What Does Your Client List Say About You As a Salesperson?

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
April 19, 2010

There is almost nothing that reveals as much about a salesperson’s overall effectiveness as does their client list.

Effective Salespeople: Clients are Harder to Win and Make an Impact

When you review effective salespeople’s client lists, you often find that they contain a higher percentage of their company’s enterprise relationships. In order to win these deals, the salesperson has to be able to create more value for the client than the salesperson’s competitors, competitors who all have a similar ability to create an equal value with their own offerings.

In order to beat their competitors for these deals, these salespeople do a better job of selling. They do a better job prospecting, a better job obtaining commitments to move the deal forward, a better job diagnosing their dream client’s complex needs, a better job building consensus around a vision of a better future, and a better job negotiating win-win deals.

They win big deals by being more effective at all of the skills that selling requires, and they possess all of the attributes that build success.

A review of their pipeline almost always reveals activity on a list of dream clients that are all worth pursuing, each of which would make an impact on the salesperson’s results and their company’s results.

More than anything else, they have the confidence that they can compete and that they can win. They believe.

Less Effective Salespeople: Clients are Easy to Win, Make Little Impact

Salespeople who are less effective tend to win more transactional clients. These clients are easier to win because their needs aren’t complex, and they usually give their business to someone who is willing to pay attention to them. This works for less effective salespeople because they have difficulty creating value for clients, and are willing to give transactional clients their attention.

Less effective salespeople have more trouble with the fundamentals of winning deals, including closing, differentiating their offering, doing an effective needs analysis, diagnosing the client’s needs, and building a vision of how the client might achieve a better outcome. So they focus where their lack of ability doesn’t prevent them from winning some deals.

Being less effective as a salesperson says nothing about the quality of the salesperson as a person. More often than not, they possess many of the attributes that are required to succeed in any endeavor. Much of the time they have an even greater self-discipline which they use to put up better activity metrics than their more effective peers.

More than anything else, less effective salespeople lack the confidence to call on larger prospects, and they have a very a small list of dream clients. They almost always have no plan to win their dream clients, and they use words like “hope” when talking about these prospects.

Less effective salespeople lack the skills and attributes that lead to success in sales, but most of all they lack the confidence it takes for others to trust them with their business.


As much as anything else, a salesperson’s client list is a measure of their effectiveness as a salesperson. It is also a measure of their confidence in their ability. High performing salespeople have the highest levels of skills in all of the skill sets that sales requires, and they have the confidence to sell and to win big deals.


1. What does your client list say about you as a salesperson?

2. If you were to win the deals in your pipeline this quarter, would it change the answer to the question above? Would it have an impact on your results as a salesperson or your company’s results?

3. What does your client list say about your ability to obtain commitments to open relationships?

4. What does your client list say about your ability to create value for your clients?

5. What does your client list (and your pipeline) say about your confidence your ability to sell?

6. Which of the fundamentals do you need to improve in order to improve your effectiveness as a salesperson and to improve your confidence?

7. Do you have a written plan to improve the areas that would improve your overall results and build your confidence?

Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 19, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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