Top-performing sales teams don’t become that way by accident. They are assembled and developed over time by dedicated sales leaders who understand key drivers of selling success. When you understand the common components that contribute to elite sales teams, you are in a much better position to emphasize these qualities in trying to grow your team to that level. Here are five of the essential characteristics and behaviors common in top-performing sales teams!

1. Achieve High Win Rates

Top-performing sales teams first and foremost close a higher percentage of opportunities than average teams. They do so by

  • Setting and maintaining ambitious targets
  • Challenging themselves to resolve buyer problems and
  • Concentrating on the delivery of high-value solutions

While a number of other factors contribute to conversion efficiency, top performers necessarily set high goals. If you don’t challenge your team to strive for elite-level productivity, it will never take the steps necessary to grow and develop the abilities to reach it. The highest performers reach their high goals by prospecting to higher value sales leads, often using account-based marketing.  Aligning the right sales professionals, a high-value solution, and a precisely targeted buyer contributes to elite-level opportunity win rates.

2. Perpetually Improve Sales Development Processes

One of the most integral points of differentiation between elite sales teams and average performers is a constant emphasis on improving the selling process. Sales leaders spend much of their time looking for growth opportunities, developing effective coaching strategies and implementing training activities aligned with the specific areas in which the team or individual reps need to grow. Businesses can provide greater opportunity for their sales teams to thrive by allowing them to focus on closing deals and removing the need for prospecting. By providing your team qualified opportunities in the form of sales leads or even appointments, you enable them to more efficiently use their time and energy on what is most profitable for your business. As gaps are detected in your sales process, managers on top-performing sales teams invest in resources that help your team. In fact, elite performers invest 34 percent more effort in developing sales professionals than average level organizations. As you develop the abilities and performance capabilities of team members, continue to raise the bar. Being a top performer means never settling into a comfort zone. Set new targets, search for improvements, make them happen, and repeat the sales development cycle over and over again. Set new targets, search for improvements, make them happen, and repeat the sales development cycle over and over again.

3. Maintain Motivation

Psychology plays a critical role in the sustained success of salespeople. The importance of motivation is often overlooked. In many cases, sales reps start in a honeymoon phase with the newness of the selling challenge inspiring them. However, when the honeymoon phase wears off, some individuals and teams lose momentum.

Top-performing sales teams have leaders and reps that sustain their motivation intensity over the long-term. It is human nature to have ups and downs, and highs and lows. Companies who expect their sales people to not only close new business but to find it, also experience greater turnover and burnout. Many of the most successful salespeople failed during the periods of their career where they were expected to prospect. Those sales people who are better and starting the conversation, typically aren’t the most successful in guiding the decision-making process at the end. By supplying them with qualified sales leads, they often have an increase in energy and motivation by working at what they excel at. Understand the factors that drive your team to overcome adversity and stay focused for the long-term. Don’t make the success of the salesperson limited to their area of weakest ability.  With a motivated and resourceful team, you don’t have to invest as much time trying to stoke the fires to optimize sales productivity.

4. Understand and Articulate Value

The ability to understand the full value of the solutions you sell and to articulate that value to buyers drives greater sales productivity. The only thing that separates your business from low-price sellers is the superior quality of the products and services your company provides. If buyers don’t clearly see this enhanced value, your price points seem too high. Value comes in many different forms, including such factors as style, durability, dependability, reliability, and compelling differentiating features, along with a multitude of service and support features. Elite sales teams clearly recognize the full value of the benefits they provide, which helps optimize revenue. A major component of achieving this full value is by first understanding the problems and deep-level frustrations experienced by an individual prospect. A customer-centric attitude is inherent among top sales teams. At CIENCE, we take the time to go through a questionnaire to understand the pain points of your prospects and develop messaging targeted to them. We make sure to truly know your company and products so you and your team can properly engage with qualified sales leads. This also gives your sales people the ability to focus greater on sales tactics and product/service education, saving time that is spent finding new business.  The ability to translate value to customers is highly correlated with top performing sales teams.

5. Focus on Nurturing New Accounts

“Lead nurturing” is a common point of emphasis, even in sales organizations that are average performers. Definitely, the ability to efficiently convert interested prospects into buyers is crucial. However, elite-level sales teams move beyond just nurturing leads. They focus on nurturing new accounts.  Generating one-time sales from customers isn’t a sales strategy that is going to lead to high-efficiency and profits. In many cases, the first sale to a buyer doesn’t cover the acquisition costs required to get the account. Therefore, it is necessary to drive repeat purchases, loyalty and long-term retention to build a powerful profit engine. Nurturing accounts begins with 100-percent follow-through on delivering the solutions promised. Complete fulfillment may include delivery of tangible products, installation, training and support, and ongoing customer service. Follow-up communication is equally important. Intentional, regular phone and e-mail communication with clients demonstrate that you care about their experiences. Building this trust leads to renewals and re-orders, as well as add-on sales, cross-sales and referrals. By providing your sales team with sales leads found from extensive research, they’re able to focus on nurturing new accounts and closing a greater percentage of deals. 


The list of major factors that separate top-performing sales teams from average ones isn’t overly long. However, the lengths to which the elite teams go to implement these key elements of sales strategy is impressive. First and foremost, top performers commit to delivering value to achieve high win rates. They seek out any and every opportunity to improve selling processes stage-by-stage. Sustained motivation is a long-term psychological quality demonstrated by elite teams, as is a strategic focus on nurturing new accounts. To jump start your efforts to become a top-performing sales team, book an appointment with CIENCE today. 

Eric Quanstrom

Eric is CMO at CIENCE, responsible for growth, sales, and marketing strategies at the company. He spends his time preparing overall plans to increase revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and develop programs with quantifiable objectives to measure results.