Transform Your Sales Reps to be More Proactive

August 14, 2018 Mike Schultz

When talking to sales leaders and managers, I hear a common lament:

“Our sellers aren’t proactive enough. They expect leads and sales to fall in their lap. We need them to take charge with greater energy and drive.”

Considering 75 percent of B2B purchases are made as a result of strategic opportunities and 70 percent of B2B buyers are open to switching providers, it makes sense that leaders want their sellers to be more proactive. If they aren’t, you can be sure that your competitors are.

3 Ways to Ignite Proactivity

The second habit in our book The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity is Ignite Your Proactivity. If you want your sales team to be more productive and reach their goals, proactivity is a habit they need to build. But getting started on a challenging task is difficult. Here are three ways to help your sellers become more proactive. 

Calendar Investment Time

When you put something on your calendar, including the time and place you’re going to do it, you’re much more likely to follow through and complete the task. If there’s something you want your sellers to work on, have them add it to their calendars. 

Let’s say growing accounts is a strategic priority. (Or, what we call an Investment activity, one that will generate outsized returns.) Make sure your sellers and account managers block off time on their calendars to work on growing their accounts. Schedule account growth brainstorming sessions with them. Set goals for how many of their accounts they’ll connect with each week. Make sure they schedule time to do this outreach. Then, follow up with each seller to track their progress and verify they’re following through and spending the time in these areas. 
When sellers calendar their Investment time, it’s easier for them to get started on a task and stay focused. Work with your sellers and help them determine the important things they need to invest their time in to produce outsized returns.

Talk to Yourself

Almost everyone talks to themselves. We say thousands of words to ourselves every single minute. Most sellers have a certain number of self-limiting beliefs circling around in their heads that keep them from being proactive. It’s your job to help your sellers identify these beliefs and instead, use positive self-talk to change it. 

Here are a few examples:

If your sellers don’t think they can do something, they won’t even bother to start. Positive self-talk will help your sellers be more proactive. As a sales leader or manager, you can coach them and reinforce the positive self-talk and beliefs. 

Say “3, 2, 1, Go!”

Most sellers aren’t as proactive as they should be because they have a hard time getting started. They might start doing something proactive—prospecting outreach, brainstorming strategies to drive account growth, or calling a current client—but then a few seconds later, the emotional center of their brain takes over and sabotages them. 

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studies the impact of rational and emotional decision making on people’s behavior. He states that the “gut reaction” part of your brain has to be activated in the right way if you want to do something that otherwise would seem emotionally difficult. 

It’s not enough to have the logic; you must have the right emotion to get started. 

To preempt the feeling part of your brain from shutting down, you need to head it off at the pass. A simple trick is to say, “3, 2, 1, Go!” and get started. By doing this, you get started before your brain tells you, “that’s too hard.”

If there are proactive activities you know your sellers should be doing, but aren’t, teach them to say “3, 2, 1, Go!” Help them overcome the emotional part of their brain that’s holding them back. 


You can ignite the proactivity and drive within each of your sellers. Everyone has drive in them, you just need to help them find it. Start by using these three hacks with your sales team. (And check out chapter 1 in The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity for more hacks to help manufacture your team’s motivation.) You may be surprised at how you’re able to transform them into the proactive sellers you know you need for the greatest success. 

Featured Image Source: Business training at office by Africa Studio Shutterstock

About the Author

Mike Schultz

Mike Schultz is a bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling, Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, and President of RAIN Group, a global <a href="">sales training</a> and performance improvement company. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 73 countries transform their sales results and unleash their sales potential. Follow Mike on <a href="">Twitter</a> or connect with him on <a href="">LinkedIn</a>.

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