Productivity is key to keeping a job in sales and earning a livable wage. That means salespeople can’t really afford to have an “off day,” especially near the end of the month or quarter. If you allocate time poorly or spend too many hours chasing the wrong prospect, you risk missing your goal and being put on a performance plan.
It’s important to perform smartly and efficiently, and these 11 end-of-quarter productivity tips can help. Incorporate a few into your workflow and see the benefits immediately -- because who has time to wait?
11 End-of-Quarter Productivity Tips for Salespeople
Make your to-do list the night before
Schedule meetings in blocks
Unsubscribe from social media notifications
Write shorter emails
Know your competitors
Clean up your CRM
Don’t skimp on sleep
Automate smaller tasks
Track your time
Accept the “no”
Respond “yes” to prospect questions
1. Make your to-do list the night before
The act of writing down a to-do list is enough to free us from anxiety. But doing it the night before, keeps you from starting your day reactively. Responding to emails as they come in, opening Slack to answer messages, and losing focus on the task at hand are all examples of working reactively instead of proactively.
Organize tasks based on importance so you complete your most valuable assignments early in the day. And write your to-do list instead of typing it or using an app. Studies show writing forces us to process information in real time, which improves learning and retention.
Stay focused from the moment you get to your desk by creating your to-do list the night before.
2. Schedule meetings in blocks
Schedule back-to-back meetings and calls. This protects you from a calendar full of staggered meetings just far enough apart to be distracting.
When meetings are spread throughout your day, you’ll have trouble finding your “flow” -- otherwise known as being “in the zone” or achieving a mental sweet spot where you’re focused and productive.
For salespeople, meetings are an important and valuable use of time, but so is prospecting. Book consecutive meetings and give yourself a solid block of time for uninterrupted outreach.
And don’t be afraid to schedule shorter meetings. Change your calendar’s default allotments to 15- and 45-minute increments instead of 30- and 60-minutes.
This encourages meeting attendees to get to the point faster for efficient, productive meetings. Don't forget to send an agenda ahead of time to make sure everyone's on the same page.
3. Unsubscribe from social media notifications
Those social media notifications that accumulate in your inbox throughout the day? They’re distracting you from the work that will help you meet your goal.
Mute, disconnect, or unsubscribe from social media notifications that aren’t work-related. Using Gmail? Automatically filter these notifications into a folder you can check at the end of the day by going to Settings >> Filters and Blocked Addresses, and applying a filter on emails from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
4. Write shorter emails
We’ve all been there -- you open an email, see it’s a short novel, and close it thinking, “I’ll read this later.” But how often do you actually return to it?
It takes time to read and write long emails. Instead of composing paragraphs-long messages to your prospects, edit emails so they’re no longer than five sentences. By keeping your email short, you increase readership and timely responses.
When possible, use bullets and lists in formatting. They’ll make your emails skimmable and digestible. And always end with a concise call to action such as, “Would you please share your decision-maker’s contact information with me by the end of the week?”
This gives your reader clear next steps and a timeline. They can go directly from reading to answering your email, which gives you a prompt response and keeps the deal moving.
5. Know your competitors
If a lead is qualified for your company it’s likely qualified for a handful of your competitors. Don’t waste precious time by researching objections or comparisons at the moment your prospect brings them up.
Stay up-to-date on your competitor’s latest features, product roadmaps, and priorities. Know where they’re better than you and where you excel, so you can answer prospect objections, questions, and concerns in real time.
After all, every minute, hour, or day you take to find an answer is time you give your competition to get ahead. By conducting competitor research every week or month, you save time when it matters most.
6. Clean up your CRM
If your data isn’t accurate, you might be wasting time on prospects that aren’t qualified anymore. Take an hour and give your CRM a good cleaning. Make sure you’re focused on the most promising prospects in your pipeline, and be honest about those that need more nurturing.
7. Don’t skimp on sleep
I don’t mean to sound like your mom, but sleep is critical to your health and job success. If you haven’t gotten a good night’s rest, it will be more difficult for you to process and retain information.
Sleep is also key to consolidating information you’ve learned during the previous day. So, instead of rewatching “Stranger Things” for the third time, head to bed early and get your eight hours.
8. Automate smaller tasks
Did you know shifting tasks cause temporary mental barriers which swallow up 40% of your productive time? Reserve your peak performance for tasks that matter, and consider a virtual assistant to help with the rest.
Virtual assistants can book meetings, send emails, and complete other administrative tasks that distract you from the work that impacts your goal the most. Find a list of virtual assistant apps here, and invest in less stress and better performance results.
9. Track your time
If you ever get to the end of the day and wonder where your time went, it’s time to get tracking. Identify areas where you can be more efficient by soliciting the help of a time-tracking app like Toggl or Hours.
Track your time for a day or week, and see where you’re spending too much energy. Create an action plan for how you’ll complete those tasks faster, and use the app to keep yourself accountable and track progress.
You might not know where you need to be more efficient until you see it on your screen. Give it a try and find out how much time you gain. You might work faster just by having the ticker running.
10. Accept the “No”
Sometimes you just need the “No.” But if the prospect feels self-conscious about saying no, or doesn’t yet realize why they’re blowing you off, you can end up locked in a weeks-long battle to get the final word.
Humans are wired to avoid negative experiences, and -- for most of us -- saying “no” is a negative experience. HubSpot Account Executive Mike Rogewitz relies on negative reverse selling to move stalled deals forward. By using a simple formula, prospects either realize they're ready to buy or they need to say “no” now. It goes like this:
Prospect: “XYZ fluffy response.”
Salesperson: “Typically when I hear someone say XYZ, it really means ABC. Is it fair for me to assume that’s the case?”
By using this simple formula on stuck deals, you and your prospect can save weeks of time. Rogewitz warns, “Be clear you’re keeping the conversation positive and centered around your prospect’s well-being.” This keeps the conversation from moving in a confrontational or aggressive direction.
11. Respond “Yes” to prospect questions
A good salesperson knows when to say “Yes” and leave it at that. Jeff Hoffman, a sales expert and the creator of YourSalesMBA™, says junior reps answer prospect questions with, “Yes. And here’s why.” “Senior reps,” Hoffman explains, “answer prospect questions with a simple ‘Yes.’”
If your prospect asks, “Do you have Feature X?” don’t reply with, “Yes, we have Feature X and this is what it does.” This gives your prospect more information than they asked for, and you open your elongated response up for dissection and objections.
Instead, answer your prospect’s question with “Yes,” and wait for them to ask for more information or decide they’re ready to move on. This keeps conversations short and ensures both sides stay focused on what’s most important to the prospect.
The end of the month or quarter is usually stressful. Stay ahead of the curve with these 11 productivity tips -- and don’t forget about that good night’s rest!
Originally published Dec 19, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated December 19 2017