3 Ideas to Create more Sales in less time plus a Bonus!

I’ve recently been asked to guest post for the Outfield App’s Closer’s Coffee blog so this posting is an extension of an article I posted last week.  I was recently told that this article has the second highest ranking article in the site’s history to date.  You can find that article  here.

Whether you’re a field or inside sales person managing your time is crucial to managing your success. In fact, time management is one of the key elements in addition to attitude which will have an impact on your ability to maximize your results and your enjoyment in your sales career.

This post is inspired by a book I recently completed that was authored by Jill Konrath called  “More Sales, Less Time”.  You should get a copy or listen to it on Audible.

Here’s three ideas that can help you squeeze more productivity out of your work week and create definitive long lasting results in your sales career.

Distractions

In today’s crazy busy world it’s easy to be distracted from the tasks that you need to complete in order to be successful. The easiest way to remove these distractions from your life and your work life is to turn them off. That’s easier said than done, so you need to know where to start and when to start in order to be successful.

Let’s start with your smartphone. It’s easy enough to turn your phone notifications from standard to vibrate, or vibrate to silence, but what’s harder to do is to turn your phone notifications off completely. As with everything, start slowly and build to the point where you don’t need to be using your phone. The easiest way to start is to set your phone on silent during your key working hours and then take regular breaks to check your phone. Ideally, your phone should be in a drawer during your key work time blocks so you won’t be tempted to check it, but Silent mode is a good start.  If your mobile phone is your key connectivity tool where prospects can reach you then turn off all notifications except for phone calls (as other communication methods need not be checked until you have time).

On your desktop, turn off all notifications.  That’s as simple as going into your Chrome browser, reviewing the notifications panel and deleting all the notifications. This way while you’re focused on your work you won’t be distracted by those annoying notification pop-ups that that are constantly during pinging you during your work day. I mean really do you need to know at your aunt just sent you an email or Facebook message? How is that going to help you achieve your quota or move the needle I’m getting to your next bonus level?

Also on your desktop you probably have 6, 8, 9 tabs open in your browser, of which half do not relate to your being a productive in the field. Remove those tabs from your startup function in your browser so that you don’t see them and are not tempted to click on them and see get sucked down the black hole of your personal email, ESPN, the Bleacher Report, CNN or any other type of distracting site.

Okay so now your phone is on silent and the notifications on your desktop are off, so most of the distractions from your work day or gone, except one – your smartphone. It’s probably sitting right next to you when you’re sitting at your desk and it’s tempting to check it when you got a free moment, just to see what’s going on. Break yourself from this habit by using a reporting app which tells you how many times you look at your phone or how many times you open an app. I’ve been using the Space app with tremendous success. The Space App tells me how much time I’m spending on my phone how often I’ve unlocked it and I have the ability to throttle up or Throttle Down those usage as necessary.

THEME DAYS

Throughout your work and personal day there are three types of activities that we do. Those that will help us achieve our objectives, those that support our objectives and something in between. In the sales business that means there are money days (activities where we’re making money or actively trying to make money), days where we’re doing activities that support money days, and transition days which are between money days and support days.

Objectively, every day in sales should be a money day. Realistically, we can only have 60 to 70% of our time focused on money day activities as we will always need to have transition and administrative tasks days to support our ongoing money day activities. So how do we move to this place we’re 60 to 70% of our work week is focused on money day activities?

First, we make a list of what we consider to be our money day activities.  For inside and outside sales professionals, money day activities likely relate to anything that moves a Prospect forward in the sales cycle or generates Revenue or you and your company.  For an individual producer, a money day activity could include prospecting calls, pre call planning, prospect and customer meetings.

Any other activity or task not on this initial money day list is not a money day activity. For example, entering data into your CRM, preparing presentations for prospects are not money day activities.  They are, however important, administrative tasks that need to be completed in order for you to be able to have more money day activities, so these are good examples of transition activities.

Administrative tasks such as completing expense reports, internal memos to team members, customer service matters and any internal team building or activities are administrative tasks and not activities that will generate revenue for you or your company or your team.

For sales managers and leaders, money day activities include coaching individual producers, completing one on one weekly and monthly reviews with producers, recruiting and sourcing new candidates for your team.

So to increase your productivity, list all of the items and tasks that you do every week every month, and then classify them into the three categories money days, transition days and administration days.  Designate 2 out of 5 days a week to be your money days, one day to be administration day and 2 transition days. Now that you’ve got your schedule and you know which tasks are to be completed on which days, you’re ready to start focusing on those activities that make you money.

Over the ensuing 90 days, transition your daily activity type such that you’ve moved to 3 money days a week instead of 2 with 1 transition and administration day each. If you’re successful and moving to this schedule then you’ll find you’re doing 60 to 70% of your weekly schedule on money day activities that generate revenue for you and your company.

TIME BLOCKING

Ever notice how the day before you go on vacation you seem to be able to get everything done that you needed to get done that’s been hanging over for you for the past few weeks? This is a demonstration of the power of time blocking.

