5 Habits of Top Performing Salespeople

This guest post was written by Adam Honig, Co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. 


These are the 5 habits of top performing salespeople:

Remember your first sales call? You may have fumbled through it and made what felt like, a million mistakes. While I’m sure your first few sales calls weren’t as bad as the one in Tommy Boy where Chris Farley actually lights the desk of a prospect on fire, we all can still learn from seasoned sales professionals.

Over the past months we’ve been running a contest with Selling Power Magazine to identify the top salespeople in North America, and I have had a chance to talk with some amazing salespeople as a result. (Psst — we’re also giving away a $5,000 top prize, you should consider entering!)

I asked these sales professionals for their pointers on what they do to excel in sales.

Here’s what they said:

1. They Know What They Know

The most important trait a prospect wants to see is honesty. And by honest, I mean, admitting to what you know and what you don’t know. Yes, it is important to know the product you are selling inside and out, but it is also okay to admit when you don’t know something.

It is also okay to admit when you don’t know something.

We are all human and don’t know everything. If they ask a question you can’t answer, be honest about it and pull someone else in from your company who can properly explain a solution. Sales is all about building a relationship with your customer, and honesty is the best policy.

2. They Get to Know Their Prospect — All About Them

Yes, of course in sales you’re trying to close the deal. But, pump the brakes a bit in the beginning and don’t jump right into your prepared pitch. Imagine your client like a new friend or someone you date. Slow down and ask questions – get to know them and their specific circumstance a little better. Every customer’s needs are different, so take a few minutes to learn about their unique requirements. Only then will they trust that your intentions are to sell them the right solution, not just a pre-packaged, automated sales pitch of a solution. In other words, don’t be a robot!

In other words, don’t be a robot!

Be human and get to know them.

3. They Let Them Finish Their Thought

Respect your mother! Or at least, respect the important lesson I’m sure she taught you – it’s not polite to interrupt. I’m sure you have your sales schtick down pat, but you never know what a customer is going to say or ask. Be sure to give your full attention to listening to your customers. Take a pause and openly tune in to their needs.

Take a pause and openly tune in to their needs.

Always be sure they are completely finished with their thought before you respond.

4. They Are Relatable

One of the best ways to build a connection with someone is to find common ground. Share your own, relatable, experiences. For instance, saying “Hey, I understand how frustrating it can be to not have XXXX product work for you, but here are your options…” It shows you have empathy and helps create a bond of mutual experience. You become human and your customer will then know you truly understand.

You become human and your customer will then know you truly understand.

A robot can’t relate on that level, not yet anyways.

5. They Are Present and Focused

When you’re on a sales call, please don’t act like a one-man band doing a million different things.

Please don’t act like a one-man band.

Jumping between your phone and computer while talking to a client, shows a lack of concern for their needs. Give them your focused attention by putting your technology devices away. Your customers are of utmost importance, so prove that to them by being present.


Adam Honig is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a natural sales leader with a mission to help salespeople make more money using artificial intelligence — or any sort of intelligence for that matter. Adam has been a founder of four companies which resulted in two triumphant IPOs and two legendary mergers. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the ‘No Jerks’ hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan


  • William C. Langhorne

    (1) Many times prospects ask a question to test the salesperson when they really don’t care about the answer. If you tell a prospect you will get back to their question, and in the meantime they become sold because of everything else your product/service has to offer, they will not revert back to that question, recalling it and putting you on the spot. In fact, most of the time, even if you don’t recall that question for them they will not recall asking it, some other positive or negative will have taken its place, and hopefully you will be able to answer/overcome the new negative.
    (2) How many time have you described what you’re doing lately at work, to a friend, over a drink or a golf game? That’s how relaxed and reserved you should be with your prospects. Take the time to comment on your prospects office surroundings — a big bass on the wall, a picture of his kids — anything where you can create a commonality. Commonality is the beginning of any dialogue that has a hope of persuading either party to shift their understanding.
    (3) Listening is the number one skill of a salesperson. Do not just wait with a rebuttal in mind, waiting for the prospect to finish so you can talk. They will sense it, and that’s not listening. Take the time to feed-back your understanding of what the prospect said, so you don’t address an issue they never intended to express! Confirm your understanding first, then address the issue.
    (4) As expressed in point (2) above, create commonality Create rapport. It is an unfortunate fact of human nature that prospects will buy almost anything from someone they like. Do not fall to this temptation to tell a prospect what he wants to hear. Be genuine, authentic sincere. Be prepared to discern the difference between differences in values and differences in understanding. Do not try to change a prospects values — minimize the potential negative by stressing other benefits. Welcome objections and negative attitudes, they are the tools of your trade, the tools you know how to use to highlight their opposite: the benefits of your product or service. Be prepared to close five times. You will rarely need to close more than three times, but if you have received resistance to a Close – (a request to buy incorporating a dual positive choice) – if you have received resistance to a proper close twice, do not be afraid to step back, pause, do a little impromptu rapport building, relieve the pressure of that crescendo you so masterfully built, make the prospect laugh…and then segue or swing back into close #3 fully prepared to close twice more.
    (5) This is just an extension of (2), (3) and (4) above. You won’t be liked if you’re not a good listener. Be relaxed and reserved. Match the tone and demeanor of your prospect as much as possible. Create commonality and rapport. Be respectful of, and open-minded to the prospects point of view. “Don’t be a one man band” reminds me of the story of a salesman whose customers were the public — mom and pop employees — and this salesman got an appointment with Marc Poulin the President and CEO of Sobey’s Grocery Stores, a company worth many billions of dollars. Now this salesman was very successful, his net worth was in the tens of millions of dollars so it stands to reason that he was very good. But he couldn’t get that look out of his eye that he was assessing the prospect,so he didn’t seem sincere. He was able to appear relaxed, but he he made more assertions than he asked questions and couldn’t get a tone of authority out of his voice to where he sounded open-minded. Lastly, when he felt the customer slipping away on a feelings level, not a rational level, he was shallow on rapport and started to talk in a cadence that was ever so slightly faster and a tone that was ever so slightly higher. He sounded needy. He never understood that he lost that sale because of an inability to listen, to himself and to the prospect.
    (6) Don’t underestimate the power of painting a picture or of telling a story.