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March 23, 2011

Confessions of a Closet Slug

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Jill Konrath is a slug

This is a guest post written by Jill Konrath, bestselling author of SNAP Selling & Selling to Big Companies and popular speaker at annual sales meetings. Hardly considered a "slug", she's also hosting the  Sales Productivity Summit on March 24 amongst her many other responsibilities.

How will I get it all done? There's more here to do than is humanly possible. All this email is killing me.

That's what's going through my mind right now. I've been at my desk since 7:30 this morning. I ate lunch in my office because there was no time to go out. I was on the computer or on conference calls for hours.

Yet, at the end of the day, I've barely made a dent in my To Do list. Is it any wonder that I'm feeling overwhelmed?

But here's the truth. I like telling people I'm crazy-busy. It makes me sound important. Necessary. In demand.

And, even worse. I use my time poorly. I make bad choices all day long that contribute to this predicament I'm in. Just this morning, a hyperlink in newsletter article resulted in me squandering a half hour on interesting but low priority work.

I let this happen too often. I know better. On days when I identify my key priorities upfront, barricade myself from interruptions and don't check email all the time, I get a tremendous amount done. Plus, I have lots of time left over to do fun things.

But in reality, I default far too often to this slothful behavior. I know I'm not alone in this area. That's why I'm putting on the Sales Productivity Summit . (If you haven't signed up yet, don't miss the March 24 th session. It's worth it.)

How I Learned to Compensate for Being a Slug

Because efficiency is not my strength, I developed other strategies to be successful. You see, being productive isn't just about being a disciplined taskmaster. It also is about being highly effective.

Here are two strategies I leveraged to achieve sales success.

1. Precision Prospecting

Working with companies that have urgent and compelling needs leads to shorter sales cycles and less competition. When I stumbled across the concept of "trigger events" over 20 years ago, I was ecstatic.

What are trigger events? They're happenings either in a company, industry or general business climate that create opportunities for someone to use your products or services.

Examples might be a new VP of Sales, stagnant 1 st quarter earnings, a new strategic direction, new legislation, increased gas prices or multiple visits to your website.

When I first started using this strategy, I leveraged the local business press to identify those opportunities. It's still a good resource. But today you can Google Alerts as well as services offered by technology companies.

Using these "alert services" is the best way I know to get good business – quickly.

2. Quality Connections

To me, every contact with a prospective customer is invaluable. I'm talking about every email, voicemail, phone call, online meeting or presentation.

I know the key concerns of my primary decision makers. I invest time doing research on the company or industry.

I spend time planning, to ensure that ruthless relevance in my messages. I try to quickly demonstrate my knowledge so they know I'm a credible resource. I write down the questions I want to ask. And, I know what the logical next step that I'll suggest at the end of a conversation.

What is the impact? Fewer phone calls or emails. Fewer prospects. But more sales and bigger sales.

The Big Challenge

But it all comes down to this. For maximum impact, we need to be both efficient and effective.

And, most of all, to lead the kind of life you really want to live – meaning having time for all the things you want to do – it's important to gain control of how you spend your time.

That's what I working on right now. Join me on Thursday at the Sales Productivity Summit to get more ideas on how to do that!

Image credit: Slug Parts, Swirrl


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Topics: Inbound Sales Inbound Sales

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