Habits can make or break success in any venture—and that’s certainly true in software sales. Often the difference between a good software sales professional and a great software sales professional is just the set of habits the latter is disciplined about sticking to. Of course, the habits that create a foundation for success will vary from profession to profession. Rising with the sun to stand on one leg for an hour might make a great Kung Fu Master, but it won’t necessarily help with your sales strategy (though it could, for some). So that said, here are a few habits that will take you from sometimes hitting your goals...to smashing them every quarter.
Know your product.
A good salesperson can sell anything—usually. Knowing sales techniques and talking a good game can go a long way in contexts where you’re selling a simple product, but with something complex like a software solution, it helps to know your product inside and out. Different prospects will have different needs, so it’s likely that there will be some unique steps to the sales process as you address their concerns and discuss a tailor made solution. If you’ve mastered the product you’re representing, that will all become a lot easier. Additionally, prospects today have more access to information than ever before, so strong product knowledge will gain their trust and make it clear that you can add value to their business.
Develop a proven process.
Flying by night or winging it won’t always work. Though it will sometimes pay off with a sale, nothing delivers consistent results like a proven process you can use over and over again. High performing reps will analyze their process and fine tune what isn’t working, seeking some input from outside to clarify what might work better. Over time, through mentorship, reflection, and self-education, they develop a proven toolbox of sales strategies that move clients from connect to close. Key to developing a proven sales process is leveraging the input of experienced account managers, data-driven insights about your performance from your own sales managers, and a willingness to put in reflective growth work, such as reading books on how to improve your sales game.
Take care of yourself.
All work and no play, make Jack...a poor performing sales rep. Sales culture definitely celebrates results, but sometimes reps don’t realize that overworking leads to underperformance. Habits as simple as getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and exercising regularly can energize your day, boost your confidence, and put you on your A game. Mental and emotional health is important as well. Making time for family and friends, and even breaks throughout your day is scientifically proven to boost memory, focus, and articulation. Software sales, like any type of sales, can carry you through some pretty disparate highs and lows, so keeping yourself balanced and healthy at the core will go a long way towards improving your overall performance—and more companies are recognizing the importance of this work-life balance component.
Know your why.
Knowing your why is a core component to transformation programs in areas as diverse as dieting and financial success. These programs suggest that without having a reason to uproot your extant habits and make major changes, the changes you do make won’t last. Well the same is true for high performance in software sales. Having a deeper reason for what you do will drive the numbers a whole lot better than the numbers will themselves. The reason is simple: a deeper motivator can carry you through the rises and slumps, while a numbers-focused approach may suffer when the numbers don’t look as good. Your why could be a personal reason like hitting that bonus payout and buying a motorcycle. Or, it could be a deep sense of resonance with the mission of your company; believing strongly in the product you’re selling can help you find motivation and become more effective in leveraging social proof as you overcome objections.
Work on your people skills.
People skills are everything in sales. Relationship building is foundational in a sales process that is geared toward developing prospects into lifetime clients. Genuine, human relationships built on a desire to help or solve a problem are fast becoming the new currency in sales, and certainly in software sales. Part of building effective relationships is developing excellent listening skills, which will help you deeply listen to a prospect and uncover their needs through a conversational process. People skills for a successful software sales rep is about more than just knowing how to make small talk or read body language. It’s also about genuinely viewing your customer’s success as your own.
A final word on these sales habits…
Habits can change everything for a person, whether it’s in their personal life or professional life. And while good habits are crucial for finding success in every type of workplace, they are especially important in a setting like sales, where results are based on performance. Many times sales professionals look at the bigger picture of metrics and assume there is something big they’ll have to change in order to improve. But this perspective overlooks the power of making small changes in your daily routine, which can really have some powerful results.
Of course, it’s harder to implement these habits if you’re in a role that really isn’t working out, doesn’t offer fair compensation, or lacks possibilities for professional development. It’s also hard to be your best self if you just don’t fit in with the company culture. Sometimes making a move is the first step toward changing your life for the better, and making it easier to change little things like your habits. As a software sales recruiter with almost four decades of experience in the industry, I know a sizable list of places where you might thrive in a software sales role. Send me an email at email@example.com and let’s discuss the possibilities.