Building the Right Sales Habits

The New Year year is right around the corner, and many of us will set goals and make resolutions to build the habits to achieve those goals. In Sales, this process is tied to getting our new quotas and comp plans, and building the habits to get to quota. Read below to learn how to build the right sales habits, and maybe pick up a few tips on how you can be part of the 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

How Habits Are Formed

Remembering to fill your pipeline is just like remembering to brush your teeth!

Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, introduces a concept called the “habit loop”. Every habit starts with a psychological pattern which is a three-part process: cue, routine, and reward.

  • Cue: The trigger for an automatic behavior to start.
  • Routine: The behavior itself.
  • Reward: What you get out of the habit that creates a craving in your brain.

Neuroscientists have traced habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which supports pattern recognition. Once you detect the pattern between your cue, behavior and reward, the behavior starts to become automatic, and becomes a habit! Now, you perform the behaviors without engaging the decision-making part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex.)

If this all sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve been talking about this feedback loop for years.

Changing Habits

So what happens if we have a bad habit? Or if we need to adjust the habit because the context changed? There’s no doubt that habits are tough to change.

But, habits are really malleable. Your brain is actually built to adjust the habit if it detects that the pattern no longer holds true. So, you need to adjust something in the habit feedback loop- the cue/goal, the scripted behaviors and the rewards- to support the desired behavior changes.

1. Set Smarter Goals

Break down big goals, using the principles of psychological distance.

Goals that feel psychologically closer help us subconsciously begin to translate goals to more specific actions.

2. Script Out the Behaviors

And while better goals will help you subconsciously close the gap, you should also consciously close the gap, too.

If you need your team to close $300K/quarter, break that down to more specific activities: you need to prospect to X accounts, have Y discovery calls, and Z demos.

We recommend you actually create separate incentives and goals around pipeline progress: paying on pipeline activities (win or lose) links rewards to the specific behaviors, which helps commit behaviors to habit.

3. Reward the Right Behavior

We all need rewards.

Using commissions and incentive compensation is a great way to reward behaviors and solidify formation into habits. But in many cases, making progress towards a goal is a reward in itself, and will still solidify your habit feedback loop.

Your comp program has a huge part in building the right sales habits on your team. What habits are your plans creating? Learn more by downloading our eBook, How to Create Better Compensation Plans.