The words “New Year’s Resolutions” used to make my stomach turn.
Every year my resolutions were so ambitious -- never eat chocolate, stop biting my nails, only buy products on sale. And every year by February, my resolutions were long forgotten.
As a former sales rep, I’ve learned through trial and error that there are specific resolutions salespeople can make to go out of the gates strong after the holidays and to start the fiscal year out right.
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The following resolutions are tried-and-true goals for productive sales reps who put their customers first.
1. Get the Right Tools
I’m amazed by the amount of tools aimed at boosting productivity. When I search the Apple app store, I find over 4,000 apps related to productivity. How can salespeople narrow down the best app?
For sales, productivity starts with more than an organizational tool. You’ll find the most success from an application that helps you prioritize tasks, focus on the right deals and provides you with sales intelligence -- such as showing your leads in the pipeline and alerting you when it’s the best time to communicate with those leads to ensure they stay warm.
2. Stay Competitive and Collaborative
Collaboration doesn’t mean you’re not competitive. As a former account executive and sales leader, I’m a firm believer in having a leader board to keep sales reps motivated and focused. Every rep wants to be at the top. But it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top. The best reps are not afraid to share their success with their peers.
Make it your resolution to stay at the top of the leaderboard, while also improving your collaboration skills. Share your best sales tips, cold call scripts and emails about presentations to help out your colleagues. Being collaborative is a great way to boost your brand as a strong sales person while also sending good sales karma your way throughout the year.
3. Utilize Travel Time
The average travel time to work in the U.S. is 25 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If you ride a bus or train to work, you can take a lot of tasks off your plate in these 25 minutes. From checking your email, listening to voicemails, and listing top priorities, I’ve found that making the most of my commute mentally prepares me for a productive day. This same rule applies to anytime I’m traveling.
When I was driving from city to city for sales meetings, I’d take advantage of any downtime in between customer visits, working from my car in a parking lot to stay productive. I never had to use the “stuck in the airport” excuse because I had mobile sales tools to make any transit time an opportunity to get work done and stay connected to my customers. Best of all, when I got home I could log off and relax because I was on top of my work.
4. Learn to Leave a Lead
I used to have a hard time saying goodbye to leads that really weren’t worth my time or efforts. According to Gleanster research, only 25 percent of leads are qualified and ready to buy and 50 percent of leads are qualified but not ready to buy. How can you say goodbye to the 25 percent of leads who will never buy?
First, define a qualified lead. This enables you to cull through your opportunities to find those worthy of follow up. Qualifying criteria may include titles, responsibilities, timeline, budget and the authority to buy.
Next, ensure the company is willing to invest in much in the sales process as you are. If you don’t understand their business pain, how can you possibly show them something that will solve it? Lastly, make sure you will get access to the person who signs the dotted line. If you don’t have all this or a plan to do so, be polite and walk away. You are wasting everyone’s valuable time.
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5. Add Mindfulness to Your Work
Mindfulness is a topic du jour and one thing I’ve learned is: do one thing at a time. Make your most important task your singular focus and you’re guaranteed to be more productive.
Some additional tips you can use to be mindful: before opening up your first email, take a few deep breaths, relax and set your intention for the day. Do this again in between call to reset your desired outcome.
Kicking off 2016 with these resolutions will hopefully help you reach your sales goals, provide a great customer experience and may even help you find time to achieve your other resolutions - from doing more yoga to spending more time with family and friends. There’s no reason why 2016 shouldn’t be your best year yet for productivity, so take the time to plan for the year ahead before the ball drops and the champagne pops.