The difference between good salespeople and great ones is staggering. Good reps hit their quota ... most of the time. Great reps don’t just consistently hit, they have blow-out months or quarters. Good reps earn their prospects’ trust and respect.

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Great reps earn their prospects’ admiration, loyalty, and referrals. Good reps can skillfully handle objections. Great reps preemptively surface those concerns and make them disappear.

If you want greatness, good news. Following these rules of good sellers will help you become one of the top-selling salespeople on your team -- or even company.

Selling habits of effective reps

1. Identify and stick to your buyer personas

A clearly defined buyer persona is crucial to an effective sales process. And a sales rep who sticks to that persona is effective in generating sales. Otherwise, a salesperson might fall back on spray-and-pray tactics that result in inefficient prospecting.

An effective rep researches the prospect to make sure they’re a good fit. They stick to their ideal buyer persona and know exactly whom they're selling to and why.

2. Use a measurable, repeatable sales process

Low-performing reps let intuition guide them. High-performing reps use a process that’s optimized to move as many prospects as possible from “connect” to “close.”

Low-performing reps are always letting things slip through the cracks. High-performing reps know the state of every deal in their pipeline, what actions they’ll take next, and when. Low-performing reps never analyze their results -- because they haven’t been tracking them. High-performing reps obsessively review their key metrics and adjust as necessary.

TL;DR: To be extraordinary, you need a consistent process.

3. Know your product

Being able to sell is half the battle. Understanding what you’re selling is the other (often under-appreciated) half.

In the old days, selling relied on charm and snake-oil tactics. But now that prospects have more access to information than ever before, they’re not fooled so easily. To gain their trust and add value to their lives, you have to truly know your product.

4. Review your pipeline objectively

Effective sales reps don’t mark a deal as likely to close because the influencer likes them. They’re able to objectively review their opportunities, avoid happy ears, and come up with accurate sales forecasts.

5. Find shortcuts and hacks

Once a great salesperson finds a strategy or technique that works, they use it -- again and again and again and again, until it stops working.

This is smart. Reps are always working against the clock, which means the more time they spend experimenting, the less time they have for true selling. Plus, there’s an opportunity cost. Try one thing that doesn’t work, and you’ve missed the opportunity to use something that does.

I’m not suggesting you should never change up your approach. Just do so selectively, and get results ASAP so you can either implement the tactic or move on.

6. Practice active listening

Successful salespeople are completely present when they talk to prospects. They’re not thinking about another deal, scrolling through Reddit threads, or sending funny memes to their team members. They’re engaged -- and as a result, their conversations with buyers are deeper and more meaningful.

Active listening may be one of the hardest skills to develop, since it’s human nature to care more about what you have to say than your prospect. However, it’s incredibly valuable. Not only will you build stronger relationships, but you’ll unlock information that’ll help you position your product as the best option.

7. Work hard

It’s 5 p.m. on the last day of the month or quarter. The B players have already left the office -- they’re at a bar nearby celebrating because they all met quota. The C players are still in the office -- they’re sending off last-ditch email attempts to prospects they haven’t engaged with in weeks. The A players are in the office too. They’ve already hit, but they’re still sending emails, scheduling meetings, and making calls. And by laying the foundation for a great month before they need to, they always blow their goals out of the water.

8. Follow up

Many salespeople fail to effectively follow up after sending a proposal. They don’t even know if the prospect opened their email.

HubSpot Sales helps with this issue, letting salespeople know when and how often a prospect opened an email. With this information, they can follow up at the optimal time.

9. Personalize your message

Instead of following a script and approaching each prospect with a “one size fits all” mentality, high-performing salespeople are committed to learning as much as they can about a prospect to tailor their message. These sales reps understand the unique pain points their prospect are facing and can explain why their product is a good fit.

Tips to become a better salesperson

10. Shadow your peers

Want to improve your objection handling? Identify the salesperson who's best at it within your company and ask if you can shadow a few of their calls. Learning from your peers is a great way to get better at your job while building strong relationships with your coworkers.

11. Practice your people skills

Excellent small talk is a learned skill -- and one that's crucial to salespeople's success. Whether you're at housewarming party or a networking event, practice making other people feel at ease. Notice what makes them open up, zone out, and laugh, and take what you learn back to the office.

12. Be a team player

So much of sales pop culture glorifies the lone wolf in sales. But the best salespeople know it takes a village to build a career and a successful sales team. Help your colleagues, and know when to ask for help -- that's the key to a long, fulfilling sales career.

13. Know when to walk away

Are you wasting too much time on deals that just aren't that into you? Know how much your average deal length is and use that as a guidepost for how long is too long to spend on one deal. There are exceptions to this rule, but if your average sales cycle is 45 days and you're working a deal going on 90, consider trying Sandler's Reverse Negative approach.

14. Be honest

The days of telling customers anything to close are over. Don't promise a feature that doesn't exist yet, a price you can't deliver on, or a service your company can't do well. This might earn you a close, but it won't keep their business, and you'll end up with bad reviews and poor word of mouth. Plus, new research shows honesty can actually help you lead a happier life.

