By Paul Reilly

The Hippocratic Oath dates back to the Greek physician, Hippocrates. The original oath is over 2500 years old. The most recognizable words in that oath are, “First, do no harm”—an obvious yet powerful statement. Although intended for doctors, this principle is equally applicable to any profession, including sales.

Are your selling habits doing more harm than good?

Sellers knowingly and unknowingly embrace harmful habits that impede their progress. Imagine how much more successful you would be if you broke those habits. You can’t do what’s right until you stop doing what’s wrong. If the following habits sound familiar, apply the Hippocratic sales oath: First, do no harm.

Failure to plan

It’s embarrassing how many sellers fail to plan their sales calls. Planning a call is one of the most basic and impactful skills sellers ignore. Only 10 percent of sellers routinely plan their calls. Imagine a surgeon walking into the operating room without a plan. It would not happen.

Since 90 percent of sellers don’t plan, this creates your greatest opportunity to stand out. To be different, sell differently; plan your calls. Do what your competition is unwilling to do.

Pitching product before diagnosing the problem

Buyers care about their problems, not your products. Too often, sellers pitch their products while ignoring the buyer’s needs. These sellers focus more on their need to sell than the customer’s need to buy. Imagine a doctor prescribing medicine without first diagnosing the disease. It would not happen. That’s malpractice. How many of you are guilty of sales malpractice?

Are you more focused on selling or diagnosing? A need drives your selling behavior—your need to sell or the customer’s need to buy. View the world through the customer’s eye and focus on their need to buy.

Poor follow-up

I recently tore my ACL playing basketball (it’s hard keeping up with those 20-year-olds). I had knee surgery last October. Within hours of my surgery, the doctor followed up. After a few days, there was a follow-up visit. Then the surgeon followed up every month for six months. Imagine a doctor performing surgery and then failing to follow up. It would not happen.

Imagine how much more successful you would be if you simply followed up. Poor follow-up frustrates buyers and costs you sales. Follow-up is critical to gauge the buyer’s needs, and it demonstrates your professionalism. Successful salespeople follow up. Follow-up is more than “checking in.” Successful sellers create value for the buyer in every follow-up. Salespeople have incredible tools to keep themselves organized. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO MISS A FOLLOW-UP OPPORTUNITY.

First, do no harm. Start planning, stop pitching before diagnosing, and follow up regularly. By doing no harm, you will be more successful. For the next week, commit to doing no harm. Read this article daily. Share this article with your sales team and recap the outcomes at the end of the week. Hold each other accountable. You will be more successful than you were the week before.

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