More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers

More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers

by Jill Konrath
More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers

More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers

by Jill Konrath



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"I felt like time was taunting me: 'Behind again? You'll never get it all done.' I worked harder and longer hours, sacrificing my limited personal time to stay ahead of the game. Still, it wasn't sufficient. My work just kept expanding, demanding more of me. I could never seem to call it a day.

In my entire career, I'd never faced a sales problem of this magnitude."

Sound familiar? If so, you're probably an overwhelmed seller. Your clients expect more, with faster turnarounds. Your quota keeps going up. You need to leverage social media, keep up-to-date on your industry, figure out how to sell new products and services, and learn all the latest technologies. The demands are never-ending. You could work nonstop around the clock and still not get it all done. It's a huge problem faced by experienced sales pros, busy entrepreneurs, and sales rookies. If you don't stay on top of your time, it's tough to make your numbers, let alone blow them away.

Konrath, a globally recognized sales consultant and speaker, knew she needed help, but found that advice aimed at typical workers didn't work for her—or for others who needed to sell for a living. Salespeople need their own productivity guidelines adapted to the fast-paced, always-on sales world. So Konrath experimented relentlessly to discover the best time-savers and sales hacks in order to deliver the first productivity guide specifically for sales success.

In More Sales, Less Time, Konrath blends cutting-edge behavioral research with her own deep knowledge of sales to teach you how to succeed in this age of distraction. You'll discover how to: 

• Reclaim a minimum of one hour per day by eliminating major time sucks and changing the way you tackle e-mail and social media.

• Free up time to focus on activities that have the highest impact on your sales results, such as preparing, researching, strategizing, and connecting with customers.

• Optimize your sales processes to eliminate redundancies and wasted time.

• Transform your mind-set to effortlessly incorporate new, more productive habits; leverage your best brainpower; and stay at the top of your sales game. 

Konrath helps you develop strategies specifically tailored to your life in sales, using your strengths to cut through the feeling of being overwhelmed. All salespeople have the same number of hours in a day; it's up to you to rescue your time to sell smarter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698155602
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/06/2016
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: eBook
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 969,645
File size: 615 KB

About the Author

Jill Konrath is an in-demand speaker at sales conferences and kickoff meetings. Her previous books include Selling to Big Companies (one of Fortune's "Must Reads" for sellers), SNAP Selling, and Agile Selling. Wth over a quarter of a million LinkedIn followers and well over one hundred thousand blog readers, her fresh strategies make a global impact.

Read an Excerpt


A Crazy-Busy Confession

Every time someone would ask me, "How's it going?" I'd answer with a smile and a twinkle in my eye: "Crazy busy!" It was like I was wearing this as a badge of honor. In some perverse way, it made me feel important to say that.

While I might have fooled others that my life was great, I didn't fool myself. Underneath my chipper exterior, I was struggling.

In sheer frustration, one day I decided to record everything I did from sunup to sundown. I wanted to see my life as it actually was and perhaps find a way to improve it. I was tired of the "crazy" part being so accurate.

What I discovered was pretty ugly, but I'm sharing it with you anyway. Perhaps this day will even feel familiar to you. Here it is, a typical day in my life before I started my productivity makeover.

It's 7:15 on Thursday morning. Time to get up. I immediately head downstairs to feed the cat and make a pot of coffee. While it brews, I run upstairs, get dressed, and make myself presentable for the day. As soon as I'm done, I head back downstairs, pour myself a big cup of coffee, add a little cream, plop down at the kitchen table, and pick up my cell phone to start e-mail triage.

I quickly go through all the messages that came in overnight, deleting as many as I can, as quickly as humanly possible. It makes me happy to delete these messages-now I have fewer things to do for the day. I reward myself by playing a few games of Words with Friends. I then scan my favorite news feeds to catch up on world affairs.

After a half hour or so, it's time to get to work. I take my smoothie out of the refrigerator, refill my coffee, grab my phone, and head to my office, which overlooks the woods behind our house. This seventeen-second commute completed, I sit down at my desk and open my e-mail to read and respond to the messages I'd deemed important enough to save.

Before I know it, I'm sucked into an article from one of my newsletters: "107 Game-Changing Sales Statistics." There's a reference in it to some fascinating statistics, so I track the information to its source, opening that study in a new tab, which I save to read later.

Then I kick my own butt back to work, prepping for a project I'm doing with one of my clients. It's hard work, involving multiple interviews and customizing a program tailored specifically for their reps. I review my notes, immerse myself in their case studies, and start to think about how I'll structure the program.

As I do, I look outside and notice that it's getting overcast. I wonder if it'll rain later, so I open my weather app to check things out. Fortunately, the storms aren't rolling in until tonight. Okay, back to work.

Even as I try to get back to the project at hand, I start thinking about the meeting I have with a prospective client later this afternoon. It's a toughie. My prospect is really struggling to get everyone on board. It seems like all five people involved in the decision have totally different agendas. I ask myself, What will it take for them to all agree?

