I’m one of those annoying sellers who crushed quota quarter after quarter. In one year I closed 4.5M on a 1.5M goal. Just 2.5MO after joining a company in an emerging market, I closed a 175K Enterprise deal (our previous ACV was hovering at ~50K).
At 24 I hired and managed three BDRs, and at 28 built and trained an Enterprise sales team of twelve who grew our logos from 3 to 22. During that time I also visited 30 different countries.
People often asked me how I did it. I’d love to say with wit and charm, but the reality is it was all habits.
Here are fourteen sales habits that worked for me. I’d love to learn more about your sales habits in the comments!
Routine 1: Start the day an hour earlier
-- or stay an hour later. Get going on Sunday night. You choose.
But the foundation for a strong sales pipeline is output and preparation, which takes time.
The highest performers I’ve seen never worked the longest hours. That’s often a sign that someone isn’t being productive. But they definitely put in that extra “hour a day, every day.”
I start on Sunday nights in my pajamas and work hard on Mondays/Tuesdays knowing the rest of the week starts to taper off and Friday’s nearly a wash..
Find what works for you, but you can’t run from putting in the time.
Routine 2: Fuel up
It’s no secret that sales is an energy-consuming job. I used to roll out of bed and get to the office with a granola bar in hand. It didn’t serve me well. I’d show up to meetings with brain fog.
Eat a real breakfast. If you can, get your body moving by working out. Even better, ask a prospect or teammate to join you.
At the least, pack good snacks! I can’t count how many times I’ve rushed through big city traffic with an empty stomach and a full bladder missing lunch for the third day in a row. If you build one habit into your day, this one is most important!
See How Top Sales Teams Perform
Routine 3: Subscribe to industry media
A lot of people consider this one an afterthought.
I put soaking up industry media at the very top of my list.
Each morning I review my prospects’ industry news specifically looking for signals that an account might buy soon.
For instance, when I sold CPG I’d check out Foodbusinessnews.net to identify which companies were launching new products. When I sold safety training, I’d read OSHA reports and new trainings mandated by insurance laws.
I’d also follow press alerts for my strategic accounts, or have my BDRs do all of this and create a summary report.
This strategy helped me consistently add 1-2 extra meetings to my pipeline each week while constantly reminding me of new, creative ways to engage prospects with value.
On weekends I’d read sales blogs or listen to productivity Podcasts. One of my all-time favorites for personal development is Brenden Burchard!
Routine 4: Expand your network
At least two or three days a week, I’d meet someone for coffee, meals, or drinks. This could include prospects at my top accounts; accounts up for renewal; potential candidates; direct reports; leaders from other teams; and potential mentors.
I built a system around it with goals, including:
- 4-5 accounts face-to-face each MO
- 1-2 candidates each MO
- Take every member of my team out for lunch every 2MO
- Take the entire team out every MO
- Meet 1:1 with the leader of each division every quarter
- Meet at least (1) new mentor each quarter
Your network is your most important asset, and you carry it with you wherever you go. Invest in it wisely.
Routine 5: Manage your time
Top sellers are absolute masters of their time.
I’m not the type of person who responds to every email, especially not right away. I try to be “Inbox Zero,” but I’m more focused on managing my time and sales pipeline then getting pulled in different directions.
I keep a running “To Do” list on my phone that I update throughout the day. Up top I include my 4-5 personal goals for that month. Things like “Buy my parents tickets to SF” or “launch my new blog.” Below that I organize tasks by day and order of importance. As priorities change, I immediately move them around.
At any given time I look at this list and know exactly what I need to do.
If there’s anything on the list that another member of my team can do, I delegate it.
If there’s anything on the list that shouldn’t 100% be there, I say no or request that we put that effort on hold until a better time.
I time-block for nearly every task so that I don’t set unrealistic expectations. This might be over-the-top for some, but I like to see where things fit into my calendar. Extra time doesn’t magically appear!
At the end of the day you need to find the time management routine that works for you, but time management absolutely separates the "Pros from the Joes" in sales.
Routine 6: Begin with the end in mind
Outside of keeping your pipeline full of new, quality leads, I deeply believe you need to proactively manage your sales pipeline and know what you’re closing 3-6MO ahead of time at all times.
For me this always starts with doing a bi-quarterly planning exercise. Here’s what I include in the exercise:
- Existing weighted pipeline so I can conservatively predict what I’ll close
- Any red flags or gaps
- Where I needed help from others on the team
- Next steps for myself and supporting roles with due dates, such as campaigns I’ll launch with my BDRs or events I’ll attend
- Deep dives into 3-5 strategic accounts I need to grow or crack
- KPIs by sales funnel - including number of meetings I’ll take each MO, demos, proposals, revenue, new logos, and growth on live accounts in partnership with CS
When I manage teams, I lead the entire squad through this exercise and we present our plans to one other for feedback.
Routine 7: Be Proactive
Every morning I look at my calendar and write down the goals I have for each meeting I’ll attend (both internal and external).
I reference this on my phone to ensure I get what I need.
At least two times a week I go through my live opportunities to verify there’s a next step in place. If there isn’t one, I make one up to keep the momentum going.
- Ask for a referral to another contact
- Book a demo or brainstorm
- Share “thought starters” or a proposal
- Walk the prospect through a buying guide or Implementation checklist
- Set up a call with one of my internal experts, such as a Sales Engineer
- Send a “seems like this is no longer a priority email” that tends to magically revive 90% of dark prospects
- Let a lesser qualified opportunity die off
I also try to block 15 minutes (or more) on my calendar in between meetings so I don’t show up late or unprepared.
For example, if we just adjusted our demo flow, I might review a product demo checklist beforehand.
Each quarter I think about a few key prospects I can nurture with swag or handwritten notes, especially around key events like promotions, marriages, new babies, or awards. This pays off heavily, and I put these exercises on my calendar so I don’t forget!
See How Top Sales Teams Perform
Routine 8: Self-Coach
There’s always something new to learn in sales, and top sellers are constantly self-coaching. In fact, even when fully ramped top sellers listen to eight calls per month to self-coach.
The trick is to pick one skill you need to develop or one area of the sales cycle you want to improve on every two weeks or so. That way you’re not biting off too much at once.
For instance, perhaps you’ve noticed that you need to improve your conversion rate on cold calls. Build a cold call training curriculum for yourself!
- Read a few blogs and eBooks on the top cold calling secrets and best practices
- Listen to up to (8) cold calls taken by other members of the team and some of your own
- Score them against best practices
- Refine your cold calling cadence and scripts
Set new, yet realistic goals such as:
- Improving the length of your cold call
- Telling one customer story on every cold call
- Asking more questions on cold calls, including engaging questions
- Converting more cold calls to demo or discovery calls
Routine 9: Peer-Coach
Just like with self-coaching, peer coaching is a great way to expand your skill-set. Two great areas for peer coaching include refining your sales discovery process and sales discovery questions. You can also practice combating objections.
Check out these resources to improve your discovery flow.
For objections, one fun exercise to do with a peer is play the “questions” game. One person mocks as the prospect and the other as the seller. The seller’s job is to ask a return question in response to every question the prospect asks.
This game is great for finding new ways to turn objections into engaging conversations and to learn more about what’s motivating the prospect’s objection in the first place.
For more on objection handling, check out our blog here!
Routine 10: Ask for and give feedback
There are many ways to ask for feedback, and you should do so near daily. If you manage a team, ask for bi-directional feedback during every 1:1. Try saying:
- What’s one thing you need from me that you’re not getting?
- How can I be a better leader for you and the team?
- We tried a new meeting format recently - how did it work for you?
- We just finished an account planning exercise. What feedback do you have on how we can improve it next time?
If you’re a direct report, bring a snippet from a recorded call to each meeting and ask your manager for feedback on one skill you want to develop together.
As you identify challenging moments on your calls, share recorded snippets with peers via Slack to see if the team has new ideas for you.
Feedback is a gift! Try hard to give it to those who need yours as well by listening to their recorded calls and leaving thoughtful comments.
See How Chorus Helps Gather Feedback
Routine 11: Clean up your act
I’m guilty as charged for being one of those sellers who finds day old fruit at the bottom of her backpack. But today I work much harder to avoid that.
There’s something to be said about being impeccably organized and nicely dressed in sales.
At the end of a busy week take time to go through your bag or backpack and clean it out so you’re not ruffling through junk when you show up to an in-person meeting.
At least once a MO take a look at your desk, and each quarter evaluate your work wardrobe.
Cleaning up can give you an extra boost of confidence and keep you from getting too comfortable.
Routine 12: Acknowledge someone
One of the most important things you can do in sales, especially if you’re trying to move into sales leadership, is meaningful contribute during team meetings. And it’s best to contribute by recognizing someone else, not yourself. A few ideas:
- Take a moment to call out someone on the team whose been performing well and share an example of how they inspired you.
- Go out of your way to recognize someone who just introduced a new best practice or resource to the team that you successfully put into action.
- Spend time thanking those in support roles, such as your BDRs, sales operations teammates, marketing or CS colleagues, and managers.
Routine 13: Organize an outing
While sales can be very collaborative, it can also be easy to put your head down and focus on your own pipeline. But the reality is your ability to close is often VERY dependent on having strong internal relationships, especially with direct reports, managers, and other teams.
I find it’s especially important to build strong bonds between teams like sales and product or engineering that don’t interact a ton day to day. Don’t wait for someone else to organize a fun event, such as a game night or offsite. Find a way to take initiative each quarter and get people together. You’ll both learn a lot from the conversations you have, and build new allies.
Routine 14: Relax & recharge
We’ve all heard the famous line “Always be closing.” Yes, when you’re in the office or on the grind. But sometimes you need to turn sales off completely.
I find that the best sellers and leaders I work with are really, really good at compartmentalizing their time.
They’re the parents present at dinner with their kids. The spa-lovers, the foodies, the frequent travelers, the marathon runners. The ones who used sales as a means to get other rich, fulfilling things out of their lives.
& they didn’t relax and recharge once in a while. They built de-connecting into their daily routine.
This is the habit it took me the longest to form.
I used to go hard for days in a row skipping things like workouts and texting clients back while I sipped a glass of wine rather than actually tasting it.
Then I realized how much more focused, attentive, patient and kind I was when I actually invested time each day in relaxing. When I got quality sleep, hit the gym, lingered over a meal, built more breaks into my day, took a bath, and got the heck off of my phone.
The best sellers don’t rush around each day chaotic, tired and frazzled. They bring a calm, confident vibe. They look refreshed. You can feel their energy and passion. That doesn’t happen when you don’t prioritize your recharge, and it shows in the form of burn-out, a lack of attention to detail, and stress.
And that’s that!
I’m sure you have your own sales habits and routines. I’d love to learn more about them. What’s working (or not) for you when it comes to sales habits and routines?
Lindsey Plocek has executed programs that led more than 150 Fortune 500 brands to adopt new technologies in areas like AR/VR; AI; MarTech; Data/Analytics; Healthcare; and HR Tech. As a dedicated coach, she has built multiple high-performing teams from scratch and have mentored more than 40 sellers and marketers to success.