I think it’s harder than ever to keep your sales process moving forward. There are so many innovative technologies that hold promise for sales. So many social media tools that help us connect and build relationships. Unfortunately all this scatters our attention and focus and working the sales pipeline.
Here are some time-tested ideas for returning your focus to forward sales movement.
1. Time blocking - This is an oldie, but goody. Blocking off certain times during the day for specific routines is a great way to block out distractions. The technique is as simple as blocking off brief increments (I recommend 30 minutes) of your day. During those blocks of dedicated time refuse to do anything, but the assigned task or routine.
This works exceptionally well for things you probably procrastinate on a regular basis–doing sales reporting, updating your CRM, cold calling, commenting on relevant blogs.
2. Jump start every day - This is one of my favorites and I think my biggest productivity lifter. There is so much time lost or wasted in starting up and winding down the day. I recommend improving the productivity of both those time blocks with a simple technique.
As you wind down (maybe even have a dedicated time block) review your day. Sales might review objections that stuck them, marketing may review analytics, writers might inventory assignments, developer might track problems that baffled them. Now turn those items into a fast start for tomorrow…
Create your “before email” morning routine. This might be a Web prospecting goal, competitor website research, a little searching in developer forums, have documents with titles (maybe outlines too) open on your computer. Jump starting the day is as simple as knowing what–exactly–you are going to do first.
3. Stop prioritizing - I think this is the number one killer of sales momentum. Prioritization is often a crutch. Something that we do when we lose confidence in our sales approach or are frustrated with our numbers. These challenges send us looking for the sure wins. Unfortunately, that is a myth. Avoid it.
4. Do the work - Prioritization and not doing the work often work hand in hand. There is no short-cut. You can’t cherry pick your way to success and you can’t grow rich while you sleep. You have to do the work. In sales or even as a freelancer that means making connections. You need to do the work–build the connections, nurture relationships, and build trust. There are no short-cuts, only distractions.
5. Understand your energy - This is a big one for me. Everyone seems to run on their own energy cycles. Mine is early morning, around 10 am, and then again around 2 pm. This when my mind seems to kick into high gear. Pay attention to when your energy kicks in and time block high impact tasks into those opportunities. Trying to plow through a low energy cycle is on a challenging task is a waste of time. Instead block in your Web browsing, Twittering, relationship calls–easy, no-brainer tasks.
Bonus tips (my favorites):
6. Work in short sprints - This tip is an important part of a lot of the other techniques. I find it a big productivity enhancer. Learn to work in short, well-defined, goal-oriented sprints. This makes it easier to stay focused and maximize energy cycles.
7. Set bite-size goals - In addition to your big goals, it’s important to have smaller objectives that get you to the big ones. This will help you stay focused and boost your confidence on a regular basis. Feeling productive is a huge motivator and aids focus.
8. Learn to relax - This is one I have just recently learned the value of–learning to shutdown. The always on and connected world makes this really hard. Wifi and iPhones keep us always tuned into our task list and emerging demands. This can keep you continually stressed and overwhelmed. You need time to recharge. It is impossible to run at 100% for 12-16 hours a day.
Shutdown at specific times–evenings, weekends. Spend the time enriching your life. Hang out with family and friends. Read, watch movies, experience travel. These activities not only relax us and get us ready for the next hard charging sales cycle, but they make us better at sales. These experiences make us better rounded and more interesting conversationalist–core skill for a good sales person.
What do you do to stay focused? How do your structure your sales day? What do you do to relax?