What the Top 1% of Sales Reps Do Differently

What the Top 1% of Sales Reps Do Differently


Whether it’s content your company created, a report by an independent third party, or a customer case study backing up your product’s value proposition, relevant collateral is a powerful weapon in your sales arsenal. Of course, finding the right collateral to advance every opportunity is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Not all collateral is created equal, but solid sales collateral maximizes your credibility by backing up the statements you make while selling. There’s nothing more important than establishing trust and credibility with your prospects.

Zensight conducted exclusive research analyzing 1.2 million sales interactions, which shows that top sales reps use collateral very differently than the rest. Our data shows that most reps rely on the same few pieces of content and use them over and over again, despite changing context and very different prospects. We found that the top 1% of reps take a different approach.

Always Be Relevant

We found the top sales reps actually use significantly more sales collateral than other reps. But it’s not just higher volume — it’s more variety. These reps reach deep into the firm’s portfolio of collateral to find the specific documents that most effectively resonate with each unique prospect at each stage of the selling process. This is the top rep’s secret sales weapon — the rarely-used collateral that is relevant to advancing the sales conversation they’re having with a prospect right now. Each individual document may only be used to engage a handful of prospects each month, but top performers utilize a much larger pool of collateral than low performers.

Sales Collateral Use


This chart shows real data from a representative firm in our analysis, with the names completely anonymized. You can see that the top reps send more collateral overall, as well as more of every type of content, from Gartner reports to case studies to videos. This shows that reps who use the right collateral effectively advance more opportunities and close more deals than those that don’t. Every rep may have a different reason for choosing that collateral, including:

  • Establishing credibility and trust while prospecting
  • Unsticking “stuck” opportunities
  • Overcoming objections
  • Staying top-of-mind while nurturing prospects
  • …and more.

But whatever the reason, this is a consistent trend across all firms: the sales messaging top reps deliver to each unique prospect is simply more relevant.

The Most Effective Assets Aren’t the Most Popular

While the best reps use more and different types of collateral, the most effective collateral may not be the most popular across your entire team. This is clearly a missed opportunity that has the potential to benefit every rep (and company) that understands it. While many reps may use the same eBook for every top-of-the-funnel interaction, it won’t be a hit with every prospect. Popularity among your teammates doesn’t equal relevance to each unique prospect. In fact, the opposite is true. According to our research, the most effective sales assets are used relatively infrequently.


Long tail hidden sales assetsWith this anonymous data from another representative firm, you can see that “hidden” and infrequently used sales assets are often the most effective in advancing the sale. But if the best collateral isn’t used often, how do you know which collateral to use to engage your prospects? Unfortunately, there is no simple secret to success — there are many variables involved. The real key to success with sales collateral is understand what is — and isn’t — relevant to each prospect. Top reps are digging deep into the collateral library and carefully selecting content to effectively back up the personalized sales messaging they use to advance their sales objective with each prospect.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and effort to find the most relevant content for every prospect at each stage of every sales pursuit. Top reps invest a lot of time researching which of their many sales assets most strengthen their message with each specific prospect. But while it’s a challenge for reps to find the best possible collateral, it’s clearly worth the effort to personalize and focus sales messaging.

The best reps realize it’s worth investing time to relate to prospects as humans, because they realize that their relationships are their most valuable resource. The top 1% of sales reps make judgement calls on what collateral will advance a deal, and what isn’t useful to them at all. They understand that the risk of deviating from the standard playbook is worth the reward, because for reps, it’s relevance that drives revenue.

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Brad Terrell

Brad Terrell is co-founder and CEO at Zensight, the artificial intelligence app that helps sales professionals discover the sales messaging and collateral most likely to advance their sales opportunities. His previous leadership experience includes Netezza (acq. by IBM), Endeca (acq. by Oracle), Spyglass (acq. by OpenTV), and FlightSafety (acq. by Berkshire Hathaway).