4 Myths About Top-Performing Sales People Debunked

Performance varies across a sales team, and what works for one member may not work for another. Despite this diversity, there are still general myths about sales people that persist. From the Pareto principle (80% of sales coming from 20% of the sales team), to the countless books, whitepapers, and blogs posts written about high performing sales professionals, many people claim to have cracked the sales formula.

Basketball HoopBut getting to the bottom of what makes a great sales person is no easy task. There isn’t an archetype, there’s no clear or definitive set of traits or characteristics, but still, sterotypes plague the profession.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss 4 myths about top performing sales people, and we’ll find out together if there’s any truth to them.

Let’s get started…

1. All About the Money

It’s been said that sales people are coin operated. Whilst it’s true that most people working in sales do like to earn money, that's not truly what drives the top performers.

As recruiters, we’re well aware of why people leave jobs, and sales is no exception. People will move on because of a poor company culture, a lack of autonomy, or uninspiring career advancement opportunities. The point is: it’s rarely just about the money.

In his book, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates People, Daniel Pink explains that:

“We leave lucrative jobs to take low-paying ones that provide a clearer sense of purpose.”

As someone who left a well-paying sales job to pursue a different path, I know from personal experience that money alone does not drive a person to go the extra mile. At the top level, even though money is good in most sales jobs, it’s frequently irrelevant as a motivator. What sales people crave is a clear sense of purpose, and a goal that they can work towards.

2. Sales People Are Selfish

Sales roles require people to be very focused on winning, so it’s no surprise that poor sales professionals often forget about their colleagues. Instead, they concentrate on their own goals, their own deals, and their own commissions. Top performers, however, realise that success is reliant on forging lasting relationships.

If you’re behind on your numbers and you need a favour, then you’ll need to have enough credit in advance with your colleagues or clients to be able to pull that favour off. Top performers are humble and graceful, they will be focused and confident but never selfish. The expression, “be nice to people on the way up because you will meet them on the way back down’’ applies.

3. Gift of the Gab 

Myths About Sales PeopleBeing great at sales isn’t something that every top performer is born with. It’s true that it's important to be persuasive and a great communicator when you’re in sales, but some people foolishly believe that success in this industry is all about having the “gift of the gab’’. The assumption is that you can succeed in sales purely on sales patter and charisma alone.

Top performers understand that sales is a process, and it's necessary to channel your gifts, learned or genetic, in a way that means you can consistently deliver results.

4. All Sales People Are Outgoing

Really? Yes, not all top sales people are extroverts, in fact, some of the best are often described as subdued, calm, and even quiet. Well, that might not be so surprising if you consider that not all buyers like dealing with a sales person who is great at building rapport, littering every conversation with hilarious anecdotes and being an all-around nice person. Many people connect that stereotype with a person who is untrustworthy.

This is a big problem for today's buyers who are highly educated and who are seeking to do business with credible sales people that they feel they can trust and take advice from. Top performers seek to get a prospect’s attention, then earn some trust and credibility with them first, leaving the banter until after the relationship has developed.

The next time you’re evaluating a sales person for your own team, or for a client, consider these four points and you may find a superstar. Forget your preconceptions, and ignore the ‘usual’ stereotypes. Look outside of the traditional sales person archetype, and you’ll be rewarded with an unexpected, imaginative, and excellent sales team.

We have put together a free whitepaper to help you improve your sales skills. Click on the image below to download.

Sales Forecasting in Recruitment

Alan Hiddleston

Alan is an advisor here at Firefish with experience in both sales and marketing.

Subscribe to our blog and receive top content to help you reach, engage and recruit more effectively!