Sales Productivity During a Pandemic

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When the COVID-19 crisis struck, many companies thought the move to remote offices and remote selling would last just a few months. But the pandemic seems to have a different timeline, which no one knows.  

Dr. Robert Sutton recently wrote a great article in The Wall Street Journal about remote working. And to paraphrase him, many people working during the pandemic are experiencing fragmented “Swiss cheese” days as they struggle to meet the personal obligations of caring for and educating children, and achieving work goals.

This new reality means that many sales managers and salespeople will need to accomplish more in less time.  

Coaching selling skills is very important. However, it might be time to teach something else.

Time Management Skills

In my new book, “Emotional Intelligence For Sales Leadership,” I devoted an entire chapter to time management. (And I wrote this book before COVID-19 hit.)  As a former vice president of sales, I discovered that many salespeople never had learned or practiced what I considered basic principles of time management. This lack of education often resulted in salespeople wasting two to three hours each day because they had no time-management habits or bad ones.

Here’s three simple principles to help your sales team manage their day — and their lives.

  1. Focus, focus and more focus. For years, sales managers have allowed sloppy work habits and multitasking. Many modeled and encouraged such behavior. Sales meetings were conducted with the acceptance that everyone attending was half-present. Laptops were open and emails answered as fake meetings were conducted.

The research is clear on the sins of multitasking. When a person switches from task to task, it takes longer, sometimes 20 minutes, to get back on task. When a person engages in multitasking, the quality of work decreases and the number of errors increases. Your sales team doesn’t have the luxury of re-doing work or engaging in average work in this business environment.

Teach your team to work on one task at a time.

  1. Get up and get after it. Thomas Corley conducted a five-year study of 177 self-made millionaires. His research showed that nearly 50 percent of them wake up at least three hours before their work day. They’ve discovered what neuroscientists have known for years: The prefrontal cortex, your thinking brain, is most active and creative immediately following sleep. You can get more done in less time if you tap into your highest productivity point of the day. This may require your sales team to establish new habits of going to bed earlier to reap the benefits of an early start to the work day.
  2. Calendar blocking. A salesperson’s calendar should have specific times, activities blocked out for each hour of the day, not just appointments and meetings. And part of that calendar should be blocked out with the word “nothing.” New priorities surface during the work week and your salesperson needs to plan for time to deal with the unexpected.

Sales managers, it’s time to teach time management. Otherwise your sales team won’t have time to execute the great tactics and strategies you are teaching them to win and retain business.

Good Selling!

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