As technology continues to revolutionise how businesses operate, the modern sales professional has had to quickly adapt to a new way of working. Building a healthy pipeline has always been challenging, but the emergence of digital communication and the expectation of an always-on work culture has increased the associated pressures.
However there is one powerful, often underutilised sales tactic that many professionals overlook: maintaining a healthy work/life balance and its effect on productivity.
Learn to Work More Efficiently
In the scramble to meet monthly targets, many sales executives will start the week without a plan. However as varied a role business development is, it does not mean there is no requirement for structure.
Begin by measuring weekly objectives against your monthly targets. This will highlight what activities have been delivering results and in the process, create a more manageable workload.
Highlight key prospects, focus on the main activities to target those professionals and keep to the time you have outlined for each task. Prioritisation is crucial, especially in helping you visualise your day.
Pay attention to your personal energy cycle and order tasks accordingly. Learn when you work best and focus on intensive activities during those periods. Be aware of how your prospects work as well, especially if you work in telemarketing or direct sales. You might witness a better response if you catch people during slower periods.
Take a Break
It can appear counter-productive when the workday is in full swing, but taking a short break is always beneficial to maintain your productivity. The UK takes the shortest lunch breaks and works the longest hours in the EU. Pressure from colleagues, and from ourselves, occasionally gives the impression that working overtime is necessary, when in fact the majority of tasks can wait until the morning.
Overworking can lead to exhaustion and longer hours do not necessarily translate to better work. UK Health and Safety Executive recently released a report that revealed 28.2 million working days are lost to work-related ill health, 40% of which are stress related.
Stress can affect anyone at any level, so it is important to communicate when current demands are exceeding your ability to cope. Listen to what your mood is telling you and ensure you treat annual leave as time away from work. Leave your phone off and ignore emails. It will allow you to come back to work refreshed and re-energised.
Personal Development and Setting Goals
Equally important is to find time to focus on personal goals. It is easy to let your personal development get lost beneath other priorities, but personal objectives help you stay motivated which in the long run improves your skills and increases your output.
Structuring your goals is essential to delivering success:
1. What? – What do you want to accomplish? E.g. business, career or financial?
2. Why? – Why do you want to accomplish them? E.g. personal reasons, for family or health?
3. How? – How do you achieve your goals?
‘How’ you achieve the ‘what’ while enjoying the ‘why’ is crucial and goals can be as varied as choosing to wake up earlier or striving to extend your network.
Remember, goals filter through to your general work/life balance. For example, exercising frequently might not immediately appear to be a work-related goal, but the benefits of being active are proven to help you at work through higher concentration levels.
Finally, consider a formal approach with a Personal Development Plan (PDP) for yourself. Documenting everything will force you to stay on track. Make sure you review the plan at regular intervals as your priorities might change over time.
Be realistic with what you would like to achieve but remember, be healthy and try not to overwork in the process. Keep home as a place for rest while striving forward at work.
By Matt Jenkins, Partner, Nine Feet Tall