We all do it – let bad habits worsen, expand, and become part of our regular execution. Some of these habits are worse than others, but collectively our bad habits draw us away from the success we desire.
I’ve found this to be particularly true for sales professionals. The best, most consistent performing reps are machines – not just for creating new opportunities but for constantly executing on their plan every day.
The most successful salespeople in any organization obsess about consistent, disciplined execution. They obsess about following and maintaining the habits that made them successful in the first place.
To make room for good habits, sales professionals (and managers!) must eradicate or mitigate the bad habits first. That’s not always easy, and oftentimes requires determination (they’re called habits for a reason).
Step one, of course, is recognizing the habits to eliminate. Below are eight habits I see most often among otherwise well-intentioned sales reps that keep them from success.
1. Not Planning Ahead
If you let the day dictate where you focus, you’re following everybody else’s priorities except for your own. When you leave work the day before, you should already know the best way to spend your next day. You similarly should have a plan for the week, the month & the quarter. Best-laid plans are likely to change – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse – but you won’t ever consistently achieve success if you don’t start with – and stay mostly focused on- a good plan.
2. Not Being Purposeful About Time
This is a sub-set of planning that’s extremely important for customer-facing professionals. What do you do first thing in the morning to set up your day? How do you keep yourself focused on import tasks without taking a social media break every five minutes? How do you give yourself intentional breaks so that you’re refreshed and ready to focus on execution again afterward?
3. Relying On Digital Communication
As Joanne Black is famous for saying, “Pick up the damn phone!”. Don’t hide behind digital channels that are saturated, and where you will more likely blend in with everyone else. Find ways to distinguish yourself, and deepen your most significant relationships beyond email and social.
4. Being Un-coachable
Best athletes in the world? They have coaches. The most successful business leaders of the past 100 years? You bet they had coaches too. If you’re not open to constructive criticism, if you’re not receptive or even proactive about getting input from others, you’re missing a massive opportunity to get better.
5. Not Being Proactive And Disciplined About Learning and Reading
You will always find better things to do with your time than to read blog posts, newsletters, new sales books. Prospecting and selling will feel more important than learning. Just know that the most successful professionals in the world (sales and otherwise) are avid readers and learners. They commit time to learning because they know it makes their execution time far more successful.
6. Not Recalibrating And Adapting
This requires not just a responsive mentality but also the sincerity and regularity of making adjustments to internal and external changes. There’s a clear, ideal mix between defining your plan of action up front but being open to change when necessary. Too much change creates inefficiency and crazy-making.
7. Not Following Up
Without a system and/or process, you might call prospects once and forget succeeding follow-ups that improve your chance of engagement and conversion. Without a dedicated system for engaging longer-term leads, you often lack the required frequent touches that lead to more opportunities, referrals, and upsells. Following up may very well be the single-most important habit sales professionals develop to be successful. So simple, yet so elusive for far too many.
8. Focus On Busy And Quantity Vs. Quality
Just because you’re first there and last to leave the office doesn’t mean you’re productive, or successful. Cleaning out your inbox is worthless if it’s not advancing your own objectives. Sending 20% more emails with your shiny new sales automation solution only means 20% more spam messages unless you have something interesting to say. Be in the habit of delivering value to your prospects, and prioritizing quality interactions and activities vs reaching an arbitrary quantity metric.
About the Author
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways. Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. Matt is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.