Most of us are overwhelmed, overworked, and most definitely over-connected. As a consequence, the salespeople, sales leaders, and even the senior executives I work with, tend to be under-focused, under-disciplined, under-rested, under-vacationed, and unfortunately, under-productive.
I get it. There is always something urgent, and there are what feels like a ridiculous number of requests and demands on us and our time. It’s the world we live in; it’s constant, and it’s not pretty.
Along with feeling perpetually frustrated at work and by work, our personal lives are suffering, too, as this constant barrage of inputs combined with our own addictions (to our phones, email inboxes, Salesforce.com Chatter, social media mentions, [insert your personal vice here], etc.) rob our brains of needed down-time while simultaneously preventing us from being fully present when in business meetings or even when the most important people in our lives are in our presence!
I spent several days this past week leading Round 2 of Sales Management. Simplified. Workshops for a favorite large client. While the main focus of this round of sessions was to help frontline managers master both 1:1 accountability meetings and 1:1 coaching meetings with members of their sales teams, after getting to know many of these sales leaders over the past 18 months, I felt compelled to dedicate part of the day to tackling productivity and quality of life.
We titled this new “module” Sales Manager Self-Management: Becoming More Selfishly Productive. But truthfully, the very same principles apply to individual producers who work for sales managers, and to the executives for whom sales managers work. In other words, this is a message it seems we all desperately need to hear and apply:
In order to become more productive at work AND to improve our quality of life, we must become more selfish (in a good way), and more focused on the very few things that truly move the needle – that increase productivity. And when we are focused on these precious few highest-payoff tasks, we must actually focus so we can do deeper to create more value.
This is too big a topic with too many important implications to tackle in one post. Over the next couple of weeks I will share best practices I’m observing in the most effective salespeople and sales leaders, including…
- how they time-block their calendars to maximize time spent on their highest-value/highest-payoff activities…
- how they temporarily turn-off inbound communication to improve their focus allowing them to accomplish Deep Work…
- how they structure their early mornings to maximize energy, brain power, and control of their mood and mindset while minimizing distractions and noise from others (including email)…
- how they’ve learned to truly shut-down work to enjoy evenings, weekends, and real vacations, AND also provide their brains needed time to rest and recover so they can operate at peak performance and be even more productive when they do return to work
If that list above sounds pretty good to you, or maybe even too good to be true, believe me, you are not alone. I’m in the same boat. I write about this as a student, not a master. I am studying this topic not only because my clients need help in this area, so do I. So join me on this journey as I share what I’m observing in the real world – in companies big and small, and what I have been learning from experts (like Michael Hyatt, Cal Newport, and others) in this area.
Let me leave you with a few questions to prime your thinking for posts to come:
- Right now, which “activities” (using that word loosely) are your biggest time suckers preventing you from getting to your highest-priority initiatives and highest-value activities?
- What demands on you make you most feel like a “victim” or trapped in reactive mode, feeling forced to play someone else’s game?
- Being completely transparent, which of your own “addictions” and distractions are stealing your ability to focus and hurting your productivity?
I hope that pondering these questions will motivate you to be open to adopting a few new disciplines and techniques.
Wishing you a productive and profitable week ahead. My wife and I will be dropping off our youngest son at college and returning to an empty nest, so it’s definitely a new season of life for us!
P.S. We are just a few weeks from the critical time of year I call The Fall Selling Season. Are you or your sales team ready for the sprint?
P.P.S If you’re not yet signed up for my Insider Insights to receive my weekly post, other insights and occasional special offers via email, you can do that here.