How to Become a Top Sales Performer

Focus on strengths and compensate for weaknesses to develop extraordinary selling skills.

Diagram illustrating the importance of sales knowledge in selling skills development.

Being the best you can be might not inspire you. Whether it is having enough money to choose your work and life style, or the kind of success that wins influence and status, or gaining the recognition you deserve, or feeling the excitement of competition, or simply securing your future, tapping into your personal genius to develop selling skills will get you more of what you want.

The secret of sales genius is no secret at all. It is simply a matter of developing strengths until they become extraordinary.

Unless weaknesses are a threat, people can ignore them or compensate for them.

Developing self-awareness and self-knowledge may be the greater challenge. Some people seem to find their niche easily - a circumstance where they can do what they love and stretch their abilities at the same time. The majority of people seem to be unsure of the best way to tap their inner brilliance. A few people abandon hope by refusing to believe that they have any talent at all.

What are your strengths? This common interview question invites people to make something up. Even the few, who have a clear self-image and can put their sense into words, benefit from an objective, independent assessment that crystallises perception of their best abilities and most compelling motives.

Genius emerges when people combine their talents and passions to achieve something worthwhile. Discovering talents, recognising passions, and choosing a worthwhile purpose are the aims of a worthy quest.

For salespeople, competency frameworks provide a development map. Attitude and motivation hold the key to deliverance. Connecting the right mindset and intrinsic motivation to the necessary outcome, via daily actions, is the key to developing selling skills and outstanding performance in any other endeavour.

If you are interested in what you sell, learning enough to be considered an expert ought to be easy. Product knowledge is widely considered an important aspect of success. Caring about the products and services you sell connects what you do with your latent genius.

Consider how much you know about the following. Score yourself on a scale of one to five for each topic. If you know all there is to know, score a five. If your knowledge represents a fifth or less of what you estimate is knowable, score a one.

  • Product names, service descriptions, part numbers and pricing
  • Features of each product or service
  • Benefits of each feature
  • Differences compared with competitive products or services
  • Unique selling benefits – things your stuff does that nothing else will
  • Applications – what your customers do with your products or services
  • Product and service development – the people who are doing it and where it is headed

If your score is below 17, your lack of product knowledge is likely to be holding you back.

If you scored 24 or more, you are probably very interested in the products and services you sell. You are also likely to be considered an expert by your customers and peers.

Those who cannot find inspiration in the products and services they represent, have some other options for acquiring guru status. In-depth expertise in anything that customers are interested in will be valued both inside and outside the organisation. You can be an expert in business management instead of products.

This causes people to seek your help with marketing, business development, financing, organisation or other business management issues.

To become an expert, specialise in something you are passionate about. Instead of becoming a product or business expert, consider becoming a customer expert. Answer these questions, taken from our B2B assessments tools, to assess your customer expertise:

  • Precisely how does your product or service contribute to customer success?
  • Specifically, how much does your product or service contribute to your best customer's profits?
  • What does your customer do for its customers to justify making a profit or receiving their support?
  • How well can you express your best customer's business goals and objectives?

If the job of selling excites you, become a sales expert.

What should a sales expert know?

  • The names, accomplishments, and methods of leading salespeople in the field.
  • Intimate knowledge of best practice selling skills and methods.
  • The work of respected authors on the subject.
  • How to solve difficult problems such as gaining access to senior executives or defeating superior competitors.

Those who can teach selling skills to others, demonstrate valuable expertise.

Unblocking the sales genius you harbour is simply a matter of playing to your strengths. It is safe to ignore weaknesses unless they deny you opportunities to use your strengths.

If you are not sure what your strengths and motivators are or if you find it difficult to articulate them clearly, take the trouble to investigate them. In common sense terms, know what you are good at and most like doing, then find opportunities to develop and use your best abilities.

Our sales skills assessment and sales competence model provide maps. These tools offer a starting point for identifying your strengths.

Nineteen Aspects of Sales Competence

  • Answering common customer questions
  • Market and industry understanding
  • Customer and prospect understanding
  • Company understanding
  • Writing emails, sales letters, and proposals
  • Understanding and explaining value
  • Proactive prospecting for new opportunities
  • Networking for new leads and opportunities
  • Opportunity qualification
  • Pipeline management and forecast accuracy
  • Organisation and time management
  • Use of selling methods
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to turn around objections
  • Controlling momentum
  • Negotiating and closing
  • Self-development
  • Attitudes towards selling
  • Motivation to sell

Whatever your strengths and inspirations, the diversity of opportunities available in a selling role offer the chance to realise potential and use unique combinations of interests and abilities in pursuit of a worthwhile purpose.

Selling is about helping people and organisations do what they want to do. Those who succeed deserve rich rewards. Sales genius is using what you have, to achieve extraordinary results.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius.”

Article by Clive Miller


If you need to increase sales performance, accelerate learning, or acquire extraordinary selling skills, we can help. Telephone +44 (0)1392 851500 for more information. We will be pleased to learn about your needs or talk through some options. Send email to for a prompt reply or use the contact form here.