In sales, it’s easy to lapse into bad habits after a long day of dialing, smiling, and seemingly repeating the same conversation dozens of times. Because of this, it’s common for sales agents to revert to bad habits during slower parts of the day or month. But to be successful in sales, one must be very disciplined and execute each call without interference from outside stimuli or lingering feelings from previous calls.
Five of SVG’s top sales managers put together the most common bad habits they see on a daily basis, and how they coach their team to be better salespeople. For our managers, coaching isn’t about just pointing out bad habits—it’s teaching people how to avoid these behaviors or replace them with more productive actions.
Problem: Being unprepared for the hello
Being able to minimize distractions and stay focused in often noisy and active environments is a struggle for many sales professionals. But in a repetitive job like sales, where expectations are reset before and after each phone call, having distractions can sometimes lead to resetting one’s mind and focus. If you are a professional who requires short breaks, take them. But don’t let the distractions impede your job performance. Every call and every client should be greeted with the same hello, the same enthusiasm, and the same focus.
“Eliminate all distractions while dialing; don’t watch videos or play games or puzzles while trying to call a client,” Sales Manager Courtney Carpenter said. “As an agent, you should be 100% focused and dialed in. This is your first introduction to your potential client—treat it with the importance it deserves.”
Problem: Not listening to your client
In many sales companies, it’s common to hear the refrain “don’t take no for an answer.” What we have found at Spring Venture Group is that a sales agent should focus on figuring out why the answer is no—not just refuse to accept it no matter what. There is often a reason why a client is turning down your sales pitch, so being empathetic and truly listening to a client will allow you to better serve your product and your client.
“Ask direct, open-ended questions with confidence—then shut up and listen,” Ryan Sparkman, sales manager, said. “Do not interrupt. Listen to what they are saying and build your discovery from what their needs are and ask more questions. What I have learned is most people will give you the exact reason why they need your product or service if you just keep your mouth shut long enough.
What I see most new sales agents do is ask for the business very passively without confidence, and because of insecurity, they immediately start stacking generic value props and weak tiebacks. Shhhhh. You are creating a negativity bias; you are creating fear, uncertainty and doubt; you created an objection that was never even there. Trust yourself and your clients will trust you.”
Problem: Believing objections at face value
In addition to understanding a clients’ needs and fears, it’s important to still understand that every objection should not be accepted at face value. Sometimes, clients are unsure of what they actually need, or what your company is able to offer them. There are a lot of different reasons why a client might not move forward initially, but they all stem from fear—fears of the unknown, not understanding what is being told to them, or making the wrong decision.
“Empathy for your client’s situation is the solution to this mistake. Taking some time to put yourself in your client’s shoes to see how you might feel in that situation will allow you to address the real concern and come up with a solution that benefits both parties,” Natalie Kunzle, sales manager, said.
Problem: Losing control of the controllables
One of the biggest mistakes a sales agent can make is to not follow the rules. Most companies have scripts and checklists for a reason, and agents should use them as fairly strict guides for the conversation. This gives you the ability to maximize everything within your realm of control, and let things slide that aren’t. If you lose control of the conversation, you lose the sale.
“I continue to hammer the emphasis on mindset to my team,” Sales Manager Zack Steadman said. “There are three things that dictate the quality of the conversation: activity, effort, and attitude. If your mindset is right around these three things, you will have a better, more productive conversation that is totally under your control.”
Problem: Over-explaining answers
The main value of sales agents is their ability to give clients access to solutions they may not have found on their own. But sales professionals can often over explain, which can create more fear, confusion, and doubt in the client. Keeping it simple is an extremely important strategy in the sales process because it shows that not only are you an expert at your field, you can be trusted with helping them make an important decision.
Try ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers and be mindful of your explanations. If you feel you are over explaining, pause and try again in a simpler form.
Kylea Meneilly, sales manager, gave us this example:
Client: ‘Does my doctor take this plan?’
Agent: ‘Well Medicare is your primary insurance and you can see anyone in the country that takes Medicare. Your Plan G will go with you wherever you go and it is important to know that you can travel with it to anyone that takes Medicare, which is over 90% of doctors and hospitals.’
A simplified way of answering that same client question:
‘Yes. All of your doctors have to take this plan.’
“It sounds counterproductive, giving answers to questions in such a simplified way. But I promise it doesn’t make you sound uninformed—it gives your clients access to the exact answer their looking for, without confusing them with the minute details.”
Working in sales can be frustrating and when agents revert to bad habits during slow or unsuccessful stints, the situation worsens. What sets a great agent apart from a good one is his or her ability to avoid these behaviors and stick to the plan. Taking initiative to analyze personal sales skills and learn from other professionals will enhance your performance, your close rate, and ultimately your happiness.