Is your business being hampered by ineffective or inadequate salespeople? Here’s how you can change their bad habits.
If you do a quick Google search for “how to become a more effective salesperson”, you’ll be greeted by hundreds upon hundreds of articles outlining the key habits salespeople should be adopting to ensure they hit their quotas on a consistent basis.
Less common are articles exposing the negative habits that many sales professionals fall into: those that aren’t always immediately obvious, but nevertheless serve to hamper performance in the long-term. This is particularly problematic for team leaders, who may already lack visibility into the activities of their salespeople.
An immediate solution is to build a deeper understanding of the different types of ineffective salespeople. Here are five of the biggest offenders, and the best ways to turn their bad habits into positive, performance-enhancing qualities.
- The ‘order taker’ salesperson
An ‘order taker’ salesperson is – as you might have guessed – a salesperson who relies on taking routine orders from your existing customers, and never goes in search of new opportunities to either win new customers, or up-sell to one of your loyal buyers. While the importance of repeat business cannot be understated, salespeople who are satisfied with the status quo offer limited value to your business. They are also in a poor position to respond when a competitor makes your customer a better offer on their usual order.
An over-reliance on routine orders boils down to a lack of intelligent, proactive insight into buying patterns, trends, and preferences. The order taker makes limited use of customer data because they don’t know how, they don’t have the right tools, or most likely both. Instead, they stick with what they know and, in the process, miss out on lucrative opportunities and risk losing relevance, effectiveness and, ultimately, sales.
How to break the habit: Work closely with your sales team and the rest of the company to build a business-relevant data strategy, identify ideal buyer personas, and establish processes for monitoring and reviewing performance.
Consider investing in technology that will maximize your new approach to information: customer analytics platforms, mobile applications, and CRM software are just a few examples of tools that are proving integral to modern sales methodologies.
- The ‘information overload’ salesperson
Somewhat the opposite of an ‘order taker’ salesperson, an ‘information overload’ salesperson deals in too much data. They have limited systems in place to help them manage large quantities of raw data, and to assess its relevancy to prospective new business.
The result? Poorly targeted, irrelevant pitches to prospects who may not even be interested in your offering to begin with – not to mention a sizeable waste of time and resources.
How to break the habit: Sometimes removing unnecessary obstacles is the best way to add value. Although customer data is becoming increasingly important to the way salespeople find and nurture prospects, close deals, and build loyalty, not all data is helpful.
Encourage your sales team to explore the opportunities unearthed by data, but make sure they understand that quality is better than quantity. It’s essential to regularly review and refresh your database to ensure salespeople are working only with information that reflects useful customer sentiment and behaviors.
- The ‘gut instinct’ salesperson
Would it come as a surprise to find out that, according to our research, roughly 6% of sales professionals still make key decisions using their gut instinct? Probably not. It’s not uncommon to encounter salespeople who believe they have a natural ability to sense what a customer wants, when they want it, and for what price.
However, this frame of mind leads ‘gut instinct’ salespeople to make a lot of mistakes. They can forget to consider the crucial cultural, social, and economic factors that influence a purchase decision. They can also easily find their judgement clouded by a personal bias towards a specific customer or product. Or they can be, quite simply, completely wrong.
How to break the habit: Selling on instinct isn’t scientific or quantifiable – it’s inherently unreliable. Rein in your headstrong salespeople before they jump straight into a pitch, and make sure they take the time to examine what the facts are telling them. Data doesn’t lie, but instinct might.
- The ‘champions of chat’ salesperson
It’s very normal that most salespeople enjoy chatting with their colleagues about the weather, last night’s football result, and where they’ve booked a holiday to this year. But when they don’t feel challenged or encouraged to make improvements in the way they work, they can hardly be blamed for spending several hours in the day browsing the internet, using social media, and doing anything to fill the time they have when they’re not selling.
This is a situation that a lot of companies will face, and it’s often one caused by a lack of investment in careers and skills development.
How to break the habit: When they’re not busy selling, salespeople should be encouraged to partake in training and mentoring programmes to help them improve their skills and bring more value to their role within the business.
Activities like browsing the internet and social media don’t have to be viewed as unproductive, either. In today’s digital-centric business environment, they can form an important part of your sales team’s day-to-day work. For example, the internet can be used to research new techniques, trends, and technologies that your company might consider adopting, while social media can be used to help build your company’s profile and explore new avenues for communicating with customers.
- The ‘technophobic’ salesperson
Technology adoption has been a long-standing bone of contention for the sales industry. While the majority of salespeople are beginning to harness its power, a small contingent continues to treat phrases such as ‘automation’, ‘analytics’ and ‘big data’ with reticence and suspicion.
Over time, this may prove to be a self-correcting problem, as more technology-savvy millennials enter the sales profession, but in the meantime, the ‘technophobic salesperson’ must deal with smarter competition, faster competition, and seemingly psychic competition.
How to break the habit: The best way to encourage a more positive approach to technology is to involve your salespeople in the adoption process from the very start. This way, they can develop a better understanding of the benefits a new tool or system can have on them as individuals and, by extension, the company.
It also means they can raise any concerns and make suggestions before you invest in technology that may not be the best fit for all parties. Once you’ve decided on what technology to adopt, ensure that salespeople are involved in any training and onboarding processes, and always offer a platform for them to feedback on what may or may not be working.