- by Mike
Take Real Vacations
I’m just back from a family vacation on the Oregon coast where I stayed about 97% off the grid. The only online activity was posting a few photos on Instagram because the sunsets into the Pacific were too good not to share.
I feel like a new person after getting away from the daily grind of email, content and workshop prep, social media scanning and updates, travel planning, and email (did I happen to mention email?). Not sure I’ve been this energized and focused coming off a vacation in a long time.
While away I took my own medicine from Chapter 15 in New Sales. Simplified. stemming from the advice of several great executives who mentored me to take real vacations. Their reasoning was simple: You need to get away from the daily grind, not just to refresh and relax, but so that your brain can work on bigger things. Said differently, when you cheat on your vacation you actually cheat yourself out of the business benefits that would accrue to you. Sure, it’s obvious that if you spend a few hours every day playing with email and calling customers or the office, that you’re cheating yourself and/or those with you, but these mentors helped me understand that beyond the relational/family damage caused from “working” while away, the business actually needs you to take vacation. And the best I can explain it, in today’s work environment, staying off of email is the most essential element to maximize the “business value” of your vacation. Whether you work for a tiny company or a corporate behemoth, nothing sucks you back into low-level, reactive, day-to-day crap and minutia like email does.
But the alternative is wonderful. You see, I worked plenty during this vacation. I brought a legal pad and pen to the beach. I made lists and prioritized projects. I revisited goals for the year. My wife and dreamt about what we wanted the next few years to look like. And I read a book that will prove to be extremely valuable as we launch online content later this year. How was I able to do all of this (working on bigger, high-value topics) without disappointing my family or getting trapped in the same junk that sucks our time and energy everyday? Because I stayed offline and away from email!
My challenge to you: Instead of staying connected to work and email during your next vacation, how might you and your business benefit from having you unplugged for a week?
Stop Whining That You Can’t Sell because It’s Summer Vacation Season!
We all know. It is summer and lots of folks are away, or on holiday as our friends across the globe like to say. And if you’re not whining about your prospects and customers being impossible to reach because of vacations, you certainly have teammates driving you crazy saying it everyday.
Here are two thoughts (updated from a post several summers ago) to help combat the “I should just coast through the rest of summer until vacations are over and it’s Selling Season again” mentality. First, EVERYONE is not on vacation, and certainly not at the same time. Let the lazy under-performers who don’t want to proactively works prospects cry about vacation season. While they’re making excuses, you beat them to the punch. Make the call. Send the uber-creative email. Take advantage of your competitor’s complacency to get noticed and get in.
Second, how about taking advantage of this slow time to work on your game? If you’ve got extra time on your hands then put it to good use. Here are just a few things you can do — investments you can make — that are sure to pay dividends:
1. Sharpen your Sales Story and freshen your Sales Weapons. When is the last time you took a good hard look at the words you’re using – in emails, on the phone, in your voicemails, in your Linkedin profile, and in presentations, follow-up materials and proposals? Your Sales Story is your most critical weapon because bits and pieces end up in all your other weapons. Have you slipped into talking more and more about your offerings, what your company does, and how great it is – you know, the stuff that only matters to you but doesn’t get the attention of prospects or help lower their instinctive resistance to a sales approach? Almost nothing will help make you more effective in sales than taking the time to ensure you’ve got a succinct, compelling, client-issue-focused and differentiating sales story. If you’d like some help, Chapter 8 of New Sales. Simplified. offers a valuable exercise to walk you through sharpening your own story.
2. Revisit your Target Account List. If you’re like many salespeople, there’s a good chance you’ve had your head down plowing away. Or maybe you are on Autopilot flying the course that was programmed a long, long time ago. Whatever the case, a slow period is a great opportunity to revisit the list you’re targeting. Ask the hard questions: Are you pursuing the right types of prospects and growable existing customers? Are you targeting the right contacts at those accounts? Do you have too many Targets on your list? Or too few? Selecting and segmenting your Targets is one of the few chances you have to be strategic. Take advantage of think time or research time during the summer slowdown to work on your list.
3. READ! What would happen if you spent an hour a day investing in yourself, working to raise your own sales game? There are so many great sales books out there and an abundance of sales blogs where you can go to sharpen your sword. And I’d be remiss if I did not point you to my good friend, Anthony Iannarino’s new book, The Lost Art of Closing, that will be released in two weeks. Anthony, in my opinion, is the smartest and most in-touch guy in our business, and he’s one of the very few people I turn to for sales counsel. Go grab a copy of his new book. It’s killer.
If you want direction on which sales books might be right for your situation, shoot me a note with a description of your particular sales role and what you are looking for, and I’ll point you to a few favorites.
4. Rest and Recharge. Maybe you should take a clue seeing so many others on vacation and take some legitimate time off yourself. By legitimate, I mean truly unplugging (disconnecting actually) from your smartphone and your email addiction as described in the first part of this post! Have some fun. Laugh at the phantom phone buzzes on your thigh as you suffer withdrawal symptoms from being off email. Go see an old friend. Visit a national park. Sit on the beach. Burn up some of those hard-earned frequent flyer miles. Rest, recharge and refocus. I much prefer you take vacation now because it makes me nuts when salespeople take off during the Fall Selling Season just when everyone is back to work and getting serious about business again.
While your peers or competitors are bellyaching about everyone being on vacation, take advantage of the opportunity and position yourself to win big!