8 Key Differences Between High and Low Sales Performers

High vs low sales performers, what’s the difference between the two? When I started out in sales over 7 years ago, I thought high performers are the ones with the most experience.

This cannot be farther from the truth. What makes some salespeople perform better than their counterparts is their attitude and efficiency – in their work and life in general. 

I have had the good fortune of working with some amazing salespeople over the course of my career. Most of them had their own unique style of selling and taught me a lot of valuable lessons when it came to sales in B2B SaaS.

I was going through this thread on Quora and it really got me thinking about the key differences between low and high performing salespeople. So, what sets them apart? Let’s dig into it deeper.


1. Time management

They are extremely good at managing their time. They know exactly what they need to do and they start their day with a proper game plan and attack it head-on. 

What sets them apart is the fact that they don’t scroll through social media 5 minutes before a demo to relax. They study up on their prospects, go through the notes, to make sure they have their bases covered and are ready to blow the prospect’s mind with the presentation. 

The high performers in my sales team, always started out their day strong. No time to waste, no muesli and yogurt while watching the news on youtube. They worked on things that were the most difficult and if left undone will become a nuisance throughout the day. 

Either run the day, or the day runs you.

Jim Rohn

They are focused throughout the day to make sure they don’t waste any time on actions that are not going to add value to their work. All the high sales performers, that I spoke to tell me the same thing. It’s all about action! Do the task, write the follow-up email, make the call, stop overthinking and just go ahead and do it.

2. They excel at making notes and data entry

Writing notes in the CRM, scheduling tasks, writing a summary of the meeting you just had with a prospect, sounds familiar? Every salesperson does it, some do it right after the meeting, some the next day, and some skip it because they have “other” things on their plate. 

How many times have you gotten out of a demo with a prospect and forgot to log the notes in the CRM? only to remember the next day that you didn’t log those notes and now you can’t remember the specific details of the conversation because you spoke to 12 other prospects in the meantime. 

High performing sales reps know that data entry, like adding notes into the CRM is very valuable. It provides you with an insight into what the prospect was looking for, which later on can be used as ammunition for a follow-up. 

Hey John, you mentioned on our last call that you’re looking for a tool to resolve {insert painpoint} within a month since you have a new project that you’re looking to start for a client. You also mentioned that you believe {insert your company} is a perfect fit for you. What do you need from my end to get the ball rolling on this?

In this example, you can easily make the case for urgency since they have a project starting with their client and you know when it’s starting. Without proper notes and data entry, this information could’ve easily be forgotten. It is vital to know and remember these details so if the prospect goes silent, you can always revive them by using the notes you made during your conversation with them.

Pro tip: make notes on the fly in the CRM, while you’re on the phone with a prospect. This way you won’t have to copy/paste notes, and not only will you save a ton of time with data entry but also won’t forget to make notes.

3. Take responsibility for their results – No excuses

Every salesperson has and will have a bad day/week or a month. It’s what you do afterward that counts. You can either analyze and see what went wrong and learn from it or blame it on the leads or some other BS external factor. 

If your peers are performing well with the same amount and quality of leads that you have, then you only have yourself to blame for low performance. 

High sales performers always take responsibility for their results. They don’t let a bad month hold them back, they get back up and try twice as hard to make sure they reach their quota the following month and then some. 

It’s very easy to point fingers at other departments and throw the blame towards the product for a feature missing, or the famous blame game for marketing “the leads are weak” sigh!

Take responsibility, reflect and don’t blame others for your shortcomings. Once you take ownership, you automatically pave the way for greatness!

4. Constantly learning

The market nowadays is very fast paced. Techniques and strategies that were used a year ago, might not be valid now. As a salesperson, it’s your job to stay up to date with how the market space you’re in is evolving and how you can adapt to it. 

The top salespeople learn on a daily basis. It’s not always about sales, but they keep their ear to the ground. That involves reading different articles every day, watching videos that can enhance their skillset. Engaging with prospects over social media, engaging in different discussions over their areas of expertise. 

