3 Traits High Performing Sales Reps Have That Average Sales Reps Don't

A deep analysis reveals what you might have guessed -- the people who are really good at sales are really good listeners.
3 Traits High Performing Sales Reps Have That Average Sales Reps Don't
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Sales reps share similar objectives to build pipeline, trust and credibility while creating a great buyer experience. Some sales reps repeatedly deliver their numbers.

We understand the skills that are well suited to sales, but for the first time we can get a glimpse into what High Performers do differently when speaking with prospects - the most important aspect of a sales rep’s role.

What the data tells us about High Performers.

It’s always been easy to identify High Performers based on their quota attainment but hard to know what they do differently. We used our artificial sales intelligence (AI) engine to analyze over 500,000 B2B sales conversations and surface some of these patterns. Our technology transcribes, analyzes, and summarizes conversations and matches them against the outcome of deals in Salesforce.com.

This sales analytics process can assist sales leaders better understand how High Performers lead prospects through a conversation and flag deals at risk. From our research, three specific traits have emerged that appear to set High Performers apart.

Trait 1: High Performers say what they need to say and no more.

High Performers have much shorter “monologues” with their prospects. They average about 45 seconds and rarely talk for more than a minute straight. In contrast, other sales reps often go on for two minutes or longer.

Brevity in an answer or explanation demonstrates familiarity and expertise. Being concise in explanations and answers creates more time in the meeting for the prospect to raise other issues they may care about and discuss next steps.

If you realize you went on a long monologue, consider writing down the most concise way you would phrase the point or answer the question. Another option is to learn directly from High Performers by searching the transcripts of calls to see how they’ve used brevity to overcome that objection or discuss a topic.

Related: The 5 Characteristics of Extraordinary Salespeople

Trait 2: High Performers are intentional and precise with their questions.

Asking great questions is an art. It's one of the most important skills to develop as a sales rep. Our data analysis identified that reps ask 10 to 15 questions on average before demonstrating the product. Put another way, you may only have 10-15 questions before a prospect expects a demo that should contribute to building your credibility, qualifying the prospect and surfacing information to tie the demo to the issues your prospect cares about.

The data also showed something interesting about the rate at which sales reps ask questions. High Performers rarely ask more than one ot two questions per minute, while lower performers can ask three to fives times as many. This can manifest itself as "stacked" questions, asking two or three questions in quick succession before giving someone a chance to respond, which can confuse a prospect. At other times it may be a series of short, closed-ended questions that could feel more like an interrogation.

High Performers select just a few choice questions to ask, actively listen, and let those answers guide their decision to inquire further. Our AI also identifies the types of questions that lead to high prospect engagement in your sales cycle. Not surprisingly, simple open-ended follow up questions like "can you tell me more about that?" can do the trick and work well across customers.

Next time you’re in a call and get a prospect to really open up, think back to exactly what you said and write it down. Within a few weeks you’ll have your own Top 10 questions list.

Related: 3 Ways to Retain and Motivate Your Top Salespeople

Trait 3 - High Performers keep the conversation flowing and pass the conversation back to prospects more frequently.

There’s a natural flow to the back and forth of a conversations that indicates a two way exchange of value. Our AI learns to separate the voices of different people involved in a call, including identifying who is a seller and who is a prospect. Once we know who is saying what, we can analyze the flow of the conversation.

We found that High Performers pass the conversation back and forth with prospects more regularly than others --  100-150 times versus 50-75 times. They discover ways to engage the prospect throughout the entire conversation, including rapport building, discovery, the demo and when collaboratively agreeing on next steps.

Look for regular opportunities to check-in with your prospect and see how what you’re discussing resonates.Try to avoid the common statement, “Does that make sense?” (more on that in a future post!).

Related: Why AI Won't Replace (Great) Salespeople

A guidebook to becoming a High Performer.

One of our customers once told me, “Every sales organization could be world-class if they only knew what they knew.” You already have the experience and knowledge within your sales conversations to take a big step forward in sales productivity.

While technology can’t automatically transform a rep into a top performer, it does make it easier to learn from one another and share your experiences. Teams that build a culture of continuous learning and learn from the insights AI like ours surface will outperform their competition.

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