HomeBlog The Habits of High-Performing Sales Reps

The Habits of High-Performing Sales Reps

June 16, 2016 | By Peter Zink

  • High-performing sales reps already have positive habits built into their routines
  • Technology that leverages existing cues to modify a rep's habits often enjoys better adoption rates
  • Process-map the daily habits of high-performing sales rep activities and identify where technology can help

A buzzing alarm, a quick change into workout clothes, and I’m out the door. I stand in formation with hundreds of soldiers as reveille is played and the flag goes up. After a quick stretch, I'm hitting the pavement five minutes later to knock out a run or find the pull-up bars. For five years, this was my morning routine as an Army officer.

I recently read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and have since been trying to re-incorporate a few Army habits back into my life. In his book, Duhigg argues that unconscious habits rule our daily lives more often than we might think. Our day consists of many “habit loops.” A loop has three parts: the cue (the trigger that makes the habit start), the routine (what is actually being done) and the reward (the satisfaction from completing the habit). In the Army, I'd hear the reveille bugles at formation (the cue), run a few miles (the routine) and then treat myself to coffee from Starbucks before work started (the reward).

High-Performing Sales Reps' Habits

Duhigg states that one of the easiest ways to change a habit is to keep the same cues and rewards, but change the routine in the middle. When you experience a particular cue, you already unconsciously go through routines, so why not use that to your advantage? For example, as an officer, if I’d planned training during that early morning time instead, I’d still show up to formation, but then go to my office and develop training and reward myself with a trip to Starbucks afterward. By using the same cues and rewards, we find that adopting a new routine becomes easier.

Routine and consistency is often a cornerstone of high-performing sales reps’ success. In developing their own habits, these high performers have unconsciously discovered optimal ways to research accounts, engage prospects and present solutions. I'd be willing to bet that the good habits of many reps begin with a cue, become part of a routine and the rep then experiences rewards of recognition, satisfied clients and/or financial success. In sales enablement, we must be vigilant in recognizing the routines that drive better results.

When evaluating technology that is designed to make sales teams more effective, keep the habits of your best reps in mind and look for ways to use technology to support what they already do. More and more, vendors are realizing that rather than go to a new place entirely, they need to go where reps live – on their phones, in their e-mail, in their sales force automation (SFA) system – for activity-based enablement. If a rep already embraces successful sales habits, technology must focus on complementing and integrating with those existing routines.

A successful rep might take the last 30 minutes of the day to log into the SFA platform to schedule calls and mentally review how to approach conversations the next day. If you're looking for a solution that helps your reps plan accounts better, doesn't it make sense to see if one seamlessly integrates with what they already do? In this case, perhaps the rep has a calendar appointment to remind him or her to plan (the cue), then he or she logs into the SFA platform and reviews accounts to schedule calls, and locates the content needed to execute the call (the routine). He or she then experiences better conversations and discovers more opportunities the next day as a result (the reward). Rather than introduce an entirely new account planning process, are there solutions available that complement rather than replace what a high-performing rep is already doing?

When determining a technology stack that makes your reps more effective, start with a process map of what they are already doing. Observe the cues that initiate these process loops and what a rep expects to gain after execution. How can you optimize that process further, and where does technology fit in to help?

What are some of the regular habits of your organization’s high-performing sales reps? How are you using those existing habits to drive better results?

Peter Zink

Peter is a driven research analyst for the Sales Enablement Strategies (SES) service at SiriusDecisions. As an analyst, he works with clients to implement best-in-class research and frameworks that pertain to sales enablement organizations across a wide spectrum of industries.