Time blocking is the most powerful weapon that you have in your sales arsenal. It creates the ability for you to focus on one or two activities during the block of time, more importantly it communicates to your fellow co-workers that during your time lock you are only focused on that activity and accept no other distractions.

I was re-introduced to time blocking by Mike Weinberg in his book, New Sales Simplified, but realized that I’ve been using time blocking for over 20 years and didn’t really fully understand or appreciate the value until a few years ago. Instead of giving yourself all day to make your prospecting calls do it in 30 minutes or an hour. You’ll be amazed at the results (somehow it will all get done).

The length and duration of your time block will depend on your ability to focus on one activity for a specific period of time and the number of different activities you need to complete each day. So if you’re a field sales rep, going out into the field and meeting customers and prospects on your money Day activities are imperative, so time block these meetings in a specific period and get them done in that time period. If you’re an outbound SDR and you need to make 60 calls a day, break the call sessions into two 30 call sessions and complete them within a reasonable time.

You can create time blocks for all kinds of activities.  Use time blocks to help you with activities such as completing expense reports, filing field activity reports, building prospect presentations quotes, account basic research or pre call planning. Once you Unleash the Power of time blocking you’ll come to appreciate and understand how effective it is in compressing the amount of work that you have into the time that you have available.  With time blocking you’ll have more time for your work more time for your family and more time for yourself.

BONUS IDEA: MAKE THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING            

Because you’re reading this blog post, here an idea I didn’t share in the Closer’s Coffee Article:

I read a blog post several months ago about how to create daily focus in your activities.  Instead of building a long list of activities to do each day, create two lists.  The first list, I call the Core list, should contain 3 or 4 items that you need to get done that day in order to move the needle.  The second list, called FTA (short for Feed the Animals), is all the other things you’d like to get done today once you’ve completed the Core  list.

The key to this approach is to only focus on the High Impact Activities (HIAs) on the Core list until they’re done.  No excuses, no distractions, no useless chit-chat.

I started using this approach several months ago by first writing down my top 3 Core list and then a bunch of FTAs on a scratch pad, but I’ve since migrated to separate notebook so that I can keep track of my progress over time.  I rarely get through all three items on the Core list, but since I’m almost always focused on getting them done, I feel like I’m making forward progress without distractions and guess what? Those FTAs rarely get done and there is little or no impact on my results.

Turn your Time into Money

If you can turn off the distracting notifications, identify your key activities that make that move the revenue needle with Theme days and the Core list, and block your time to execute on those activities.  Then the sky is the limit as you’ll become personally and professionally so productive that people will wonder how you did it all in such a short period of time.

Blair Carey is a Revenue Leader and passionate about using data to help companies meet their mission and purpose. He is the creator the new site insidecro.com where CROs can collaborate on anything they’re thinking about.  You can follow him here or find him on his LinkedIn profile here.

Is your Rockstar VP of Sales ready to be a Revenue Leader?

We’ve seen this before.

Some company has raised a decent size series A or B round ($5 to $15 million) and are now going to scale growth by driving sales revenues.

This time they’re serious. There is a press release about a new dedicated sales office in their key market (usually New York or London) and are hiring a new sales team starting with a Rockstar VP of Sales (who may or may not have been recommended by one of their investors).

Now this Rockstar, is a top producer at another company that’s operating at scale and achieving exponential or hypergrowth, and the thinking is that since he or she has been along for the rocket ride since the early beginnings, they probably know a thing or two about scaling for growth.

So your Rockstar is a sure hire, right?  Maybe not.

Why your Rockstar will work out

Hopefully, in addition to being a top performer in a company that’s running at scale, they’ll have learned some hard won lessons.  In this crucial role (Sales Leader) you need an individual that can conceive, develop and execute processes that fit your market, product and culture.

If they’ve been in a sales organization for a while, then it’s likely that they’ve held multiple Revenue Operations roles such as Business Analyst, Sales Development Rep, Demand Generator, or Account Executive.  If they have held multiple positions then they appreciate and understand what it takes to fill each of these roles and how they fit into the ability to generate revenues.

If they’ve not held multiple roles, but have been in an organization where the primary processes relating to hand offs between groups, cadence matching and planning has occurred then they’re like to transfer some of this knowledge to their current role.  If they’ve been part of these process discussions then they’re even more likely to transfer these ideas to your organization.

If they’ve worked in multiple channels such as SMB, Enterprise of Private Label, then they’ll have a good understanding of which of the 6 paths to revenue (see my previous post) will provide the company the quickest path to long term sustainable revenue growth.

Of course, if you’ve nailed the product-market fit and your industry is white hot, then none of this really matters.  But you need a different kind of sales leader, one who can navigate the blue ocean as best as  possible and extend your run until you’re competitors notice and start to capture your market share.  In this case, you’ll need someone who can manage the pace as well as iterate the processes so as to defend your territory.

If your Rockstar has held multiple sales, marketing and revenue operations roles in a variety of geographic and target markets and you’ve got decent product-market fit, get ready to ride the rocket.

