Discipline in sales is more important than sales skills

Discipline in sales separates the great from the mediocre. According to best-selling author Anthony Iannarino, it can mean the difference between success and failure. Discipline in sales is even more important than sales skills because skills won’t help you if you lack discipline.

Discipline is the mother of all skills. 

Some may argue that motivation drives sales, but in reality, motivation is fleeting, and it is thus only effective in the short term. Discipline, on the other hand, boosts performance, in the long run, delivering more sustainable success.

Disciplines are derived from your sales process and sales methodology. The sales discipline could be different from one sales organization to another. Examples of rules or best practices that show how disciplined we are could be:

  • Respect for timing 
  • Never demo during the discovery call
  • Or, on the contrary, always make a short demo even in the first meeting
  • Never send a quote by email; present it instead
  • Never run a POC/POV before meeting with the EB

Why is discipline in sales important?

But why is discipline in sales more important than other skills ?

Discipline gives salespeople freedom

Some salespeople believe that discipline restricts their freedom to perform their duties how they feel is best. On the contrary, discipline increases their freedom. The more disciplined a salesperson is, the more managers trust them to perform at the level they expect. That means less micromanagement and more freedom.

Sales discipline unlocks salespeople’s true potential

Disciplined salespeople are committed to their roles within an organization. They are always trying to find ways to improve their performance and don’t fear doing difficult tasks. They understand that with every difficult task they complete, their skills and confidence grow. This ultimately leads to better performance.

Increased knowledge & skills

No one has ever learned a new skill without discipline. Many employers look for people with qualifications because of the discipline required to achieve them. A disciplined sales team responds better to coaching and training, increasing performance.

Discipline in sales leads to fewer mistakes 

In a super-competitive business environment making mistakes can be costly. Disciplined people make fewer mistakes. Their discipline allows them to focus better on a task and not get distracted easily.

Better time management and productivity

Most sales environments are fast-paced, and a lot is going on. Salespeople have to generate leads, qualify them, maintain relationships with existing clients, negotiate with new and potential clients, deal with admin, and much more.

Effective time management is critical for success. If a salesperson lacks discipline, they will quickly become overwhelmed, and their performance will suffer. You can’t afford to have underperforming members on your sales team.

Why is there a lack of sales discipline in some organizations?

Sales discipline is as much about the individual sales team members as the organization in which they operate. There are several reasons why discipline is lacking in some companies.

No clear goals and outcomes

When there are no clear goals and deliverables, then the sales team has nothing to work towards. This makes it very difficult for salespeople to be disciplined because they don’t know what to focus on. Having no clear goals doesn’t only impede discipline; it is also demoralizing since no one knows when they are winning.

No clear processes, frameworks, or methodologies

Even if there are clear deliverables and goals in place, if your organization lacks sales processes and frameworks, then discipline will suffer. Discipline requires constantly applying processes and frameworks of methodologies to ultimately reach the set goals. Without clearly defined processes, discipline is near impossible, and your revenue will take a knock as a result.

No roadmap to achieve goals & outcomes

Having solid processes in place and goals to work towards is great, but you need a roadmap to guide the sales team to achieve these goals. Processes and frameworks are tools and not the solution itself. If there is no roadmap, then your team won’t have any idea of how to apply these tools to achieve the goal. A roadmap provides a structure around which salespeople can apply discipline.

Lack of training 

Another reason why sales teams often lack discipline is a lack of coaching and training. Even the most disciplined salesperson needs to be trained on things like internal systems and processes, new products, best practices, and how to achieve certain goals. If not, they may become complacent and procrastinate, hurting your business.

How to increase discipline in sales

A lack of discipline in your sales team can negatively impact your business performance. You can encourage and instill discipline in your team in several ways.

Apply the sales framework and methodology that your company recommends

Systems, frameworks, and methodologies are used in sales to help your team to achieve its goals faster. To be most effective, these systems require your sales teams to be disciplined. They need to follow all the pre-defined steps towards achieving a goal, whether it’s qualifying a lead or closing a deal. Document everything to identify missed steps and where the process can be improved.

Apply best practices rigorously

Best practices are there for a reason. They ensure that your sales team focuses on executing the right tasks at the right time to maximize performance. Best practices should form the backbone of your sales process. Team members should continually measure themselves against these to stay on track. By doing this, they create a positive cycle of discipline and increased performance.

Don’t cut corners

If you don’t have all the right systems in place, implement all the right processes, and follow the pre-defined steps to the letter, you are setting yourself up for failure.  

For example, in MEDDPICC we famously say, “No Champion, No Deal.” We believe and prove that if there is no champion, there is no deal. No matter how many other positives there are in an opportunity, the deal will likely fall through if you don’t have a champion on the account. You can have a great meeting with the EB, a well-crafted RFP, and you may feel the demo was perfect, but if you don’t have the champion to share info with you and leverage your strengths and sell on your behalf, you may still lose the deal, because the competitor may have a champion who neutralizes all the above. An undisciplined team member will say, “we don’t need a champion; it’s just one deal”. A disciplined person will say, “we need a champion; it’s another deal!”.

When you don’t have a champion, find, train, and nurture one that can turn this one opportunity into a win for the organization.

Ensure a healthy and efficient sales process

We touched on it earlier, but a healthy and efficient sales process is critical for a sales team to succeed. Great sales processes are developed to ensure maximum performance. They set out the best and most efficient way to approach and execute certain tasks like qualifying a lead, following up with a potential client, upselling or cold calling. It is a list that a salesperson can follow to give them the best possible opportunity to achieve their goals. You want your sales team to have faith in the system because when they do, discipline and success will follow. 

Provide coaching opportunities

Successful salespeople constantly learn and improve, whether learning about a customer, a new product, new methodologies, sales techniques, or a new system. Learning new skills requires discipline, but not all your team members have enough discipline to get the most out of coaching and training. Luckily discipline is a skill that can be learned.

When an organization champions and encourages learning, it indirectly also encourages discipline. It’s a positive cycle, because the more you learn, the more you want to learn, and the better you get at it, which means you also become more disciplined. 

A great sales manager creates a culture of learning within their team by regularly providing coaching and learning opportunities through courses, talks, seminars, and the like. It’s great for your team, great for discipline in sales, and great for business.

In his book, “The Road Less Traveled”, author Scott Peck says that, “without discipline, we can solve nothing.” His words ring true for almost every goal we are trying to reach. If you want to lose weight, but you keep on gorging on pies and sugary soda or miss going to the gym for three days in a row, you’re not going to reach your target weight. Sales is similar. If you want to achieve success in sales, but you’re not disciplined about following processes and best practices, then you will ultimately fail. 

Discipline in sales is the mother of all skills. If you don’t have it, learn it, or else you won’t make it.

These courses can help with the discipline:

Posted on December 13, 2022 in Leadership, MEDDIC, Sales, Sales Management, Sales Methodologies, Sales Training

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Stefan de Clerk
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