All of the clients we work with want to recruit the top 10%, the high performers, the best sales professionals in the market. It’s not difficult to understand why. Miller Heiman estimate that the top salesperson will produce more than four times the average salesperson. In other research they found that the top 10% of sales professionals in companies often produced 90% of the sales revenue.

I recently re-read a book called 'The New Strategic Selling'. There were some great tips to spot and develop these elusive top sales performers. There were many very useful points, but here are three I found particularly insightful:

Does the salesperson really understand how to achieve a great sales performance?

A good question to use when interviewing is ‘Why are you so successful? What sets you apart from other people whose sales figures fall below yours?’ Obviously, there are many aspects to a salesperson’s success eg; building rapport, tenacity, hard work etc. The key answer is someone that understands their way of being effective. In other words, they could explain the methodology, process that they go through to maximise their chances of success

Understand the traits, backgrounds and behaviours of your top 10% of sales performers

By examining in detail your top 10% of sales performers you can really start to understand what works best for your company. Identifying all the common attributes across those high performers allows you to more easily identify great potential talent. Delve into previous experience, culture fit, training received, life experience, talents, sales styles, and sales methodologies. This is using data to drive your recruitment campaign. It has been found through analysis that most top performers did not have a background in that company’s product type or sold into that industry vertical before but have been incredibly successful. If this is that same in your organisation, then suddenly this really opens up your talent pool and enables you to scale quicker.

On-boarding and development is vital

By taking a thorough look at your top 10% you will know what traits, skills and training has given them the edge. You can now tailor your training program based on those desired attributes. The other interesting piece is to look at a person’s learning style and tailor the delivery of training to that individual. By understanding their personality and learning style, you can also look at the management style and coaching for this person to maximise their chance of success.