In the first part of this blog, I talked about every salesperson’s 2017 resolutions to “get in shape” when it comes to sales skills. This time, let’s dwell on the subject of creating better habits and building better discipline. As I mentioned before, these resolutions are best kept when working with others. When it comes to your sales fitness regimen, it’s never wise to go it alone.
Repetition is critical to improvement
Remember, it’s not practice that makes perfect. Practice makes permanent. It’s perfect practice that makes perfect. As such, most of us need a lot of repetition—of good habits—with steady improvement until we get to the the perfect practice phase.
Go back to the questions I outlined in Part 1. I doubt anyone will see much improvement at answering these until they’ve practiced at least 20 times. Most will take about 50 repetitions with steady improvement before they’ll get really good. Take one question a week and stick with it.
Practice until you can answer each one with confidence and persuasive punch. End each question with a GREAT and challenging open ended question.
This is where good coaching is invaluable. An experienced sales coach/trainer will help you practice the right questions, give you feedback on your progress, and help identify issues with content or delivery. (He or she can also help you stay accountable to your workout routine.) You should probably have a professional coach at some point, but a top sales performer can also “spot you” as you practice.
New Year’s Habits
Many of us feel the pull in January to make changes. A great place to start, if you’re in sales, is to get rid of bad habits and build some good ones. Nothing will have more positive impact on your results that adjusting your habits so you do more of what top performers do and less of what poor performers do.
Let’s take a look at some common habits top performing Sales Professionals:
- Scheduling time each day (and sticking to it) to prospect for new business
- Practicing key elements of the sales process on a regular basis
- Reading at least 50 pages a week from a book that can help us increase sales
- Keeping distractions like Internet goofing off to an absolute minimum
- Eating healthy and exercising regularly to keep your mind clear and stress level low
- Focusing on one person a day from whom you can ask for a referral
- Sending 3 positive thank you notes, texts, or emails every day to people you speak to
- Identify the key questions prospects ask you and practice the answers to them
- Practice verbalizing a 60-second elevator speech
- Practice how to communicate a three-part value proposition
What habits do you need to get into?
Next, identify the bad habits you have acquired and commit yourself to getting out of those habits. For instance:
- Do you waste a lot of time on the Internet when you should be selling?
- Do you avoid prospecting and put off new business development work?
- Do you avoid tasks that require writing because you find it frustrating?
- Have you gotten lazy about practicing and improving your selling skills?
- Are you spending enough time planning and tracking your progress toward your goals?
- Are you spending too much time with low performers?
- Are you asking top performers for advice and acting on it?
These bad habits will short circuit your results. January is a great time to break those habits and build some new ones. If self-discipline was easy, anyone could do it. Most of us build good habits by writing down a plan, breaking it down into time blocks with clear to-do steps and then tracking our progress.
Most good habits are made (and bad habits reduced) by working in tandem with others. Whether it’s with a professional sales trainer/coach, an online peer group, or a good “workout” relationship with other team members, teamwork is essential. Wherever possible, get yourself a “spotter,” a workout partner, or a friendly competitor to help get the job done.
Get into sales shape. Build better habits. Make 2017 your best year ever!