When markets take a hit, it can be challenging for sales teams to make their numbers. Yet many do; how is that possible? They understand that success takes dedication and hard work. It’s not just about having the right product or the brightest idea, but also about developing daily habits that set them up for long-term success in any market condition. So which key habits are essential for sellers of all levels and disciplines during economic instability and volatility?
The difference between average salespeople and exceptional salespeople can often be boiled down to their daily habits. Exceptional salespeople tend to be more organised and methodical in their approach, setting aside time each day to make sure they are reaching goals and maximising their potential. They use this time to identify key areas of improvement, develop an actionable plan to take advantage of opportunities, and refine their communication skills. Not only do they have a keen eye for details and trends, but exceptional salespeople also have the discipline and focus to stay on task until all objectives have been met. Furthermore, they understand the power of networking and foster relationships with both clients and colleagues that are beneficial for mutual growth.
Average salespeople don’t necessarily lack ambition or motivation. They may be less organised in their approach, not taking the time to continually work on personal growth or strategic planning. They may also lack confidence in reaching out to peers or customers, which reduces opportunities for success.
Based on our experience working with thousands of sales professionals in multiple industries and geographies around the globe, we have identified 3 core daily habits that we believe drive sales success:
Connecting with stakeholders via LinkedIn is a great way to build relationships and open up new sales opportunities. As such, it is important to have a strategy for how you want to approach the connections you make. A mentor once introduced me to the “5 A Day” habit to build sales health. Just like consuming 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is great for your physical health; identify and focus on cultivating five new business relationships each day. That’s 25 new connections each week, 100 a month or 1,200 a year. If you were able to convert just 5% of these new connections to paying customers, that’s 60 new clients a year!
When targeting these five relationships each day, make sure you do more than just send a connection request — personalise each message so that it speaks specifically to their interests and needs. Additionally, when connecting don’t just promote yourself., Instead provide them with value by engaging with their content, offer genuine compliments, and share valuable articles and thought leadership assets.
Once you’ve nurtured a connection and want to open up the account, a great way to understand the dynamics of relationships within this connection’s organisation is by creating a Power Map. Building a Power Map can be easily achieved with a simple three-step process that creates a visual representation of the decision-making landscape:
Protestors – (Low Influence/Low Attitude) do not have much sway, yet can take up significant amounts of our time asking for additional information. Recommendation: Don’t ignore them, but be judicious with responses to their queries as they can be time thieves.
Enemies – (High Influence/Low Attitude) should raise red flags as they are not supporters yet have the power to award the business. Recommendation: Try to understand why they don’t want to support you, maybe they’re very happy with their existing supplier; were they burned by a bad past experience with your organisation? As a minimum, try to neutralise their attitude towards you with the help of a Friend or Ally whose opinion they value.
Friends – (Low Influence/High Attitude) can’t say yes to our proposal but they can open doors for us and provide valuable organisational and competitive intelligence. Recommendation: Make a point of getting to know the personal assistants of all the relevant senior executives in your accounts.
Allies – (High Influence/High Attitude) are your internal champions and most vocal mouthpieces for the promotion of you, your solution and organisation to the powers that be. Recommendation: Word up your Allies with everything they need to do an internal sale on your behalf.
Unknown Zone – If you’ve recently acquired a new account or proactively expanding into new business units within an existing account, there will more than likely be a number of stakeholders that you haven’t met yet. That’s totally fine, plot them onto the UNKNOWN zone and use the later stages of this exercise to plan how to best reach out and build a relationship.
Neutral Zone – Alternatively, you may have some fence sitters who don’t have a strong opinion about you or your company, they can be plotted in the NEUTRAL zone. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know these stakeholders and their worlds, and then provide them with value and insight to move them into Friend or Ally territory.
By mapping out these relationships, you will better understand each connection’s influence on your desired party and how best your efforts can be leveraged. This could be through leveraging Friends and Allies for introductions or providing influencers with content or services that will appeal to your target stakeholder. Additionally, if done correctly, it can give insight into potential weaknesses in relationships that need to be strengthened or new contacts that may need to be cultivated in order for certain objectives to be met.
Remember that connections don’t always have to be professional in nature; look for common ground like your children’s schools, church groups, sporting and volunteering associations that you both may be a part of, as these are a great way to make a connection and quickly build rapport and start forging a relationship.
