Blog/Non-Sales Daily Habits That’ll Improve Your Sales Skills*

*Less than 5% of people reading this post will make an attempt to improve the quality of their lives. Even less of them will do it based on this particular text. Read on at your own responsibility.

What are the habits of a successful salesman? Are you wondering how to be an effective salesperson and boost your productivity? Reading this post, you won’t learn any techniques for generating more leads, or secrets of the world’s top sales reps. You will learn, however, why you should choose wine instead of beer, and how to read 300 books without batting an eyelid.

You may be thinking: “Alright, but what does it have to do with the habits of a good salesman?”.

Well, listed below are 12 routines you can develop with minimal energy input, which aim to answer that question. So, what’s my advice for a future top salesman? Start with developing habits that have nothing to do with sales. Keep on reading for a list including soft skills that lead to improved sales conversations and more effective solutions in everyday life.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

According to a report by Deloitte titled 2016 Global Human Capital Trends, 92% of the probed recruiters found soft skills to be absolutely crucial. To them, even more important than the hard skills needed for a given job was whether the candidate will be able to adjust to the company culture and has an aptitude to develop social and communicational skills.

How do you utilize this knowledge in sales in order to make your skillset even more effective, and customer relations even friendlier, more positive and long-term? Start by improving the small things that you can make a part of your daily routines, and which will make you not only a more interesting person, but also a better salesman. By implementing multiple small changes that don’t cost you much effort, you’ll see results over time. All you need is patience and persistence.

It’s tough to disagree with the following statements:

  • Life’s easier if you know how to make money.
  • Life’s easier if you’re an interesting individual.
  • Life’s easier if you’re persistent.

The good news is there’s nothing that can stop you from becoming that person! So, where do we start?

1. THINK LONG-TERM

Short-term thinking has been plaguing our lives. Regardless of whether we consider parliaments (members of which are only thinking of being reelected for another term), startups (who are thinking in terms of the next round of investment), publicly traded companies (thinking in terms of quarterly results), or salespeople (thinking about this month’s commission). An average 25-year-old in a developed country has around 50 years of professional career ahead of him and a huge problem with answering the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” when I ask it during a job interview. In perceptional terms, we display a tendency to overestimate what we’re capable of accomplishing in a week, and underestimating what we’re capable of achieving in a year. Don’t even get me started on decades. Everything you’re going to read below won’t help you within the next 3-4 months, however, it’ll make a huge difference regarding the place you’re going to be in in a couple of years. Why don’t you start now?

2. READ BOOKS, 30 PAGES A DAY

How to read 300 books

Do you know how long it takes to read 30 pages? For most people it’s about half an hour. Surely you’re able to make this much time to read before bed or on your way to work (opt for an audiobook if you’re driving). This is equivalent to about 15% of the time you’re spending using your smartphone daily. 30 pages a day for, say, 300 days a year (you’re probably won’t be able to do it every single day) is 9,000 pages. In 10 years, you’re going to have 90,000 pages under your belt. Assuming an average of 300 pages per book, we’re talking about reading through 300 titles within a decade.

Let’s say you’re only reading non-fiction on various aspects of business. Biographies, psychology, management, sales, marketing, etc. This means that within a couple of years you’ll learn more about business that the majority of people you’re going to come across. At least in terms of theoretical knowledge.
Reading books (besides the fact it’s simply a great way to spend time) develops persistency and strengthens a positive habit – you keep doing something every day. Another cool side effect is that it’s hard to be a bore after you read 300 books.

PS. If you’ll manage to read every single day and increase the dose to 45 pages, you’re going to read about 550 books in 10 years.

3. DRINK WINE INSTEAD OF BEER

Become a wine connoisseur

You see a man with a glass of bourbon, and right next to him is a guy with a shot of vodka. Who do you think makes more money? Who’s a more engaging conversational partner? Stereotypes, regardless of how hard it is for us to admit it, affect the way we’re perceived greatly. You only have a couple of seconds to make the first impression count, that’s when people gauge you. Instead of beer, drink wine – you’ll look way more sophisticated. Anyway, it’s better to approach a potential customer with a glass of wine, than a bottle of beer, right? Obviously, there are some exceptions.

When drinking a glass of wine every week, you’ll be able to:

  • Try 52 different wines a year.
  • Sooner or later, you’ll get to know all the varieties offered by popular chain stores and will move on to some of the rarer wines.
  • And what’s going to happen in 10 years? In 10 years you’re going to be a wine connoisseur, and within a year, in case you’ll come across a client who’s a fan of the beverage, you’ll have a lot of common ground with him.

