I read something a few years ago that has stuck with me: Nearly half of our actions are habitual. Research shows that 50% of the time, we do things without consciously thinking about them. That’s all well and good when you consider the positive actions that are second nature to you as a good human being and independent sales agent such as saying please and thank you and covering your mouth when you cough. But when you start thinking about all of the other things you MIGHT BE DOING but aren’t fully aware of, it’s a downright horrifying thought.
Whether you are aware of your own off-putting as well as positive habits, there are likely some that are working against you and your goals as a sales agent. The good news is that you can change your habits. Now before you get all “ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-that” on me, it only takes a few seconds of conscious thought several times a day to change or create a habit. You don’t need to enroll in a training program, adopt a rigorous routine or read a self-help book. According to the latest research, you need to stick with your conscious thoughts about a particular action for 66 days in order for it to become an automatic response.
So which habits will make you a more successful independent sales agent? Consider these 8 practices that are second nature to top-performing agents.
Not just a good first impression. There is a big difference. In order to win new business AND retain it, successful independent sales agents have to be aware of all the ways they can leave an impression. That extends beyond the first meeting to follow-up emails, phone calls, social media and interactions long after the application is signed. Genuine trust in a sales relationship is hard to find, and it’s one way that top performing payments consultants differentiate themselves from the sea of credit card sales agents.
For some independent sales agents, success is defined as being able to continually sign deals and “collect” a lot of merchants. Some ignore their merchants until the merchant calls with an issue or even worse, until they realize that the merchant has switched to a different processor. Top-performing sales agents take an entirely different approach. Building and then maintaining a solid relationship with their books of business is second nature. They touch base with each merchant at least once a month in some way – by text, email, phone or by frequenting their business.
This is a fairly broad habit because being well prepared transcends beyond prospecting new merchants. The most successful independent sales agents consistently take a few moments out of their daily schedules to practice their pitch, mentally reflect on their notes before a meeting, or even to listen to a podcast about an industry they’re targeting during their commute. Of course, the more time you can find, the better, but even a few moments each day can make a big difference.
There are times when everyone has asked themselves, “where has the day gone?!?” We’ve all been there. We didn’t have a solid plan and schedule for our day and we fell victim to a steady stream of distractions and requests. Sure, we might have been helpful to others and somewhat productive, but we didn’t get any closer to our actual goal. The most successful sales agents seem to rarely fall into this trap. What do they do differently? They dedicate specific, non-negotiable times each day for selling and specific times for prospecting. During these times, they only sell or prospect and set other tasks aside unless there is a true emergency. This time management habit leads to a more productive and fulfilling day.
It’s important to realize how much of a prospecting advantage you’ll have if you’re able to use social media well. Most of the merchants that you rely on for new deals depend on their social media accounts to generate hype and interest in their business. Successful independent sales agents take full advantage of information available on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These sources can provide a wealth of sales opportunities and chances to strengthen a merchant-sales agent relationship.
You know better than anyone that trying to identify a merchant’s true needs and motivations is challenging. You can’t just ask any old questions. You have to ask the right questions, sometimes repeatedly to get the information you need in order to help the merchant. The best independent sales agents have trained themselves to treat their conversations with merchants like covert FBI missions to uncover the merchant’s needs. They are patient and listen to a merchant’s stories, even ones unrelated to payment processing, to hear any nuggets or clues about the merchant’s motivations and also potential objections.
Successful independent sales agents constantly push themselves to achieve more than they thought would be possible. They do this by zeroing in on their strengths and sales activities that they really enjoy and then committing to doing more of them. Based on the results of their efforts, they refine their goals so that they’re always challenging themselves.
This is true for the most successful salespeople in general and especially true for top independent sales agents. While credit card processing seems like an obscure thing to be passionate about, the most successful sales agents understand and believe in the value of the services they’re selling. Whether that passion stems from their ability to help merchants or their ability to earn a good living as an independent sales agent, the passion for their products is a source of energy for them.
What change can you make today that your future self will thank you for?
Now that you have reflected on your own habits and learned about the habits of successful independent sales agents, it’s time to plan your next step. Which habit do you think will help you the most in your career? I challenge you to commit to it today.