All those things help them stay up to date with the market on a daily basis. It’s great to absorb knowledge and learn what changes are coming or how the ground is shifting so they can adjust accordingly. 

One very recent example, I was speaking to a prospect and he mentioned one of our competitors. Coincidentally, I had read an article 2 days before that call about how they got acquired by XYZ. This lead to a very interesting discussion regarding how their product will evolve and at the end of the conversation the prospect bought our subscription. 

Not only did this knowledge help me connect well with the prospect, the prospect clearly saw that we really care about our product and the market space that we’re in. This lead to an awesome conversation after which he became a customer 🙂

Extreme example, yes! But goes to show you that if you’re learning new things daily and staying up to date with what’s happening in your space, it can lead to some interesting conversations. 

5. Data-driven

Sales is a numbers game. X amount of actions will lead to y amount of revenue. Back when I was working as a Head of sales at UsabilityTools (acquired), my favorite thing to do was to look at analytics and see how we can improve our sales funnel.

High sales performers love data and they make decisions based on data. I’ve been a party to many discussions where people made discussions based on a “gut” feeling. This just does not work, you have to look at the numbers and see what they are telling you. 

If you’re not making enough phone calls and the leads are not being converted into qualified leads, because they are unresponsive. Means, you need to start making more phone calls and rely less heavily on email. 

Once you start making decisions based on data, you leave out the room for guesswork. Numbers don’t lie and top performing salespeople make the numbers and the data work to their advantage by leveraging it to make data-driven decisions.

6. Adaptability

In a demo: Website not opening… Opens up a pdf and start going through the product there. Adaptability perhaps is one of the key qualities of any good salesperson. No matter what is thrown at them, they adapt to it accordingly. 

I’m a huge advocate of not having a “sales script” when talking to the prospects or the customers. A salesperson should be good enough to be able to answer any questions they are asked, or navigate through any scenario that they are put in. 

Every customer is different, so should a conversation be the same with every customer?

The best salespeople have the ability to think on their feet. Regardless of whether the challenge is a difficult personality or a difficult business situation, great salespeople have the ability to adapt and respond in a way that allows them to gain credibility and move the sale forward.

These salespeople have the ability to stay cool in the board room with 15 people firing (extremely) challenging questions at them in rapid-fire succession.

What happens if you are not adaptable and you can’t think on your feet? You lose. 

And losing is not an option when it comes to sales. Period.

7. Ability to listen

Listening is a very powerful tool. When on a call with a prospect, high sales performers let the prospect do most of the talking. 

They navigate the conversation by asking questions. Answer, where answers are due but let the prospect do the talking and guide them to the answer.

Low performers often tend to get bogged down in the features and become a brochure of the product. If a prospect wanted more information regarding your tool, they could always go to your website. They are on the phone with you to discuss their pain points, listen.

The general rule of thumb is that the prospect should be talking 80% of the time. Listening also helps you note down things the prospect is saying which you can use to answer their questions. The better you understand their needs, the higher the chance of them converting into paying customers. 

8. Consistent

At the end of the day, sales is nothing but consistency. Same actions, repeated over and over again, with a new prospect. Yes, it can get tiring. To write the same email follow-up for the 100th time. Or, to give several product demos on a daily basis that roughly cover the same topics. 

High sales performers are always consistent in their actions. They don’t slack off, they follow-up with their leads on a consistent basis, not when they feel like it. 

On the other hand, low sales performers tend to be more sporadic with their actions. Not following up consistently, not studying up on the prospects and not logging notes in the CRM are some of the prime examples. 

Sales isn’t about flash and glamour, it’s about building trust and following through. Being consistent will help you do both. Consistent sales activities produce consistent sales results

So there you have it folks. Some of the key differences between high and low sales performers. If you’re currently performing low, doesn’t mean it will always be this way. Review what you’ve been doing so far and see where you can improve. Ask your manager for help, ask your colleagues to give you feedback on your calls, demos. The more feedback you have, the better the chances of you improving.

Go through the list above, and push yourself to improve. Ask the right questions, learn the right skills, and with the right mindset, you can become a high sales performer.

Till next time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *