All of us go through our days by following certain patterns — We call many of these patterns habits. Every day, our behaviors follow these patterns. Some we think about, some we don’t. These habits flow into everything, including our sales performance.
Every sales rep has a mixture of good and bad habits. These include all the basics, including objection handling, follow up, and empathy. It’s easy to unconsciously create a habit, good or bad, by doing something a certain way for a certain period of time. Lally et al found that the average period of time it takes to form a habit is 18-254 days of repetition — both to create a new habit or break an old one.
Often, we don’t think about our habits because it’s “just how we do things.” A good sales rep will accept this fact. A great sales rep will always evaluate their habits. Think about it, how many times have you done something one way for 18-254 days and not thought about it?
Breaking Bad Sales Habits
To create better habits, you have to know your bad habits and know how to practice better habits.
There are two main ways: through a manager or by evaluating it yourself.
Sales Managers can use group coaching, 1-on-1s, and QA, to identify bad habits and then form the base of great habits. They’ll be able to show you exactly what you need to do to get better.
Suppose your sales manager is very busy or has other priorities. In that case, you can always evaluate your habits on your own by listening to your own calls and being critical of yourself. Then, ask someone better than you what the good habit looks like or research on your own. You could buy a book, or even better, look to sales leaders on LinkedIn or throughout the internet. There are so many free resources out there.
Creating Great Sales Habits
Now that you know the bad habit and know what the great habit looks like, how do you form a great habit?
According to researchers Wendy Wood and David Neal, habit formation has three components: context cues, behavioral repetition, and rewards.
- Context cues are what triggers the habit.
- Behaviors are the habits themselves.
- Rewards are the positive things that encourage you to practice those behaviors.
The three work together and form a loop, which is how you form a great sales habit. You should follow this loop for at least 18 days.
Here’s an example:
So you want to handle a budget objection with a new rebuttal as part of better coaching from your manager. The context cue is the prospect objection. The behavior is the effective rebuttal. The reward is the meeting booked and doing something small for yourself (such as going out to get your favorite lunch).
Obviously, this is a simple example, but the framework could work for any example. The mindset is the most important part.
By recognizing your bad habits, knowing what a good habit looks like, and then using Wood and Neal’s habit framework, you can create better habits that lead to more sales. It really is that simple. Now it’s up to you to take what you’ve learned and start forming those great habits. It won’t happen overnight, but by continually trying to get better, you will.