relationship, or—more severely—asking for a different salesperson. The bottom line is this: Continuing bad habits in a busi- ness environment can be relationally and financially costly, but they need not be—because they exist by choice and can be purposely altered.
Create a Positive Habit Loop
An underlying goal for any salesperson should be to create an associated positive “habit loop” for the client. The focus need only be on the cue and reward; the intervening rou- tine will automatically be set by the customer. In the book,
How Did That Happen
, authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith point out that self-motivated and resourceful people focus “entirely on what else they can personally do to get the desired results. They make it a habit to see it, own it, solve it, and do it.” A key factor in creating a positive habit loop is one’s willingness to be held accountable. This could be a signifi- cant paradigm shift for some. Slow progress, ambiguous results, and even failure are possible during the habit- forming period. By resorting to excuses—such as blaming others or denying responsibility—a salesperson may ulti- mately be seen as unreliable or irresponsible. To the contrary, when a salesperson calls, emails, or enters the building, the trigger (i.e., cue) for the customer should be a sense of confidence, trust, and anticipation— not regret or indifference. The foundation for a positive cue can be built over time on many forms of established successful transactions with the salesperson. The customer may recall problems that were deliberately and personally resolved, that extraordi- nary emergency services were provided at no extra cost, or that consistent and competitive pricing was offered when an order size may not have justified it. Each event is in- stinctively considered by customers to be a clear reward for the relationship and a result of positive habits.
Making Success Routine
Success is a complicated proposition—but so is failure. When studied, one can find a series of routines and pat- terns that emerge in both. The ability to recognize and capitalize on each are imperative skills. One of the important challenges for salespeople is to recognize and evaluate their own personal behaviors that may need improvement or replacement if customer relationships are to be satisfactorily maintained or neces- sarily improved. This is rarely an easy task. If one is to attempt serious introspection, humbly enlisting forthright perspectives and insight from colleagues and friends can prove to be invaluable, yet disconcerting when one’s own self-image is in conflict. In
The Power of Focus
, Canfield, Hansen, and Hewitt write, “Remember this: Your outward
behavior is the truth, whereas your inner perception of your behavior is often an illusion.” “Procedural memory” is the driving force for habit for- mation, that is, repeating the cue-response process over time. The ability to adopt new habits, therefore, relies on the ability to identify the correct cues (and in what contexts they occur) that trigger a preferred response and then find- ing an acceptable reward substitute (e.g., when hungry, substitute a banana for a piece of chocolate). In his book
The Power of Habit
, Charles Duhigg writes, “Studies show that the easiest way to implement a new habit is to write a plan.” Simply put, name the trigger (cue), describe what change action(s) will be taken (routine), and identify the benefit (reward). Finally, the experts caution not to attempt multiple habit changes at one time. Simply start with the most valu- able change (urgency vs. importance) and a passionate, unalterable commitment for success. ;
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