15. Always solve for the customer

Similarly, don't oversell your customer on services or features they don't need, just to bump up your number. A consultative selling approach allows you to be honest with your customer about what they really need to solve for their business. It's the right thing to do and you might be surprised how much it will benefit you when it comes to renewals and referrals. 

16. Roll with rejection

You won't win every deal, and some buyers just won't like you. That's part of being in sales. And while it's important to be thoughtful about how you can improve, it's crucial to move on easily from rejection. Experts suggest viewing rejection as proof you're pushing the limits. So, examine why you weren't successful with your prospect, ask for outside opinions when appropriate, and move forward quickly and positively to bigger and better deals.

17. Always ask for referrals

Successful salespeople know the easiest close often comes from a referral. Sales pro Marc Wayshack recommends asking for one introduction every day. The social proof is already there, initial outreach is direct, and sales cycles are often shorter. Once you've closed successful business, always ask for a referral and follow up quickly on those leads.

Life habits of effective reps

18. Stay balanced

Salespeople experience more highs and lows in a single week than most professionals do in an entire month. Some days, you feel invincible. Other days, you wonder if you even belong in sales.

The successful reps have learned to manage their emotions and stay somewhere in the middle. When things are going really well, and almost all of their deals are closing, they remind themselves not to get too cocky. When business dies down, they tell themselves not to become demoralized: Sales will pick up soon if they keep chugging.

19. Take breaks

In sales, activity is often correlated with results. The more emails you send, the more meetings you book. The more meetings you book, the more demos you set. The more demos you set, the more deals you close.

Following this line of thought, many salespeople end up working 10-hour days every weekday and even putting in time on the weekends.

Not only is this bad for your mental and physical health, it's also unproductive. As Basecamp founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson points out in this fantastic piece on workaholism, some of the highest-achieving people in history -- like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin -- prioritized sleep and a balanced schedule. Breaks are scientifically proven to boost memory, focus, and the quality of your ideas.

If you're regularly burning the candle at both ends, you'll eventually burn out. And plus, how much are you actually getting done between 6:30 and 8:30 at night? That time would be better spent reading, talking to your friends or family, watching TV or playing video games, cooking, walking your dog -- basically, anything that gives your brain a break.

20. Get eight or more hours of sleep

Think you can get away with five or six hours of sleep? Think again. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you get less, you’ll suffer from a laundry list of ailments, including:

  • Irritability
  • Decreased motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Distractibility
  • Reduced energy
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Poor decision making
  • Increased errors
  • Forgetfulness

To be at your best on sales calls, prioritize your sleep.

Motivation habits of effective reps

21. Believe in what you’re selling

It’s easier to be passionate about -- and sell -- a product when you genuinely believe in it. The most effective salespeople actually use their product and believe in its value.

If you feel “meh” about what you’re selling, find happy testimonials from customers. Examples of how your product has improved people’s lives -- in ways both large and small -- will reinforce your motivation (and give you valuable social proof when you’re meeting with prospects!)

22. Identify your strongest motivator

It doesn’t matter what drives a salesperson -- they simply need to be motivated. Every top salesperson has a burning reason for showing up to work every day and giving it their all. Maybe they want to buy a house and must make at least 110% of quota every month. Maybe they’re super competitive and always want to be at the top of the leaderboard. Maybe they need to prove to themselves they can do well in sales.

Ask yourself, “What’s my #1 reason for wanting to be successful?” If you can’t immediately come up with an answer, you need to find that motivator.

23. View your customer’s success as your own

Salespeople don’t stop working as soon as the prospect signs on the dotted line. Instead, top reps touch base frequently with their customers to seek feedback and provide tactical suggestions.

Life habits of effective reps

24. Build personal relationships

Dan Tyre, one of the best salespeople I know, is a relationship builder. Tyre connects with people everywhere he goes -- not in the surface-level, LinkedIn way, or the “let’s exchange business cards” way, but in a genuine, human way that makes you want to talk to him again.

As a salesperson, relationships are your capital. You don’t need Don Draper levels of charisma; on the contrary, a desire to help goes a lot further than a magnetic personality.

25. They prepare ahead of time

An effective salesperson prepares before a call. That means they do research on their prospect and gather all the information before a big customer meeting.

Top reps don't wing it. They go in with a plan and a contingency plan. This way, they anticipate challenges or questions and prepare an effective response to avoid losing the sale.

26. Look for potential customers wherever you go

To over-perform, you can’t stop being a salesperson as soon as you leave the office. Successful reps are always looking for potential customers -- at parties, networking events, dinners, and so on.

Of course, you have to read the room. Should you deliver a five-minute speech about the importance of life insurance at your Cousin Jack’s memorial? Definitely not. But if you’re talking to your new friend Greta, and she mentions she’s in the market for life insurance, give her some handy pointers and let her know you’d be happy to talk more in depth.

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Originally published Mar 25, 2019 2:48:00 PM, updated March 25 2019

Topics:

Hustle in Sales