8 habits of highly effective sales people

Great sales results can come from a sales person's pure natural talent and charm, and that’s hard for others to copy. But it can also come from routines which anyone are able to adopt. Here are 8 habits successful sales people use to stay effective.

You probably know at least a handful of sales people who have that certain “je ne sais quoi” about them. They are successful in sales because they have a great personality, are natural born storytellers and just seem to be able to sell just about anything to anyone.

Any sales manager would give his eyeteeth for someone like this on his team.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of examples of sales people who are successful at selling just through good, old-fashioned hard work and effective habits. What kind of habits are these, you ask? Do all good sales people use these habits?

To find out more, we got in touch with some of the most successful sales people in our own network to see if they could shine some light on the matter.

Our question was: What do you think is the single most important factor to being a successful sales person?

We narrowed down all the answers to the following top eight habits of highly effective sales people:

1. Prepare well – set aside time in your diary for planning

“Proper planning prevents poor performance” is a saying that holds true in many situations.

The sales managers we talked to mentioned that their top sales people prepared well for every big customer meeting. It wasn’t their skills in ”talking on the fly” that made them succeed, it was the preparation.

Being prepared helped them to meet challenges, or to inspire customers to think differently or in a new way. By being prepared, they could also anticipate customer questions and be better able to meet their expectations.

2. Qualify – be picky about which opportunities to spend time on

Good sales people have to be brutal about which sales opportunities they spend their time on. Wasting time on prospects who never reach a decision is worse than losing to the competition.

Top sales people are great at qualifying and prioritizing which opportunities deserve attention. This is done by constantly checking the pipeline and closely evaluating each opportunity for a go or no-go. 

3. Never forget – always register your conversations to ensure you follow up promptly

If a sales person forgets to follow up on a conversation or a meeting with you, it gives you the feeling that you are not important or valued as a prospect or customer. Of course, juggling a thousand things at one time means that even the best of us can forget.

To avoid this, top sales people explained that they always register follow-ups in their diaries to ensure they remember what to do next.

4. Keep your promises – check before you make a promise

Successful sales people keep their promises. Many deals have been broken because sales people say what the customer wants to hear, rather than to check the answer before promising something. Future sales are built on trust. It doesn’t help the relationship if you have to use time to sort out situations that could have been avoided in the first place.

5. Expand your network – always ask for a new contact

Sales people can never have enough leads. How do you get around this? We heard from sales people who focus on driving new business sales that they never close a conversation without also asking for a new lead or introduction to someone new. This, of course is networking 101, but a lot of sales people are still afraid to ask for an introduction.

Asking for an introduction to someone else who could be interested in the product or service is one of the most valuable sources of new business leads for successful sales people.

6. Know your product – invest time in updating your knowledge

This may sound obvious, but knowing the products and services is a distinguishing factor between those sales people who do well and those who do great.

Most customers will trust a sales person more when he can demonstrate his knowledge about his products and services.

In order to do this, top sales people said that they spend the time to learn and keep up-to-date on their company’s products and services. In addition, they mentioned that they also broadened their knowledge on related topics by subscribing to news, articles and following trends regularly to be on top of their game.   

7. Listen, listen, listen – train on your questioning and listening skills

“A good sales person knows they have two ears and only one mouth” is an often-used saying.

A sales person obviously needs to know how to present his products and services, but a good sales person also knows when to stop talking and just listen.

One good habit to achieve these skills is to train at every opportunity given. Some of the people we spoke to referred to attending training programs given by their company, while others said that practicing listening and questioning skills in their weekly sales team meetings and receiving constructive feedback helped a lot.

The best sales people simply know that they are never done with training and that listening and questioning is at the heart of understanding the customer.

8. Enthusiasm sells – get enough sleep and look on the bright side of life

After having listened to the customer, it is important for sales people to demonstrate their understanding and present how their products and services meet the customers’ needs. If this is done without enthusiasm, then it’s unlikely the customer will be persuaded to invest, no matter how well the solution matched his requirements.

So what habit helped towards keeping enthusiasm up?

Enough sleep wasn’t the answer we expected, but we, indeed, got. If you are tired, you are more likely to be grumpy and see problems rather than opportunities. If you have slept well, you are more likely to take a positive attitude and have more fun.

So there you have it. Having a winning personality is not the only thing you need for being a good sales person. Good habits help too.

Adopting one or all of these may not automatically turn you into a sales hero, but perhaps they can inspire you to do something new that works for you? 


What do you think? Have any of these habits helped you achieve better sales results? Or do you know any other habits that are more effective? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments field below. :)

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