They say you can’t make more time. On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, I challenge you to consider how you can make more time through improvements in sales productivity and reinventing the way that you work.
I want you to take a moment and think back to the early days of the pandemic. You were likely working at home because everything was locked down.
Then fast forward a couple of months to the summer of 2020. Sales teams were hitting all time records. Many individual sales professionals were selling more and earning more than ever before.
Sellers were getting more done, in less time, with better outcomes because all of the distractions that typically took them away from high impact sales activities were gone.
The Three Choices
Each moment of your sales day you make one of three choices about time. You can do:
Trivial things like watch cat videos.
Important things like entering data into the CRM or responding to e-mail.
Impactful things that generate revenue growth.
The most impactful thing you can do is put new opportunities into the pipeline and then advance those opportunities through the pipeline. If you’re an account manager, you make an impact by expanding and retaining your accounts.
Impact = Productivity
The equation for productivity is: Efficiency + Effectiveness = Productivity
Simply put, the key to productivity is getting more done, in less time, with better outcomes. That’s how you win in sales. It is also the key to making more time in your life for the things that really matter.
I’m always shocked by just how much time sales professionals waste. For example, a recent study demonstrated that salespeople leak two to three hours each day from distractions – little things like looking down at their phone when it buzzes, beeps, or the screen lights up.
At one point in my career, I was the number one sales professional in my company with a high six-figure income to show for it. I was able to accomplish this by working hard for about 10 hours a week because I allowed no leakage of time. I sold more more, in less time than my peers who wasted an extraordinary amount of time on superfluous activities. This afforded me time to invest with my family and in other pursuits.
If you take an honest look at your own day, you’re likely leaking time everywhere.
When I’m working with sales professionals on productivity improvement initiatives, I’ll often break their day apart into blocks and demonstrate how they can get their normal eight to ten hours of work accomplished in five to six hours through time blocking, attention control, and work compression.
Veterans who have a good handle on their territories and pipeline, can do their job in about four hours a day once they learn how to compress work into short sprints.
Trade Productivity For More Time
One of the big things that we learned during the pandemic is the importance of making more quality time in our lives for family, friends, and ourselves.
Yet, now that the pandemic has ended, the workplace is quickly snapping back from the days of work from home productivity to trading time for money. In other words, the boss or the company dictates an “8 hour day” or “5 day work week” and therefore we expand our work into those constructs regardless of how long it actually takes to get the work done.
In sales, at least in field sales, you have much more autonomy with how you manage your time than most employees. Because of this, you have the unique luxury to break free from the time for money handcuffs and begin trading productivity for more time.
If you make the choice to become disciplined with time and your sales day, so that you accomplish more impactful work, in less time with greater outcomes, you’ll quickly make time to do the fun things in your life that really matter.
Protect Your Career
It is also important to understand how crucial it is that you become more productive in this time of extreme economic volatility. Executives are already taking a microscope to their sales teams, and they’re starting to make cuts. The salespeople they’re cutting are the ones who are less productive.
During an economic downturn, you must work harder, sometimes a lot harder to get the same results you were getting before the crisis began.
If you’re more productive than other people, you can deliver the same results you were getting before the downturn, plus more. This high level of productivity allows you to win while everyone else is losing – protecting both your income and career.
The Work Compression Model
The formula for becoming more productive is relatively simple.The first and most important step is blocking your sales day into high intensity sprints.
During these short sprints, you’re going to focus on only one thing at a time. It’s all about attention control. Turn everything else off and remove all distractions.
High-intensity activity sprints can be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or four hours depending on the activity or project. The key is concentrating all of your power on one thing with no leakage of time to distractions.
If you’re a field sales representative, this also means managing your territory better. Map and segment your territory by day then develop the discipline to plan appointments and cold calling activity inside those segments.
Driving is not an accomplishment. It is the often the biggest waste of time in your sales day. For this reason, just like concentrating your focus within a time block, you should be concentrating the time you spend in your territory each day within one tight geographical area.
Now some homework:
Take an honest, transparent look at how you are using your time – monthly, weekly, and daily.
Identify where and how you are allowing distractions to usurp your attention and leak time – including how that device that you carry around in your pocket is negatively impacting your productivity.
Consider how much time you waste each week driving around in your territory.
Resolve to start breaking your sales day into the short high intensity sprints.
You won’t change everything at once. Habits and patterns are hard to break. So begin with small changes. For example, outbound prospecting blocks.
Tomorrow morning try running this sprint: 15 minutes, 15 dials, with a goal to set one appointment.
Run the sprint. Take a break to update your CRM. Run it again 2-3 more times. Then move on with the rest of your sales day.
You will be stunned with how much prospecting you accomplish inside of these short sprints. Efficiency + effectiveness = productivity.