Have you ever looked back after a long sales week, felt really busy but realized you didn’t get anything worthwhile done? Or have you looked at the week coming up with such hope and possibility and yet not know how to properly set it up to be an amazing week?
I’ve felt this way more times than I care to remember.
This career can be so challenging because whether you are out prospecting or seeing customers or not, you are still thinking about it. That means imagining conversations, fears, and outcomes. It’s mentally taxing. I remember going through weeks of this, feeling like I was being productive with nothing to show for it.
This continued to happen until the president of my company brought us into his office just to share with us how he prepares for each day, week, month, quarter and year. He wanted to make a point on how important that discipline was. I’ll never forget that meeting because it could’ve been responsible for all of my success all the years since.
He started with the question, “how do you have a great year?” With 12 great months.
Then, “how do you have a great month?” With 4 great weeks.
Then, “how do you have a great week?” With 7 great days.
Then finally, “how do you have a great day?” With 16 great hours.
No matter which way you look at it, having a great day, week, month or year requires preparation. This helped teach me the importance of preparation and planning for success. Since that day, I created my own system of preparation that’s easy to apply for any salesperson out there. You will most likely create yours as you progress in your career.
Here’s my list of 5 sales tips on how to prepare for a great sales week.
Do you use a to-do list today? You should. That is a secret all successful people do.
This to-do list should be a living-breathing document. One that you bring with you everywhere and are constantly going back to it, updating it, and writing your thoughts.
I recommend writing one down. Actually write it. With a pen. There’s something psychological about writing down what you need to get done on a piece of paper or in a notebook. With so many different sales cycles you most likely have going on simultaneously that you can not rely on memory.
After you brain dump everything you need to do in your notebook, it’s time to prioritize the most critical items for your upcoming sales week. Tony Robbins, says “turn your shoulds into musts.” I love that quote and it’s so true. Prioritize your to-do list with things you must complete.
I make a new list for the next sales week every Sunday. Every. Single. Week.
Also, here’s a word to the wise. Skip the APPS. I’m telling you, it’s not effective. Write it down versus put it on your phone in an APP. If you do want to overdo it, you could use an APP only to double up with what you have written down.
Now that you’ve put together your list, and identify what things must be done, it’s time to determine when you can actually fit it into your schedule. The trick is to prioritize the items based upon what could be done during the golden hours of the day.
The golden hours are 8am to 5pm. These are the normal business hours time frame in a typical day. You sell to customers and that’s the window in which they work. Rookie sales reps schedule low priority items during the times they should be seeing customers.
Going on client appointments
Presenting Proposals (not putting them together)
Prospecting is by far and away the most important activity out of the four and you could only do that during the golden hours. Unfortunately, it’s the activity that gets neglected the most. Listen, if your day isn’t filled with these four activities, you are in trouble.
See Related: The Only Time You Should Be WORRIED In Sales
That means that there are a lot of things on your to-do list that most likely don’t fit those four above. You still must get them done, right?
Your list is probably filled to the brim with admin work, proposals that need to be completed, planning call lists for your day, sending follow up and recap emails, practicing for important meetings, role playing with your manager, filling in the data from last week’s activities into your CRM.
I get it. There’s a lot to do. They still cannot be done during the most important time of the day. You chose to be in sales. Make time to get those other items done outside of the golden hours. That means get it done before your clients start their work at 8am and after they finish their day at 5pm. If it takes all morning, fine. Get it done before 8. If it takes all night, that’s ok. Just don’t start till after 5.
To this day, I’ve never seen this one activity on anyone’s to-do lists and yet people spend the most time and put the most attention on it. That activity is in checking email. Does that mean it’s an important thing to get done? Absolutely not! If you’ve ever wondered what happened to your day, ask yourself how much time you spent with your email app open on your computer or phone.
Email is never part of the Golden Hours!
Surprises will happen. Things will catch you off guard.
During the day you most likely will have a few things occur that you didn’t plan for. That’s OK. That’s part of the sales game. But there are other things that you are aware of that could happen too. Those are distractions. These are things we give our attention on purpose that are low priority and time wasters.
The number one time killer, that I mentioned earlier, is email. Your phone vibrates in your pocket or your purse, and you pull it out thinking it’s an important email. It’s not. Just a breaking news update from CNN or an ESPN sports update. There goes your focus.
With email specifically, I recommend changing your notifications to PULL notifications so you will get your email when you are ready and don’t want to be notified before then. You get your email when you go into the app and click refresh. When you have email set up as PUSH (which is the default), that means when you get a new email you want to be notified. The result with that is it becomes a distraction.
Here’s what I mean. You’re in the middle of making your prospecting calls, and your phone vibrates, making you think you have a new message. You look into it realizing it’s a spam email and now you end up surfing the web on your phone. Your prospecting efficiency slows to a halt wasting your precious golden hours.
There’s more besides email that is killing your efficiency every single day. Things like social media, reading the news, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, even LinkedIn! Time is something you can never get back.
In order to make your day the best use of your time, you must plan, in advance, to avoid these massive time wasters and stay focused on your critical sales activities.
Can you remember the moment in your past when you had a huge project to finish and you procrastinated until the last moment to get it done? Can you think of one time? I have too many to count.
I want you to recall how efficient you were at getting that project done at the Nth hour. You were probably amazing at it, correct?
The reason why you got it done so efficiently was two reasons. You were completely focused avoiding all distractions, and you had a clear goal in mind that you needed to get done.
The sales profession can be demanding and a bit overwhelming at times. I remember moments of frustration in the past where I felt so behind and just couldn’t get ahead of my sales work.
That was, however, just a reminder to me that it was time to relook into both my short term and long term goals. I needed to get refocused.
Because just like when we had that project to complete at the last minute, we, as salespeople, can tap into that same efficiency power every single day when we are crystal clear on our goals, quotas, commissions and the activities that are proven to get us there. Even the goals that we are using our commissions to purchase or give us the freedom to do.
The top sales professionals have their goals tied into their to-do list. It’s all connected and reviewed every Sunday night.
People constantly talk about the importance of preparation because it’s true. Especially for us salespeople. We have to be superhuman at time management. When we learn to master our time, earning commissions and maxing out our quarterly bonuses become automatic.
Mastering your time comes starts with preparing for a great week.
Make a to-do list
Identify what can be done only during the golden hours
Plan to complete the rest outside the golden hours
Plan to avoid any distractions
Revisit your long term goals
The president of my company always said, “never start the week until you’ve already prepared for it, executed and completed it in your own mind.” He was right.
Because how does your sales week turn out? With you hitting your goals and setting yourself up for another great year.
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