7 habits of highly effective salespeople

7 Habits of Highly Effective Salespeople

In any industry, those at the top typically have similar productive habits that act as the bedrock for their professional success. The same way most politicians are gifted public speakers, and athletes are tremendous competitors, great salespeople have distinguishable, shared habits.

These habits can be easily replicated by anyone in sales to position them as leaders. Here are the 7 most important habits of highly effective salespeople.

Habit #1: Be Proactive, Especially With Your Clients

This is the most important aspect of long-term sales success.

Sales proactivity will first and foremost keep your existing customers happy.  Moreover, It will allow you to foresee any changes in the marketplace. At which point, you don’t get left behind. It can also help you keep in mind the ever-important task of prospecting.

Being proactive is more than just constantly thinking about the future in general, it’s about constantly thinking about your customer’s future. As you may already recognize, the rep with the best sales numbers in your office is likely the one who can best foresee a customer’s problems before the customer themselves know they have one.

What this might look like in practice is developing a schedule with periodic phone, email, and in-person check-ins with each of your customers. These check-ins should uncover their current attitude towards your product, your customer service, and any changes in their business or marketplace. This way, you can continuously measure the happiness of your customers and reveal areas where you can proactively improve.

Bottom line: Be proactive, not reactive

Habit #2: Work Towards Your Long-Term Goal

A salesperson’s work is never over, there will always be more work to do. The nature of the sales profession often causes the seller to become hyper-focused on their never-ending workload at the current moment. This is problematic because they run the risk of losing sight of their intended career path. The ability to hunker down on current pressing issues is necessary. However, it’s vital to be mindful of how the way you divide your time will affect your long-term goals.

Great salespeople are conscious of how each hour they spend at work can bring them closer to their long-term goals. Don’t sacrifice what you want now for what you really want long-term.

Time is the most valuable component of a salesperson’s job. That is why, it’s important to periodically analyze how you’re spending your time. You need to know if the time spent was worth the return. Here’s a Forbes article on how important time is to salespeople. It explains how most reps actually spend 65% of their time on non-revenue generating activities, leaving only 35% leftover for selling.

If you find yourself writing follow-up emails from scratch after every meeting, you’re wasting your time. It would be well worth it to draft a follow-up template that’s easily customizable. The time you save by simply adding in the right figures and your meeting notes to an already effective template will add up, and contribute to your long-term success. Time is Money!

Bottom line: Be critical of your use of time

Habit #3: Handle the Pressing Business First

Here’s another time management strategy. Address the pressing issues first, no matter how difficult or complicated they are. In order to maximize your time, you must commit to what needs to be done before you reach for the lower hanging fruit.

Use scheduling, sticky notes, or any other helpful tools to keep your priorities locked-in. For example, highly effective salespeople never let their sales funnel run out; They always make time for lead-gen no matter how busy they are with prospects or existing customers.

Additionally, make a habit at the end of each day to ensure you are set to hit the ground running tomorrow. This could include things like checking/drafting emails or cleaning your CRM data. Check out Mindtool’s downloadable Action Priority Matrix, that visually breaks down your priorities.

One observable distinction great employees possess is their ability to see how each minute of their day impacts their company’s big picture. Maximizing your efficiency is mutually beneficial for both you and your employer, and in fact, allows you to spend more time selling.

Bottom Line: Schedule your priorities

Habit #4: Acute Attention To Detail

Sales as a profession demands continuous improvement and intense attention to detail. It’s the true closers (look at the person with the highest close rate on your team) that never overlook the smallest details of every deal.

Being meticulous about how your product fits in your customer’s lifestyle pays off in all aspects of sales. From your relationship with the customer (remembering their names, background, hobbies), to your follow-up emails (sending them the relevant materials they requested).

The area where this attention to detail reaps the greatest benefit is when you’re planning your sales pitch. Personalizing your sales presentation means doing extensive research on your prospect, their company, their industry, the context they already have for your presentation, etc. You need to know your prospect’s pain points, map your presentation to them, and focus on what they really care about.

Bottom Line: Take care of the little things that contribute to the big picture

Habit #5: Keep A Short Term Memory

Being able to keep looking forward and staying hungry for the next deal is the best way to get your mind off your past frustrations. Leverage your mistakes and use them to your advantage by recognizing the strategies that didn’t work, and ones that did. The only way a mistake is a true loss is if you don’t learn from it.

For example, let’s say you’re on the verge of closing a deal when suddenly one seemingly harmless phrase changes your client’s mind. This happens to even the best salespeople. Instead of getting upset, the best way to make use of this lost deal is to find out why it happened. Look back on the conversation and do your best to pinpoint where exactly you went wrong.

If you can’t pinpoint the one phrase, then that phrase may not have been the reason why the deal fell through. It could have been a combination of things leading up to the tipping point.

Ask your prospect what led them to not purchase. This is the best way to get personalized feedback and make the most out of a lost opportunity. Take notes after your meeting so you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Bottom Line: Build on your failures to reach your goals

Habit #6: Ask The Right Questions

Asking the right questions tells your prospect that you understand their business. It shows your customer that you’ve put some genuine thought into their company.Moreover, asking good questions also shortens the amount of time you need to allocate to each prospect. Consequently, you spend less time figuring out their pain points in-person, allowing you to see more prospects overall.

Bad questions can have the opposite effect. If you have to ask how their business works, you might as well pack your bags up and hit the road. Never allow yourself to go into any meeting blind, as this reflects poorly upon you and your company as a whole. Asking simple questions that Google can answer makes you come across as unprepared and shows low interest in making your solution work for the prospect.

Questions are extremely necessary for gathering valuable information, so be sure to have the right ones planned out ahead of time, and anticipate additional questions that you might want to ask based on their answers.

Bottom Line: Don’t waste time with questions you can answer with Google

Habit #7: Practice!

If you’re thinking to yourself “I already have all these habits, but I’m still not where I want to be”,  the best thing you can do for yourself is to practice your pitch! Work with another rep to grill you and challenge you with practice pitches, so you can be ready to close before you even meet the prospect. Besides, there’s no excuse to avoid practicing different types of pitches and even focus on certain parts of a pitch, like objections or closing.

If no one is available to practice with you in your office, consider using online forums like Reddit or Field Sales Talk to see how your pitch fares against other experienced salespeople.

Bottom Line: Close the deal in practice before you close the real deal

For more guidance and tips, check out my Training Tuesday videos where I cover everything in sales, from how to dress to overcoming price objections.

This is a guest contribution by Steven Benson of  Badger Maps. Interested in contributing to the CloserIQ blog? Check out our guidelines here.

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Steven Benson

Steven Benson is the Founder and CEO of Badger Maps, the #1 route planner for field salespeople. After receiving his MBA from Stanford, Steve’s career has been in field sales with companies like IBM, Autonomy, and Google – becoming Google Enterprise’s Top Performing Salesperson in the World in 2009. In 2012 Steve founded Badger Maps to help field salespeople be more successful.