Often, the difference between a good sales rep and a truly great salesperson, is simply good habits.
Imagine a salesperson with great skills, personality, and sales talent, but who doesn’t complete all of their tasks or apply themselves to their work each day in an organized manner. Now imagine that same salesperson with carefully cultivated selling habits and routines.
The difference can be dramatic.
Sales leaders who help their sales reps develop highly effective daily habits enjoy better results over time, with less need to “manage.”
Here are 7 habits of successful salespeople, and how to cultivate them on your sales team.
1. Maintaining Focus
The sales job is a complex one. Prospecting for leads, checking in on clients, sales presentationss, sales meetings, team meetings, paperwork... When you’re down in the weeds, it can be hard to stay focused on what’s important. Yet this is exactly the habit that can make the most difference in a sales professional’s effectiveness.
Help your salespeople remain focused on these two key things:
- The right accounts: Salespeople who focus with laser-sharp intent on their ideal prospects and highest priority accounts make more efficient use of their time and close more (and more profitable) deals.
- The right activities: Salespeople who don’t know which activities are important can waste a lot of time on ineffective matters such as unnecessary site visits or “activity for the sake of activity.”
You can help your sales reps have success and maintain focus on the right accounts by creating crystal clear entry and exit guidelines, qualifying (and disqualifying) criteria, and reinforcing their understanding of the ideal buyer persona.
To help you sales team focus on the right “high-gain” activities, you first have to know what those activities are. Set up systems to measure what works and what doesn’t work for your business, and then reinforce those activities that make a difference across your teams.
2. Active Listening
Highly successful salespeople spend more time listening than talking. Engaging in more listening can be a hard habit to develop for gregarious personalities—a category most sales professionals tend to fall into.
Start by making sure your salespeople are trained in good questioning strategies, and reinforce those good questioning habits through coaching.
Help them understand the importance of letting the prospect or customer answer each question in detail, as well as how to listen for important information and additional opportunities. When their minds are engaged in listening, they’ll be less likely to fall into the bad habits of talking too much or talking over clients and prospects.
3. Constantly Building Relationships
Great salespeople don’t just “follow-up” consistently. They use every interaction as an opportunity to build trust and deepen their relationships with customers.
That means that they become subject matter experts on the industries and business goals of key clients, fulfill commitments, and follow up in meaningful ways.
As the sales manager, your job is to ensure your salespeople have strong customer relationship skills, and that you reinforce those skills regularly during coaching. The bonus here is that happy customers are happy to give referrals.
4. Repeatable Process
There’s a reason “reinventing the wheel” is used as a metaphor for wasted time. When salespeople treat every engagement as a brave new world, they can waste a lot of time, energy, and resources.
Using a repeatable process helps salespeople accomplish two things:
- Move prospects through the pipeline more effectively (and shorten the sales cycle)
- Maintain a balanced approach to the pipeline
When the sales process is based on sales techniques that work, salespeople who are in the habit of using it will be more successful than those who take a more haphazard approach.
Likewise, using a consistent process can help salespeople stay focused on all portions of the pipeline in a balanced manner, which helps avoid the roller coaster effect of getting too “busy” at one end of the pipeline to spend enough time at the other.
Highly successful salespeople pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work on a daily basis, and adapt their approach to accommodate the changing marketplace and their buyers’ behavior style.
Help your salespeople get in the habit of adapting in these three key ways:
- Learning new skills: Salespeople who regularly engage in new training and skills development perform better than those who let their sales techniques stagnate.
- Adjusting to the market: As the market changes, so must the tactics of your salespeople.
- Adjusting their communication approach to match the buyer: Buyers need to be sold to in a way that matches their behavior style and communication preferences. Your reps should be able to quickly identify the buying behavior style of their prospects—and adapt their conversation approach to match.
Help your salespeople understand the importance of adapting, and then coach them regularly, as opportunities to adapt arise.
Highly successful salespeople make it a habit to go into every meeting prepared. They know their product offerings, they know the customer (they've researched them online and through social media), and they know what they want to accomplish from the meeting.
Sales managers can encourage this behavior in their people by making it clear that it’s expected, and by coaching salespeople in specific preparation skills – such as pre-call planning.
It’s also critical to model good preparation habits, by coming to your own meetings with salespeople prepared. Enter every meeting with a purpose and be prepared to accomplish that purpose.
Great habits don’t happen overnight, but when managers and salespeople focus on developing the right sales habits, over time the results speak for themselves.
Any of The Brooks Group’s skills training programs will help your reps become more effective sellers, but IMPACT Selling is a great place to start.
IMPACT teaches reps a 6-step, buyer-focused sales process that they can use to sell virtually any product or service more effectively.