Overall, building relationships with prospects, clients and specialists isn’t easy—but a Power Map can make it much simpler by helping you visualise complex connections between individuals in an organised manner. That way, you know exactly how best to use those relations for maximum impact.
Continuous self-improvement is essential for success in the modern business world. To stay ahead of the competition and build opportunities, salespeople must dedicate themselves to a regimen of research and learning. Block out an hour in your diary each day to read industry articles, complete online courses, or research. This simple habit will provide invaluable insights into industry and market trends, developments, and challenges which you can use with clients and prospects throughout the sales process. Not only does this practice allow sales professionals to keep up with market and industry advances, it also gives them the necessary knowledge they need to effectively understand the needs of their customers and provide innovative solutions that drive valuable outcomes.
Self-improvement activities can help sales professionals gain valuable insights into customer behaviour and learn how they can create personalised experiences that align with the client’s unique needs. Through consistent research and learning, sales professionals can further refine their account strategies by learning about new resources available as well as any market changes that could influence their performance in a positive way.
In today’s increasingly complex environment, continuous self-improvement has become an absolute necessity for those looking to succeed in sales. By taking an hour out of each day to conduct some kind of research or learning related activity, salespeople are not only able to improve their skills but build confidence in what they do and set themselves apart from the competition. With a commitment towards lifelong learning and development, sales professionals are able to better understand customer needs and create meaningful relationships that lead to long-term success in their field.
When we say resourceful mindsets, we’re talking about how well we can endure and triumph over pressure. This is often what separates exceptional sales performers from the rest; it’s actually the difference that makes the difference! Exceptional sales performers have strong self-belief, determination, coping, focus – and above all else, demonstrate positivity and mental strength. In essence, exceptional performers consistently see the positive in every situation despite how bleak it might initially look.
What drives a mindset of resourcefulness? What makes you feel customer-obsessed, competitive and results-driven? Is it the things that happen around you, or does it come from somewhere else?
There will always be things that could impact your behaviour and therefore your results. There will always be problems, failure, and rejection. If the events around you determine your level of motivation, we call that the ‘outside-in’ approach to motivation. The key to staying motivated is to proactively decide – irrespective of what happens on the outside – that you will choose to feel good and resourceful on the inside. This is the ‘inside-out’ approach to motivation.
So how do you develop ‘inside out’ motivation? When it comes to challenging external events like not being shortlisted for an RFP or losing business to a competitor; we cannot control the event itself, we can however control our response to this event. What’s within our gift is how professional, calm, and resourceful we stay when we deal with the situation.
Rather than reacting emotionally, you can stay resourceful in difficult situations by using this simple process developed by Jack Cranfield (Author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”) called E+R=O.
Imagine your client has requested an urgent meeting because there is a serious complaint she needs to share with you. When describing the situation, she becomes visibly agitated, she raises her voice and then starts aggressively pointing at you and proceeds to blame you for the situation. When confronted with such an external EVENT (E) it’s easy – in the heat of the moment – to take this personally, get defensive, lose control and then REACT (R) in a highly emotional way. In a worst-case scenario, this could result in you raising your voice at the client, bashing your fist on the table or even storming out of the room. After such an outburst you’re left with a highly undesirable OUTCOME (O) where the problem remains unresolved and you’ve damaged the client relationship.
Finally, it’s useful to highlight the cyclic nature of the E+R=O formula as each OUTCOME (O) becomes the next EVENT (E). For example, if this meeting was an absolute disaster where both parties lost their cool, then the next time you connect with the client will probably be quite tense and uncomfortable. Alternatively, if the meeting ended positively with an acknowledgement of the complaint and an agreed way forward to solve it, such an outcome can have the effect of building an even stronger relationship, smoothing the way for more open, collaborative and trust based future meetings.
In conclusion, it is evident that sales success requires more than just good intentions; those who truly want to thrive must be willing to put in extra effort each day by consistently practicing habits including nurturing their “5 A Day” relationships, allocating 1 hour each day to invest in self-improvement activities and learn something new as well as bouncing back from adversity by staying resourceful and self-motivated.
So, in the words of James Clear (author of Atomic Habits), why not try introducing some, or all of these habits into your daily routine to help drive quality inputs and see what impact they could make on accelerating your outcomes and overall sales success!
”The edge is in the inputs.
The person who consumes from better sources, gets better thoughts.
The person who asks better questions, gets better answers.
The person who builds better habits, gets better results.
It’s not the outcomes. It’s the inputs.”
James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits