Bad habits are hard to break. That’s why they are called habits—fixed ways of thinking and behaving that are highly resistant to change.
Like smoking cigarettes, people know it’s bad, it’s too difficult to overcome. But just as cigarettes kill you, bad sales habits can kill your business.
Here are some of the worst sales habits that are killing your business, along with suggestions to overcome them to make your business healthier.
Related Article: Born to Sell: Do You Have Sales Personality?
Touching Base, aka, “following up,” “checking in,” or reaching out. How many times have you used these in an email or phone conversation? Here’s what Liz Wendling writing in Colorado Biz, has to say about use of the seemingly harmless habit of using these expressions and how to fix it:
"These phrases do nothing to move the sale forward. If they did than everyone would be a sales rock star. Those lame phrases are overused by professionals who forget to employ this powerful step in the sales process.
They neglected to clearly define and ask what an appropriate next step would be while in the sales conversation with the client. Be bold and ask potential clients what the step looks like for them. Find out when they want to continue the conversation. Clarify what’s next before you end a meeting."
Following Your Gut
People like to think they are intuitive. The problem with going with your gut is that a lot of things happen in your gut that aren’t particularly pleasant.
Do your research, qualify your leads, don’t go on wild goose chases. There are only so many hours in the day, make them productive by following leads likely to result in a sale, not leads that make your gut feel good. Save that for going out to dinner.
Related Article: Is Your Sales Pitch More Like Apple or the US Army?
Trying to Get Liked
Willy Loman believed in the importance of being liked. That philosophy didn’t work out too well for him. As Kristen Hovde reports, social media is a top sales tool. But bad habits such as buying likes and followers diminishes its effectiveness.
“What’s the point of having all of those fans if they aren’t quality fans?” Hovde asks. “The number doesn’t matter, as long as they are interested in your product, service or company. Secondly, your search engine rankings could be affected by purchasing fake likes.”
Looking for Moby Dick
The “white whale” is that big account that makes your sale quota. Chasing the whale is enticing, but all too frequently results in a lot of work swallowed by a black void. As LifeHealthPro notes, when at the last minute the “whale” doesn’t sign the contract, you’re left falling short. Which isn’t to say that you should stop chasing any whales—just don’t, like Ahab, obsess about landing one to the exclusion of all else. Pursue the smaller accounts, as well. After all, everything adds up in the end.
Making Side Agreements
Sometimes a little flexibility is a good thing. But you can’t be all things to all people. Making side agreements isn’t really fair to your other customers, who should all be getting the same deal (and aren’t likely to be happy if they find out they aren’t being treated the same).
We’re not talking about discounts for volume orders or anything that every customer may be eligible for, but don’t qualify for. We’re talking about acts of desperation that in order to close the deal, you offer some kind of special arrangement. Customers who only sign on the dotted line because they think they’ve squeezed something out of you aren’t likely to be good customers.
More often than not, they’ll take up too much of your time trying to work you further for any sale you get from them.
Talking Too Much
Good salespeople are good talkers. Sometimes they talk too much, particularly if they feel a sales presentation is going south. For whatever reasons, they start to compensate with information overload.
Customers have just so much time. They appreciate when someone is to the point and respectful of their time. They also appreciate salespeople who listen carefully to what they need, not pontificate about what they should need.
Asking pertinent questions that uncover customer needs—and then explaining how you meet those needs—is more productive than trying to overwhelm customers with how much you know (or pretend to know) or how great the company you represent is.
Related Article: Keep Your Eye On the Target: Avoiding “Spray and Pray” Sales Efforts
Not Taking Time Off
Really? You’re that essential to the business that you can’t go on vacation and you even work on your days off? So, if you died, the company and all your accounts would never recover?
The answer, of course, is that no one is that indispensable. With few exceptions, everybody is replaceable, a fact that some egos prefer not to consider. Stepping away from the job for even just a couple of days on a regular basis helps refresh your perspectives, improves your mental and physical health, and results in higher productivity.
According to a study reported by "The New York Times," for each additional 10 hours of vacation, year-end performance appraisals improved by 8 percent.