Despite what we’re all taught, working harder won’t necessarily cause you to rise to the top of your industry as a salesperson—but working smarter definitely will. In fact, average salespeople typically work harder than successful salespeople do. The difference in their outcomes is explained by a few key habits that enable the best salespeople to consistently close massive sales at big companies.

If you want to rise to the top of your industry by working smarter rather than harder, check out these 9 habits of the world’s top-performing salespeople—and then look for ways to incorporate them into your own approach:

1. Lose the P.E.P.

Most salespeople are full of P.E.P.—persuasion, enthusiasm, and pitching. This leads to sales-y greetings and overly cheerful demeanors that turn prospects off. This behavior kills your chances of establishing a relationship built on trust and respect. To emulate the top salespeople out there, start to drop your tone of voice, ask thoughtful questions, and adopt a more genuine approach.

For more tips like this, watch the video below:

2. Think like a doctor.

Have you ever had a doctor try to sell you on a medical procedure before examining you? Of course not. Doctors ask questions and listen carefully to diagnose the problem first. Average salespeople, on the other hand, jump into pitching their solution the second the prospect mentions a challenge. Stop thinking like a salesperson and start thinking like a doctor. Slow down and focus on understanding your prospect’s biggest challenges. This will help you present as the authoritative expert in the eyes of your prospect.

3. Learn to disqualify.

One of the worst lies that sales trainers tell is that every customer is a good customer. In reality, at least 50% of prospects aren’t a good fit for your offering. Maybe they don’t have the necessary budget, or they simply don’t face the right challenges. Instead of trying to persuade a bad fit to buy from you, disqualify and move on. The world’s top salespeople spend the majority of their time on the right prospects. You can only do this if you’re willing to walk away from the wrong ones.

4. Talk less.

Think about your average sales meeting. Do you talk for more than 15% of the interaction? If so, you’re talking too much. Expert salespeople listen more than they talk. You’ll never discover what your prospects need if you do all the talking. Instead, ask strategic questions that create more value, and listen carefully to understand what’s motivating your customer.

 

 

5. Sell to decision makers.

If you’re going to join the top 5% of salespeople, you must stop selling to low- and mid-level management. These prospects simply don’t have the power or budget to buy from you. That’s why successful salespeople don’t waste their time on non-decision makers. Focus your efforts on connecting with prospects who are capable of investing in your solution.

6. Focus on money-making tasks.

Some tasks are directly linked to making money, such as prospecting, following up with key customers, and setting sales meetings. Do those things. All the busywork that won’t increase your profits—like paperwork, customer service, and order fulfillment—should be outsourced to someone else. Successful salespeople only spend time on tasks that actually make money.

7. Don’t act desperate.

We all know what it’s like to need a sale to pay the bills. But even in the most extreme scenarios, never act desperate. In every sales meeting, you should appear financially secure, successful, and confident. When a prospect believes you don’t need them, they’ll be much more attracted to you and more inclined to trust what you have to say. In fact, you’ll come off as an expert.

8. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Average salespeople often close many more sales than top performers. The secret lies in focusing on the quality of sales, not the quantity. Successful salespeople only go after really big sales. They often require the same amount of work as the small ones, but they come with a much bigger payout.

9. Leverage your success.

When most salespeople close a sale, they pat themselves on the back and go after the next opportunity. The world’s top salespeople don’t do that. Instead, they leverage each new customer into another valuable prospect. Rather than cold calling new leads, rely on existing customers for introductions to keep your sales pipeline full.

Which of these habits will you implement in your own sales strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Check out this free Special Report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask for more powerful sales tips.

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Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.