I just finished reading a great new book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It is a fascinating glimpse into our brain and the power that habits can have on us, both positively and negatively. As I was reading I could not help but think of the application to your sales force. Do you have salespeople who routinely execute at the top of the pack? It is almost like a habit that they will perform. As you watch your salespeople, are there some that seem to have a morning routine, socializing with work mates, a couple stops at the coffee pot? Do they read the paper? Answer emails before other activities? Are these also the salespeople who struggle to reach their quota? Could it be that a simple change in their habits could change their sales success? Maybe instead of a morning filled with two hours of fluff, maybe you could intervene. Ask them to come in your office at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Throw a wrench in their routine. Inspire them to jump in to serious prospecting before 9:00. But before this can be successful, you must understand how habits work.
As the book describes, salespeople start with a cue – some trigger that causes the behavior. Then following the cue there is a response by the participant. Finally, there is a reward. So in our example of the underperforming salesperson, the cue might be showing up at work. The response is that he gets settled by mingling, interacting and getting on email. The reward might be a feeling of worth, respect or just a belonging. So, while he might be a top producer, he feels good about himself because he is well liked. Let’s look at re-programming this habit. Maybe instead of making his first half-hour or hour in the office purely a waste of time, maybe you inject yourself into the equation; the cue of showing up at work is the same. The way to change the response is to change the reward. Instead of him getting his social grounding and good feelings from his co-workers, replace this reward with positive affirmations from you in addition to coaching that will help lead him to more success in the field. Over time, his response of inefficient behaviors in response to the cue of showing up to work, will be replaced with the response of checking in with you and beginning focused work quickly to produce the reward of closed business and admiration from you and his fellow co-workers.
Read this book, test this technique, and see how your salespeople perform.
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