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8 Bad Habits that Impede Sales Productivity

Image of Michelle Farnsworth
Michelle Farnsworth

We all have them. Those tendencies that once started out small and innocent but have now slowly crept into our everyday routine creating, you guessed it, A BAD HABIT.

What happens when these poor practices are happening in a professional setting and not just in your personal practices at home? They pull you away from obtaining the success you are capable of and leave little room for your good habits to surface and shine.

It is never an easy thing to acknowledge that you have developed a bad sales habit, let alone a few of them, but recognizing the problem is the first step to resolving them. Once these poor routines have been weeded out then there will be plenty of room for your good, productive habits to flourish.

It is extremely easy to get stuck in such a lull, so do not feel bad if you seem to have found yourself in such a rut. Focusing on low priority tasks, treating all prospects alike, or poor task delegation are some of the most common sales traps seen today. Wherever the problem originates, sales professionals must be diligent in avoiding, or ridding, themselves of the following 8 habits that can greatly impede their sales productivity:

1. Managing Time Poorly

Poor time management is one of the top faux pas of salespeople today. While salespeople are busy all day long, they are not necessarily busy doing the right kind of work.

Many reps find themselves getting sidetracked from sales by menial tasks like organizing their desk or office, researching, completing paperwork, etc. In fact, a survey found that salespeople spend more than half of their day on tasks unrelated to their primary job – selling.

Prioritize, schedule, and make sure you allot at least some portion of your day for prospecting.

2. Emails. Emails. Emails.

While there is an undeniable satisfaction that comes from seeing that email notification number on your screen dwindle, there will undoubtedly be emails, emails, and more emails. In fact, emails can be nicknamed a “bottomless pit” because you can spend large portions of your day reading, responding, and sorting yet have very little to show for it. Waiting for a new email notification also trains you to be reactive instead of proactive always waiting on something else to get you going.

Salespeople have often been trained to immediately read and respond to any incoming email which can create that unproductive rhythm of reacting. While valuable, it can detract from your active selling time. Instead, start your day out by prioritizing your tasks and then only checking email at certain intervals throughout your shift to keep “wasted time” at a minimum.

Do yourself a favor. Close your inbox and just get to it.

3. Lack of Delegation

Any amount of time or energy spent on tasks that are outside your sales job description is another bad habit you may have developed.

The art of learning how to delegate work that isn’t directly linked to your selling success is a key life skill in the selling world. The work you hand off to someone else should be tasks that are incidental to your work and don’t involve the skill set for which you were hired. Never delegate your strengths – that is what makes you stand out above the rest.

Things such as database entry, scheduling and rescheduling flights, online research, social tasks, as well as areas that are outside of your wheelhouse are all time consuming tasks which can easily be passed on for someone else to complete.

4. Impersonal Interactions

Nothing will turn a potential client off faster than a salesperson who reads verbatim from a generic script. When a salesperson is there to check off items on their long list of questions, their interactions are impersonal and the customer feels unheard and ignored. It’s amazing what vibes can be sent and felt over the phone!

You need to engage with prospects on a personal level by discovering their concerns and learning how to help them work through them on an individual level. Rather than focusing on your own agenda, allow your customer the opportunity to set the tone and direction of the conversation, and then follow their lead.

5. Treating All Prospects Alike

What would you think if I said sales is a creative profession? Persuasive? Yes. Lucrative? Certainly. But creative? Believe it or not, IT’S TRUE! Salespeople are constantly required to be thinking of new and innovative ways to approach a particular prospect rather than simply spitting out monotonous and impersonal tactics on everyone they talk with.

The way prospects collect information, interact, and prefer to be sold to can greatly vary. Approach each with a blank slate and open mind so you are ready for any request or unique challenge they may bring to the table.

6. Not Knowing Your Ideal Prospect

Salespeople with a bad habit of prospecting either do not fully understand their ideal customer OR are not willing to spend the amount of time it takes to properly qualify them. Either way, time is wasted when they do not connect with the right decision maker early on.

Before making the call, you need to conduct research via the company’s website (or other social media avenue) to make sure they are connecting with the best possible person. Making correct contacts from the get go will ensure that your message is not getting diluted, or lost altogether, as it travels from one person to the next.

7. Wasting Time on Bad Opportunities

While it is certainly tempting to grab at any possible lead that comes your way, no matter how unlikely it is they will convert, it is more than detrimental to your selling success. Time wasted on bad opportunities takes away from your ability to search for and snag the good leads. Time is your most valuable, yet limited, resource. Use it wisely by investing in leads that closely match your company’s ideal prospect profile – and quickly rid yourself of any others.

Rigorously weed out those clients who are not beneficial, which will allow you to focus on clients with a higher probability of buying.

8. Avoidance of Cold Calling

Although typically very effective, cold calling is one of the least liked sales techniques out there. Many sales reps neglect cold calling once they have worked on a territory for a certain amount of time because they prefer to rely solely on existing customer referrals. It’s easier.

But this is a mistake that can seriously slow down your new sales!

No matter what is going on, allot a specific time for prospecting each week. Several sales experts even recommend blocking out an hour or two of prospecting per day and refusing to let anything interfere with it because it is simply that important.

While it is ever so easy to get sidetracked from your main objective (selling!), it is also simple to get right back on track. The very best way to break yourself of a bad sales habit is to replace it with a good one. With persistence, over time, this good habit will become part of your second nature routine and will keep your productivity moving forward!

We recently published a free, in-depth eBook full of tips about how to implement and enhance your sales coaching. You can get it HERE.


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