Hitting your full potential in sales requires discipline. Use these strategies in your day to maximize selling hours and see what you can accomplish.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
Salespeople face a productivity problem. It’s not that they’re not working hard, and it’s not that they don’t know their job. Instead, salespeople face a constant need to remain as focused on hitting their numbers, even while organizations increasingly demand more from people in all job functions. Finding ways to maximize productivity during peak selling hours is essential to success in sales. Even with this mandate, one still needs to accomplish the myriad housekeeping tasks that are put in front of you every day.
Everything comes down to setting up the day to be as focused and distraction-free as possible. Staying focused on selling means carving out time to take care of housekeeping items outside of regular selling hours and having the discipline not to let them spill over.
At its core, it means taking a strategic approach to the day and the week and structuring it so that you can focus on the task at hand and not on trying to figure out what you need to do next.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to avoiding task switching as much as possible.
Here are three simple ways that all salespeople can manage their time to make sure they hit the ground running each day.
Close your shop
The first secret to getting off on the right foot in the morning starts the day before. At the end of every day, there is usually a menagerie of different tasks that are begging for your attention. From following up with managers to researching new opportunities, the end of the day is the ideal time to tackle these tasks.
As the day goes on and you accumulate various items demanding your attention, write down the tasks in a notebook, app, or CRM and move on. At the end of the day revisit these items and power through the to-do list.
Doing this accomplishes a couple of things for a salesperson. First, it provides a structure to help them keep on top of items, so they don’t pile up and either cause issues or infringe on selling time. Secondly, by relegating them to one corner of the day, it subtly reinforces that they are not your primary function as a salesperson, and their priority is lower than actively selling.
Tackle housekeeping tasks in the evening, not the morning. For salespeople, the morning is a hectic time, preparing for calls and setting appointments with little time for anything else. Compared to the other parts of the day, task follow-up is a low-intensity activity, and so should be accomplished with the lowest energy and lowest value part of the day.
Know your numbers first thing in the morning
With the morning consumed by the need to get materials together for client presentations, the first hours of the day are often a ‘hard charging’ portion of the day. Hitting the ground running means not only having a firm understanding what’s on the agenda for the day but how the day is going to impact your overall goal.
Doing this means knowing what deals are in your sales pipeline, how they are progressing through the sales process and the impact they will have on your overall numbers. Knowing these details is how good reps maintain their ‘north star,’ even as they relentlessly pursue new opportunities.
Seeing these numbers first thing in the morning is an important part of getting the day off to the right start. Being knowledgeable of the details of your sales pipeline influences everything else that gets done during the day, from prospecting to the amount of prep going into a presentation, and provides the purpose that unites the various sales activities that take place over the course of the day.
Set time aside for prospecting
Of all the competing priorities that salespeople face every day, none is more challenging than cold prospecting. Because of the difficulty, many salespeople harbor a distaste for it. Accordingly, prospecting time often finds itself cannibalized for other purposes.
The simplest way to make sure it remains a priority is to treat it as a hard appointment on your calendar on a daily basis. By giving it this kind of precedence, salespeople build a habit around it and it becomes a regular part of the day.
Doing so on a regular basis is essential because sales prospecting is a skill set that improves substantially with regular practice and fades quickly if not exercised consistently.
Even more important than developing the skill set is the critical leads that prospecting brings in at the top of the sales funnel. Without adding these leads in, sales pipelines quickly dry up and once dry, can take substantial effort to redevelop. Just as important as hitting the ground running is making sure that there is an active sales pipeline to work when you get there.
Make a day of it
By taking these three essential steps, salespeople make a huge leap forward in increasing their sales productivity. The secret lies in understanding that not every minute of your day has the same value. Time in which your clients are available to reach is as good as gold. Taking advantage of every one of these minutes is essential to finding your full potential as a salesperson.
Pulling all of this together into a day, and ultimately a professional lifestyle, takes discipline and motivation to keep going. There will always be demands that try to place themselves above your number one priority-selling to customers. Staying flexible enough to meet the challenges the world throws at you while remaining motivated by your priorities is the mark of a master practitioner. Harness these skills and make them your own to find success in sales.