After working with sales reps in over a hundred companies in over 40 industries, I’ve noticed that the habits of elite-level sales pros are very consistent. I started asking these high-performing reps just what they do that drives them to consistently achieve at a higher level. Here are the answers. How many of these habits do you have?
They train their strengths and weaknesses.
Every sales rep has strengths and weaknesses, but most set goals based on avoiding their weaknesses. If they don’t prospect well, they’ll set their goals based on proposals or average ticket, as an example.
High-performing reps train their strengths to build up their weak spots. A high-performance rep who doesn’t prospect well might focus more effort on gaining referrals, or maintaining an active business network to keep the leads rolling in. They’ll apply the same amount of time to traditional prospecting, and work on honing those skills, but they’ll find a way to guarantee success as they work toward better prospecting proficiency.
Focusing on weakness is no one’s favorite activity. Working on a plan to ensure greater success is energizing!
They have a set sales process, and they stick to it.
Elite level sales pros design their goals based on what they can control. Setting results-based goals is dangerous. Top reps know they can’t control the availability or mood of those they call on, the weather, or a client’s cash flow. What they can control is their own actions. Controlling what they do and how often they do it makes a difference. They can make ten calls, use a specific phrase or methodology, etc. Having a clear and consistent sales process makes sure they’re doing all they can do to keep the sale on track.
Pacing a sale makes a huge difference in average ticket and customer experience. Sales processes are developed and honed to have specific goals for each step. When the goals are achieved, the next step is scheduled. This keeps buyers from becoming overwhelmed, and lays a strong foundation for qualified sales.
A defined process also allows reps to diagnose their own trouble spots as they arise. If deals are most often breaking down at the proposal stage, they’ll make it their goal to complete a more thorough discovery stage. It will set more realistic expectations for the proposal. They’ll ask some different questions, or do a deeper dive on the ones they’re currently asking.
For more on developing a strong sales process, click here.
They set independent goals, and they share them.
Sales pros who consistently crush quota set their own goals to make it happen. Rather than rely on the corporate KPIs like dials and door knocks, they make their own list of the activities and levels they need to excel. In their one-to-ones with management, they’ll bring their own activity tracker in and discuss the challenges they’ve identified.
High-performing reps know sharing personal goals with managers is motivating. Their managers become co-conspirators; everybody wants the moonshot to succeed. Support is consistent, and managers regularly invest in their success.
It’s not that they ignore the preset “plan” goals – they are self-aware enough to know what activities pushes them well past quota. Top sales reps are not happy with the middle of the pack; they aim for President’s Club or Winner’s Circle or Elite status. They look at their jobs as the series of tasks that bring them to the signature on the agreement. Anything that slows that down is avoided at all costs.
Then they do number 4.
They regularly ask for, and give, assistance.
When discussing habits of elite-level reps, I noticed top sales pros are acutely aware that sales is a team sport. These reps ask everyone for help, and they give assistance freely. They attend company trainings, and answer surveys, as in this article by Sales Hacker.
When they talk to a buyer, they say things like, “Help me understand your process.” And, “How can I learn more about this?” They know that they don’t know everything, and they don’t reinvent the wheel.
Likewise, when they’re stuck on any part of their process or new products, they lean on management for training and printed material to get a clear understanding. They know that the best way to become a better rep is to develop their knowledge and skills.
They share their knowledge and their effort with teammates whenever they can reasonably do so. Relying on each other for knowledge or a hand reaching a deadline is part of what makes teams strong.
They set a consistent “rot” date on deals, and walkaway.
Elite level sales pros are ruthless about tire kickers and foot draggers. Walking away from a dead deal early is a tough habit to create, but it saves tons of time and energy. But once they’ve developed the habit, their stress levels go way down. Among other things, they avoid developing bad habits like selling on price, or negotiating value instead of demonstrating it.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that reps spend more than twice as much time on deals that don’t close than on deals that do. By walking away, they’re able to focus on other deals that have a better likelihood of closing, and forecast sales more accurately.
Why is it so hard for most of us to walk away? 1) We become convinced of our ability to meet the client’s needs, and are sure they are about to realize it. 2) We know it can be tough to find a strong lead to replace this one.
What makes it easy for Rockstar reps to walk away? 1) The customer knows how to find them. If the reps has proven value, the buyer will call when they’re ready. 2) Top reps have a strong follow-up calendar, and they’ll keep in limited touch. 3) They realize the sale isn’t about them at all. It’s about what’s going on with the customer. Sometimes customers going to make a bad choice. Top sales pros are patient.
They use their CRM thoroughly.
Although some of the top reps we interviewed noted a love/hate relationship with their CRM, none of them wanted to give it up! Unanimously the complaint was that it takes a lot of time to accurately note all the appropriate and applicable data. But every rep who said this was clear on the value of the dashboard data to themselves and to management. Statistics from Forester have shown that 50% of teams improved their productivity by using a mobile CRM.
CRMs help reps keep track of the strength of their pipeline, track activity levels, concentrate and categorize relevant account and prospect data, make calls, send emails, manage their calendar, and much more. Elite-level sales reps develop ways for their CRMs to save them time and boost their performance.
For more on achieving sales success, click here.