We all dream of big, consistent commission checks, the kind that come with prolonged sales success and a long and fulfilling career. Most reps, however, never reach elite seller status, and instead, stay toward the middle of the pack — making a nice living but never crossing the barrier into the type of life-changing success that comes with top-tier seller results.
But it’s not always the big things that set top sellers apart. Of course, natural talent and hard work can take you far, but there are small things that can make a big difference too. And it’s only when you take all actions in aggregate that you can really have an impact on your sales performance — firing on all cylinders and ramping up your efforts in order to see exceptional long-term results.
These small things might seem trivial to some, but it would be a mistake to overlook them. So if you’re serious about your pursuit of sales success, try doing these six things that set effective sales reps apart from everybody else:
1. They guard their time carefully
Contrary to popular belief, top sales reps aren’t filling their calendar with anything and everything they can possibly find, staying busy just for the sake of busyness itself. Instead, they guard their time carefully, ensuring that every meeting they do take is one that is moving them closer to their goals, and spending the time in between meetings doing productive things like research, customizing messages, and perfecting their craft (not to mention taking the time to rest, exercise, and spend time with their loved ones). The way you spend your time will determine how successful you are, so choose wisely.
2. They qualify aggressively
Another time-related advantage that top sales reps give themselves takes the form of early and aggressive qualification — ensuring that they qualify prospects out early and don’t spend time with those who have no need, budget, or interest, no matter how “productive” it might feel in the moment. It’s scary to think about ending a conversation early, especially when it feels like there might be some chance that a prospect will end up closing. But top reps don’t let loss aversion stand in their way, and they’d much rather spend their time finding a qualified prospect than talking to somebody who isn’t likely to buy.
3. They learn from their mistakes
If you’ve ever lost a deal and modified your approach as a result of that loss, then you’re a step ahead of many other reps. Too many of us lose deals and chalk it up to the nature of the business (which, in many cases might be true) rather than critically assessing what we might have done differently to yield a better result. Top-performing sales reps are eager to learn from their mistakes, so when something goes wrong, they’ll make sure to assess what happened, modify their approach, and never make the same mistake twice.
4. They ask for referrals
It’s incredible just how overlooked referrals are in today’s ultra-connected world. While an unprompted referral is one of the best (and most effective) leads a sales rep can receive, many of us still leave referrals up to chance, rather than making a referral request part of our strategy. And as anyone in the business world knows, things never happen on their own, you have to take action if you want results. So if you’re looking for a small change that can make a big impact, consider asking your (happy) customers for a referral.
5. They use time-saving technology
“Work smarter, not harder” is one of the best pieces of business advice a person can receive, and in sales, much of the busy work that takes time away from selling can be easily automated with technology. Dooly, for instance, can save hours of Salesforce busy work every single week, giving you more pipeline visibility, a faster close rate, and, most importantly, hours of time that can be spent selling rather than doing data entry. And there are plenty of other tools out there that can automate other tasks, so there’s really no excuse to waste hours doing busy work that keeps you from pitching and closing deals.
6. They always prepare
There is perhaps no single thing that a sales rep can do to have an impact other than prepare for each and every sales conversation. Winging it might work, but it won’t work consistently. Preparation, however, will always give you a competitive advantage, because not only will you impress the prospect and answer all of their questions correctly, but you’ll also set yourself apart from the competition, who likely won’t take the time to prepare in the same way a committed rep will. Preparation should involve research on the prospect, their place in the industry, and how your solution is likely to help them solve their problems. If you check all those boxes, then then you’ve given yourself the absolute best shot to close the deal that you possibly can.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
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