What It Takes To Be An Overperforming Salesperson

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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overperforming-sales-person.jpgSometimes, giving 100 percent is just not enough. Overperformers are sometimes defined as sales professionals who bring back at least 125 percent of their quota. That was the starting point for a survey by the Harvard Business Review that looked at the motivations and personal attributes of overperformers in the sales arena.

The top takeaway was that overperformance is not a genetic trait among individuals but a company culture that fosters certain behaviors. The best way to establish the conditions where overperformers thrive is through investing in the right education for the salesforce. Here’s a summary of the most important statistics and conclusions to come out of that study, along with some related insights.

Overperformers are motivated by recognition

Of course, a great income is the top motivator for salespeople, but respect is just as important. Eighty-four percent of overperformers cite respect from peers and recognition from management as top motivators. Training in personal branding and recurrent training are great ways to keep overperformers engaged.

Overperformers prioritize preparation

The most successful overperformers — those who brought home 170 percent of quota — said that knowledge gives them power. This makes sense from the customer viewpoint as well, because 82 percent of buyers don’t have time for salespeople who come to them unprepared to close the deal. In contrast, the prepared, knowledgeable sales professional who has done basic client research using social selling techniques has little competition.

Overperformers live for tomorrow

Work/life balance is not a problem for most overperformers because work is life. Half keep a list, either written or in their heads, about what they want to accomplish next. Just over a third (36 percent) say they frequently try to imagine what will be coming in five years and beyond.

In the past, sales was about transactions, but overperformers know that sales now is about repeat business and referrals. Seventy-three percent of B2B buyers are fed up with receiving content that doesn’t matter to them. Overperformers don’t make that mistake because they take the time to find out what matters to their prospects. Social selling is the most effective way to build relationships that pay off slowly but abundantly.

Overperformers rely on logic

Many people have described sales as an instinct, but the truth is that 70 percent of overperformers say they rely on logic as much as or more than their gut feelings about prospects. Stats, metrics, projections and historical data are the basic tools of reliable closers. Management needs to put the right sales enablement technology in place so sales can make smarter decisions. 

Overperformers get bored easily

Many overperformers came into sales to set their own hours and have more autonomy. Sitting behind a desk doing the same thing every day is not for them. Seventy-two percent said they needed a wide variety of activities to stay engaged and motivated.

It doesn’t mean that they are not methodical, but their methods are complex. Recurrent sales training satisfies their desire for new inputs and gives them structure in exploring new skills areas where they can excel.

What it takes to win now

The nature of sales has changed because the buyer’s journey has forced it to change. Sales is not about features or benefits anymore. It’s about relationships.

Overperformers who consistently go above and beyond their quota are those who are online relationship managers who are comfortable using new technology and who trust their data. They seek out new channels to connect, build personal brands and constantly improve their skills through sales education. Take a cue from these market leaders to create a company culture more conducive to the growth of overperformers.


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