5 “Best Practices” From Top Sales People

July 2nd, 2018


1. Setting goals – Not only do the top sales people set revenue goals, they set personal goals as well. Most of the top sales people that I have interviewed over the years will have a personal goal that drives their professional goals. For example, I recently spent time with a top commission salesperson that told me he was still trying to pay off his student loans 7 years after graduation. He went on to explain that he sets a budget of what he wants to pay towards his student loans each year, breaks that down by month and sets his sales goal accordingly. When I ask a Sales Manager “What are the personal goals of your salespeople” few actually know so the best practice here is to set a personal goal and work backwards to develop your sales goal that will enable you to achieve both.

2. Prospect & Pipeline – You will not keep your pipeline full with quality leads unless you prospect. Sounds simple but it is one of the key differentiators between top salespeople and average ones. Whether your pipeline depends on cold calling, working social media platforms, going to trade shows or asking for referrals, it is the most important activity for any salesperson. Most salespeople know this but will not openly admit that they don’t do it because of their fear of rejection. The fear of rejection is a powerful emotion and can only be tamed by forcing yourself to do it. The cool thing about forcing yourself to prospect is the more you do it, the better you get at it and the easier it becomes. A best practice here is to set certain times of the day that you are going to devote to prospecting. Close your door, turn off your email, don’t look at social media, and make it happen. YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!

3. Differentiate yourself – Why is it hard for most sales people to get to the decision maker? They are busy is probably your first answer. You’re right and they are also sick and tired of the same old sale pitch. Does this sound familiar? “We have been in business for 100 years, check out our impressive client list, we deliver exceptional customer service, we have the best price in town, bla bla bla… The old “Show up and Throw Up” strategy.

It is important to find ways to separate yourself from the pack like: Doing your homework so that you absolutely understand your perspective clients pain points… or trade value for their time…or give them a demonstration that knocks their socks off…or ask open ended questions and intently listen to their answers. Let me share a recent experience…I  am in the market for a new car so I am going through the process that most of you have gone through. Tons of research on line and now armed with the knowledge to actually build the car myself, I start visiting car dealerships. One after the next I get the same old experience. Salespeople standing outside the dealership (some smoking) waiting for the next customer to fill their pockets with commission money. As I walk past them and open the door to the dealership, I see a person sitting behind a desk. I feel compelled to stop (that is the intent) and the person behind the desk asks me the worst sales question ever spoken…”May I help you?” I say, I am just looking and then she summons a salesperson over to start my car buying experience. Sound familiar?  After several of these, I said NO MORE! At the next dealership, I drive around the car lot and pull my car up to the model that I am interested in. The problem with this approach is that no one ever comes over to help me. I was ready to scrap the whole car buying thing and buy a used car from ebay when the following happened… I pull into this car lot and drive over to the model I am interested in and as I get out of my car, there is a salesman with a smile on his face and a bottle of water in his hand. He says “Wow, today is a hot one, would you like a bottle of water? By the way my name is Chris and let me know which one you would like to test drive and I’ll go get the key.” I point to one of the cars and 2 minutes later off I go on my test drive. The only thing Chris knew about me was my first name. He didn’t make me go inside, fill out paperwork, try to qualify me (most salespeople fail at qualifying anyway), introduce me to his sales manager,ask for my drivers license or take my personal car hostage before letting me test drive the car. He wanted me to get the experience of driving my new car right away. How refreshing, different and completely unexpected. After test driving the car, Chris began talking to me as if we were best friends. No canned sales pitch, awkward qualifying questions (who is going to drive this car the most?) or crappy trial closes (do you like the blue one or the red one better?) This was just the first example of many that Chris did completely different from any other car salesman. I’m sure that you can guess where I bought my new car…The best practice here is to identify how you will differentiate yourself to make a lasting impression.

4. Focus on the activities – Sales happen or don’t happen for a reason. The top salespeople close more sales because they know that specific activities are the key to closing more sales. Making a simple spreadsheet, with 3 or 4 key activities, that if executed with discipline and structure, will lead to more sales. Example: 1- Making outbound calls every day from 2 pm to 3 pm 2- Learning time…Insist on devoting a few hours each week to learning something new about your industry (read a sales book, product knowledge, seminar, webinar, demo technique, etc) 3- Work your CRM weekly 4-Work LinkedIn 1 hr each day 5- Daily yoga, meditation or prayer. When you commit to executing focused activities, you will close more sales.

5. Take ownership of the process – Top salespeople don’t pass the buck or blame someone else. They don’t allow excuses to get in their way or be the reason why they weren’t able to accomplish their activities. They understand that distractions will always be a part of their week but will not let those distractions be an excuse for not executing their sales activities. They have a positive attitude and understand that they are not going to close every deal but spend the time to perform a postmortem to ask themselves what they could have done differently. The last thing a top salesperson will do is throw somebody under the bus to make themselves look good, instead will do whatever it takes to help the team. To them, sales is truly a team activity so the best practice here is to own your process and execute it without fail.  


If you are a salesperson looking to increase your sales, try implementing these “Best Practices” that are proven techniques. If you are a Sales Manager and you want to increase the sales performance of your team, encourage them to practice these skills. And most of all, have fun selling…it’s one of the most rewarding professions out there.

Good Luck and Good Selling!


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