I would never profess to be the greatest sales professional nor the greatest coach. But in all my years as a sales professional—from starting my career at Bank of Montreal at age 20, to my time in corporate real estate, to becoming a director of sales at two different SaaS companies, and finally starting my own consulting firm—I’ve learned that the biggest hindrance to sales success is this: time management.
In his book The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million, author Mark Roberge did a deep analysis on the success of his newly-hired sales professionals. Predictably, important sales skills such as negotiation and relationship management were the initial items that these sales professionals gravitated towards.
However, in the history of Hubspot, those qualities were found to be relatively unimportant. Two other factors were critical to success instead:
- Sales professionals who have desire to learn, tenacity, and who want to grow and evolve and innovate; and
- The ability of sales professionals to manage their schedules and focus in on the core tasks that drive revenue
One statistic says that the average sales professional only spends 25% of their work day actually conducting real selling activities. This means that in a normal work day, sales professionals are only spending two hours selling. The rest of their time is spent on administrative and non-essential tasks. This is staggering! I learned this the hard way.
My journey of time management
Most sales professionals think month-to-month or quarter-by-quarter, based on your quota. You may believe the only thing that’s important is the end result. But it’s those micro-bursts of activity that increase the probability that you’re going to meet your goals.
It’s a lesson I learned the hard way when I began my own professional services firm. It wasn’t until I launched my own consulting firm and reflected back on my sales career that I gained an appreciation for how critical time management is.
Now that I had my own firm, I was a) billing by the hour now; and b) realized that the throughput and yield by which I could do things quickly and efficiently was the difference between running a $100,000 lifestyle keep my job type of firm, and running a multi-million dollar business. I chose the latter.
My time management system
There are two main components of my time management system, which have made a huge difference in my productivity and time management: the Getting Things Done system, and the Franklin Covey rock system.
Getting Things Done
There are a million books out there on time management, which we won’t get into in this blog. But the biggest change I made was reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and organizing my schedule in Evernote according to the Getting Things Done program. Every idea I have goes into a database in Evernote, and then I segment it into categories: what needs to be accomplished today, pending tasks, and projects to get done.
This allows me to free up the “RAM” in my brain to only focus in on next immediate task by taking all my ideas—whether at home tasks, such as what I need to tackle on the weekend—or tasks for the corporation, I put them all down on paper and segment them.
Franklin Covey Rock System
At Sales for Life, we follow the Franklin Covey rock system. In fact, everyone in the company has three critical milestones—or rocks—that they need to accomplish in 90 days.
In short, everything you need to do must correspond to those rocks. Everything else is a distraction. With so many things coming across my desk every day, I wouldn’t be nearly as efficient as I am without the Rock System. It allows me to focus only on the three rocks and eliminate everything else. And I’m constantly looking at ways to simplify and remove things out of my calendar to focus in on those rocks.
This mix of David Allen’s getting things done and the Franklin Covey rock system has allowed me to focus my day on what needs to be done to build revenue now. Everything else is a huge distraction.