Life was much simpler for sales reps before the internet. If you wanted information about a company, you called the Corporate Communications department, and they sent you an annual report. When you came home from work, you were finished for the day. It was time for family and friends. Those days are long gone for sales reps.
Today we could all work around the clock. There's so much to read and so many people to meet. We work feverishly to “catch up.” We work on weekends and during vacation, and stay glued to our smartphones from morning till night. But no matter how many Saturdays we spend working, or how much time we spend staring at screens, there will always be more “to dos” on our lists. Check one off and another appears to fill its spot. That’s just the product of living busy, full lives.
The idea that we’ll ever “catch up” is a lie we tell ourselves—one that keeps us from enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Maybe It’s Time to “Just Say No”
What’s the solution? We could:
- Add resources to our teams
- Ignore our clients and colleagues
- Drop the ball
- Just say “no”
Dropping balls and ignoring people isn’t very professional, especially for sales reps, and adding resources isn’t always an option. But saying “no” is far better than overpromising and under-delivering.
If you're asked to complete a large project at work, and you're already underwater, you have several options: Find someone else to do it, agree to work on one aspect of the project, or question if this project is essential.
When you create strategic goals, and your path to success is clear, question every demand on your time. Ask, “Will doing this get me to my sales goals faster?” Scrutinize carefully. If your answer is “yes,” figure out how to get it done with the least amount of stress. If the answer is “no,” move on.
A great question to ask clients and prospects begins with “when.” When do you need our proposal? When would be a good time to meet? When will the project begin?
Sales reps often race to deliver as fast as possible, when clients might not really need certain documents immediately. Next-day delivery is FedEx’s job, not ours.
Prioritize Your Work, Live Your Life
One of my cardinal rules is to do what’s closest to cash first every day. This really helps with my planning and sales activities.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to forget about “catching up” and take a break. Leave your to-do list behind. Clear your head; go to the gym; spend time with your family; take the dog for a walk. Then decide what you really must do.
I'm resolved that I'll never get caught up, and I've finally accepted that it doesn't matter.
Ultimately, something’s gotta give, and what stays has to matter.
I know it’s hard to break away. In fact, I’m writing this blog post on a Saturday. So, I really should take my own advice. I’m out of here.
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. To learn more, visit www.NoMoreColdCalling.com. You can also follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.