The Truth About Habits & Sales Success

Habits play a significant role in shaping our lives. Whether it’s maintaining a healthy lifestyle, achieving professional or sales success, or nurturing positive relationships, the power of habits cannot be underestimated.

In fact, Aristotle claimed that ninety-five percent of everything we do is a result of habit!

But forming good habits is a challenging process that requires dedication, consistency, and a strong commitment to goals. A primary reason for this according to Psychology Today is that good habits don’t typically deliver instant or even short-term satisfaction. Consider that a single trip to the health club does not give us the satisfaction of being in great shape! Instead, good habits require repeated execution before they “pay off.”

Conversely, bad habits are easier to form because most of them do deliver more immediate satisfaction or reinforcement.

As Brian Tracy is quoted, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with.”

Fortunately, once formed, good habits are just as hard to break as bad ones!

Habits for Greater Sales Success
For those of us tasked with generating sales revenue or new business, Forbes recently published an article entitled, “Five Habits of Highly Successful People in Sales.”

Here’s a summary of these five “good” habits that are shared by the most successful sales and business development professionals:

  • They emphasize customer relationships early in the selling process. This means we must connect with customers and prospects at the beginning of each interaction; make rapport-building the first step of your sales process.
    “To be effective, sales reps need to develop strong relationships with customers during the educational phase,” the article said. “Well in advance of negotiations and deal closure discussions.”
    We might add that if some form of a connection, trust, and mutual respect is not achieved at the onset, it is less likely that buyers will be as forthcoming, thus making it more difficult for sellers to conduct an effective assessment. For more on this, read on…
  • They articulate how their offering uniquely aligns with a buyer’s interests. We’ve recognized that this requires the development and use of a consistent and comprehensive method of assessing people’s needs, goals, and priorities. It also demands that sellers actively listen and use what they learn during these assessments to align communication, recommendations, and messaging with each buyer’s thinking process and best interests.
  • They prioritize in-person interactions. “In our technologically savvy world, it’s easy to resort to email and phone as our default communication tools,” the article states. “Top performing reps differ from others in their prioritization of in-person interactions.”
    In support of this perspective, consider the consequences of not “being there” when buyers receive information via email – i.e., risk of misinterpretation, inability to judge buyers’ reactions to submitted information, inability to clarify misunderstandings, etc.
  • They are experts in time management. Not only does this pertain to prudent territory management and prioritization, but also the effective use of time during sales conversations and presentations. The most successful sellers create plans for these interactions, which results in doing more in less time and making more favorable impressions on buyers.
  • They are data driven, which can include leveraging technology in various ways. As the article points out, certain industries require extensive use of analytics for setting effective and well targeted sales strategies. We’ve also found that others rely on simpler tools such as Google Alerts or CRM systems to keep track of activities and next steps.
    Whichever tools make the most sense for your business, be sure to keep up with the marketplace by habitually using them to your advantage.

Finally, if you’d like to improve your ability to form or develop good habits, here are a few suggestions from the New York Times and

  1. Establish a daily routine, as consistency is the backbone of habit formation. It often helps to set specific times for desired activities – many people experience success by adding these time blocks to their daily calendar.
  2. Make it easy. Habit researchers say we are more likely to form new habits when we clear away the obstacles that stand in our way. Packing your gym bag and leaving it by the door is one example of this.
  3. Use Habit Stacking and Triggers by linking a new habit to an existing one, thus leveraging the power of routine. 
  4. Measure your progress. This can be a strong motivator! Reward yourself for both progress and achievement
  5. Find an accountability partner. A support network can increase your odds of building a sustainable habit change.