Where Sales Trainers and Selling Experts share advice, tips, and techniques on how to become a sales champion!

Stop Being Scattered and Start Selling


Did you know that top sales performers spend between 75% and 95% of their time on high-payoff or ‘worth-it’ actions? Low performers spend between 25% and 40% of their time on ‘worth-it’ actions, and don’t even notice that they are wasting their time.

They think they’re working hard, but produce little at the end of the day. If you are working hard but not selling much, there could be simple tweaks you can make to your system that could double your volume within three months.

There are two main reasons why talented and intelligent salespeople are poor performers: a. Scatter and b. Lack of Strategy. Whether you are trying to write a novel, make more successful sales calls, or complete an important project, these pointers on how to control time and life snatchers will help.

Stop Scatter

1. Do your goal work in your peak times. Self-discipline and willpower are lowest at the intersection of low diurnal variation and circadian rhythm dips, typically from 1:30pm to 3:30pm so plan your work accordingly. If you need to perform during these periods, keep focus up with low doses of caffeine, and eat high protein foods to keep blood glucose at a consistent level.

2. Make your surroundings goal friendly. Make your environment frustration-free, distraction-free and irritation-free. Keep everything out of sight unless you’re working on it. Your work space should be naked except for the items in your current focus. That way, when you reach a roadblock, you won’t reach for that magazine. I’ve reached for my iPad twice during the writing of this page. We’re all a work in progress.

3. Work at only one thing until it’s finished, or if the time you’ve set for it is finished, even if that time is only 20 minutes. No matter how small, no matter how tempting, ignore the shiny silver objects that float by and tempt you.

4. When you hear yourself saying, “Just this one thing … it won’t take long …” you’ve lost control and need to get back on track. This is where Commitment Devices pay off. If I did not have Freedom from Macfreedom.com turned on right now, I would be Googling travel to Argentina. It’s easy to get lost down that black hole.

5. If you do find yourself procrastinating, Procrastinate. Sit there and do nothing, much like a time out. Once you figure out what you do when you procrastinate, like making labels or tidying up, don’t do it. Make procrastination a pure experience. Do nothing else. The reward pattern in the procrastination can reinforce procrastination, and thus encourage more procrastination.

6. Gauge your point of Diminishing Returns. There is a time of day or a span of time after which your performance diminishes. Let’s term it your ‘Cold Zone.’ For me, the first dip is at 1:00 p.m., and the absolute bottom is 4:00 p.m. After that time, I am wasting time working. Monitor your Cold Zones. When you enter them, have the courage to stop.

Build Your Strategy

1. Set a deadline. You can accomplish most anything within a month-get fit, learn a language, write a novel. Work on three-month sets. Barring huge long-term accomplishments, if you really work at it-if you really want it-you can accomplish it in three months.

You can be a completely different kind of leader in three months, if you want to be. You already have sales goals. Make sure you have set clear personal deadline sub-goals for yourself.

2. Schedule goal work on your calendar. Build specific times at which you will perform the new behavior or perform dreaded tasks such as cold calling. After awhile you will do it without having to waste energy thinking about it. If it isn’t scheduled or if it isn’t habit, it won’t get done. Make set-in-stone appointments, so that at 6:00am you are always on the phone, 9:00 a.m. you are always writing, and at 3:00 p.m. you are always painting at your easel.

3. Know when to quit. Workaholics and perfectionists drain their life energy by working at 100%. After your projects are 75% complete, perfectionism kicks in. If your project is optimal at 75%, if it serves the purpose, it’s good enough. Similar to #6 above – Diminishing Returns – work to the ‘good enough’ peak, not to what you think is 100%. Your 100% is way past optimal. Energy spent beyond optimal energy is wasted energy.

4. Hook your new actions into what you’re already doing. Schedule the behavior you want to increase by pairing it with a habit already established. Habit strength will transfer to the new action. If you always wash your face in the morning, attach 20 reps of hand weights into that ritual. If you work from home attach 5 sales calls to each cup of espresso you make.

5. Don’t share your goal with anyone else. You might think that if you share your goals or plans, it will increase commitment. On the contrary. Studies show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen. Announcing your plans to others satisfies your ego just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.

If you are telling yourself right now: “I know these things.” You’re right, you know about them but if your performance isn’t where you want it to be, you don’t really know it. Because you are not ‘doing’ it. For once, discipline yourself to take action. Be one of the top performers who use their time and focus well.

© 2014 Dr. Janet Lapp.
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Dr. Janet Lapp is the author of The Four Elements of Transformation. Since 1985, Dr. Lapp and the Center for Leadership Development have been guiding high performing organizations and people through transformational change. To work with Dr. Lapp visit www.Lapp.com.

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