If your Rockstar has been in any of these situations or experiences, then you’re likely well positioned.

Why your Rockstar won’t work out

Most top producers are just that, top producers.  They understand how to excel in the processes and systems provided by their managers and market.  They follow best practices and processes that they’ve learned from previous workplaces and will implement those that worked for them in the past.  This sounds great, but might not work for your personnel, market or culture.

Your new hire likely hasn’t learned to be a sales manager, let alone a Sales Leader, and as such has no idea how to manage other sales team members and their needs (and there are plenty).  And despite them wanting to be team players and part of the executive decision making team, they’ll quickly become demotivated when the find themselves in a series of endless inter-company meetings without doing much to drive the revenue needle (which is why you hired them in the first place).  They want to be a team player, but in their heart, they can’t be, so they’ll slowly start to rebel by focusing on those tasks they know and love (i.e. interacting with prospects, customers and team members) and act apathetically for all the others.

In addition, it’s likely that the founders (especially if this is their first time) and Board will have compressed expectations as to when material revenues from their new “sales efforts” will bear fruit.  An unrealistic quota that hangs over the head of this Sales Leader makes it even harder to focus on the short and medium term tasks that need to be executed so as to realize long term sustainable revenue growth.

It’s also entirely likely that this new Rockstar doesn’t have the same level of support at your operation that they had in their old place.  Maybe Rockstar qualified and closed deals from leads provided by demand generation, then sales operations handled the order paperwork and sales enablement executed the customer onboarding.  Maybe you intend to build these teams or functions in the near future, but without them, it’s possible that your Rockstar has no idea how to build sustainable pipeline and revenues.

Expectations Matter:  If you expect too much from your Rockstar and provide too little support, you’re setting them up for failure

This is akin to sending a sniper out to battle with no logistics and field support.  If your Rockstar doesn’t know how to build these teams, processes and systems, you’ve only got a great sales person, not got an RO professional or Sales Leader.  They’ll need time and coaching to learn these processes and systems and really inculcate them into your culture.  If you’re not providing this support then you’ll find out quickly (within a year) that the Rockstar’s not a good fit for your culture or that you’re not really ready for an true Rockstar of Revenue.

How can you make this work?

In  North American Football, most pundits agree that the Quarterback is the most important position on the team.  He’s the leader and in most cases, the playmaker.  You’ve just hired what you think is your new Quarterback, but you’re concerned about his or her ability to execute, so now what?

Like all good managers, build the team together with your new Quarterback.  Let him or her have a material say in who gets hired for what role and when.  Let them own, not just the RO processes, bu the recruitment, hiring and onboarding of the team.

Prepare the sequence of teams you need and know what plays need to be run at what time.  So build demand generation before customer success, content before outbound or combine sales development and sales together.  Do a deep dive on the business and market analysis and plan out your initial and subsequent tactics and figure it out together.

You’ll need training and enablement tools and processes to ensure that these learned behaviors stick with your team and are part of your culture.  You’ll need constant reinforcement through compensation and incentive plans.  You’ll need a “tone from the top” that’s aligned with your strategy.

You’ll also need to provide the tools and weapons necessary to build the game plan to win in the market. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a spendthrift as it’s important to mind the pennies when you’re a scrappy startup and thereafter (in most cases you’re playing with OPM), but when you’re really trying to scale, sometimes simplicity and speed win out over cost.  I have plenty of examples of companies that could have improved their productivity dramatically for a modest increase in cash cost reaping multiples of revenues.

Give your Quarterback all that they need in order to be successful.  If they’re the right hire, they’ll tell you the tools and processes they need and they’ll also tell you what’s bunk.  Set them up for success don’t stand in their way.

Ok, So we’ve already done this and it’s going the wrong way.. now what?

What’s going badly?  As Peter Drucker has famously stated, “What gets Measured gets Managed” so make sure that what you’re measuring is something that you can manage.

Revenues not on plan? Well you can’t manage revenues, but you can manage the number of outbound calls or contacts made to prospects or the volume and quality of your demand generation leads.

Customer Acquisition Cost too high? Well, you can’t manage this number, but you can manage the amount you spend on advertising, prospect incentives or affiliate commissions.

Start with a root cause analysis.  One of my favourite root cause analysis methods is the “5 Whys”.  Ask Why 5 times until you get to what you think is the real underlying cause of your problem. And if you’re still not happy, ask Why until you get to where you think you need to be.

Does your Revenue Operations team have the processes and systems in place to be successful?  Has the market shifted in the last few months and so your message needs to be retooled?  Do you need to change something amongst your leadership or team?   Examine all of it.

If you’re not happy with the results of the activities you can manage then complete your root cause analysis, admit your mistakes, fix them and rebuild.  This can be painful, but just like ripping the band-aid off, it’s only temporary and you can move on.  The optimization process is plan, execute, review, rebuild and then plan again.

Blair Carey is passionate about using data to help companies meet their mission and purpose. He is the creator of insidecro.com where CROs can collaborate on anything they’re thinking about.  You can follow him here or find him on his LinkedIn profile here.