Treating sales as an ‘art’ or a ‘science’ is convenient shorthand, but the truth is, it’s really about habit and behaviour. Ironing out the inefficient kinks in your approach can lead to dramatic improvements in your relationships and your profits.
But ironing out these kinks isn’t easy. Bad habits are formed over time, and can be hard to break – affecting your ability to hit your quota and take home that all-important commission payment.
Of course, knowing what your bad habits are is half the battle. If you’re a salesperson or a manager of a sales team, here are the five main varieties of under performing salesperson – and how to turn their bad habits into positive qualities.
1. ‘Just following orders’
Becoming reliant on existing relationships is an understandable temptation, but it’s one that’s best avoided. Just taking orders isn’t going to lead to any meaningful uptick in profits, and customer circumstances are subject to change; inevitably, they are less loyal to you than you are to them. Repeat business is always a good thing, but not at the expense of pursuing new opportunities – with fresh prospects or with your existing end-user base. If you can’t sell or upsell, you’ll find it difficult to meet your quota.
You can break the habit of ‘following orders’ by seeking out relevant insights into customer trends and preferences and using them to inform your approach to business development. Collaborate with team members to create an intelligent data strategy that revolves around buyer personas, performance analysis, and technology. CRM and mobile platforms can make this kind of strategy much more efficient.
2. Data masticator
Used judiciously, data is never a bad thing. Used improperly, it can lead you to rabbit holes and red herrings. When you spend too much time chewing on information, you’re not spending time selling.
The data masticator relies on large quantities of this information to inform their strategy – but they don’t filter and analyse this information very well. Consequently, their approach tends to be as disorganised and chaotic – as raw data often is – and commonly targets the wrong people entirely.
You can break this bad habit by ensuring that you – and your co-workers – understand that data quality is far more important than quantity. Refreshing your CRM and other software platforms to remove irrelevant or expired information will inevitably improve the accuracy of your pitches and, subsequently, your success rate.
3. The ‘basic instinct’ salesperson
Research from sales-i has revealed that around 6% of salespeople make their decisions according to their gut feelings. I’ve taken to calling this the ‘basic’ instinct – because it’s all they tend to go home with.
There is nothing wrong with following a gut feeling, but never follow it blindly. Your intuition and your natural abilities can serve you well, but only if the conclusions you glean can be verified and turned into something actionable. Sometimes that gut feeling is just indigestion.
Always, always, always stay true to the facts, and never jump right into a pitch. Data never lies.
4. The chatterbox
A distracted salesperson isn’t a productive salesperson. This is obvious enough. You must permit yourself and others a little latitude about this because forming strong relationships with teammates is important. But, ultimately, if you’re spending hours a day on the internet, using social media, and doing anything other than selling, you’re not using your time as well as you could be.
If you’re an inveterate office chatterbox, consider undertaking training and development programmes. You can still use the internet and social media – but to research industry happenings, technological developments, and maybe even prospects (if they use certain platforms).
5. The Luddite
The Luddite doesn’t treat technology as a friend. In fact, they treat it as an enemy. They rely on the tried and true tricks of the trade to get by, and harbour a boundless suspicion of ‘automation’, ‘analytics’, ‘data’, and other key features of modern workplace tools and systems.
Denying yourself the many advantages of technology won’t do you or your company any good. Technology comes in all shapes and sizes; some of it will be useful, some less so. It will be adopted by your company regardless, so the best thing you can do is get as involved in the process as early as possible – making sure your voice is heard loudly and clearly, and giving you the necessary understanding of these systems before you start using them.
Bad habits aren’t inevitable. Take the initiative, adopt the necessary measures, and you’ll notice a significant – and immediate – difference.