Surely, you have heard of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It has been so widely read since its release 31 years ago, the title has become part of the American lexicon.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a play-of-words off that book title, I might not be rich, but I’d have a lot of dollar bills lying around.
In that spirit, I opened an email last week from ringDNA with the subject line, “7 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople.” It was a convincing list, so I thought I’d go through these seven habits and give you my thoughts on each one.
Below are the seven habits with ringDNA’s comments in italics. My thoughts follow.
1. Service vs. Selling
“The habit is being able to understand that you’re not selling the customer, you’re serving the customer to a better need, to a better want, to a desire. You’re giving them something or offering them a solution to a problem they have.”
In my second book, Selling Saturdays, I write that “mediocre salespeople are in business for themselves. Great salespeople are in business to change their clients’ lives.” That applies here.
It is true that many salespeople hide behind “servicing clients” and use it as an excuse not to actively prospect or assertively close. It’s also true that sales professionals who enjoy long-term success tend to be obsessed with what truly matters to clients.
2. Better Every Meeting
“Getting better every meeting. The best sales executives I’ve seen really work really hard to prepare for every meeting. We need to get better at every meeting.”
Two p-words come to mind: “preparation” and “post-mortem.” While salespeople often have “wing-it” personalities, it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Doing a quick review after every meeting, even if it’s just you doing it inside your own mind, will lead to continual growth and improvement.
“Be scrappy and get out of your comfort zone. Scrappy for me is beyond grit. It’s willing to meet strangers. It’s willing to go outside what you normally do so that you can create luck, so you can position yourself to make good things happen.”
I agree that effective sales pros are often scrappy. Perhaps I would change this to “be a dogged prospector.”
“Being able to tell a compelling story is the number one thing that any salesperson needs to master. It’s about making what you are selling or what solution you’re providing relevant to your prospect or your target, and it’s helping them understand, “How can I see myself using this and it making my life easier?”
I’m a big believer in this. In fact, I talk so much about the important role of storytelling in sales, I’m thinking about writing a book on the subject. Anytime you can explain something in story form instead of reciting rote data and statistics, you will connect more personally with the client. Also, stories are good tools to use when overcoming objections and closing deals.
“Curiosity. Digging very deep into what is behind the product or the service. Not just what benefits it offers, but the entire narrative that surrounds it.”
Curiosity is what allows us to come up with new leads. It also helps us play the detective role when we are qualifying prospects and discovering what is truly valuable to them.
“Taking notes. It is an outdated technique, a lot of people think that they can do it electronically, but taking good notes is one of the key skills that a sales professional needs to master.”
And you thought you were done taking notes when you finished school! Perhaps not. The need for this habit probably varies depending on your memory. That said, it’s good practice to always enter a quick note into your CRM as soon as you finish a client meeting or prospect call.
“They need to be resilient. Sales reps have to make sure that whatever is happening behind the scenes of their life is not going to come front and center when they are in a sales meeting or serving a client. They need to be able to compartmentalize those two things and bounce back after a “no” or bounce back after a losing a contract. The ability to be resilient, I think is the number one skill every salesperson must master.”
No doubt sales professionals must possess strong mental fortitude. If not, sales would probably be a miserable job for them.