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6 Bad Sales Habits Destroying Your Productivity (& What to Do Instead)

6 Bad Sales Habits Destroying Your Productivity (& What to Do Instead) Blog Feature

July 18th, 2018 min read

Habits are behaviors that impact the decisions we make about how to spend our time and energy. Many are unconscious.

Sales habits are the same. You gain experience and knowledge over time that influences your outlook as well as your ability to effectively manage your pipeline, priorities, and processes.

Whether you’re a seasoned seller or a newbie, recognizing your habits, good or bad, is the first step towards understanding why you do certain things while avoiding others.

I’ve talked to thousands of sales managers and leaders who believe their sales reps’ poor performance is due to bad habits. And they’re right.

When you take a closer look, lack of productivity is rooted in bad sales habits, but which habits are bad and at what point do they begin sabotaging productivity and performance?

Based on what we’ve observed at DMTraining, we’ve put together this list of six bad habits sales reps should avoid and how to develop healthy habits instead.

Bad Habit #1: Not Prospecting Enough

The surest way to underperform as a salesperson is to avoid prospecting.

We get it: no one likes to prospect, but in sales that’s a major part of your daily responsibilities;Not to mention vital to your success.

One of the most common scenarios I hear is when a salesperson fills their pipeline with a few large opportunities, counts on one or two of those closing, and then sits back, relaxes, and waits.

If and when the deal closes, that’s great.You’ve closed business, but what’s your pipeline look like now?

Think of it this way: you just lost your biggest and most promising prospect. How will you fill that gap?

When reps have a hot deal ready to close, oftentimes they get tunnel vision and lose track of everything else they need to do.  

Your pipeline is always be full and ready with business to avoid a lull. 

This is why prospecting is an ongoing process. It’s something you need to do every single day. If you don’t, you run the risk of your pipeline drying out with nothing to count on.

What should you do instead?

Block off prospecting time on your calendar every week.

The more you can integrate prospecting into your daily or weekly process, the more likely you are to stick with it and the better your chances are of making a good habit of it.

Prospecting also provides a great learning opportunity.

It can help you uncover areas to improve as well as identify how many small, medium, and large opportunities you need in your pipeline to maintain momentum and a consistent lead flow.

Bad Habit #2: Not Following a Documented, Shared Process

This deal is different. My opportunity is unique. I have my own process.

I’ve heard it all before.

While some sales reps may have success following their own personal processes, it’s a bad sales habit to have when you’re on a team.

Not only will you working with an undocumented process hinder your own potential, you’ll enable misunderstandings, lack of accountability, and inaccurate forecasts across the team.

If all of your sales reps don’t have clearly defined steps and a path to follow, you risk them not knowing exactly what needs to be done at each stage of the sale.t. That can result in even a perfect-fit prospect slipping away because of disorganization or clients coming in without specific qualifications or information being collected.

What to do instead?

Implement a formalized sales process with a set of repeatable steps that your entire team came follow.

Sharing a common language and framework to discuss your pipeline and sales process is essential to working together efficiently and effectively.

A formalized, documented sales process adds structure, revenue predictability, and improved communication to your workflow. It also ensures that everyone is focused on the activities that generate the most revenue.

Without a process in place, deals are simply won or lost, and it’s hard to know which specific actions are working or failing, so it can be refined later. A documented process also makes it easier and more efficient to expand your sales team or for new reps to step into a deal if need be.

Bad Habit #3: Not Asking the Right Questions

Asking the right questions is arguably one of the most important parts of the sales process --nd there’s an art to it.

Asking questions gives you the opportunity to uncover critical information about the prospect and opportunity at hand.

So I’m surprised when I observe sales reps rattling off a rehearsed list of questions that aren’t personalized to the prospect or their company.

While this may seem easier, it’s extremely ineffective when you’re trying to connect and build credibility with the prospect. It also gives you less to work with when it comes to catering your conversations to truly appeal to them.

While this level of questioning can be useful for first conversations, they don’t provide the intelligence necessary to advance the opportunity.

What to do instead?

Expand beyond your pre-rehearsed list of questions and ask more challenging, second-level questions that get to the heart of their personal and professional motivations as well as their industry outlook and point of view.

This starts with preparation and research. What do you really want to know? You really want to know how and why they would use your solution.

