7 Winning Habits of Top Sales Performers, According to New Research

ValueSelling Associates and Selling Power study uncovers the mindsets, attributes
and behaviors of top-performing salespeople.

(CARLSBAD, CA.) - May 18, 2021 – There are seven key attributes of top-performing salespeople, according to the just-released ValueSelling Associates, Inc. research findings and e-book, “7 Actionable Habits of Top Performers."

These habits — a combination of learned skills and inherent traits — set the best salespeople apart from the middle-of-the-pack reps. “Top performers" were defined in the research as sales reps who consistently exceed sales expectations.

New research findings also address how coaching and development help drive consistent sales rep behaviors across the entire team and elevate average performers, along with what hiring managers should look for in the interview process to hire more top sales performers.

ValueSelling Associates, Inc. and Selling Power surveyed more than 150 U.S. business-to-business senior sales leaders to identify the mindsets, attributes and behaviors of top-performing salespeople.

7 Winning Attributes of Top-performing Salespeople

1. Communicating Value

Top sales performers take a value-based selling approach that focuses on helping prospects understand the value gained from the product or service and through each interaction during the sales process. They are skilled at artfully quantifying the high-level value proposition for each prospective customer, drilling down from the generic promise and tying it to the buyer’s unique challenges and priorities. High performers also recognize that conversations rooted in metrics, objectives, and goals help them identify where their value proposition creates real business impact for the buyer.

Top sales performers score a 7.6 for communicating value, putting them ahead of the rest of the reps’ 5.6 average rating.

2. Asking Questions and Actively Listening

Sales leaders report that their best salespeople ask relevant, targeted questions throughout every sales conversation to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s point of view.

Active listening is another critical skill that top performers possess. After asking questions, they engage with verbal and nonverbal cues (i.e., facial expressions and seating position), as well as confirm and clarify what they’ve heard. This becomes increasingly difficult to gauge in a virtual environment, yet remains an important skill.

Top performers score an 8 compared with 5.3 for the rest of the reps for asking questions and listening.

3. Practicing Empathy

Top performers know how to strike a balance between empathy and ego. They establish a clear need for their product or service by understanding the buyer’s needs, and they do it without arrogance. The opposite of an empathetic top performer is someone who is focused only on pitching and demonstrating their product or solution, regardless of the prospect’s situation.

Top sales performers earn a score of 7.5 for practicing empathy versus 5.8 for the rest of the reps.

4. Using a Sales Methodology

Sales leaders agree that having a consistent methodology across the organization is critical to build a team of top performers. A methodology creates a common skillset, toolset, and mindset around the sales process. Top performers align their activities with the sales methodology and know what it takes to uncover whether an opportunity is qualified. They don’t waste time pursuing unwinnable opportunities.

Top sales performers are more likely to use a consistent sales methodology with a score of 7.5, versus the rest of the reps with a 5.4 average rating.

5. Building a High-Caliber Pipeline

Top performers are rigorous about prospecting and know what it takes to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time to build a solid sales pipeline. These high-performing sales reps possess a mindset, supported by key skills – time management, identifying goals and objectives, overcoming obstacles, and making phone calls. They also maintain a disciplined prospecting cadence.

Top performers score a 7.3 compared with a 4.5 for the rest of the reps in this category.

6. Staying Open to Coaching and Development

Top sales performers love to learn and are open to feedback. When it comes to hiring them, sales leaders should look for signs of a learning mindset: Do they invest in their personal development outside of work? Do they believe there is always more to learn? Are they willing and able to effectively self-evaluate their strengths and areas for development?

Top sales performers earn a score of 7.5 versus 5.9 for the rest of the reps for this key attribute.

7. Dealing with Adversity

Objections are a core part of being in sales, and those who can persevere through it are the most successful. When top performers face adversity, they are resilient and look for the lesson. They don’t take rejection or adversity personally.

Top performers achieve a 7.8 compared with a 5.2 for the rest of the reps for dealing with adversity.

  • For more detail on the survey results, download the ValueSelling Associates e-book,
    7 Actionable Habits of Top Performers."
  • How does ValueSelling Associates successfully train top sales performers? Visit Gartner Peer Insights and see what our customers are saying and understand why Gartner has positioned ValueSelling Associates as a Leader in its Magic Quadrant for Sales Training Service Providers.

About Selling Power

In addition to Selling Power, the leading digital magazine for sales managers and sales VPs since 1981, Personal Selling Power Inc. produces the Sales Management Digest and Daily Boost of Positivity e-newsletters, as well as a five-minute video series featuring interviews with top executives. Selling Power is a regular media sponsor of the Sales 3.0 Conference. Visit https://www.sellingpower.com.

About ValueSelling Associates, Inc.
ValueSelling Associates, a leading global sales training company, offers a practical methodology for selling on value, not price. The ValueSelling Framework® is a proven formula that simplifies the complex B2B sale, and the Vortex Prospecting™ program provides a repeatable process that increases connections and conversions to the revenue pipeline. Once trained on the ValueSelling method, organizations grow revenue and increase productivity. Since 1991, thousands of professionals around the world have chosen ValueSelling Associates for customized training, reinforcement, and consulting to drive sales results. For more information, visit www.valueselling.com and follow us on Twitter at @ValuSelling.

Media contact:
Maria Doyle
Doyle Strategic Communications

Media contact:

Maria Doyle
Doyle Strategic Communications
+1 (781) 964-3536