Sales Communications:
How to Conquer a Bad Sales Habit

When you’re talking with customers, which of the 16 bad sales habits do you commit? Do you fall into the traps of failing to be fully present? Selling past the close? Selective hearing?

It’s never easy to create a new habit, but it may be easier to stop a bad one. Here’s the secret: Don’t try to change everything at once. Use the rule of three, whereby you identify only three bad sales habits and commit to stop doing them.

Review the 16 bad sales and communication habits cited in my previous post here, and you’ll find that they usually indicate an excess or deficit in either information or emotion. We usually share too much information or not enough emotion (or vice versa). Where do your behaviors fit on the spectrum?

Use this four-step action plan to neutralize bad sales habits:

  1. Gather data. Notice the kinds of casual remarks others make about you. These comments contain key information that can help you improve your communications. Ask.
  2. Find or develop a “mute button.” Allow seven seconds of silence to pass during your next conversation. You may find that this gap helps you listen more carefully instead of mentally working on your response. Also use this time to observe your conversation partner’s nonverbal communication. Zip it.
  3. Observe your own self-deception. Each of us denies certain behaviors to protect ourselves from discomfort. Identify what you can do — and stop doing — to achieve even greater success. Admit it.
  4. Work with a trusted peer, mentor or coach. Personal change rarely happens when we work in isolation. If it does occur, it’s usually harder to sustain. Studies show that sharing plans and following up with another person lead to long-term behavioral changes. Share it (your action plan) and follow up with someone.

Follow-Up Works

While there’s no doubt that training equips today’s work force with better communication and customer-relationship skills, lasting change also requires coaching and follow-up. Professionals who received training, coaching and follow-up experienced 20 times more growth than those who received training alone.

The high-tech, low-touch approach to customer contact is failing miserably. Customers may prefer a brand, but they are loyal to people. Computerized customer-service systems may be convenient and cost-effective, but their inability to solve real-life problems is coming back to haunt many businesses.

Mastery of your job’s functional arena allows you to enter the game, but your effectiveness in the human arena helps you stay on the field — and win.

If you have questions about this, don’t hesitate to call or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

(Photo by Ambro,
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