National Salesperson Day is the first Friday in March. To honor hard-working sales reps everywhere, Brainshark, Inc. gathered tips from top-performing reps on best practices that can help raise the bar for sales performance and turn “B” and “C” reps into “A” players.

There’s no denying that sales is a high-stakes, high-pressure job. Reps today face more complex selling challenges than ever before and are expected to add significant value in conversations with increasingly informed buyers at every stage of the selling process. According to data from the TAS Group, 67 percent of sales professionals do not reach their individual quota.

Reps looking to improve performance and meet their goals should consider the following 10 tips:

Don’t stick to the script — Being professional and staying on message is important, but not if it comes across as stiff and robotic. The best reps have conversations with customers and prospects that balance professionalism with personality. Be yourself and try to find common ground by identifying similar interests, such as sports or humor. The more buyers can identify with you as a genuine person, the more likely they are to buy from you.

Remember to address everyone — When meeting with prospects, aim to discover the goals and expectations of everyone in the room, not just the people you deem important. You don’t know what factors will influence the final decision. The best reps make sure to circle back with everyone – either during or post-meetings – to convey how their solution will address each person’s needs.

Determine the next step — Every conversation or interaction must end with an action. Without that, it’s all too easy for the customer or prospect to “go silent.” Top reps always get a commitment on next steps in order to keep the conversation going and move the opportunity forward.

Prioritize admin tasks — Administrative tasks around documenting and reporting every step of the sales cycle are both necessary and time consuming. If you aren’t careful, precious selling hours could pass without any real productivity. Make sure to prioritize your time, dedicating off hours – early in the morning or end of the day – to administrative work and keep prime selling hours focused on closing deals.

Pick up the phone, it works — With email being the primary form of contact for reps these days, the phone seems positively “old school.” But the best reps will tell you – pick up the phone and call your prospects and customers. Next to in-person meetings, the phone is still the best way to solicit a response and get feedback or insight into a person’s tone and sentiment – which doesn’t necessarily come across otherwise. Call on a Friday afternoon when your prospect is likely to be more relaxed, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Take good notes — It is basic advice that’s often ignored. Unless you have a photographic memory, you won’t remember what was said by whom if you didn’t document it. Take the time to write down the important details from your conversations with prospects. The ability to recall those details puts you at a distinct advantage throughout every phase of the sales cycle. 

Leave your ego at the door — Sales reps are highly competitive – it’s in your DNA. But to be a top performer, you have to be humble and willing to look at what makes others successful too. Find out what strategies other sales reps are using and then replicate them for yourself. Success is about adapting to what works best, and that means being open to new and alternative approaches.

Do what you say — Another basic tenet that sets top reps apart: if you say you’re going to provide information or look into something, make sure you do it. Your customers and prospects have access to almost everything you do via the Internet, so make sure you not only follow through, but that you respond quickly – or they will find someone else to work with. This is a key part of adding value and establishing a positive rapport.

Set daily, achievable goals — The ups and downs of sales are challenging and even the best sales reps lose more opportunities than they win. To manage the emotional rollercoaster of wins and losses – set daily goals that are tangible and achievable. Creating and reaching these goals will help you stay motivated and focused, and give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Don’t be afraid to walk away — You finally got in front of a target prospect and you’re doing everything you can to move the process forward. That’s exactly what you should do, right? Not necessarily. Reps often spend too much valuable time trying to qualify prospects into an opportunity, rather than qualifying them out. One of the keys to success is knowing when it’s just not the right time or fit – so you can focus your energies on other, more fruitful opportunities.