There are many things that influence a sales cycle, some within our control, others not. Often we spend too much time, energy and emotion worrying about the things we can’t control, while deliberately ignoring and not attending to things we can control, and would make a difference if we did. Some elements or factors are not that back and white, while we may not control them, we can ride and leverage them to help us succeed.
One example of this maybe momentum, we can’t directly initiate or ensure momentum, there are things we can do to leverage momentum to help us sell. As with other forms of black art, sales people can best leverage momentum by grounding their sales approach in routine and discipline, this in turn helps you put you in the right place more often to create and increase momentum when it is with you, and to neutralize it when it is against you.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.” Start by reviewing the things you do every day and through the sales cycle. The first challenge is recognizing the habits that are holding you back, and then replacing them with habits that leads to success. Then it gets a bit harder, actually replacing bad habits with good, this can be harder than quitting smoking, as someone who has done both, I know this first hand.
Funny thing about momentum, it seems to follow your habits, the more of the right basics, the more other elements fall into place. We see this time and time again, when we work with people through the initial 12 weeks of the Proactive Prospecting Program, participants adopt and execute new practices and disciplines, i.e. change their habits, resulting in more opportunities in their pipeline, and they see momentum going their way. Whereas before, when their habits kept them from having a healthy pipeline filled with choice, momentum seemed to be always against them.
So here is a simple example. I repeatedly see reps commit to say an hour of prospecting a day, not that much in the scheme of things, but I would argue one of the most important hours of the day. Usually this is based on their specific time range based on their individual output from The Activity Calculator. Some have the habit of doing a whole bunch of things related to prospecting, without ever actually prospecting, this includes research, prep, BS, you name it; at the end of the hour, few if any new prospects. So while they have built momentum for “getting ready”, they have added to the momentum keeping them for success, cause their ain’t nothing new in their pipeline.
Even when they get an appointment, they see it as an opportunity (excuse) to stop. What a waste! If you set aside for prospecting, do it for an hour; most people get more relaxed after they succeed, in this case secure an opportunity, so why not keep going, and have momentum work for you. Same can be said for the rest of their pipeline, as soon as they get a few opportunities to Discovery, they figure that good times are here to stay. They are but only for those who have developed the habit of making prospecting part of their ongoing routine. Maybe it’s just me, but I do my best prospecting when my pipeline is full, and do the worst when my pipeline is depleted. I would rather face having an overflowing pipeline offering choice, than the desperation an empty pipeline brings. By seizing momentum when things are going my way, usually as a result of habit and execution, I can ensure that my pipeline and opportunities will always be sufficient. Just as the reality of no pipeline, no opportunities, bring a momentum that is hard to reverse. The right habits consistently applied, will help you build you momentum and ride the wave.