Optimize Your Sales Engine #8: Stop Confusing “Busyness” with Sales Productivity

By October 30, 2012 2 Comments

Stop Confusing Busyness With Sales Productivity

Why “Busy” Does Not Equal “Productive”

I know I’ve fallen into this trap before. I’m abnormally good at making lists of things to do and less able to actually accomplish the items on the list in an efficient manner. As a salesperson, you know that time is money. You may have proof of this fact with that sizable contract you closed last month thanks to the last phone call you made that day or maybe you challenged yourself to make 25% more calls than the day before and you won more business because of it. Either way, you know that time is valuable and you cannot waste your time doing things that don’t contribute to the bottom line.

We all know this is true, but we find ourselves falling to a “busyness trap” where we think that success means a completely full calendar and a “to do list” with each item perfectly crossed off. Don’t let your productivity suffer because you’re focusing too much on tasks as opposed to strategies.

Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?:

  • You are making 70 + outbound calls to current and potential customers, but you are having difficulty reaching the decision-maker.
  • Your average call time has increased dramatically due to longer conversations that lead to a “no”.
  • You pulled leads for 3 hours this morning and have yet to actually pick up the phone today.
  • You responded to each and every question from prospects via e-mail this morning and the rest of the day you’ll spend listening in on a sales meeting.

You’ve no doubt personally experienced one of these scenarios. You were “busy” but you weren’t necessarily productive. As Seth Godin recently wrote in a blog entry, “Decide what you’re going to do next, and then do it. Make good decisions about what’s next and you thrive.” Successful salespeople are series when it comes to sales productivity.

Being productive means doing the RIGHT things at the RIGHT time.

So how do you avoid the “busyness trap” and actually produce results on a daily basis?

First, think about your own internal productivity clock as it relates to sales productivity.

At what times of the day do you seem to get the most done? What environment allows this to happen? Jason Fried discussed the idea that People Can’t Actually Get Work Done at Work in a recent TED Talk because it forces an artificial timetable on productivity. Maybe the answer lies in assessing your own personal schedule and assigning work at times that work best for you.

Second, consider adding structure to your day.

You might be thinking, “But, my “to do list” already provides me with structure”. And to that, I’d say “you’re wrong”. Just because you’ve written a list of things you need to do doesn’t actually mean you’ll get them done, does it? Assign certain tasks to a certain time of the day and be realistic about how much time it will take to accomplish these items. Pick three major tasks that you WILL accomplish by the end of the day (honestly!) and get them done. If you accomplish those three items, you can consider the day a success. [I recently started using the Emergent Task Planner and would recommend to anyone getting started on a daily work structure]. Your own personal sales productivity relies on your ability to choose ‘the big three’ and actually accomplish them by the end of the work day.

Third, realize that activity can create a false sense of accomplishment and be self-aware about this throughout your workflow.

Coach yourself to re-focus and get down to the task at hand. Once you focus on the right tasks, provide yourself with enough time to accomplish them, and focus on the item at hand you may realize that you’re less “busy” and more “productive” in the long run.

Are you a salesperson? We want to know how you personally ensure that you are productive! What tips do you have for others struggling with their productivity?

Are you a sales manager? What do you do to help your team be productive? Has it helped them refocus and thus, win more business on a daily basis?

Leave a comment below or reply to us on Twitter


Catch up on the rest of the series, “10 Ways to Optimize Your Sales Engine by 2013″:

1. Sell What Makes You Different

2. Stop Answering RFPs!

3. Reach Out to 5 New People

4. I Object! 

5. Lead, Manage, And Get Out of the Way

6. Avoid Wasting Others’ Time

7. Freshen Up Your Presentations

Written by Craig. You can find him on and Twitter.

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