Practicing Good Sales Hygiene

To improve your sales performance, practice good Sales Hygiene.  Sales Hygiene refers to the cleanliness of your selling process and account data management.  Clean selling and account data management processes are the foundation for continuously improving your sales results.

Sales results get better when you identify causal links within your selling process.  A causal link is ‘I do this, and that happens’. For instance, ‘I make ten extra cold calls per week, and at month’s end I have more viable Prospects than the previous month’.  

Without an awareness of the causal links in your selling process your results will be left to chance, happenstance, and luck.  When it comes to achieving great sales results, luck is not a strategy I endorse.

Putting strategic thought to refining your selling process is made difficult by the volume of issues dealt with day in and day out.  Many are not even sales related – think customer service, billing issues, and the like.  Precious little time is left.  When that time opens up, trying to remember the fine details of every deal in the funnel is tough. 

Practicing good sales hygiene frees up time for strategic planning.  Good sales strategies [coupled with great execution] lead to improved sales results every time.

Here are some Sales Hygiene do’s and don’ts that will help you stay in the money:


Write [type] it down – Trying to identify why Acme account is down 10% YTD when your last interaction with them was 12 weeks ago is next to impossible.  Keep bullet point notes of your interactions with your accounts.  These turn into gold when it comes time to find ways to increase revenue within your accounts.


Choke yourself with data entry – The idea is bullet point notes about the important goings on within an account, not irrelevant minutia.  Learn to know the difference.  You don’t want to be caught with your nose in your laptop while sales opportunities pass you by.


Pick a CRM [Customer Relationship Management] software to use and stick with it.  Simpler is better.  If you are part of a sales team, try to get the whole team using the same tool.  This makes strategy creation sessions smooth and productive.


Use Outlook as your CRM.  There are about 15 reasons why not to, number one being that you can’t get the ‘snapshot’ view of your sales pipeline you need to manage it effectively.


Stare at your account records – Each time you interact with an account, quickly review your notes from previous interactions.  This is the magic step where causal links are identified. 

Trends will emerge.  Connections between ‘I did this with this buyer, and they reacted that way’ will surface.  Opportunities will reveal themselves when you see ‘hey, this account seems to have some needs I have not helped them with yet.  I’m going to set up a meeting with them to do some probing [read – ‘selling’]. 


Not stare at your account records – You will miss account development opportunities.  Your account connections will stagnate.  Your new sales to existing accounts will dwindle.  Simple as that.

Five out of five Sales Managers agree, good Sales Hygiene promotes great sales results.  Here’s to keeping it clean!

Winging-It is Fun! [But it makes for terrible paydays]

Disturbingly often I meet with sales people who say “you know, when it comes to my sales calls I usually just wing it.”  They have a twinkle in their eye and a look of mischief that implies “and it’s fun!”  I bet it is fun. Poor paycheques however, are not so entertaining.

Winging it leads to unpredictable sales results and having to navigate sales with no compass or roadmap.  It causes long closing cycles, things falling through the cracks, and a severe case of “oh, if I could only do that one again!”  Don’t set yourself up for this grief.  Become a Sales Strategist.

To be a Sales Strategist is to begin each sale with the end in mind. It is to have the plans for the beautiful house you want to build [a closed sales deal] well imagined up front and sketched out. As you proceed with building it [navigating your sale] you refer to your plans often to ensure that no detail is missed and that the end result matches your vision.

Becoming a Sales Strategist sounds daunting.  It really isn’t.  Here are a few easy things you can do to become a Sales Strategist…

  • Read “The New Strategic Selling” by Stephen Heiman and Dianne Sanchez.  This book provides a way to make sense of the labyrinth that is the decision making process within your buyer’s organization.  You will never look at a sales deal the same again.  Buy and read it now.
  • Ask yourself the following questions about any sales deal you are working on today:
    • Out of whose budget in my buyer’s organization will the money come to pay for my products or services [hint: it may not be your buyer’s]?  Have I met with this person?  How can I make that meeting happen?
    • Who in my buyers organization could influence whether or not I get a yes to my deal?  Are they on my side?
    • Who are the people in the organization that will use my product or service day in and day out [often the person doing the purchasing is buying on behalf of those who will in fact use it]?  Have I connected with them?  How do they feel about using my products or services?
    • Am I selling to the right level in the organization?  There is nothing more frustrating than having to take a ‘No’ from someone not authorized to give you a ‘Yes’.
  • Do a written plan before each sales interaction.  Prepare the questions you will ask to learn more about your buyer’s needs, hidden buying influences, and the existence of factors that are helping or hindering your sale.

Fifty percent of sales success is directly tied the quality of strategic sales planning done by the seller.  The other half comes from great execution.  Become a Sales Strategist and you will close deals more effectively and efficiently.