There’s no denying sales are the driving force behind all for-profit businesses. There isn’t a single department, in any business or industry, that has a greater impact on an organization’s success. Whether we’re talking about cash flow, building customer loyalty, or simply keeping the lights on, without sales, businesses fail.
Given the importance of sales for revenue-generating businesses, it’s no wonder why skilled salespeople are highly sought after and well-compensated. Whether you’re a business owner or a salesperson yourself, you’ve probably wondered what makes a rep who’s consistently exceeding their numbers different than those that are simply scraping by.
While everyone is unique, there are certain traits that all successful salespeople tend to possess. There’s a reason why their names are always on top of the leaderboard month after month.
So what makes a quota-crushing salesperson?
Before you can achieve similar results, you have to understand what sets them apart. Here are some things you should look for when thinking about hiring a new salesperson, evaluating your current team, or looking to improve your own sales skills.
1. They're curious.
The best salespeople are inherently curious - and curiosity is an important part of sales success. Why? Curious people are always asking questions. Without asking a ton of questions, a sales rep will be left guessing what their prospect truly needs.
Questions not only help sales reps recommend the right solution to their prospect - they also develop strong relationships. Prospects like it when salespeople are genuinely curious. It means the rep is making an effort to learn about the person they’re dealing with, their issues, and what they can do to help. A curious salesperson always ends up with information critical to closing the deal.
2. They’re active listeners.
What do great sales reps do immediately after asking a question? They shut up and listen. When talking with a prospect, top performers don’t daydream or worry about when they’re going to close the deal - they really listen. That means fully concentrating on what’s being said instead of passively hearing the prospect talk. Great salespeople know that prospects will give them all the information they need if they’re actively listening. It’s a skill that can be learned and developed over time, but perhaps one the most valuable in the set of traits that makes quota-crushing salespeople.
3. They’re always learning.
Sales, just as business itself, is constantly evolving. Tactics and strategies that worked in the past likely aren’t as effective now. That’s why great salespeople never stop learning. They’re always reading, taking training, and participating in activities that will help them develop new skills. This type of dedication to learning means they consistently try new things. They test every little detail in their sales processes, and they are always focused on improvement.
Great salespeople are also masters at self-reflection. They’re skilled at analyzing their previous deals, meetings, and calls to see what went well, where they can improve, and what they should focus on in the future. This type of self-reflection helps salespeople refine their pitch and skills - and without it, there’s no way to improve.
Learning isn’t strictly related to personal growth. Great salespeople make sure they’re always aware of what’s going on in their industry, too. They know the latest news and developments, and they’ll have great answers to industry-specific questions their prospects might ask. It’s often said that prospects only buy from people they trust. A dedication to learning will help sales reps show their buyers they know their industry and what’s best for their business.
4. They’re exceptionally persistent, yet patient.
Salespeople often get a bad rep for being pests - constantly bothering prospects until they can’t take it anymore. Yet if salespeople don’t hear back from a prospect, it’s their job to follow up. They might be met with rejection, as often happens, but great sales reps know that buying decisions take time. That’s why they keep following up until their prospects are ready to pull the trigger. Far too many reps will give up on a prospect after one follow-up. That’s why successful reps are so persistent. By giving up less easily than their competitors, they win far more deals.
Giving up isn’t in the nature of great reps, but they’re aware of the incredibly thin line between being persistent and annoying. This is where patience comes into play. Top performers are persistent in offering help to their prospects throughout the buying cycle, but they work on the buyers time. They realize prospects will buy when they’re ready. They focus on delivering value to their prospects, genuinely helping with the buying decision. They allow their prospects to do independent research, demonstrate an ability to wait, and often reap more rewards than their less patient competitors.
5. People like them.
Because prospects tend to buy from people they like, Being personable is universal among people who do well in sales. Reps who focus on being friendly, easy going and approachable tend to be more successful. They enjoy learning about the people around them. They’re seeking to create relationships first, and close deals second. The importance of creating a connection with a prospect and maintaining it once they’re a customer has been stressed by countless sales experts. Why? Relationships, if nurtured, lead to additional or repeat business, and referrals. Salespeople who gain business from existing relationships consistently outperform their peers who lack such relationships.
6. They’ve perfected balance.
Top performers are experts at balance. They’re mindful of the fine lines they’re constantly walking. For example, when it comes to being personable and friendly, they’re skilled at using small talk and open conversation to build relationships, but they know they still have a job to do. They’ve perfected the balance of small talk vs. business talk. They’ve honed their skills to know exactly when to make a smooth transition from friendly conversation to getting things done. Great salespeople also know exactly how much follow up is too much. They’re skilled at keeping their business offerings in the top of their prospects’ mind while avoiding being labeled as a nuisance. Finally, they can balance multiple deals, each in a different stage, while continuing to make time to prospect and keep their pipeline full.
7. They’re organized.
Salespeople often lose deals for the simple fact that they’re unorganized. On any given day, reps will have a ton on their plate. That’s why being organized is one of the most important characteristics of people who succeed in sales. A great rep can organize prospecting, research, meetings, demonstrations, and administrative tasks all on their own. It’s worth mentioning the best salespeople also take advantage of their mornings by preparing for their day, studying training material, and practicing routines that get them in the right mindset to sell. When you find a highly organized sales rep, you’re likely to find someone who also consistently exceeds their quota.
While everyone possesses their own unique skill sets, there’s strong evidence that all successful sales reps share similar traits. Spend time with enough great salespeople and you’ll begin to see that they’re all curious, personable, likable and organized. You’ll find they’re skilled at active listening and they possess a unique balance of persistence and patience.
Having a solid understanding of what differentiates average salespeople from those the great ones if the first step in improving your own sales results. Next, it’s time to implement some of these traits into your own sales strategy, train your existing salespeople to follow suit or, start looking for some new team members.
Here are a few things that should help:
- Make sure you have the right tools in place. Sure, great salespeople are organized, but they’re skilled at using technology to their advantage. Make sure your systems attract talented sales reps, rather than push them away. Don’t make their job harder than it has to be. Think about mobile responsiveness and commission tracking. Enable your reps’ efficiency on the road and give them an easy way to track their earnings.
- If you’re a salesperson looking to improve your own results, think about ways you can use become more organized and efficient. For example, develop a system of following up, and track it. Use your company’s CRM email automation tools. If they’re non-existent, make a suggestion to management, or look for a company that’ll provide you with tools to help you succeed.
- Whether you’re an executive, a manager, or a sales rep, clean up your CRM. With clearly organized data, you’ll be able to identify where each prospect is in the funnel and how the conversations have been going. This way, you’ll have full visibility into each deal and you’ll know what it takes to win.
- Invest in education. Find a sales mentor or a new training program. Figure out what it takes to build solid relationships. Learn from people who’ve already experience the results you’re looking for.
Now that you know what makes salespeople exceed their numbers, beat the competition, stand out amongst their peers, figure out how to implement these traits into your own organization or sales strategy. With an understanding of what it takes to be successful and some hard work, you can transform your sales results.