Identify the questions you need to ask to get the information you want. The answers you get will give you a clear indication of whether or not you can help this prospect and how exactly you will do it.

Asking the right questions puts you in a strong position to be viewed as a trusted advisor who has done their research and brings valuable, thought-provoking questions to the conversation.

Bad Habit #4: Selling to Every Tom, Dick, and Harry

If you’re trying to sell to everyone, chances are you’ll appeal to no one.

It’s incredibly tempting to latch onto any lead that comes your way, especially if you’re guilty of Bad Habit #1, but the more time you spend pursuing wrong-fit prospects, the less time you have for the right-fit prospects.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from a prospect because they aren’t the right fit. If you turn a blind eye to this, you’ll waste your time, their time, and your team’s time when you could have been working a lead that would be far more valuable.

What to do instead?

Understand what your company’s ideal buyer personas are and then only work with leads that closely match these profiles. To do this, stay tuned in to your most up-to-date buyer personas and industry changes.

Review your company’s case studies and success stories about a particular type of client to help you fully understand who the customer is, how and why they used your solution, and what the results were.

Armed with this information, you’ll be more effective and focused on finding perfect-fit prospects and ultimately be more profitable.

Bad Habit #5: Not Communicating with Other Departments

Lack of communication is a bad habit in any relationship, but when you’re working as a business unit, poor communication can have negative consequences far beyond internal relationships and extend to the customer.

Poor communication is a recipe for disaster. If the sales team is saying one thing but the customer success and marketing teams are saying another, who should the customer listen to?

Not communicating across teams breeds an environment of confusion, resentment, and lack of trust.

What to do instead?

Socialize with your co-workers. Take the time to go out to lunch as a team. Meet for happy hour. Start a company softball league.

Whatever it is, the point is bring teams together to get to know each other on a deeper, more personal level.

Getting to know the people you work with doesn’t mean you have to become best friends, it just means you’ll be able to communicate and connect with them more effectively.

For instance, let’s say you were recently at a team lunch where you learned that your customer success counterpart wakes up early every day to start working because they volunteer in the evenings.

If you’ve been sending all of your requests late in the day, not getting a response and then assuming the CSM is ignoring you, you’ll realize that’s clearly not the case.

Now that you know what you know, you can work together to adjust your workflow and communication timing to ensure you’re aligned and working in unison.

Bad Habit #6: Not Prioritizing Learning and Training

I don’t have time. I already know that. What I’ve been doing works just fine.

This is what I hear from a lot of salespeople who don’t incorporate learning and development into their regular routines.

When they experience low points, become stagnant, and watch their co-workers and/or competitors blow past them using the latest tools, technology, and sales best practices, they are surprised, but they shouldn’t be!

Training enables growth and improvement. If you’re not training, you’re not learning new ideas, you’re not changing your thought process, and you’re not thinking of new ways to approach selling.

The result? You maintain the status quo and that isn’t good for anyone.

What to do instead?

Commit to ongoing personal and professional development. Become a ‘lifelong learner,’ motivated by the desire for more knowledge and self-improvement.

This can be as simple as reading 1-2 new articles every week and taking one thing away from it to incorporate into your own sales approach, or finding a new podcast to listen to.

You may also consider exploring online training and certification to build your credentials and confidence.

The brain  is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. When you make it a habit, you’ll reap the benefits of increased productivity, creative inspiration, and overall job satisfaction.

Prevent the Bad and Replace with the Good

These six bad sales habits are unintentionally chipping away at your sales performance and productivity. If you’re guilty of any of these, it’s okay. Bad habits develop over time without you even realizing it.

What’s not okay is continuing down the same path after recognizing you have a problem.

The sooner you identify the bad habit, the sooner you’ll be able to prevent and replace those bad habits with healthy ones.

This is a compelling reason to dedicate time today to understanding why you spend your time and energy on the things that you do. How did you form certain habits? Why do you continue to engage in them?

Start developing healthier sales habits through scheduling time to prospect every week, following a documented, shared sales process, personalizing your questioning strategy, revisiting your buyer personas regularly, foster communication across teams, and committing to ongoing training and learning.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Ryun

What bad sales habits are holding you back? What can you do to break free?

Dive in to our Pipeline Management Made Easy guide to learn how to get started as you formalize your sales process and structure. You’ll be saying sayonara to those bad habits in no time.

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