Over the course of their careers, salespeople form many good habits and bad ones. On the minus side, the following list narrows it down to the mission-critical habits that will prevent success:
- Not spending enough time speaking to high potential buyers/customers
- Not having a strong command of the core selling language
- Not being able to communicate confidently and credibly under pressure
- Inability to use a proven sales process to move the sale forward in a customer-friendly way
- Lack of understanding of how to use recommendations and suggestions to make progress
- Call reluctance—and the fear of being rejected—to the point of avoiding new business development activities
- Poor follow-up habits, usually resulting in procrastination that leads to missed deadlines, promises, and commitments
How Do These Results-Limiting Habits Form?
Unfortunately, they form and are allowed to continue because of poor management and coaching. It’s really that simple. When sales managers fail to confront and then give effective coaching to form new, good habits, then the bad habits become deeper rooted and harder to change. Even worse, they can root so deeply that these bad habits become systemic cultural inhibitors.
A Practice Culture is Usually The Answer
Most sales executives would make faster progress at building a sales team with strong, performance-generating habits if they would focus on creating a new culture—a culture of practice. Sales teams that accept, are acclimated to practice on a weekly basis rarely exhibit the kind of bad cultural habits that typify poor performing sales teams.
Without a practice culture, sales managers are left with the poor options of putting pressure on the metrics and increasing discipline/consequences. It is important to employ metrics and enforce consequences, but when these become the default management approach, it typically reduces team energy and motivation—and increases costs.
Practice Routines that Truly Matter
When it comes to building the kind of culture that breaks bad habits and builds and reinforces good ones, a good place to start is to:
- Identify top performer best practices, and make them more visible to the entire sales team.
- Find good sales trainers that can be used to work directly with the team.
- Focus on identifying the most effective sales process and design frequent practice sessions to learn and reinforce it.
- Measure practice, and report it. Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
- Get sales managers in the habit of asking salespeople to preview their most important sales calls on a weekly basis. The goal is to practice their agenda, value proposition, and differentiating statements as part of their pre-call planning.
- Do simple role-play demonstrations in sales meetings.
These simple activities are cumulative. The more they’re done, the quicker the culture transformation will happen.
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