The Secret Habits Of Top Performing Salespeople

The difference between an average salesperson and a good one is staggering. According to a recent World-Class Sales Practices study, only slightly more than half of salespeople (53%) are meeting or exceeding their quotas. On the other hand, a high-performing salesperson will consistently hit their goal. Do you know why that is? The secret lies within their habits. Here are the top five habits of a high-performing salesperson.

What is a Habit?

A habit is a behavior pattern that is triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance. Habits are about consistent routines, behaviors, and actions.

According to Healthline, "It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic." Forming new habits won't happen overnight. Some habits are easier to create, and some people may find it easier to develop new behaviors than others.


A typical salesperson will spend less time planning and may take a 'shotgun approach' to prospecting, contacting many customers with little thought about whether they are a good fit for the organization or even what they are going to say on the call. They are hoping if they contact enough people, someone will raise their hand. Their "plan" is built on intent and not an actual process. How they approach their day, week and month is ad hoc and doesn’t necessarily tie to their goals.

In contrast, a high-performing salesperson will have a written-out plan that they've tested, adjusted, and executed several times. They will also have done all their research on their ideal client. They prepare call plans and have a strategy for what they want to accomplish from each customer interaction. These high-performers spend twice as much time planning as average salespeople do.

Time Management

When it comes to time management, a typical salesperson doesn’t plan out their time effectively. They are always rushing around from one meeting and call to the next. Typical salespeople may end up trying to find time in their day for areas like prospecting, which is critical for the business but generally not seen as an urgent task. They are often easily distracted and reactive.

Sales requires the ability to complete a multitude of tasks each day. Being proactive and managing time well (‘playing where you can win’) are skills top salespeople have. They review their won and lost opportunities to see what has proven to be successful over time and replicate what works, including activities that have a greater ROI. They track things like where to go for new prospects, what questions need to be asked, and what to listen for to qualify whether a customer is a good fit.

A high-performing salesperson will schedule prospecting and research time to be well prepared and use their time wisely with the activities that will generate revenue.

Manages Resources

Another habit that salespeople typically let fall by the wayside is managing resources. A typical salesperson will often micromanage a deal or client and get far too invested with service issues, which usually leaves them as a single source of contact.

With high-performing salespeople, they approach any new client with a "team approach." This allows them to delegate when they know someone in their company is better suited for a task. They also provide clear information and direction upfront and check in on progress instead of micromanaging.

Building Value

When it comes to building value for a product or service, a typical salesperson will often quote early and cross their fingers in hopes that the customer agrees. A symptom of poor discovery is making assumptions about the customer instead of truly uncovering their needs. This can lead to mismanaged expectations and lost deals.

High-performing salespeople take a different approach and dig deeper into their discovery calls to uncover needs the customer may not have known about. This salesperson will understand the customers' expectations and clarify the product or service's value. They look to get small yeses throughout the sales process, so when the customer finally hears the price, they understand the value of the solution that goes with it.

Discovery Calls

Discovery calls too often emphasize the tell, tell, tell the side of things with a typical salesperson. They ask many close-ended questions, only share what their product or service does, and just cover essential information. The information they do uncover tends to be technical vs. really understanding the business need.

A high-performing salesperson will ask, ask, ask and listen, listen, listen to the customer. Most of their questions will be open-ended and collaborative. They will identify all people who have a role in the decision-making process and introduce new ideas to the customer. They will ask questions that get at the business needs as well as the needs of the individual decision-makers. With this in-depth information, they can guide the customer through their buying process and give them confidence in the solution they are selecting.

In the End

The five habits of a great seller are planning twice as much, playing where they can win and not wasting time on the wrong customers, delegating service issues, pricing slow and last, and having better discovery calls. Do you have a team of top performers?

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