Time: Your Most Valuable Currency in Sales

Jill Konrath shares solutions for making the most of your sales day.

If you’re like the rest of us, you probably start your day with a cup of coffee and a browse through your email inbox. And, much like the rest of us, it’s all too easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole of links. Before you know it, it’s noon and half your day is wasted. That’s lost time, which means lost money for sales reps and their company. This predicament leaves many salespeople wondering, “How can I accomplish more in the same number of hours we all have each day?”

Believe it or not, there is a way that you can make more sales in less time. And a few hours here and there is all the difference between the top seller and the next person.

Jake Reni, senior manager of inside sales at Adobe, had a chance to talk to bestselling author and thought leader Jill Konrath about avoiding distractions and making the most of the time in your sales day. Watch the full interview here and read the highlights below.

Jill Konrath shares strategies for eliminating distractions and using time more efficiently during your sales day.

Living in a world of distraction

So we get distracted. Everyone does. It’s natural with the many devices we have and the seemingly never-ending digital content vying for our eyes and ears. It certainly doesn’t make us bad people — just human.

“I spent a lot of time studying neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, and all sorts of fields around sales,” says Jill. “When I got to the root of it, the real issue is, we’re human. We’re struggling. We’re distracted all the time, but it’s not because we’re bad people who lack willpower. It’s because we’re human beings who are programmed in our genetic makeup to be distracted.”

Jill says it’s all thanks to the amygdala, the oldest part of our brain, whose job is to look around our environment and tell us what’s new. The digital space has created a lot of “new” for us to experience every morning. It, of course, starts with email, but before you know it we’re reading the news, checking the weather, and doing a host of other activities not related to sales.

“This is the world that we live in,” says Jill, “It’s designed to be distracting.”

This distraction steals away our most valuable asset as sales people: time – and, according to Jill, our ability to think.

Sales is a thinking profession

Salespeople are often viewed as professional talkers. The more you talk with prospective buyers, the greater success you will achieve. But, as Jill says, people — or buyers — want “doers.” You can’t be a doer if you don’t have time to think.

“Salespeople are the differentiators,” Jill says. “Products are out there. Everybody’s got products. And, from a buyer’s perspective, you can Google anything and find alternatives. So, what’s the difference? The person who deals with them.”

It’s easy to understand this when you think of yourself as a buyer. Buyers like sellers who are sincerely concerned about helping them achieve their objectives. So, for a seller, the key is thinking — strategizing, researching, and being prepared.

What do you need in order to be a thinker? You need to listen. And that can’t happen without removing distractions.

Using technology to help remove distractions

Technology is a great tool to help us stay efficient and focused, but we need to remember that willpower alone won’t be enough to keep us in check. We need to limit the distractions. Here’s what Jill suggests:

1. Turn off your notifications.

Jill says that 75 percent of people don’t alter their app notification settings following download.

“You don’t need to know about this stuff — news alerts, tweets from the government, the football score — in the middle of the day. They’re not helping you,” she says. “So, block all that. Just turn them off.”

Jill says it takes 40-60 percent longer to learn something new when you’re distracted. “If you’re constantly distracted and trying to remember things,” Jill says, “your brain actually files them in a place that you can’t access. It’s just a function of brain science.”

2. Set aside time to not be online.

We need to create times throughout our day where we do not allow ourselves to go online. Instead, use this time to think, focus, and get stuff done. There are apps available to help us do just this. Jill suggests apps like Freedom to help accomplish this goal.

3. Organize your day differently.

If we recognize that selling is a thinking profession, we need to, as organizations, change the structure of our day. Instead of your team jumping right into email, allow them to think and plan their day.

“You want your reps to come in during the course of the day, and rather than jump right into email, to sit down and very thoughtfully say, ‘How can I have the maximum impact today? What can I do that will lead to me achieving my goals better?’” says Jill.

As a leader, giving your sales staff time to think and plan their day at its start will lead them to doing the right things throughout the day.

4. Put it on the calendar.

If it’s not on the calendar, it will disappear. Schedule time for thinking, working on research, and other tasks that help toward accomplishing your goals. Otherwise, people might pull you into discussions or meetings because they think you’re free. And you won’t complete what you had planned to do that day.

More sales, less time

This happens to be the title of one of Jill’s bestselling books, and it’s exactly what you will get if you can get one or two of those hours back from distraction. That’s time that could be spent closing deals. Time truly is your most valuable asset.

Read more articles in our Sales Essentials series, and for more information on sales tools that make closing deals a seamless experience, learn about Adobe Sign.