I wrote last week about several New Years habits (vs resolutions) that could help B2B marketers kick-start their 2015.  Frankly, many of the habits highlighted could apply to anybody in any role, including sales.  However, there are a handful of specific habits, specific to sales, that are worth highlighting as well.  They include:

Prospecting
I do a fair amount of sales coaching – with teams as well as individuals – and without the doubt the number one thing we talk about and reinforce and remind people of is regular prospecting.  This includes starting new conversations with decision makers at your target accounts, following up with qualified but not-yet-ready-to-buy prospects, asking for specific introductions and referrals, etc.  Whether you have a full pipeline or empty pipeline, constant prospecting is absolutely essential to sales success.  Even if you have an inbound marketing team supporting you, regular prospecting is the “insurance policy” that ensures you have deals to close at the end of every month and quarter.

Reading & Learning
This applies both to sales in general (best practices, new ideas, new tools) as well as the industry into which you are selling.  The better you understand industry issues, trends, developments and more, the better you’ll be able to sound like an educated insider, someone who understands the prospect’s environment, situation and needs.

Pick up the (damn) phone
Social tools are great.  Email still works.  But the phone remains the most important tool in the sales professional’s communication arsenal.  Stop hiding behind electronic communications and waiting for prospects to return your tweet or InMail.  Find something valuable to say or share, and do it via phone.

Prepare
Before you leave work for the day, develop an explicit game plan for how you will execute when you start work again tomorrow.  Before you head into that next meeting or call, do your homework on the participants, their company’s latest news, and the agenda you want to follow to make the meeting successful.  Bottom line, invest the time (and develop the regular habits) to be prepared to execute and succeed.

Practice
The last thing you want to do is practice something new in a live prospect or customer conversation situation.  Whether it’s a new message, a new sales script, an upcoming trade show, new methodology or other, practice first either by yourself, with a peer or with your manager.  Heck, even with your significant other.  No matter how well you understand or memorize the words on a page, they don’t necessarily translate to success and smoothness when shared live.

Be Curious
If you don’t understand something, ask questions.  Demand to be taught what you need to know.  If you don’t know the answer and need it, it’s likely your peers are in the same situation.  Take the lead, for your and their benefit.

Sales pros, what am I missing from this list?  What habits have been critical to your success, or are you committing to in the New Year?