New year...new exercise plan...new diet...new opportunity to break bad habits. I was recently reading Charles Duhigg's book "The Power of Habit" and I realized that so much of our behaviors are related to habits—the body's natural and unconscious responses to triggers. Regardless of whether it is eating, biting our nails, or sales mistakes, there are patterns that explain a lot of our harmful behaviors. Duhigg explains that habits form in the following cycle: Trigger--Routine--Reward. That same cycle can be seen with bad sales habits.
What are the triggers that lead to bad sales habits?—One of the biggest triggers is that of "needing a sale." Sometimes the need comes from being short of quota or behind in projections. Sometimes it's the need for a win because you feel like you have not had one in a while and you want that feeling of accomplishment. Another trigger could be a bragging co-worker who has just landed a sale and you want the attention back on you. The point is that the trigger causes you to become immediately hungry for a sale.
How do bad sales habits lead to bad routines?—When we "need" a sale, our intellect, training and skills become subverted by our animal instincts. These routines can really damage all of the good learning we have achieved over time. I remember meeting with a prospect for a big piece of business. Our team had a plan, but just as we were walking up to the door I got a call that we had lost a big customer. Immediately I was hungry. I walked in and blew the meeting, violating every sales maxim I had developed over time. Hunger ate my brain and I went into bad routine. Here are some of those routines:
Just like me, you know that these are bad routines to follow. However, when I'm hungry in a sales call, I often feel like I am watching myself from the outside as I step into these routines.
What to do:
Bad habits are triggered not planned. Recognize your bad habits and work to create good ones so the triggers don't take control.