There’s no way around it: Sales is hard.
There is constant pressure and daily rejection, and there are a lot of skills needed in order to be successful. One of the most important, and difficult to master, is time management. With so much to do, it’s often difficult to find time during the day to finish your to-do list. If you’re already a master of time management and have a completely full pipeline, congrats! No further reading needed.
If not, take a look at the four steps below that can help you crush your quota this year. It’s a system I call “outbound mode.”
Outbound mode is a simple method of blocking off the first hour of your work day for prospecting and building your pipeline. No distractions, no goofing off, and 100% focus on the task at hand.
Here are four steps to get you into outbound mode:
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” — Benjamin Franklin
In order to do outbound mode the right way, you need to prepare. You should never leave the office at night without a clear plan for what you’re going to do the next day. This means being ready for any meetings, RFPs, or anything else on your to-do list. Do the work the night before, so that you can perform at a higher level when it’s selling time.
This preparation includes being ready your prospecting. It’s important to list out who you’re going to call, your reason for engaging them, and have their contact info ready. That way there is no wasted time with logistics when you get into outbound mode the next morning.
Only once this prep is done can you leave the office.
This is a step that most people skip. They tell themselves, “Yeah, I’ll definitely prospect tomorrow morning.” Tomorrow morning comes, and they look at their calendar to see that it’s open and then let mindless tasks fill the first hour of their day.
Or they’ll say, “I missed it this morning, but I’ll prospect later this afternoon for the full hour, I promise.” Unlikely. There are so many things that pop up during the day, which makes the morning an ideal time to set up your outbound mode.
This is what Warren Buffet would call paying yourself first.
Give yourself this time to do the tasks that will make you successful and put money in your pocket at the end of the month.
Below is a real screenshot of what my calendar looks like every day when I block off outbound mode.
“To do two things at once is to do neither.” — Publilius Syrus
Now that you’ve committed to outbound mode, make the most of it. The main distractions will come in a few forms:
Emails: Let’s keep it real. Your boss, sales support, colleagues, and customers will likely email you during this hour. You will see their name and want to click on it. Did you know that it takes an average of about 25 minutes to return to your original task after an interruption? Don’t click on the email. It can wait an hour.
Social Media: Constantly checking our feeds has become a real impediment to our ability to focus. The dog pictures, Trump tweets, and fantasy football can all wait. Remember what I said about being interrupted in the middle of a task? Don’t give in.
Colleagues: This one can be a bit trickier. We all have that one co-worker who can really talk your ear off. They come in on a Monday morning and by the time they’re done telling everyone about their weekend, it’s already time for lunch (by the way, if you’re that person, we need to talk). You can kindly tell them you’re crushing it and can catch up with them later. They’ll forgive you.
“It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” — Henry David Thoreau
You’ve done the prep. You’ve committed yourself. You are distraction-free. Now the fun part begins. Make that call. Send that email. Be relentless and have fun. This is the best part of sales!