As a sales leader, I am passionate about hiring top sales talent, empowering individuals to write their own story of becoming a Sales Jedi and then helping them reach their full potential. Even if the appropriate guidelines are put in place and the path to harmony in the sales universe has been mapped out, business development reps or execs will always face an evil side of the force that’s sole purpose is to limit success and kill productivity – distraction. This force is constantly evolving and doesn’t care if you are new to the ways of the Jedi or have already been recognized as a Jedi Master.
There are a number of forms that distraction will try to impose its will, below is a list of some of the most common examples that we are faced with on a daily basis:
- Email / IM / Internal Company Chat
- Social Media
- Lack of Prioritization
Here are 5 quick tips to fight your way past distraction and set your organization free from the dark side and help create an order for your sales organization:
Block out the noise – Focus on the task at hand
Time blocking is simply allocating time (and reserving without exception) on your calendar to illustrate when you’re going to work on a particular task or project. This could be a simple call block/blitz that you commit to shutting off your email, going to a quiet place or even putting a sign up to let others know you are “in the zone”.
Set notifications to ‘OFF’ for portions of the workday
This ties closely to the tip listed above but is truly put in place to help individuals avoid the instant gratification associated with being quick to respond to all IMs/threads/channels immediately, even if they are not related to your primary focus – new business development and client delivery. We all can relate to the pressure that comes with a growing list of follow-up activities, but I assure you that the individuals who may have sent the message will completely understand the delay when explaining that you were closing a deal or setting new client appointments.
A-Time vs B-Time
Prioritization is a term that is thrown around so often in the sales world that its impact on productivity or success is seen less and less each day. Everything is considered a top priority unless the criteria are clearly defined by a team or organization. In regard to sales, top priority should always be delivering for the customer – period. Any other sales rep or exec responsibility that falls outside of this should be prioritized or ranked and accomplished in the order deemed most pressing. A-Time activities are often viewed as; closest to $, overdue client requests, a potential impact on a strategic initiative, etc. If the activity can’t immediately affect the team goals, improve the position of you and the company closing a deal/gaining a new client then most likely it should be handled in B-Time.
It’s okay to say ‘No’
Pretty straightforward here – even if it is not an easy thing to do. Meetings take up a large portion of a sales person’s available time to interact with customers and frankly, distract us from selling at times. Let’s all embrace and be respectful of this by limiting the number of mandatory meetings that we schedule or commit to attending. I urge the young Jedis out there to communicate with your leaders on times when you feel your time would be better spent targeting new clients, mentoring other team members or fine-tuning your craft instead of “showing up” up to recurring meetings. Trust is something that is earned and if you are taking the initiative on increasing your close percentage or impact on the team overall, the appropriate people will be onboard for this.
Ask the team for help – Be accountable
Asking for help is not something that typically comes easy for most salespeople. It usually happens too late or out of an act of desperation. One way to meet this challenge head-on is to commit publicly to accomplishing a task or owning responsibility with a deadline for your team and asking them to hold you accountable. This helps instill a sense of urgency inside yourself due to not wanting to let the team down, as well as create a shared responsibility within the group to ensure that a valuable teammate accomplishes what was committed to, resulting in more transparency and increased productivity (Shout out to @Josh Mastel from Uproar Partners for reinforcing the importance of this early in my career).
What are some of the tools or tips that you’ve seen help salespeople minimize distraction in their days?
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