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5 Ways Top Performing Salespeople Are Different From the Rest [Video]

Great salespeople do more than just consistently drive profitable revenue for their employers. They inspire confidence in customers and partners, increase brand trust, and contribute to a positive company culture.

And, these salespeople are rare, representing only 10 to 15 percent of the sales population.

If you want to accurately identify these top salespeople in an interview you need to know:

  • What makes these salespeople so great?
  • What separates them from the rest?

That’s why Peak’s research group conducted a study on the behaviors and characteristics of top performing salespeople. We asked top, average, and poor performers about their day-to-day behaviors and characteristics to determine what gives top salespeople their competitive edge.

Characteristics and Behaviors of Top Salespeople Study

In this video we’ve compiled the top 5 ways top performing salespeople are different from the rest:

1. They spend their time selling

Peak’s survey found a major differentiator in how the best salespeople spend their time. While top performing salespeople – those who met or exceeded quota for the past three years – indicated they spend 19 to 23 hours selling per week, average salespeople only spend 14 to 18 hours, and poor reps less than 13 hours.

These numbers demonstrate that top salespeople are spending 36 percent more time selling than the rest.

Evidently, the best sellers are focusing their time on the activity that directly generates revenue.

2. They don’t give up easily

If you’ve read Peak’s eBook, Make the Right Sales Hire Every Time, you know that top performers do not give up because they hav/sales-resources/make-the-right-sales-hire-ebook/e a burning need to achieve, see rejection as motivation, and get excited by pressure.

When surveyed, the majority of top performing salespeople indicated that they attempt to contact a lead nine or more times before finally giving up on it. On the other hand, the average and poor performers indicated that they only attempt to contact a prospect five or six times before giving up.

Other studies support that the top salespeople are doing it right. According to HubSpot, 80 percent of sales require five successful connections.

3. They are driven individuals

Several sales experts have named drive or money-motivation as the trait that sets apart great salespeople from the mediocre ones.

When asked to rate certain characteristics from unimportant to very important to sales success, 81 percent of top performing salespeople surveyed rated “driven” as “very important” and listed it as the most important trait. Consequently, only 57 percent of the average and poor performers named being driven as very important to sales success.

Drive has been named as the most important trait common to the DNA of nearly all successful salespeople, and the vast majority of top salespeople agree with this statement.

4. They think critically

As sales continues to become more of a data science, critical thinking skills are now being named in several academic articles as an essential skill for a modern-day salesperson.

58 percent of top performing salespeople surveyed rated “critical thinking” as very important to their sales success versus only 40 percent of average and poor performing salespeople.

Critical thinking skills will continue to become more and more important to sales success as more companies start embracing big data. The best sellers use their critical thinking skills to interpret data, analyze findings, and ultimately demonstrate value to prospects.

5. They are independent

When asked how many hours per week they spend with their top salespeople versus average and poor performers, sales leaders surveyed that they spend 30 minutes less in contact with their top performers per week than their average or poor performers.

Studies show that autonomy drives employees to happiness, motivation, and performance. The best sellers take initiative and try to solve their own problems first before asking a leader for help.

If you want more insights on the behaviors and characteristics of a top performing sales person, download your free copy of the comprehensive study on what differentiates the best sellers from the rest.


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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting

Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.