To achieve long-term success in sales means that you need to develop good habits that make you more productive. Here are seven sales habits that will help you improve your results.
1. Prospecting: It feeds the pipeline
Top sales pros devote a significant amount of time to prospecting for new business and this habit prevents the peaks and valleys that many other salespeople experience. The general rule of thumb to follow is to have at least 300% percent of your targeted budget in your pipeline to ensure that you reach your quota.
Do you allow a specific amount of time for prospecting every single week?
2. Asking great questions: It gets easier with practice
Over the years I have learned that most people will tell you anything you want IF you have the courage to ask. However many sales people I encounter do not ask high-value questions when meeting with prospects. Top salespeople have learned to ask tough, probing, thought-provoking questions that make prospects think.
Many salespeople are uncomfortable asking these types of questions because they feel that questions of this nature are too intimate or too probing. The key is to verbally rehearse asking these questions BEFORE you meet with your prospect or customer.
Nimble recommends studying your prospect’s social footprint by following what they are saying, who they interact with and connect to, whether they express any concerns socially — then you can use that info in developing an authentic relationship, and as you prepare for sales calls.
What powerful questions are you prepared to ask?
3. Listening skills: Ask for clarification
The best salespeople I know are excellent listeners. They listen for underlying clues and hidden messages. They also seek clarification when necessary. They use prompters such as “tell me more” or “go on” which encourages the other person to divulge additional information. And, they also make strong eye contact which demonstrates that they are paying close attention.
How can you improve your listening skills?
4. Effective presentations: Remember it’s not about you
During my tenure in the corporate world, I endured many sales presentations and most of them were ineffective because they focused on the seller’s company or product. Great sales presentations focus on the prospect’s situation and clearly demonstrate how they will benefit by using your product, service or solution.
Here are two examples, one good and one poor:
Upon meeting with me, a salesperson promptly fired up his laptop and proceeded to walk through a 25-slide generic presentation that described how long his company had been in business, the projects they had completed, the awards they had received, and the companies with whom they had worked. None of his information was relevant to my particular situation and did nothing to address the “Why should I use you?” question running through my head. When I asked, “So, how can you help me?” he started reviewing his presentation again!
Compare that to this salesperson…
At the beginning of our meeting, he confirmed what he knew about my company and he asked me questions pertaining to the current project I was working on. I mentioned a particular solution his company had, believing that it would be the best for my situation. However, during his presentation–which was actually more like a conversation–he suggested another option and explained why that option would be more effective and beneficial.
How can you improve your sales presentations to ensure they are client-focused?
5. Persistence pays off
We all know that it takes more than one call, one letter, or one email to connect with decision makers. In fact, it’s been reported that it now takes up to 14 touchpoints to connect with senior level executives. Successful salespeople know that it takes persistence and diligence to make contact and they use a variety of strategies to achieve this goal. If you want to understand the nature of true persistence, read Robert Terson’s (Selling Fearlessly) Mound Road Story.
How many attempts do you make before you stop trying?
6. Ask for referrals: Referrals beat a cold call every time
Most salespeople don’t actively ask for referrals even though they know the importance of doing so. The challenge is that they don’t know how to ask or they are afraid that their customer will think they are needy or desperate for business. However, top salespeople ask consistently for referrals because they know a referral is more likely to develop into a sale than a cold call.
What can you do to develop this habit?
7. Follow Up: It’s up to you
Many a customer meeting and sale has been lost due to lack of follow-up and given the technology we have at our fingertips today, this should be a no-brainer. Too many salespeople fail to follow up after sending a proposal — mistakenly thinking that the prospect will call them if they are interested. News flash! It’s up to you to follow through afterward and I guarantee that you are losing sales if you are waiting for people to call you back. If you are serious about increasing your sales you MUST be proactive in your follow-up.