We humans rely on habits to store away in our subconscious brains those routines we are confident we can reliably recall and use as needed. Experienced drivers don’t need to consciously think about every aspect of driving a car; the need to do so would make driving inefficient and exhausting. We become “unconsciously competent” so our brains have more available capacity for unfamiliar, unexpected or interesting tasks.
“Habits are important. Up to 90% of our everyday behaviour is based on habit. Nearly all of what we do each day, every day is simply habit” Jack D. Hodge
In sales, unlike most professions, we are frequently placed in pressurised situations where we need to react to unpredictable and fast changing scenarios. Buyers take unexpected positions and our reactions can be material in the outcomes achieved.
How we react under this kind of pressure is well illustrated by the following quotes from sports commentators and pundits:-
“Once you’ve thrown the javelin, it’s out of your hands.” Olympic Gold Medallist Tessa Sanderson
“He was running quicker than his legs could go.” ex-England manager Steve McClaren
“Fights can be lost and won on the day of the fight” ex World Champion boxer David Haye
“He chanced his arm and it came off …” commentator Brian Moore
“This is the steepest part of the course and I’m afraid it gets steeper later on.” Cycling commentator Phil Liggett
“We’re a long way from being where we are.” Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard
Being able to instantly recall a portfolio of well crafted phrases is essential for a sales professional. Using the conscious brain to think through and form an appropriate response is unrealistic (from a time perspective) and dangerous (see above). Professionals craft a coherent “sales talk” and practice it in repeated rehearsal until they can reliably recall the appropriate phrase in a practice environment.
It can be useful to think of the subconscious brain as a “Habit Warehouse” into which you can receive and store a vast portfolio of useful habits; like any good operation, you may choose to have quality control procedures which upgrade “underperforming habits” by replacing them with better ones. Aristotle is both old and wise and his insight maybe motivational:-
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle