Is there ever enough time in a week to solve every problem, take advantage of every opportunity, act on every hunch, or follow up on every issue? If so, you're probably not working hard enough! Or, you're a part of the lucky few out there who've mastered the illusive art and skill of time management, organization, self-discipline, and activity management. Most people I meet are always working on at least one of these, trying to get more done, work smarter and harder, and somewhere along the way, trying to play catch up with their list of “have to do” projects just to be able to scratch the surface of their “want to do” projects.
It can be tough sledding, that's for sure.
As a performance improvement coach, I'm often asked for “best practices” around increasing sales productivity. To which I say, “It really depends on your team and your goals”. I just recently talked about how to build habits from those goals last week, but there's really more to that. The best practices must first start with the individual. Thankfully, there are many ways for a salesperson to reach that mountaintop and, along the way, establish productive habits for the betterment of their sales figures.
Here are three of them:
#1: Focus Your Time - Whether you block out specific times a day to work on certain things, or you have a different system, time is the most valuable resource you have as a salesperson. Who gets to use it up, what activities you perform and for how long, what occupies your mind and to what ends...they all take time. Instead of trying to play a cerebral game of Connect Four with all of them, try and focus only on tasks that can have the biggest impact. Remember, time is fleeting! Use it wisely.
#2: Understand Your Sales Cycle - The better you understand your sales cycle, the better you can control it. Knowing exactly when and how to give prospects the information or tools they need to make decisions will limit confusion and ultimately speed up the sales cycle. It will also allow you time to better serve the prospect, demonstrate that you know how to hit their needs, and ultimately solidify a higher level of trust in the relationship.
#3: Limit Distractions - I, as well as many other salespeople, love the fun part of selling. The methods we use may be different for us all, but we can all agree on one common snag: distractions. If we're off answering inconsequential emails, sitting through endless meetings, or carving up precious minutes and hours that holds zero bearing to our sales objectives, it's a distraction.
I've found that some of the best selling I've ever done was telling myself that something else was more important than what I was doing at the moment. So, turn off the ringer on your phone, shut off any and all email notification chimes, set your IM status to “Not Available” and pull your curtains shut! Focus on the task at hand and don't be pulled away by the seductive smells of cookies in the cube next to you! You're in the moment and nothing can pull you away. And really, no one's going to be upset if you miss a morning meeting because you're off talking shop with prospective clients.
I have more tips to share, but this should get us started for now. In the meantime, just know that everyone wants to be more productive and, as a salesperson, productivity is everything!
Increased rates can mean all sorts of good things for the here and now: better sales, more money, smoother processes, happier customers and a happier manager, too. Yet, as we know, life can intervene, schedules change and habits that used to work like a charm may start to show their age. Which is why leaning on these three methods - along with others I'll discuss later - should act as a starting point for helping you reach your sales marks for this year and beyond.
Image courtesy of Guerrilla Group