Welcome to 2020! If you’re like me, you may find yourself doing some introspection, seeking ways to improve your life and your business. One topic that frequently arises in a new year is productivity. I see three aspects to defining productivity.

  • Knowing which activities are the highest value in terms of your dreams and goals and acting on those rather than the lower-value activities.
  • Determining which activities you’ll tackle yourself. For example, you might take on the activities that are the most energizing to you and delegate those that aren’t.
  • Knowing when to say no.

Launching my book, The Modern Seller, taught me a lot about productivity. If you’ve written a book or taken on a complex project, you can probably relate to this. There were so many moving parts to the book, from content, to publication, to marketing.

I learned several valuable productivity lessons throughout the process. For example, I had to make tradeoffs on other activities to give the book top priority. I needed an accountability partner to help me hit my milestones. And great things are never accomplished alone– productivity can be a team sport. I needed a support team around me, so I could focus on my strengths and they could focus on theirs.

So how does productivity come into play in other situations? Let’s consider productivity in terms of salespeople.

Why aren’t salespeople as productive as they could be?

When a salesperson is ineffective, it’s likely a result of one or more of these forces.

  • External forces. Any salesperson on any given day has a long list of sales activities they could choose from. That’s in addition to the administrative aspects of the role. I frequently see teams and organizations saddling salespeople with unnecessary administrative burden. This is where strong sales leaders need to step in and eliminate unnecessary burdens so sellers can address productive sales activities.
  • Internal forces. This goes back to my definition of productivity. It’s mindset and decision making about where to invest your resources. Busyness and productivity aren’t the same thing. Busyness won’t get you to your goals.
  • Structure. Creating an environment that supports productivity. An example here is choosing and leveraging your productivity tools well.

Top Three To-Dos for Modern Sellers to Improve Their Productivity

  • Decide that your time is something to invest, and not something to spend.
  • Design an environment that supports productivity. That might be the way your office is designed, to your car if you’re on the road, people support, or support from tools and technology.
  • Blend the personal and professional in a way that works for you. I time block my workouts just I would time block a sales call.

Top Three Productivity Don’ts

  •  Don’t say yes right away. Take time to decide if an opportunity is the right fit.
  • Don’t procrastinate on follow-up. When I finish a sales call, I try to hit as many of the to-do’s as I can. That keeps me productive, because I’m not looking at it a week from now and wondering what my notes meant!
  • Don’t forget the agenda for your sales calls. I heard a statistic from Leff Bonney at Florida State University, that out of a one-hour meeting, our prospects and clients on average, only get value from six minutes of that meeting. One way to solve for that is to create a clear agenda and obtain buy-in ahead of time.

My Favorite Hack to Improve Day-to-Day Productivity

One step is to map out your week, and then map out your day. What three things do you need to get done this week to reach your goals. What three things do you need to get done today?

Most of us, myself included, overestimate what can get done in a day. That’s why we feel bad when we didn’t get that list of 10 to-do’s crossed off our list! I find creating shorter lists actually produces better results.

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