Rise to the top 4% in sales – Part 1

This is one of a series of blogs written specifically for those people in small businesses who are responsible for winning sales. These people will often have other roles and responsibilities which requires them to be very time-efficient during their selling activities. Larger businesses are likely to employ one or more full-time salespeople and this blog series is also written to help these people.

In business, and in sales especially, small differences in ability can lead to enormous differences in results. The difference between top performers and average performers is not that great, either in their respective skills, intelligence or ability. The person earning £1m per annum is not 10 times more skilful, more intelligent or more able than someone earning £100K per annum. The higher earner is slightly better in some key area(s).

Aim to be in the top 4%

A good analogy is with sport. A world record holder is only slightly faster than the other leading competitors. The person who wins the competition gets the recognition for being a winner. The demand for their time soars as they get involved with sponsors, advertising, television and the “celebrity circuit”. This brings more recognition, wealth, opportunities and invitations. The winner gets 100% of the trappings of a winner. Second place is no good in sport. For those working in sales it is no different. It is a “winner takes all” situation and you only have to be just a fraction better than everyone else to win the sale. When you do, the rest will leave with nothing.

In his book ‘The Psychology of Selling’, Brian Tracy highlights how the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Principle) works in sales, just as it does in many other fields. This Principle, when applied to sales, states that 80% of total sales are made by 20% of the salespeople. Interestingly enough, the Pareto Principle also applies to this top 20% of salespeople. The top 20% of this group make 80% of the sales made by this group.

This means that the top 4% of salespeople (20% of 20%) will make a full 64% (80% of 80%) of all the sales made by all salespeople. The remaining 96% of salespeople are fighting over the remaining 36% of total sales.

If you can get into the top 4%, you will never have job security or financial worries again. This has to be your goal.

In business terms, the top 20% of all businesses will win 80% of all orders. They do this by being just a little bit better in all the areas that count. In sales, and in business, it’s winner takes all. There is no revenue (or profit) when you come second, but there are costs.

Look at this a different way. Out of every 100 salespeople, 20 of them will secure 80% of all the orders and will earn 80% of the commission. Just 4 of them, 20% of the top 20%, will make 64% of the total sales. How do you get into this top 4%?

The SUCCESS Formula

To move yourself into the top 4% you need to know the formula for success:


There are only 3 components you need to work on to increase your level of success. A weakness in any one of them will leave you seriously disadvantaged in your attempts to reach the top 4%.  As the factors are multipliers, a weakness in 2 areas probably means you have a major challenge, but if you address your weaknesses then success will inevitably follow.


What have you learnt about your industry?, How does it work?, What are the key pressures your prospective clients are encountering?, What is your competition doing?, How well do you know your products/services?, What are your points of difference?, How have your clients gained after buying your products/services?, How quickly will clients recover the investment in your products/services?, What makes your competitors different to you?, How can you compensate for their advantages?, What do purchasers expect in terms of warranties, after-sales service and maintenance services?, What are the trends in this area and how will you exploit them?


This largely comes from your mind and from the “voices”you hear in your mind. If you always hear negative voices in your head saying things like “I’m too old”; “I’m not good enough”; “I can’t succeed”; “It’s too difficult” then you will develop a negative and pessimistic outlook. This will be picked up by your subconscious mind which will then set about finding you more situations in line with what you are thinking. If you are thinking about obstacles, reasons to fail, and negative outcomes then your subconscious mind will find you other negative circumstances. Having a positive attitude creates the opposite.


How good are you at your job? In sales, how good are you at all the key activities needed for success? Your skill factor will also cover non-sales abilities, such as building relationships, asking questions, listening, delegating, negotiating, planning, team working, time management and presentation skills.

Next time, I’ll give you 30 suggestions for improving these 3 areas – knowledge, attitude and skills – to accelerate your progress into the top 4% of salespeople.

Posted in Sales / Business Growth