How to optimize your sales productivity and workflow
Conducting sales, like any business skill, requires practice and focus. So much focus that frequent distractions, interruptions or even a sub-optimal workflow can mean the difference between a successful salesperson or even that next, big deal.
You can't control everything to eliminate distractions or interruptions, but you can do a few simple things to improve your sales workflow and close more deals.
1. Focus on ONE screen
A lot of sales platforms require you, the salesperson, to evaluate tons of information, sometimes spread across multiple screens or tabs. Some sale people, even members of my team, have two monitors on their desks, making their environment particularly distracting.
Don't get me wrong, two screens can handy for other tasks, but they're unnecessary for sales. Optimize your workflow by focusing on just one screen with whatever CRM you're using open. Stay on just that tool for 30 minutes to start.
Focus on reaching out to your customers during that time, and while you're on a call, just focus on your call and not what's on your screen. Take a 5-minute break after 30 minutes and then do it again. You'll find that you'll reach more people by just focusing on one screen at a time.
2. Use technology that supports what you ACTUALLY do
There's a ton of different CRMs out there, each one with a differentiating factor. However, the only factor you should consider when choosing a sales tool is whether or not it optimizes what you ACTUALLY do during the day.
For example, if your job is to call as many people as you can in a day, then use a tool that optimizes for calling. If the bulk of your correspondence is via email, choose an app that integrates email. You don't want to waste your day doing everything but what makes you money!
There's sales applications or CRMs that do everything reasonably well—but you need to have the one that does what YOU do very well. Any other factor, regardless or price, notoriety, or feature sets will leave you pissed off every, single day.
3. Stop checking your email, Facebook or Reddit
Now this is a sensitive topic for me, because I love checking my email. Part of this has to do with the ease of use of my new iPhone, but most of it has to do with my obsession to stay on top of everything.
But every time I take a sec to look at my email, I answer my email, then get distracted by something else, then another thing and sooner or later I'm on Reddit and Facebook. It's a waste of time, energy, and a big killer of workflow.
The fact is that no email is THAT urgent. If anything was that urgent, someone would probably call. It's an easy fix though. Do you remember those 5-minute breaks throughout the day?
Use those to check and flag email, but only respond once or twice a day to all of them—in bulk. This way you can focus on sales, not responding to emails, and enjoy Reddit and Facebook without feeling guilty.
4. Schedule your day
Sales can involve a whole myriad of activities. From sending, checking and responding to emails, to cold-calling, follow-ups and closing calls. The key to managing all of these tasks is to schedule your day into blocks when you're only doing certain tasks.
For example, 5-minute email breaks every 30 minute with 30 minutes blocks twice a day to respond to all of them. Only cold calling in the morning, so your afternoons can be spent closing deals. Scheduling client calls or planning activities at the end of the day so you're not interrupted are all ways to improve your workflow by focusing on specific tasks at specific times.
5. Don't do work you hate
One thing's for sure, if you don't like the task you're doing, you're going to take longer to do it. In these cases, if it has to be done, find a way for someone else to do it. If it's a relatively easy, repeatable task, like sending bulk emails, or managing your inbox, hire a virtual assistant.
If it's not, well that's not so easy, so all I can recommend is buckling down, and getting it done quickly. Then make a plan of how to get out of it in a certain time frame (a week, a month), so you don't waste your day on a task you hate.
6. Iterate your process
Doing the same thing over and over again will become boring, which is one thing sales should never be. If you've been doing the same process for a while, and it's becoming stale, change it up.
Even if your process is successful, change it up. Try a different pitch, region, industry segment or even a funny accent (I like Southern).
Who knows, maybe you find a way to close more deals. At the very least, you'll have more fun and that's usually how your workflow will improve.