Identify What Your Top Performers Do Differently


“If only I could find good salespeople, I’m sure my sales would have grew significantly.” This is what I keep on hearing throughout my meetings with Owners, CEOs, General Managers, and HR Directors. They are always overwhelmed and clouded with many excuses such as: “we can’t afford to hire fresh graduates and train them to leave us soon after”, “good sales people are leaving for bigger markets”, or in worst case “good salespeople are scarce”.

12 years ago, with few humble years of experience in my pocket, I was suited and booted, sitting among thirty or forty other refined and well carried sales candidates with my heart beating fast. It was my first group interview experience that was followed by a very challenging panel for final selection. Three years later, I had the opportunity to look at the process from a different angle, as a consultant running the show. It became more challenging, inviting the same caliber of candidates was much more difficult, and allocating good candidates that are willing to take the sales career as a profession came to be a nightmare. Today, striving to hire Millennials for a sales position is like searching for a needle in a haystack.


But as Jack Welch set it: Irrespective of the recruitment efforts & which selection process you follow, your team will always, on the long term, be structured as 20% top performers, 70% middle, and 10% bottom ones.

But the problem is not to identify who are those top performers, CEOs know exactly whom of their salespeople perform well; but to find those ships, pull them from the horizon and tie them on the deck. So they need to know why they are always top performers, what they do differently and why others are not, and thus act accordingly.

Thus to increase the company’s sales performance we are left with two options:

  1. Hire more top performers: Other than the difficulty of actually finding those candidates, bare in mind that the same formation (20% top performers) will always dominate your salesforce structure. So technically, you can definitely increase the # of your top performers, but by increasing the entire sales skeleton and hence salaries and cost.
  2. Focus on increasing the performance of the middle 70% since they make up the majority of the crowd: Research showed that improving one’s strengths is less straightforward than fixing one’s weaknesses. Hence, fixing only 30% of the middle performers’ weaknesses will yield to a 55% increase on their sales performance. This easily leads the organization to a 38.5% increase of its overall sales performance.


Studies of observing more than 1,800 sales professionals in live sales meetings resulted in categorizing salespeople into eight different types.

The bad news is that only three types of them -accounting for a mere 37% of salespeople- were consistently effective. Refer to the HBR map published on our website.

But there’s good news, too: The eight types represent behavioral tendencies and not set-in-stone personalities. Thus managers can effect changes in their current sales people and recruit better team members in the future, if they actually understand these eight types and their behavioural development.

Finally, there are two crucial points every business leader should keep in mind:

  1. Top salespeople have a complete different motivation cycle, and development behaviour. Average performers need proper guidance, well designed client centric sales process and many other tools.
  2. Sales isn’t about having good sales people or high incentives only; there are many other significant decisions that will drive your sales force effectiveness. It’s about building the right system and driving the right culture, and managing it efficiently by strategizing, sizing, structuring and developing performance.
    You have to build a new paradigm.

How We Could Help

Understanding the difficulty of hiring, if you are looking for optimizing your sales efficiency and bridging the gap between top performers and average salespeople, thus resulting with at least 15% revenue growth within a five to seven month engagement – take the first step in this process by contacting us on any of our below coordinates to discuss your sales challenges.

We take full ownership in getting your solution well crafted by combining our sales specialty, proven frameworks, best practices, and data-driven insights. It is executed through our scientific, pragmatic approach linking together strategies, processes, people, and technology.


Managing Partner
Founder of HEED, a sales management consulting firm focused on aiding companies to structure, transform or optimize their sales by integrating science into selling.

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