Being a salesperson can be difficult. It takes a lot of energy, determination, and discipline to sell on a consistent basis. Meeting your monthly or quarterly sales quota is the sum of all the small things you do day in and day out in order to be productive.
If you think about your job as a salesperson, your productivity is limited by three main factors:
If you can find ways to maximize your time, focus, and motivation, you will be a successful salesperson.
At the end of the day, we’re all limited by time. We have 24 hours in each day and a relatively short amount of time to meet our goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We can’t magically add hours to the day, but we can be smart about how we use what time we do have.
Two common pitfalls for salespeople is either having too little or too much time on our hands. If you have too little time, you may struggle to stay in touch with your most valuable prospects and customers. But if you have too much time, you may find it difficult to establish a sense of urgency in your work day.
The first step to reclaiming what time you do have and to use it wisely is to recognize the amount of time you’re spending on certain tasks/projects. You can’t find time, you have to MAKE time.
- Put a time block on your calendar to get similar tasks done in batches.
- Turn your email off for 2 hours and knock out those tasks that you’ve been putting off (but that are both urgent and important).
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier.
If you’re anything like me, you may have noticed that your focus can come and go depending on what type of work you are doing. Some tasks may seem simple and habitual in the morning, while strategic meetings in the afternoon can drain you of your energy. We all have a natural energy cycle.
Assess your energy level throughout the day. Notice when it starts to dip and keep a simple list of what you’re doing when that slump happens. Now, decide if you can move this task to a different time of the day when you may have more energy or reassess how you get that work done at the same time. For example, if you find it difficult to maintain focus during conference calls toward the end of the work day, consider taking them outside while you walk (weather permitting of course). (You’ll likely have a breakthrough idea and conduct productive conversation because your environment has changed.)
If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to accomplish before the end of the week, make a habit of making a list of your top 5 priorities for each day of the week. (I like to do this at the beginning of each work day so I can get down to business quickly and efficiently.) Now, cross off the bottom two. You now have just THREE things you must accomplish in order to have a productive work day. It sounds too simple to be a useful tool, but trust me, you’ll feel good about what you’ve accomplished at the end of the work day.
A useful tool that I’ve been using is the Emergent Task Planner. I focus on the three priorities and keep a list of the tasks that emerge throughout the day.
Just like time and focus, we can’t really “create” motivation. Rather, I think we can trick ourselves into it. Sometimes it feels like a personal justification of your vices, but if I can treat myself to an afternoon latte if and *only if* I get my top 3 tasks done by the end of the day, then it’s useful. Motivation needs to be a personal mission. Many salespeople find that visualization works. If you’re working hard to save up for a new car, print a picture of that car and display it somewhere you often look. You’ll recognize that you’re working hard for a reason, for something that you want.
Motivation doesn’t always have to be material. It just needs to be something that you find personally rewarding and/or important.
- Find a sense of ‘play’ in your work. If you’re cold calling, find a way to have fun with it. Challenge yourself to make 10+ cold calls in one hour.
- Establish a large goal or reward in the future. Always wanted to go to Europe? Working toward your quota and saving a percentage each month will be easier when you have a specific goal on the horizon (just make sure that it has a specific ‘due date’).
Time, focus, and motivation can severely limit your productivity as a salesperson. But they don’t have to. And if you can audit your actions on a daily basis, you’ll be begin to recognize patterns and habits that can be altered so that you are the productive machine you always hope to be on Monday morning.