By Jeff Beals
A year ago my wife was on a mission to purge our house of clutter.
She read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo. She took it to heart and tore into the basement, closets and anywhere else we happened to be storing non-essential stuff. For the next month, I would regularly come home to find “give-away” piles ready to be loaded into the back of my SUV and hauled off to the donation dock.
Eventually she involved the kids and me in this undertaking. We asked ourselves whether we really needed to keep things. If we weren’t using them or didn’t find sentimental value in them, they were either trashed or donated.
Our house has always been tidy and well organized, so I took delight in teasing my wife about her great purge of 2016. To this day, if I can’t find something, I (good naturedly) accuse her of “decluttering it” or putting it through the “Japanese process.”
But I have to admit her decluttering process made our lives easier. We’re not bogged down with useless “stuff.” We have room to breathe. It makes it easier to focus on more enjoyable or high-value things in our lives.
Just as the decluttering process can make your home life more efficient, it can do wonders for your professional life as well. But I’m not talking about decluttering your office or organizing your file drawers. I’m talking about decluttering your work life.
The longer you have been working in sales, the more unnecessary stuff you accumulate in your brain, on your calendar and in your job description. Sometimes that stuff needs to be purged.
I challenge you to ask this question: “What do I need to stop doing?”
Sales people are notorious for adding things to their plate without taking things off. Why? Salespeople tend to be ambitious and very confident in their abilities. They want multiple ways to prospect even if one prospecting method hasn’t paid off much in the past. They tend to be independent personalities, rugged individualists who think they can do it all. Sales professionals know they need to persevere in an eat-what-you-kill environment, so they don’t give up or accept defeat lightly.
Those are great traits, essential for long-term success in sales, but they are traits that can burn you out if you’re not careful.
So what are some things you might want to STOP doing?
Blowing off leads
Fifty percent of sales leads never receive proper follow-up. That is probably the greatest waste of resources in the sales world. If you let leads fall through the cracks because you’re focusing on less important things, by all means, stop doing it.
Stop wasting time on people who will never buy. For whatever reason, many sales reps latch onto prospects who look good on the surface, but deep down, you know they’ll never buy from you.
Networking for the sake of networking
Some sales people never miss an event. They are on umpteen boards and committees and are always running from one meeting to the next. Why do they over commit and run themselves ragged just trying to keep up with all of it? Prospecting! They are afraid, they’ll miss out on their next dream client if they are not at every event. While I’m a big proponent of prospecting through networking, you must be efficient. If a time-chewing obligation is not regularly producing convertible leads, don’t trick yourself into believing you have to be there.
Less than 1 percent of sales people enjoy cold calling. And it’s for good reason. It takes a huge amount of time and it hardly ever works. Cold calling is just about the most inefficient way you can prospect, yet many salespeople still do it. I say STOP it. Instead of cold calling, research prospects first. Soften them up with marketing activity. Use a combination of ways to reach them, always focusing on something they may value.
Lack of Focus
Stop wasting time on non-sales functions. Sales professionals are often drafted by upper management to serve on company-wide projects or task forces. This is especially true if you are a senior leader in the sales division. Sales people tend to have first-hand knowledge of customers and buying trends, so they are valuable contributors to these company-wide groups.
But be careful. I’ve seen sales professionals sucked into so much committee work having nothing to do with sales that they have hardly any time left to sell. The United Way, for instance, is a fine organization, but do we really want our sales reps on the United Way employee committee instead of working the phones and hitting the streets? Sales is the lifeblood of the company; we need all sales hands on deck.
Would you like to know the single most important thing to stop? Counter-productive thinking. No matter how successful you are, you probably cling to some negative ideas. Every sales rep is at least occasionally afflicted with self doubt. Whatever negative things you harbor in the deep recesses of your brain, now is the time to perform a Japanese decluttering miracle on them.
So, consider this permission to declutter your sales career and liberate yourself. What do you need to STOP?
Let go and enjoy the results.
Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”
Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:
“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY
“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here. He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard. Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA
“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team