8 Things the Top 1% of Sales Reps Do Differently

The best sales reps often have indefinable and complex abilities that set them apart from their peers. These reps connect easily with prospects, quickly move opportunities down the pipeline and effortlessly close big deals. But what is it that makes these reps so successful?

We came across this discussion on Quora, led by our friend Jason Lemkin, asking sales leaders what they believe sets the top reps apart from the rest. Here are 8 daily habits the top 1% of sales reps have, so you can emulate their success and become a top salesperson yourself.

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1.  Manage Their Time Efficiently

The biggest differentiating factor between good sales reps and the very best sales reps is simply time management.

“One difference between the Top 10% and the Top 1% is the very top are extremely efficient with their time,” Lemkin wrote on Quora.

Time is always limited, and so the best reps are able to make the most of every hour in the day, and always have a plan to win. The top 1% prioritize the best leads first to improve the end results and maximize every minute of their time spent working each lead. Top reps don’t just plan out their day in a calendar – they know exactly what they’re going to do at every step of the way throughout every deal. The’re always prepared to answer tough questions on a product demo, they’re ready to overcome any objection, and they know exactly when to offer a discount to close the deal.

2. Keep Their Stress Levels Under Control

Along with great time management comes less stress and day-to-day pressure. The top reps in sales aren’t the most stressed out – in fact they’re usually calm, cool and collected. Because they’re so confident in their abilities, they simply don’t get as stressed out as other sales reps. They know which deals will close and when, and they’re not often surprised by the outcome. That doesn’t mean the best reps never stress, but they always act calmly and work well under pressure.

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3. Ask Effective and Challenging Questions

The best 1% of sales reps don’t just talk – they listen. Great sales reps are able to ask the right questions at the right time, to draw out prospects, gain their trust, and find out the information needed to close the deal. Reps have to know the right sequence of questions to ask to connect the value proposition to the buyer’s specific pain points. Asking these questions helps sales reps get to the real root of a buyer’s struggles and empathize with their needs. Then, the rep can step in and offer their product as a way to solve the buyer’s problems.

4. Understand Buying Processes 

Asking the right questions leads to a better knowledge of every prospect and their personal buying process. Great reps know their company’s sales process, but they really think about the sale from the buyer’s perspective. The top 1% follow the buyer’s lead and guide them unobtrusively to the point that they’re ready to buy. Reps understand that some prospects need more time to evaluate a demo, while others will buy very quickly, and that’s OK. Top reps do follow a set sales process, but this focus on a buyer’s needs will help move the deal along faster.

5. Compare and Contrast vs. Competitors 

The very top percentage of reps don’t pull out a competitive comparison card during a call with a prospect – they already have the details memorized. The best reps not only know their own product thoroughly, they also know the competition’s products backwards and forwards. They read every article, research competitors extensively, and are always looking out for emerging companies. This helps reps beat out the competition, because they can easily point out flaws and weaknesses in a competitor’s product compared to their own. Extensive knowledge of the competition allows them to outsell at every turn, and win more deals.

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6. Are Able to Walk Away When Necessary 

For the same reason top reps don’t waste any time, the best reps are willing to walk away from a prospective customer that isn’t a good fit. The top 1% of reps can tell very quickly when a prospect isn’t going to convert, and are confident enough to stop chasing that reluctant prospect. While this may seem risky to other reps who go after every single lead aggressively, it’s actually an incredibly smart move. The best reps waste less time selling to disinterested buyers, and instead focus all of their attention on winning the deals that are the most likely to close.

7. Never Stop Learning 

Great sales reps are always reading sales books, learning new skills, asking for coaching, and improving their own selling abilities. This inability to sit back and take a break means these reps are constantly striving and pushing themselves to improve. Obviously, this work ethic pays off and results in sharper selling skills and improved win rates across the board. The best reps are never content with their current abilities, but are constantly learning more and pushing their limits.

8. Have an Insatiable Drive to Win 

The top sales reps in the game don’t just want to win; they need to win. The same drive that pushes the top 1% of reps to constantly learn new selling skills is what pushes them to win the most deals and beat out everyone else. These reps are competitive people at heart – whether they’re playing a board game or chasing a new prospect. This innate ambition and need to win means they’re never happy unless they’re at the top of the sales leaderboard.

Just because you’re not in the top 1% now doesn’t mean you never will be. Take these lessons from the best sales reps in the business, and push yourself to improve. Ask the right questions, learn the right skills, and with the right mindset, you can become a top sales rep too.

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Cara Hogan
Cara Hogan
Cara Hogan is a Content Marketing Manager at InsightSquared, where she is a constant contributor to Ramp, the InsightSquared blog, and the host of Ramp, the SaaS analytics podcast. Cara studied Journalism at Boston University and has written extensively about the intersection of technology and business.
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