaching decision-makers and so on.

Contact me at Accelerate Performance today and learn the answers to “what do top sales performers do?” and start using that knowledge at your company.

Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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