At the start of a new year, we are full of good intentions – things we are going to do differently and ways we are going to better ourselves. You can make resolutions, but resolutions are easily broken or forgotten. It’s better to create new habits – and make sure they stick. Research shows that when you practice it every day, you can form a new habit in as little as 21 days; then, automaticity starts to kick in, and that activity becomes automatic.

Here are some ideas for new habits to form in 2019 to make this your best sales year ever.

1. Make phone calls every day – no exception.

A recent study by ValueSelling Associates found that more than half of sales reps are hesitant to pick up the phone and call a prospect. Don’t be afraid of the phone! I believe many sales reps are not sure how to initiate a discussion that will add value. They’ll say, “No one is going to answer, so I’m not going to call.” However, a phone call is still a powerful tool for communication, and people do answer. Once you reach your prospect, you’ll stand out – as long as you add value. The phone call gives you a chance to develop a deeper level of connection than just an email exchange.

2. Block your calendar to manage your time.

“Time blocking” is an essential skill. To make the most of your time, block it out in increments, and stick to the task at hand. For instance, create a “call block” for calling prospects every day, and set up other time blocks for research, emails, social media outreach, follow-up, etc. Experiment with different times during the day to see which are most successful, but make sure that you do block off time. Block off 40 to 50 percent of your week specifically for activities related to prospecting or revenue generation. If you don’t, other activities will eat up your time, and your pipeline will dry up.

3. Leverage multiple channels of communication.

No single channel of communication will work for everyone. Even though phone calls are powerful, they should be part of an orchestrated approach to reach your prospects. Balance online mechanisms such as social selling, email and webinars with offline (in-person) mechanisms, such as trade shows and networking events. Adopt a repeatable, cadence-based approach to prospecting to land more meetings and deliver results.

4. Challenge yourself to learn a new business skill.

With so much information available on the internet, a good salesperson needs to add value to the conversation to take it to the next level. Business acumen can help tie the pieces together. One way to boost your credibility is to stay on top of industry trends and your prospect’s company news to discuss a wide variety of topics and answer questions. Once you are viewed as a trusted partner, you’ll be well positioned to gain or maintain future business during up and down economic cycles.

5. Set personal goals to reach and exceed your quota goals.

Set manageable personal goals to replace current prospecting fears with fierce determination. The formula is tried and true: Increase the number of connections made to improve the revenue pipeline and reach or exceed quota. For each new habit you want to establish, set specific goals for yourself. For example:

  • Make six prospecting phone calls every day.
  • Set 30 minutes aside every Friday afternoon to time-block the next week.
  • Understand your personal productivity cycles – are you are morning person, or are you more effective in the afternoon? Use this knowledge to better manage your time.
  • Experiment with different methods and cadences of communication, and use the results to fine-tune your prospecting efforts.
  • Research one new prospect every week. Focus 15 to 20 minutes on their industry, 10 minutes on their company and 10 minutes on the person to make your communication more valuable.
  • Sharpen your business acumen skills. Choose one skill where you feel you are on shaky ground (such as reading financial reports), and sign up for a class or online course.

Make 2019 the year that you gain the success you deserve! Take these steps to develop new habits for essential skills.