Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Jill Konrath speak at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference. Jill is a well-known sales strategist and keynote speaker, and has authored 3 bestselling books about sales acceleration and effectiveness. Needless to say, Jill had a lot to share about how to help crazy-busy sales reps maximize the time spent selling to crazy-busy prospects. Here are 7 actionable tips from Jill to increase sales reps’ focus and productivity.
- Stop checking email so much. The average professional spends 28 hours a week checking email, according to the International Journal of Communications. While email is an integral part of sales reps’ ability to communicate with and sell to prospects, there is even more time spent checking for replies or new opportunities. It may be beneficial to turn off email notifications to decrease distraction when sales reps are dedicating time and effort to prospecting and reporting.
- Kill the to-do list. According to Jill, to-do lists are making us stupider! It’s fine to write things down that need to get done, but spending all of your time just to cross one thing off of your list is inefficient. Instead, block out chunks of time to get certain things done (instead of focusing on one until it’s done).
- Determine your top 3 priorities each day. Giving yourself 3 attainable tasks to complete each day can be more productive and make you feel more accomplished than having a running to-do list. If it helps to have a weekly to-do list that you check in with, do so, but make sure you aren’t overcommitting yourself. Jill recommends the tool iDoneThis to keep track of what you or your team has completed each day; this is especially helpful for sales managers.
- Block off “you” time. Calendars aren’t just for booking meetings; you can use it to dedicate chunks of time to get certain tasks done. This ensures that other things won’t get in the way during the day or week, and you know that you’re dedicating “real” time to what you need to get done. Jill gave sales-specific examples of blocking off 2 hours for prospecting, 1 hour for sending emails, 1 hour for cold calling, and so on.
- For those dreaded tasks, use the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique employs an old-school kitchen timer to help you get started on those things you dread or can’t bring yourself to begin. The trick involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, working hard without distractions, and then rewarding yourself with a break. The Pomodoro Technique is said to help improve work-life balance, manage distractions and eliminate burnout.
- Minimize distractions. The average worker is interrupted every 8 minutes, and it takes about 25 minutes to return to the original task you were working on. In all, we lose 2.1 hours per day to interruptions and distractions. If you really need to get something done, remove yourself from disruptive environments. Our VP of Marketing sometimes announces that he’s “going into the Matrix” when he needs to zone in and get work done without distractions. Other ways to minimize distractions include apps like Anti-Social and ColdTurkey that block the social media and other pages we all gravitate towards when we need a distraction, and Backdrop, which minimizes your computer screen to just the app or program you’re working in.
- Make it fun. It can be hard to manage your energy and work without getting completely burned out. Selling can get tiring, especially if you’re not seeing the results you want. Jill suggests making work fun by setting small goals for yourself, such as trying to make x amount of cold calls in an hour, or trying new techniques to send more personalized, fun emails to prospects. Work isn’t typically play, but it can be fun if you employ the right strategies.
It was a great experience to listen to Jill at INBOUND and learn about her tried-and-true sales productivity techniques. For more on her sales excellence books and speaking opportunities, check out her website!