Procrastination is something I have been thinking about lately because I recently started this blog & podcast. I have had to change my focus and workflow quite a bit to make time for it. So, I’ve had practice at procrastination, in some cases missing my schedule entirely (as you can see from my record). However, I recently read an article on procrastination which provided some good news. We often think of procrastination as a character flaw. They claimed that procrastination is something our brains are naturally wired to do.
We, through our evolutionary fight for survival, are wired to attack the stuff that’s right in front of us. In today’s world, that means the “near term immediate gratification” type of things. Which means we do not prioritize the things that have long term payouts. Our brains are actually wired to avoid doing those things that are not going to produce a fast result.
In the sales world, this means we prefer to work on active deals and respond to customers that are reaching out to us. Those are certainly good things to work on, but when I look at top performing reps, they have some practices that require long-term thinking. There are four things in particular that they do consistently.
Top performing reps consistently:
- Prospect - They focus on running lead generation campaigns, business development, things that fill their pipeline.
- Qualify - They make sure they are working on the RIGHT deals, not just on the ones that are right in front of them. They focus on deals that are a great fit or a potential big win, even if they are not the easiest to work on.
- Pipeline Management - They step back and strategically assess and manage their business. In particular, they use their pipeline as a way to allocate their time and focus.
- Post-sales Follow-up - They go back after the sale and make sure they get a reference, ask for referrals, build new relationships, and strengthen existing relationships. They nurture these relationships because they know they will pay dividends in the future.
However, these four things are areas that we naturally procrastinate. It’s hard for us to find time to consistently do them, especially with the onslaught of everything else we have coming at us at any given time. So, I’m going to refer back to a post from a few weeks ago that discussed “systems” vs. “goals.” The point was that instead of focusing on goals, you need a system - a regular process - to achieve those goals. Your daily and weekly focus should be on the system, not the goals.
It’s easy set goals in the 4 areas listed above: Pipeline size, velocity, deal cycle time, win rate, and number of references. Because these are natural procrastination activities, the key is to set up a system for each of these areas. A process that builds crucial activities into your regular daily routine.
Four systems that a sales rep must have:
- Pipeline: A system for continually filling your pipeline, doing prospecting and lead generation.
- Qualifying: A system to qualify deals aggressively and rigorously.
- Pipeline Activity Prioritization: A system to strategically manage your pipeline, and allocate your time and your focus accordingly.
- Post-sales Follow-up: A system to ensure thorough and effective post-sales follow-up.
Depending on your role, there are probably additional disciplines that create success. These are the four areas in which I consistently see the most gaps. If you do not have a process or a system in any of these areas, I recommend you start building one. In future posts, I will discuss examples of systems for each of the four areas.