Three first half tries secured a huge 19-6 victory over the Premiership's form side Northampton.
Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady all crossed the whitewash in a blistering first half assault from Sale.
A brutal second half charge from the Saints was marvellously repelled by Sharks, keeping their top four ambitions alive.
Tom Brady put in a superb shift to deny one of Northampton's star men, George North, keeping the Welshman at bay for the full 80.
Will Hooley, a late replacement for Stephen Myler, struck first at a windswept AJ Bell stadium, despite a bright early spell for the hosts.
It didn't take long for Sale to respond. A scintillating run by Dwayne Peel from his own half almost resulted in a score, with the ball eventually being worked wide. Mark Cueto was the spare man on the wing, and slammed the ball down in the corner.
It was appropriate that after Danny Cipriani converted brilliantly from the touch line, the sun began to shine down on the pitch.
The home side were more than holding their own, matching up to one of the most physical teams in the league.
Jim Mallinder's men kept themselves in touch, with Hooley cutting the gap to one midway through the first half.
Steve Diamond's men made their intentions clear eight minutes before the break, when they opted to go for the corner despite a kickable penalty opportunity. The gamble paid off.
Marc Jones marshalled a driving maul, then picked up after the ball had gone down to scramble over.
The only sour note was the fact that Sammy Tuitupou was sent to the bin alongside Dylan Hartley in a brawl after the try was scored.
Things got even better seconds before the break. Cipriani tried a low kick in behind, which bounced up perfectly for Tom Brady, who scored a try which was met with a deafening cheer.
It is fair to say that even the most optimistic of Sharks fans had not expected such a fantastic half, but Sale were well worth their 19-6 lead.
A second half downpour was, oddly enough, exactly what the hosts wanted. The conditions didn't help a team chasing the game, though the Saints started brightly, keeping Sharks pinned in their own 22.
Northampton's onslaught continued for what felt like an age, with every Sale player keeping the away side at bay with some courageous defending.
As the clock ticked away, seconds must have felt like hours for the men on the pitch, as they continued to toil away for a crucial win.
Every penalty, scrum and scrap of Sale possession was met with a huge roar from a nervous home support.
The cheers that met the final whistle were clear evidence that Sharks had laid down a big marker in their hunt for Premiership glory.
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel (Off 71mins), 8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills (Off 48mins), 3 Vadim Cobilas (Off 68mins), 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts (Off 65mins)
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Ross Harrison (On for Lewis-Roberts 65mins), 18 Henry Thomas (On for Cobilas 68mins), 19 Andrei Ostrikov (On for Mills 48mins), 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff (On for Peel 71mins), 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 James Wilson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Gareth Denman, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 James Craig, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 George Pisi.
Scoring sequence: 0-3, 5-3, 7-3, 7-6, 12-6, 17-6, 19-6 (Half Time) (Full Time)