“Action creates action.” I’ve heard this sentence in the voice of my old sales manager at the car dealership a thousand times. We’d come in for the morning meeting and he’d immediately put get us out on the lot tying balloons to cars, putting up the big S A L E signs and…well…creating action. This was the first time that I found myself in what we realize today as being the “busy trap”. There’s probably nowhere that this is more prevalent than in sales, but the trap leads to us being busy instead of actually being productive.
So how do you overcome being too busy to work? You simplify your process.
Forget What You Know
Face the fact – What you’re doing right now isn’t working. So forget your “sales process” and start figuring out your “close process”. The sales funnel, as we often follow it today, can lead to a whole lot of time spent on no actual sale. How much time did you spend putting together that proposal simply because it was the next step in the process? Would it have been better spent making sure that it solved the problem that the customer was having? Break out of the funnel.
Close Your Calendar
There’s probably no bigger enabler to the busy trap than your calendar, especially when you let other people dictate it. So stop. For just one week, don’t let anyone else schedule anything for you. Set aside the time required to do the necessities (prospect calling, entering leads to the CRM, etc.) and then make sure that anything else runs through you before getting added to your calendar.
It’s also beneficial to set aside some “firefighting” time. On my schedule, for instance, I have an hour each day between 4 and 5 PM where I absolutely won’t take a meeting. It’s my version of “me time”, but for work. It’s where I handle all of the pop-up problems that come to me through the day to make sure that I don’t wake up to them tomorrow.
Automate (Almost) Everything
Yesware – Automates lead tracking and templates so you spend less time in your email.
Boomerang – Send and receive email messages when you need them.
Zapier – Stitch together web services for things like “when I scan a business card, connect to the person on LinkedIn“.
Buffer – Find and post great content to your social media channels.
There are literally hundreds of other tools out there, but you’ll have to find the ones that work best for you. In order to do that, you first need to identify those tasks that take up your time, and then narrow down the choices for how to make them easier.
We’re big fans of tools that make life easier. Have some of your own? Drop them in the comments.
Image: Wang Shein via Flickr