Sales and Sales Management Blog

April 1, 2013

Guest Article: “In Sales, What Differentiates the Top 5% Players?” by Jonathan Farrington

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:30 am

As you can imagine, I am often asked by sales leaders, anxious to recruit the best salespeople they can afford, just what is it that makes a consistently top performer; what are their characteristics; where are their strengths and what differentiates them?

Over the past twenty-five years I have trained and developed more than one hundred thousand sales professionals, from foundation right up to “master craftsman” level and this has given me the opportunity to formulate an accurate profile of a Top 5% Achiever.

So What Is It That Top 5% Players Do?


• Position themselves with the real decision-makers and avoid those without ‘approval power’. They are able to first identify and then access the formal decision making unit.

• Not only get the order but a satisfied customer, repeat sales, enthusiastic reference sites and constantly increase sales penetration within their accounts.

• Know how to minimize the uncertainties of a cold call on a new account, by careful planning and rigorous opportunity assessment.

• Recognize when to treat an old account as a new prospect and keep the relationship fresh, alive and maintain profitability

• Never entertain business they do not want because they fully undrstand that it takes just as long to work an unprofitable opportunity through the sales funnel, only to lose it at the death, as it does a profitable one. They trust their own judgement but also rely heavily on objective assessment.

• Readily identify and know how to deal with the four different buying influences present in every sale.

• Understand how to prevent sales from being sabotaged by an internal enemy. They insulate themselves by developing strong allies within.

• Are able to recognize fail-safe signals that indicate when a sale is in jeopardy. This comes from experience but also information supplied by their allies.

• Are rigorous in tracking account progress and are able to accurately forecast future sales because they use proven methodology, which allows them to weight every opportunity in the pipeline.

• Avoid ‘dry-months’ by allocating time wisely to their critical selling tasks i.e. Prospecting for new business, covering the bases with existing opportunities and finally closing the best few.

They also have a very wide “commercial bandwidth” and they are also commercially multi-lingual.

In summary, the very best sales performers do not achieve that status overnight. They work tirelessly to develop and hone their skills-sets, insist on regular top-up coaching, and seek out those who are outperforming them, so that they may learn and improve still further. They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of their industry and sector.

Finally, they concentrate on eliminating any weaknesses and are anxious to be assessed and receive feedback on a regular basis.

I must add that this list is not by any means exhaustive, but it is a very good place to start your own self-assessment. How did you do?

Jonathan Farrington is the head of Jonathan Farrington & Associates, a genuinely global consulting company, delivering leading-edge sales team development solutions to all six continents, via a team of top sales experts and a network of global partners.




  1. Great article. Would be even greater if the author’s business site actually loaded.

    Comment by Venntive (@Venntive) — April 1, 2013 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  2. As usual, John Farrington penned an excellent article. However, he left this one very important thing out. – Top sales producers spend most of their time and resources with prospects that are ready, willing, and able to specify or buy what the salesperson is offering..

    Comment by Jacques Werth — April 24, 2013 @ 9:02 am | Reply

  3. […] Read original: Guest Article: “In Sales, What Differentiates the Top 5% Players?” by Jonathan Farrington […]

    Pingback by Top 5% of Sales People » Content Marketing & Sales Alignment — April 30, 2013 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: