5 Performance-Based Sales Habits to Improve Sales

Transforming your daily performance from sluggish to quota busting success is achievable. With proven techniques and strategies that change your game, injecting fresh ideas and habits into your daily routine is all it takes. Here are 5 sales habits to improve sales if you are willing to adapt to them!

Create Habits That Deliver
The first habit that will reward you with results begins with examining the structure of your day. If you think about your daily routine, perhaps there is something you are doing that’s holding you back. Are you waiting too long to return calls? Do you hesitate or not have all the information you need to provide answers to questions? Take the time to revisit what you’re doing and find out what you need to do to gain valuable insight into what really works. Keeping yourself educated and informed will be sure to boost your potential.

Don’t Wait for Leads to Come to You
Secondly, seek out your leads. Create a strategy strong enough to make your customers need your product before they even know it. Strong, interactive pitch strategies are what make a winning connection. Switch up your pitch to engage the customer. Ask them what they are looking for so you can find the way in to assure them that your product is what they need.

Stay on Top of Your Game
A third habit people often miss is taking the time to do their research. If you’re coming up short with answers to objections, do some quality fact checking. Learn more about how customer objections can be countered with strong, friendly rebuttals and strengthen your sale potential. When you have confidence in the product you are selling and the facts to back it up, you’ll present a winning sales pitch. Ensure sincerity is at the core of your conversations; this will build trust and loyalty in your brand.

Go the Extra Distance
Your fourth habit that will boost your results is to observe the work habits of the winning sellers on your team. If you are just noticing your co-worker in the corner cubicle who arrives early every day and stays late, maybe they are on to something. There’s something to be said about someone willing to go the extra distance to win the customer over. Look for ways to motivate the sale. Meet a client for coffee at their favorite shop. Get to know your customers and cater to them. It can make all the difference between their not being able to fit you into their busy schedule and enjoying your sales pitch over coffee.

Keep Detailed Records
The fifth and final habit to learn is realizing that just making the call isn’t enough. Keeping detailed records of your interaction can lead to another opportunity. Jotting down notes that describe your encounter is a strong habit you will need to develop. Perhaps you caught them on their way out. Bad timing isn’t always a lost sale. Perhaps they’ve mentioned a decline in profits, and they’re not in a financial position to buy. Note that in your records and follow up on how things are doing. Learning about potential customers is good business practice all around, and it can boost sales potential.

Adopt these 5 sales habits to improve sales and meet your quota every time!

Harvard Business Review. Money & Quotas Motivate the Sales Force Best

Bonus programs are effective for motivating salespeople, but also costly for companies to maintain. Doug Chung and Das Narayandas study several compensation schemes to see which work best.

by Roberta Holland

It’s well understood that cash bonuses often motivate a sales force to step up its game, but they don’t work in every scenario and in some cases can backfire, a new study from Harvard Business School has found.

The key variable? Whether the sales rep had to do something to earn the bonus or was just given it—conditional versus unconditional.

Doug J. Chung, an assistant professor in the Marketing unit, and Das Narayandas, the James J. Hill Professor of Business Administration, explain what kind of bump managers can expect from different bonus plans in their working paper, Incentives versus Reciprocity: Insights from a Field Experiment, released in May. The pair used a consumer durable goods business in India as a real-world laboratory for the research.

“Running this kind of experiment is not the easiest thing in the world to do,” Chung says.

But it does have wide implications. The more than 14 million people employed in personal selling in the United States alone represent about 10 percent of the entire country’s labor force, according to the US Department of Labor. In addition, companies spend on average 10 percent of sales revenue on sales force costs and a much higher percentage in B2B firms.

The problem for researchers in this area, according to Chung, is that companies are reluctant to tinker with their compensation plan, so it’s difficult to come up with subjects to study. So previous research was usually conducted in a labor with undergrad students or temps hired specifically for the experiment—not actual field research.

“Luckily, this company wanted to know about the compensation plan in more detail, so they were willing to experiment, and we took advantage of that,” Chung says.

THE POWER OF QUOTAS

The researchers’ main finding was that the company saw a roughly a 20 percent gain in sales when the bonus was conditioned on the salesperson hitting a quota. When there were no strings attached to the bonus, the gains dropped to half that in one scenario, and to a net decrease of 8 percent in another.

“In the sales force setting, people work harder if they’re told a specific goal,” says Chung, noting that 80 percent of firms in the United States use some type of bonus to reward employees.

The field experiment spanned six months in the second half of 2013 and involved 80 full-time salespeople from branches in four major cities in India. The salespeople, who were selling water purifiers, were not told they were part of an experiment; Chung says the four branches were selected far apart to limit any “watercooler effect” of employees comparing notes. Within the six months, there were 14 weeks of different compensation schemes tested, assigned randomly by branch, interspersed with control weeks.

At the beginning of a test week, the company would send a text message to members of the sales force in a given branch, telling those employees they were getting a certain bonus. The branches were under different conditions at different times. The bonuses were equal in amount—500 rupees (about $7.80) per week, or roughly 27 percent of normal pay.

POSITIONING A SALES BONUS

The researchers set up an experiment to test the effectiveness of incentive pay based on how the extra compensation was framed to the salesforce by the employer.

Message Communicated to Employee

Bonus
This week if you sell more than (weekly quota) units, we will give you an additional bonus of 500 Rupees, which will be paid to you in addition to your normal monthly pay on (date of payday).

Punitive
We have decided to give you a bonus of 500 Rupees this week, which will be paid to you in addition to your normal monthly pay on (date of payday). However, if you sell less than (weekly quota) units this week this payment of 500 Rupees will be taken away.

Real-punitive
We have decided to give you a bonus of 500 Rupees this week, which is enclosed in the envelope. However, if you sell less than (weekly quota) units this week this payment of 500 Rupees will be taken away from you on the next payday (date of the payday).

Gift
We have decided to give you a bonus of 500 Rupees this week, which will be paid to you in addition to your normal monthly pay on (date of the payday).

Real-gift
We have decided to give you a bonus of 500 Rupees this week, which is enclosed in the envelope.

Source: Incentives versus Reciprocity: Insights from a Field Experiment.

Three of the schemes were conditional, with a quota 20 percent higher than the typical sales volume, and two were unconditional. The conditional compensation schemes were termed bonus, punitive, and real-punitive. The bonus and punitive conditions were identical except for how they were framed. The bonus condition presented a positive spin: if you hit your quota this week, we’ll give you a bonus. The punitive condition was framed negatively: we have decided to give you a bonus this week, but if you don’t hit your quota, we’ll take it away. The real-punitive scheme involved actually giving the bonus to the salespeople up front, with the warning it would be taken back if they didn’t hit their quota that week.

“WE THOUGHT IN FEAR OF NOT WANTING TO LOSE THIS MONEY, THEY WOULD WORK EXTRA HARD. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN”

Results hardly differed between the three conditional versions, says Chung. He adds that the gains occurred equally among people classified as high performers or low performers before the experiment began.

“We thought, and even the company’s managers thought, the real-punitive condition would be the one where the salesperson would show the most effort,” Chung says. “It’s the theory of loss aversion, losses loom larger than gains. We thought in fear of not wanting to lose this money, they would work extra hard. That did not happen.”

Chung sees two factors at work. First, salespeople are exposed to bonus schemes on a regular basis, so they know it’s not a one-time thing. And second, research has found that when a good is frequently exchangeable, like money, loss aversion is not present. If the reward was something like a motorcycle, the outcome may have been different, he says.

The unconditional schemes had two versions, gift, and real-gift, both of which were given regardless of how the salesperson performed. The theory Chung and Narayandas were testing was whether employees given an unconditional bonus would reciprocate by working harder. In the gift condition, the sales team was told the company had decided to give each member a bonus, which would be paid at the end of the week. In the real-gift condition, the salespeople were told about and given the bonus at the same time.

The gift condition showed a 10 percent boost, but Chung points out the positive effect came mainly from the high performers. For the low performers “the effect was close to zero,” he says.

In the real-gift condition, there was an average net decrease in performance by 8 percent.

“It actually hurt,” Chung says. “I think it’s because they thought they were being compensated for past performance. The thinking is, ‘Hey, I must be doing something right thus far. I think I may be overworking, so maybe I should slack off.’”

An unintended finding of the experiment revealed a big difference in the effects of seasonal fluctuations in demand. High performers were not affected much, but low performers were hugely affected by seasonal demand, Chung says.

A PRACTICAL GUIDE

The researchers, who will present the findings to the company this fall, believe the research can guide management decisions. If the company wants to smooth out its sales, it should put high performers in areas with high seasonal fluctuation, he says. If the company is giving an unconditional gift, sales managers should expect to see a boost in productivity from just the high performers.

Chung says he is often asked by the US or European sales managers whether the results would translate to their area or industry.

“My answer is basically yes. The study was conducted in India because that was the specific stage we chose, and it happened to be a firm that wanted to collaborate with us,” he says. “But it’s about basic human fundamentals of motivation. It would apply to any kind of setting that involves people wanting to motivate people.”

5 Step Process to Opening a Sales Call

For many professionals in today’s sales world; the process of making a sales call is one of the most nerve wracking and frustrating parts of the job. There are times when the sales call can go well; and times where you can expect to face a great deal of rejection. One of the most important parts of the sales call involves effectively opening the sales call. The first minute you are on the phone and opening the sales call is very important and can help you develop a great first impression that will keep the prospect on the line and give you time to really sell your product or service. Here is a 5 step process to opening a sales call.

Step One: Begin With a Friendly Approach

From the moment your prospect answers the phone, they will be developing an impression of you and typically you only have about 20 seconds for the prospect to make up their mind about you. This is why you will want to start with a very warm and friendly tone and a friendly greeting that will put the person on the other side of the line at ease; this will help get your opening off to the right start. Make sure to greet them formally while still staying friendly and personal.

Step Two: Warm Up and Building Rapport

After your initial greeting you have a few seconds to warm up the buyer and to start building rapport. Remember the first 30 seconds are important and if they like you then they will let in information that will reinforce their initial impression of you. If they do not like you in this first few seconds then they will screen out anything that contradicts their first negative impression of you. Friendly conversation is always a great way to ‘warm up’ your opening.

Step Three: Establish Credibility

The opening of your sales call is an important time in the sales process because it helps you establish credibility and to show the potential buyer that you are a professional in your field and a credible source to be selling them what they need. The buyer should feel as though you are a professional they can turn to.

Step Four: Revealing the Needs of the Buyer

You should know the buyers needs before you start the sales call. Know what your prospect or buyer does and make sure that you quickly reveal the problem that they could be having and let them know that its a problem that your company can fix with your product or service.

Step Five: Identifying the Solution

The final step in the opening of your sales call before you begin asking questions and really trying to sell your prospect; is letting your buyer know, briefly, that you have a solution to the problem that they are dealing with and that your product or service can help them.

Resource Box: If you are looking for more information on ways to effectively open your sales call then visit the professionals from The Sales Coaching Institute online today. They can be found at salescoach.us where you can get more tips and learn more about their sales coaching services.

Do you like what you just read? Check our Telephone Selling Techniques Training to see what we can help you build your telephone sales confidence.

The Importance of Managing & Implementing a Mid Year Sales Tune Up & Sales Management Strategies That Work

A mid-year sales tune up is a smart strategy. It’s not particularly a new concept, but it is definitely not as widely practiced as it should be. Businesses today face immense competition, thanks to the Internet. Marketing strategies are ever changing but never have they changed at such a fast pace as what they have in the last decade. To take your business to the next level where marketing is concerned, you must adapt to these changes and implement strategies that will give your company and edge. Staying ahead of your competitors means that you must conduct constant evaluations of your plans, goals, and actions. We are currently about halfway through 2015, so now is a great time to evaluate the business goals and plans that you put into place at the beginning of the year. Take an inventory of where you are and where you need to be at the end of the year. Chances are you will be surprised by the stark difference in where you stood six months ago.