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10 Secrets of Top Sales Performers

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The sales industry has long been fascinated with the difference between salespeople who just “get by” and sales stars who seem to succeed effortlessly, at two or three times the rate of the average employee.

What makes sales stars different from their mediocre coworkers?

Research shows that unique personality traits combined with a perceptive sales approach are what set top performers apart.

Here are the top sales secrets that make high performers so much more successful than the rest.

1. See everything from the customer’s perspective.

Most salespeople have probably spent some time imagining what potential customers want from a business relationship, but a top performer will take this thought exercise much further.

With each potential client, a great salesperson will try to identify the prospect’s top priorities and concerns and use that information to tailor his product offering and approach to specifically address those needs.

This specificity and personal treatment of prospects is what gives a top salesperson the ability to anticipate a customer’s needs and make him feel like he is being helped rather than being sold.

2. Believe in the product.

Real enthusiasm for a company’s product is infectious and hard to fake.

When a salesperson believes in his product’s value, he can frame his entire purpose around offering solutions to client’s problems rather than simply closing a deal. This helpful approach will also put a prospect at ease because it feels like working with an expert offering advice rather than a salesperson charming him for a commission.

Believing in the company’s product has more to do with understanding the ideal customer than having the absolute “best” product on the market. So, every salesperson should be able to believe in the helpfulness of his product once he identifies the best customer.

3. Do not waste time begging lukewarm leads to buy now.

good-salespeople-know-product-customer-fitA great salesperson knows that his product is not for everyone and is honest about it.

A top salesperson will even have the confidence to walk away from a prospect if it is not a good fit.

Forcing prospects into his company’s solution might help a salesperson’s commission upfront, but it will ultimately hurt the business as a whole when the prospect backs out after a month.

Top salespeople know that time used persuading a lukewarm lead to buy would have been better spent tracking down new sources of qualified leads or developing current relationships.

4. Ask good questions.

A top sales performer will be less interested in pitching and more interested in having conversations with prospects.

Good conversational skills hinge on asking good questions, so top salespeople will have a few well-crafted ones in their back pocket at all times.

Not only are conversations more natural than pitches and more comfortable for prospects, but if a salesperson asks the right questions, he can uncover the customer’s needs and concerns and figure out the best way to address them.

5. Know the product inside and out.

After a top salesperson figures out his prospect’s needs and concerns, he must draw on his expertise to determine the best solution for that customer.

Great salespeople do not underestimate the importance of understanding the product, how it can help, and having a few bits of data to back up their claims.

This sales secret seems pretty obvious, but it cannot be overstated. Product knowledge is vital for great sales technique and extremely teachable, so there’s no excuse for a serious salesperson to let it slide.

6. Build authority and trust.

A top salesperson realizes that sales are easier when prospects trust him.

Approaching each prospect as a consultant rather than a salesperson shifts the focus to helping rather than selling, which will build trust.

A top performer will also use his expertise to participate in industry dialog, whether in online communities or local groups and establish himself as an authority in his field. Commenting on relevant articles that potential clients will likely read and answering questions in topical forums will not only establish authority but also drive qualified prospects to his door.

An average employee is content to be an anonymous sales representative for his company, but a top salesperson will work to develop a reputation of expertise in the field.

7. Throw out the script.

Slideshows and scripts are written to cover basic buzzwords and generic specifications with no particular customer in mind.

A great salesperson will know the script well enough to cover relevant information with prospects while tailoring his approach to the client’s particular needs. Clients hate sitting through dry sales pitches, so top sales performers ditch the pitch when necessary and engage with prospects human to human.

8. Do not waste the customer’s time.

There is nothing that screams of amateur ineptitude more than wasting a customer’s time covering stock information that isn’t relevant to them.

Top salespeople know their customers well enough by the time they are into the details of a deal that they do not waste time covering information that is not important to the specific situation. With the client’s experience always at the forefront of his mind, a great salesperson will cut what needs to be cut to keep the meeting on topic.

9. Be tenacious.


A top sales performer knows what to do when customers have objections. Rather than panic, he asks more questions and continues the conversation with the goal of finding the root reason for a customer’s objection.

Tenacity does not have to mean being pushy. Often when prospects bring up issues, it has more to do with their trust of the salesperson than the proposed price of the deal.

A great salesperson will realize that objections are opportunities to learn more about a client and take the opportunity to step back and re-inform their approach.

10. Enjoy the process.

Probably the most important factor in a star salesperson’s success is that he has an aptitude for sales, which makes it easy for him to enjoy the process. Of all the sales secrets that set top performers apart from the rest, this is the one that cannot be taught.

A salesperson who is suited to the job will enjoy earning a client’s trust, anticipating a customer’s needs, making numbers, and becoming recognized as an authority in his field.

Great salespeople have Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism, which are all critical traits that make careers in sales satisfying and enjoyable day in and day out.

Most salespeople are not consciously aware of whether or not they have the right personality for sales, so it is helpful for companies to use aptitude testing during the first stages of the hiring process.

If a salesperson has the Drive and personality to succeed in the industry, he can learn all the sales secrets, build authority in the community and enjoy the process of becoming a star salesperson.

Join the Conversation:

What are your top sales secrets?

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