Success and failure are habits.

Habits are deep-seated predictors of human behavior. Success, therefore, is determined by much more than having a great day or closing a huge deal. By the same token, failure doesn’t flow from a single bad mistake or missed opportunity. Our careers, our very lives, are dictated by what is done consistently.

Let’s explore some of the habits that can hinder the success of salespeople.

  • Focusing on the offer, not on the relevance.

In a world where information is increasingly available online, the role of the seller has changed. It’s no longer enough to know and show what your product or service does. It’s now essential to demonstrate how your product or service addresses what the buyer and the buyer’s organization are seeking to do.

To succeed in sales, you need to fully engage with your customer and understand how your product or service can best serve them. What do they need? What are their objectives? How can your product or service help your customer achieve their goals?

  • Being an order taker, not a demand creator.

Anyone can take orders. But what distinguishes a demand creator? Sellers who have the ability to generate sales opportunities, create market share where none had existed.

It is not about selling harder. Creating demand is discovering new needs that are meaningful to the buyer and communicating solutions in a compelling way. Demand creators are active, not passive. When you relinquish control of the sales dynamic to the buyer and wait for orders to roll in, you’re already falling behind.

  • Misunderstanding the politics of the company you’re targeting.

Selling has become more complex, with multiple stakeholders replacing the single buyer that once predominated. The objective of these multiple stakeholders must be considered.

Let’s say you’re pitching a marketing software tool to an interested marketing director, but the tool has an IT dimension. A different sales strategy will be required for the IT buyer. The company’s client service team and CFO may also have a stake in the decision. Successful sellers are able to balance the objectives of a number of different buyers, tailoring presentations to meet a number of different objectives.

  • Failing to sense the close.

A good seller is adept at reading his audience, and can be immediately flexible. Be alert to signals that your buyer is ready to close. They may be subtle, such as, “Paul has always trusted you guys,” or “How long does it take to deliver?”

If your customer is ready to make a deal, stop selling immediately. Even if you have more key information to deliver, you’ll have other opportunities to interact with the buyer. Close as soon as you can.

  • Giving the customer what they want, and not what they need.

There’s an emotional component behind the intellectual recognition and appreciation of value.

Expected value is what the customer wants. It is not exciting, it is required. But a positive emotion is often evoked when a person is not expecting something and it comes as a surprise. Delivering unexpected value allows you to transcend what the customer merely wants and creates a perception of you and your company that is strategically value-centric, rather than product-centric.

  • Focusing only on the customer and not the competition.

Many sellers operate with a distinct lack of information about competitors, which ties a seller’s hands when it comes to formulating strategy.  In some cases, sellers are not even aware of the companies and individuals against whom they’re competing while pursuing an important opportunity.

You must know how your solution and company are differentiated from those of the competition in order to formulate a strategy. Your strategy has one purpose: to advance you to relative superiority in order to win.

Salespeople who win consistently display the kind of strategic habits that add a layer of organization selling onto the always necessary personal selling.  If you start replacing bad habits with winning approaches, you will reinvigorate your process and team.