People will say things like this: “My New Year’s resolution is to lose 20 pounds!” “I’m going to the gym at least three times a week this year!” “I’m going to eat a clean diet in 2020!”
That’s all well and good. I have a lot of plans for 2020, and yes, some of those plans are health related. But there’s a different kind of New Year’s resolution that’s also important – What are you going to stop doing? What are you going to get rid of? How are you going to declutter your life?
The longer you have worked 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?” What bad habits should you eliminate?
Salespeople are notorious for adding things to their plate without taking things off. That’s because they are ambitious and confident in their abilities. Salespeople want multiple ways to prospect even if one prospecting method hasn’t paid off much in the past. They tend to be independent personalities, 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 beneficial traits, essential for long-term success in sales, but those traits can burn you out if you’re not careful.
Here are some things sales professionals might want to stop doing in 2020:
Blowing off leads
Fifty percent of sales leads never receive proper follow-up. That’s 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’re 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.
Too many sales reps make a call here or there and have irregular prospecting schedules. They experience no success, which leads them to proclaim, “It’s a waste of time to call prospects on the phone!” Well, of course it’s a waste of time if you don’t have a systematic plan that dictates your prospecting efforts. Of course, it’s a waste of time when you don’t have the discipline to do it right.
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. 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!”
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 purge them.
So, consider this permission to declutter your sales career and liberate yourself. What are you going to stop doing in 2020?