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Characteristics of Top Sales Performers

June 4, 2015

It has always been interesting to see just how little information sales people have about what makes a top sales performer. If asked, most sales people would say that they are the best at what they do. Many would say that the key to their success is their persistence or great time management skills. Although these skills are important to one’s sales success, it has little to do with what separates top producers from mediocre producers. When looking at salespeople from various industries, the top five skills and behavior patterns that top producers possessed were identified.

1. Connecting with the Prospect
Today’s top producers are seen as more than just sales persons, they are viewed as business partners. Therefore top sales performers have honed the skill of creating very strong customer relationships. These relationships allow the sales person to help the prospect understand why their product or service is the best solution for helping them solve their problems. Creating a strong customer relationship allows the sales person to build trust and to be seen as more of a resource or consultant. Prospects purchase from people they trust.

2. Staying Focused on What the Prospect Needs
Another skill of top performers is the ability to ask probing questions that will uncover a prospect’s challenges or needs. These individuals will take on a consultative approach and use “counseling techniques” to discover their prospect’s needs. It has been shown that these top performers asked 25% more open-ended questions than lower performers. In fact, the successful sales person will ask an average of 14 open-ended questions. These top performers use these open-ended questions to uncover not just one but several of the prospect’s needs. It has also been shown that when two or more needs are uncovered, a sale will follow.

3. Matching Prospect Needs
The next skill of top performers is their ability to take the information that they gathered from the probing questions they asked and demonstrating clearly how their product or service meets the needs of the prospect. In fact, top performers describe an average of eight product benefits and list over seven product features that satisfy the prospect’s needs. Although benefit statements are a great way to create belief in your product, many sales persons are presenting benefits that do not meet the prospect’s needs. Remember a prospect is only interested in how your product will help them.

4. Turning Around Negative Prospects
The fourth valuable skill that top performers possess is their uncanny ability to turn around a prospect’s negative attitude. In order for top performers to effectively deal with a negative prospect, they have to first acknowledge that the prospect has a right to ask questions. They are making a buying decision and it is important for them to feel confident in their decision. Secondly, anticipate objections that the prospect may raise. By anticipating the objections, top performers are able to address them early on during the sales process. It was uncovered that successful sales contained 50% more objections than a no sale. So, the more objections that you receive and handle effectively, the more likely that you will close the sale.

5. Knowing How or When to Close
A lot of things can happen when you are closing a sale – everything from objections, to last-minute changes, to competitive bids. Top performers have the ability to propose a clear plan of action for the prospect by summarizing the benefits and value of their product or service for the client. This plan of action shows the prospect exactly what will happen before and after the sale. In fact, when the prospect is given this plan of action, 75% of the prospects completed the sale. This is a critical step in the sales process, which is overlooked by many sales persons.

This means that to be a top performer, sales people need to master the skill of the top performers. You must put yourself on the same side of the table as the prospect by building strong relationships that will help you to be considered as a resource or a consultant. Always ask relevant and probing open-ended questions and listen intently to the prospect’s needs. Once you have discovered the prospect’s area of needs, you are then able to summarize the benefits and value of your product and how they satisfy the prospect’s needs. Also, remember to anticipate the prospect’s objections and address them effectively. Then you will be able to propose a clear plan of action for the prospect to utilize your product or service to meet their need. Once you have mastered these skills, you will be on your way to becoming a top performer.

-Gigi Bodwin, Sales Research Consultant

Source: Dr. Kerry Johnson, www.kerryjohnson.com