Productivity hacks are great -- after all, make one small change and you can recover days or even weeks of lost time.
But sometimes one quick fix isn’t enough. You need an entire system: A brand-new way of organizing your tasks and time so that you’re meeting deadlines, focusing on your priorities, and maximizing your workday.
There’s tons of productivity systems out there, but many of them aren’t ideal for sales reps. We know you’re busy -- don’t waste time figuring out which systems won’t work. Instead, check out this list of the top five productivity tips for salespeople.
1) Don’t Break The Chain
Meeting or exceeding your numbers often comes down to one thing: Consistency. If you commit to emailing, calling, and meeting with a certain number of prospects each day or week, you’re more likely to generate more leads and close more deals.
And that’s why "Don’t Break The Chain", a productivity system based on daily actions, is perfect for sales reps.
First, pick two to four high-level goals, like “Improve networking skills,” or “Get 10% more referrals.” Then, distill those larger goals into concrete steps you can take each day or week. For example, “Give two product demos per week,” or “Email one former client a day.”
At the end of a successful day or week, mark a big “X” on the calendar. (Try using a different color for each goal to distinguish them.) Not only will you be reluctant to break the chain of Xs, but your consistent actions will begin driving big results.
2) Getting Things Done
When’s the last time you sat down at your desk and did one thing for an entire hour? Most sales reps are constantly jumping from task to task, which keeps work interesting but sometimes overwhelming.
If you’re stressed trying to keep track of all the things you need to accomplish, try Getting Things Done (GTD). This method requires you to write out every task you need to complete -- no matter how trivial or non-urgent. Finish tasks that can be completed immediately, then delegate anything you can.
Next, separate the remaining tasks into buckets based on priority and deadline. You’ll have a clear roadmap for which projects to focus on first. Plus, your mind will be far calmer knowing everything’s accounted for.
3) Objectives and Key Results
As a sales rep, you’re probably used to thinking in metrics and percentages. So you’ll like the quantitative "Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework".
Begin by figuring out what you’d like to achieve in three months. Try to steer away from numbers at this stage. For example, you might list “Improve buyer satisfaction” or “Become a better listener” among your goals.
After that, break down your objective into quantitative “key results” (KRs). They should increase in difficulty: You should be roughly 80% certain you can achieve your first KR (or KR1), 50% certain you can achieve KR2, and 20% certain you can achieve KR3.
As an example, if you decided to work on your listening skills, your key results could be:
KR1: Listen in on 15 sales calls with top reps to see which questions they ask (and how many).
KR2: Complete 10 client meetings without interrupting once.
KR3: Identify prospects’ biggest reservations sooner, decreasing sales cycle by one day on average.
4) One Hour a Day
The problem with always focusing on what needs to happen (like hitting your quotas) is that you struggle to get around to less timely but still important tasks that should happen (like, say, blogging).
The One Hour a Day system is a great solution. Pick a project that matters to you, even though it’s not the highest priority, and slot aside 60 minutes every day for working on it. (If that’s too much time, you can dial back to half an hour.)
Some experts suggest scheduling your hour in the morning, when you are most motivated. However, if you already wake up early, think about putting it in the afternoon -- it’ll let you mentally reset so you’ll have energy for those last calls, meetings, and messages of the day.
Tool suggestion: The timer on your smartphone will do just fine. However, the OneHourADay app provides daily reminders, progress tracking, and additional goals in addition to the basic timer.
If you’re searching for a truly low-effort way to get more done, start tracking your time. Even the most focused people may be shocked to see how many minutes they waste on random websites or mindless activities. Luckily, once you’re aware of the time you’re losing, it’s easier to avoid distractions.
You’ll also learn where you’re spending too much time. For example, maybe you devote three hours per day to sending emails, but only a few of them convert into opportunities.
On the flip side, you can figure out where you should invest more time. Let’s say you have an 80% callback rate for voicemails left. Knowing that, allocate a bigger portion of your work-week to call prospecting and a smaller portion to email -- or record some of your voicemails to figure out what’s working so well and translate those strategies to email.
Once you’ve downloaded a time-tracking tool, work as usual for a couple days. This’ll give you a baseline for comparison and help you set some goals, such as, “Spend less than 30 minutes per day on social media,” or “Increase productive time by 15%.”
Tool suggestion: Toggl is a simple, easy-to-use task timer. It’s perfect for sales reps who spend lots of time away from their desk, since the desktop version comes with a mobile app. For an Internet “nanny,” try RescueTime, which’ll block you from distracting sites in addition to tracking your time.
Are you currently using any of these productivity systems? Are you planning on switching to any of these? Let us know in the comments below.