July 2, 2016

July 4th, The Brexit & Terrorism – Thoughts on Freeing Our Calendar and Mind to Increase Sales

It feels like forever since I’ve posted an article. Thanks for your patience as I just wrapped up seven straight weeks of speaking engagements and have never been more ready for a long holiday weekend. Hope your first half of 2016 was what you wanted it to be and you are energized heading into Q3.

As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., this post is inspired by thoughts of FREEDOM and what I’m seeing across multiple sales organizations while, along with you, processing the onslaught of major news events from around the globe. I’m going to share two semi-related thoughts that will help increase your focus and your sales results.

 

1.  FREE UP YOUR CALENDAR SO YOU CAN SELL

rocket scienceFriends, it doesn’t get any more obvious that this. One of the main reasons companies and salespeople fall short when it comes to developing new business is that the people charged with developing new business spend very little time working on new business! I’m not expecting the rocket science award for this proclamation and certainly many will call me Captain Obvious for making this observation.

But from what I observe, it must not be as obvious as it seems. Attending a client’s annual sales conference recently, I sat through “growth plan” presentations from members of the sales team the day before I led a full-day workshop. What struck me, aside from how good the sales team was at proclaiming what the company needed to do in order to grow the business (as opposed to the salespeople articulating what they were going to do), was how individual territory managers declared they would spend their time. Several, with no shame, put up charts proudly declaring that 90+% of their time would be dedicated to “account maintenance” – their words, not mine. Let me repeat that in case you were just skimming this article: the salespeople in a company that was not growing declared in their “growth plans” that they intended to spend more than 90% of their time maintaining/servicing their accounts. Oh my. Houston, we found the problem!

While that recent example may be extreme, unfortunately, it’s not that rare. I’m seeing salespeople in all sorts of businesses spend a surprisingly low percentage of time truly focused on what I like to call proactive selling – where they’re intentionally pursuing new business. The fix, while really simple, is not easy. Companies must unburden reps from so much of the day-to-day admin, service, support, project management, etc. so there is more time available to actually sell. And salespeople must become more selfish – selfishly productive – and devote significantly larger chunks of their calendar to proactive selling. Said differently, the easiest and fastest way to increase sales is for salespeople to spend more time selling (pursuing growable existing customers and ideal profile prospects.). I know, more rocket science. FREE the sales team and free up their calendars.

2.  FREE YOUR MIND FROM THINGS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL

As a news junkie, I write this as much to myself as I do for you. There is SO MUCH DRAMA around the globe right now. Beyond the normal distraction of a presidential election year, the political situation in the U.S. is practically unbearable. I intentionally don’t do politics in my business, on twitter or here on the blog. Mixing politics and business is usually a lose-lose proposition. I am, however, a proud and patriotic American, and as perplexed and annoyed as anyone that this great country has somehow ended up with these two unfavorable/undesirable candidates battling it out for the nation’s highest office. Add in the confusion and hyperbole surrounding the Brexit referendum and its aftermath in the UK and around Europe, and there are plenty of geopolitical headlines on just these two continents to distract us from our day jobs. And that’s before, in horror, we watch news reports and video replays of the recent terrorist strikes in an Orlando nightclub, the Istanbul airport, Germany, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.

Sales leaders and salespeople, there is plenty to worry and distract us. But you know what the news stories listed in the paragraph above have in common? That’s exactly right. We can’t do a darn thing about them! They are 100% out of our control. And every moment spent (wasted) obsessing and fretting over any of these current events costs us dearly. Not only is the additional stress bad for us – both emotionally and physically – but the time and energy devoted to worrying is time and energy that we are not dedicating to driving New Sales.

What would happen to your energy level and your sales performance if you were to truly free your calendar from as much non-sales nonsense as possible?  And how much better would your focus and attitude be if freed your mind from wasting time worrying about things beyond your control?