An excellent and unplanned advantage of drinking wine instead of hard liquor is that it’s harder to become an alcoholic, which is a major danger in our line of work. Beware! 🙂

4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR LOOKS

Of course, not every sales rep is dealing with clients, who appreciate the fact you’re wearing a tailor-made suit. Some of us are selling to startups. Others to farmers. Most of us though will be at an advantage sporting a nice haircut, wearing good perfumes, and learning what colors suit your skin and hair tone best.

5. MAKE SURE TO HAVE LIFELONG HOBBIES… outside of your job

A colleague of mine has been snowboarding since 1996. After so much time, there’s no way to not know this sport inside out – gear, mountain ranges, resorts. You can have any other hobby – soccer, parachuting, playing clarinet, theater. The result? As soon you learn that your client shares your interest, it’ll be easier for you to get on the same page. One of the most irritating things about the work of a salesperson is the constant fight against the stereotype of being a dull drone. Just try to be an interesting individual, able to hold a conversation on topics outside of work. People tend to do business with someone they like. They like those, who are similar to them, are engaging conversation partners and have a life outside of work.

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING AND GROWING

You’ve been to four courses on sales and believe you know all there is to it? Wrong. You have to keep learning and expanding your skillset using any and all means available to you. Listen to a demo by another rep, see how the competition presents its new product. Watch webinars, read blogs. Keep acquiring new knowledge, assign yourself homework once a week, that is 52 times a year, and so on…

7. PARTICIPATE IN CONFERENCES

Attend conferences to learn

Acquiring knowledge is one thing, sharing it is something else. Make it your goal to take part in conferences, workshops, and training sessions 2-4 times a year. You’ll not only be able to learn from others, but also have the chance to share your experiences. People in the industry will start recognizing you if you’ll appear on the same expert panel. Besides, conferences are an excellent networking opportunity. It’s definitely a must on your bucket list. One conference every 3 months equals 4 conferences a year. That’s 40 conferences in 10 years. There’s no way you won’t have a considerable number of industry contacts after this many events. They’ll come in handy for sure.

8. GET TO KNOW YOUR COMPETITION BETTER…

Meet and discuss with competitors

… and make it a habit to meet other salespeople in your city on the regular. For instance, you can get together with your colleagues for some drinks and talk shop on every first Friday of the month. It’s only 12 times a year. 10 years = 120 meetings = potentially about 180 liters of various drinks and tons of exchanged views and experiences. And probably lots of relations too, which are invaluable.

9. SAVE MONEY… and learn to live debt-free

As a sales manager or a salesperson, you need to come to the realization that your salary isn’t fixed. It’s peaks and valleys. Accept the fact and start saving money in advance of leaner days. Put aside an equivalent of 3, or even up to 12 month-salary for rainy days and stop stressing whether you’ll have enough to pay the bills. The job itself is stressful enough – there’s no need to make things worse.

10. LEARN other stuff

Acquire knowledge that goes beyond sales, say, learn foreign languages. Besides being a good salesperson, you can also learn how to be a great manager, how to write in a compelling way, run webinars, or speak in public. An extensive skillset makes you sink-proof in the job market. In case you decide you no longer want to be a sales rep, it’ll be easier for you to switch lanes. And even if you wish to remain in the sales business until your wheels fall off, you greatly increase your capital if you’re a capable writer or speaker. That gives you an upper hand over those, who aren’t.

11. LEARN MARKETING INSIDE OUT

Your job is destined to be intertwined with marketing and there’s no way around it. The times when the two teams could not have the understanding of each other’s work are becoming history. That said, instead of getting angry with your colleagues from the neighboring department, learn the ropes of their work. Get a better understanding of what marketing is and how it’s being done. This will definitely improve your relations with the colleagues and help you have a strong voice in the discussion on how to improve the situation you’re all in, instead of limiting yourself to the classic mantras such as “not enough leads” or “low quality leads”.

12. NEVER GIVE UP

The keyword I mentioned early on was “persistence”. Nothing more, nothing less. Most of the people with fortunes haven’t inherited them. Not many of those people have become rich by chance. Very few have succeeded based on a single event. The majority of people, who have made it far in our line of work, did so by working hard and smart everyday, for years (and then someone posted an article about them claiming they’ve achieved overnight success, which pissed them off immensely). You get results one step at a time. Website after website. Phone call after phone call.

90% of the people reading this post won’t do anything of what I said
50% of the people reading this post won’t even bother with small print
10% of the people reading this post will prove to be superior in making an attempt to better themselves
5% of the people reading this post will give up while implementing the advice
5% of the people reading this post will successfully implement at least one of the habits I discussed