About two weeks ago, I discussed the importance of prioritization and the damage multitasking can do to productivity. Continuing on that theme, I'd like to offer a more practical approach to the subject, while also including actionable insights all sales teams can start implementing right away.

1--Start the week off right with a prioritization strategy.

S. Anthony Iannarino, author of The Sales Blog, writes that come Monday morning, the first thing all sales teams should do is block time out to review sales goals. Take at least 30 minutes as a team and motivate your sales reps to take another 15 minutes for themselves to review their individual metrics. Then, Iannarino suggests, have your sales reps ask themselves these three questions:

  1. What are the most critical outcomes I need to achieve this week?
  2. Who are the most important people with whom I need to spend time?
  3. What am I going to do to improve myself this week?

Often times, how you start your morning is a key indicator of how the rest of your day will go. Print out and post these high-level goals where sales reps can see them. With some daily gentle reminders and a little motivation, sales reps will feel inspired to reach those goals and make those efforts part of their day-to-day activities.

2--Tackle the most difficult tasks first.

Encourage your sales reps to tackle their most difficult task at the beginning of the day. If the task seems too daunting, teach your sales reps to "Swiss Cheese" it. According to Brian Tracy, best-selling author of "Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time," sales reps should treat their monumental tasks like a block of Swiss cheese and focus on gradually punching holes in it. By carving out 10-12 minutes of time to solely focus on one aspect of a project, Tracy writes, sales reps can save up to two hours in wasted time and effort through the day.

3--Become an agile seller.

Next, help sales reps shift their focus away from what they perceive to be their weaknesses and onto how they can be a more efficient, effective and intelligent salesperson. For example, in my interview last week with sales expert and best-selling author Jill Konrath, she shared with me the importance of being an agile seller, and how sales reps need to practice skills like chunking, sequencing, connecting, prioritizing, and reflecting to become nimble and quick learners.

Konrath further explained that she'll often detail specifically where people should focus first if they're selling something new and what to do next. Here she emphasized the ability to monotask rather than multitask. By focusing on one task at a time, Konrath says salespeople can cut their time to proficiency by a whopping 40 to 60 percent.

4--Prepare efficiently for each customer interaction.

Once sales reps have taken time to prioritize their day, the last important step before contacting prospects is to prepare. Try using the "3X3" approach developed by Vorsight to better prepare for customer interactions. Get a step ahead of the knowledgeable prospect and set aside three minutes to learn three valuable pieces of information about them that will likely be used in the conversation.

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused. We're all human, we get distracted. However, these lessons and actionable insights, to help keep a clear focus, should make the job of selling a lot easier for all sales teams. Prioritize together, learn together, work together and you'll succeed together!

Published on: Nov 12, 2014