“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
We’ve all heard, and probably used, this old saying. Let’s face it—switching up a successful routine can be scary.
But did you know that our bodies are wired to combat routines? A recent study found that we burn fewer calories each time we perform the same workout. Doing something over and over, whether it’s in the gym, at home, or in the office, can actually reverse the effect of the positives we’re trying to accomplish. In the book Disrupt Yourself, author and former Wall Street analyst Whitney Johnson writes that our brains produce less dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel good, as we get into a comfortable routine.
Let’s start off with the obvious: Identifying and replicating best practices help you succeed, and all routines aren’t inherently evil. But sales professionals must be careful not to get blinded by routines and risk missing trends in ever-shifting markets. Let me share with you a couple of harmful sales routines and what you can to do break them.
Harmful Routine: Sticking to what’s worked in the past
When companies operate by the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mantra, they lose market share to competitors they didn’t even know they had. In the blog post “Innovation Begins with Customer Experience” (divided into Part 1 and Part 2), Ning Tay writes about how companies that fail to innovate…well, fail. Just because you’re not changing your routine, don’t assume your competitors aren’t.
Sticking to the status quo has drastically affected the Fortune 500 list. Only 12% of companies that were on the list in 1955 remained on it in 2015. Many of the companies that lost their place were disrupted by new, innovative companies.
Break the Routine: Build a culture of innovation in your company
While your executive team is feverishly brainstorming ways to stay ahead of the competition, don’t count out one of your most valuable assets: your employees. They can be your greatest competitive advantage.
Ask yourself: Does your organization foster employee innovation? According to Adam Grant in his TED Talk “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers,” 85% of employees never share their best ideas. When people are conditioned to fear failure, they play it safe and stick to what’s always been done. As a leader in your organization, are your employees open to share their opinions? Are their opinions given the proper respect?
You should always be actively brainstorming ways to switch up the status quo in your sales organization. This next sales routine may provide a starting point.
Harmful Routine: Using an outdated sales process
If your sales reps are following a formal sales process in a customer relationship management system, you’re already light-years ahead of some organizations. But when was the last time you tweaked that sales process? According to CSO Insights, only 27% of companies have a dynamic sales process, one that companies monitor and adjust based on sales reps’ feedback and changes in the market.
Today’s customers have greater expectations of how they do business with companies, and your existing sales process may not cut it anymore.
Break the Routine: Use a dynamic sales process that is flexible, based on the preferences of buyers
Use feedback from your sales reps and customers to review and tweak your sales process on a continual basis. This update can give you the extra edge over the competition. 64% of sales reps following a dynamic sales process made their quota in 2015, versus 58% of those following a formal or informal process.
What Routines Are You Following?
Think about the routines your sales organization follows. Are any of them in place just because they’re how you’ve always done business? When was the last time your sales process was reviewed? What changes have occurred in the market? What are your sales reps in the field seeing from their customers?
Start a conversation with your sales leaders and sales reps about the routines in your sales organization, and discuss which ones people think are harmful. Who knows? Maybe some are broken and need fixing to take your organization to the next level.