I head over to LinkedIn to learn more about the decision team. When I land on my LinkedIn home page, I'm greeted by a strategically placed promo for an e-book called How I Leveraged LinkedIn to Close a $100,000 Deal. Of course, I can't pass this up, so I click on the link, register for the e-book, download it, and then take a quick peek. Good stuff, I think. But I better get back to work.

Back on LinkedIn, I review the profiles of the stuck team members, taking notes on how I can create a connection with each of these individuals. I think about the best way to handle this conversation, the questions I want to ask, and the best possible outcome. I open a tab on my browser to review the company's website.

As I do, an alert pops up about a breaking news story. I click on it to learn more. While on the news site, I quickly scroll down to see if there are any updates about the presidential election. When no fresh articles pop to the top, another headline captures my attention: "You'll Never Believe What Kim Kardashian Is Wearing Now." Much as I hate myself for it, I can't resist clicking.

After a quick look (I'm not impressed!), I notice another headline below her photo: "Mother Cat Brings Her Kittens to Meet an Unlikely Old Friend." Within seconds, I find myself watching a heartwarming video of a big dog playing with the mother cat's two teeny kittens.

Oops! I still need to prep for that meeting I have later today. It's hard figuring out the best way to get everyone to reach a consensus. After a few minutes, when nothing good comes to mind, I remember a presentation I did for a similar client a few months ago. I open it up to check it out.

While reviewing that presentation, another thought pops into my head: I wonder if Natalie has gotten back to me yet. I open my e-mail for a quick check and see seven new messages. I might as well read them all right now as long as I'm in my e-mail, I think. I respond to all the messages requiring my input.

I finally close my e-mail to focus in on that upcoming meeting again. I stare blankly at that old presentation, still stuck. I wait a few more minutes for an epiphany to hit, but none emerges. When I look at the clock, I see that it's 11:45, so I head to the kitchen to heat up a bowl of soup for lunch. I bring my computer out to the table so I can brainstorm some more about that meeting while I eat. I jot down a few thoughts, some questions to ask, and an issue I want to bring up.

As I eat my soup, I remember that I forgot to congratulate Anthony, my new client, on his recent promotion. Back into e-mail I go to jot off a quick note. As I do, I see that another message has just arrived from Ravi, who's having a billing problem. Darn. He's an important customer, I think. I better take care of it now. I send off a message to my assistant. I also see an e-mail from CeCe. She has some questions regarding the recent proposal. Yup. I need to tackle that one now too if we want to close the deal this month.

Before I know it, it's time for my afternoon meeting. I head back to my office for the call, which lasts nearly an hour. It goes okay, but clearly it's going to be tough to reach a consensus on our direction. I'm smart enough not to fool myself about the likelihood of success. And I can't help but consider how much time I've already invested with this prospect. I briefly wonder if I could have done anything different to prepare for the meeting. When no new insight strikes, I decide to check e-mail instead.

I then take a quick look at my to-do list. Argh. There are a few prospects I need to connect with today; I can't put that off any longer. I dash off a few e-mails and make several follow-up calls. Thankfully, no one answers the phone, so I leave messages.

When I look at the clock again, it's 4:30. I need to contact a friend about a birthday party we're throwing together. I also want to check in on my mom, as she's been having some health issues.

Before I know it, the "official" workday is over-but I'm not done. I barely made a dent in the client project I started working on that morning. I don't know how I'm going to get it done. Seriously. Clearly, I'll have to dig in later tonight and try to make some progress. I don't have any choice, actually. It's what people pay me to deliver-and I don't disappoint them.

Except now I feel further behind than I did starting the day. After cooking my favorite chicken stir-fry recipe (which is quick to whip up) and having dinner with my husband, I drive to the grocery store. While waiting for the stoplight to turn green, I check my e-mails. At the store, I quickly stock up on the essentials. Then, as I wait impatiently in a long line to check out, I take a look at my e-mail again.

During the course of the evening, while watching a bit of TV and working on that project, I'm on and off e-mail a few more times. I manage to pull together an initial workshop outline but it still needs fleshing out. I play a couple more rounds in my Words with Friends game, hop onto Facebook to see what's happening there, pop over to Twitter to see if there's anything new I should be aware of-and check LinkedIn again too.

I then go upstairs and get ready for bed. Before I shut down for the night, I check e-mail one last time. Don't ask me why-I'm certainly not going to reply to anyone at that hour. Maybe I just like to end the evening deleting one last message from the next day's stack.

I feel like I'm a rat on a treadmill who's not allowed to stop. But that's how I've been working for the past few years.

I wouldn't be surprised if your day resembles what mine used to look like.

To find out if distractions are hurting your productivity, take this mini quiz.

Distraction Quiz

Mark an X on all those that apply to you. Be truthful!

1. I keep checking to see if any new e-mail messages have arrived.

2. I frequently bounce from one sales activity to the next (e-mails, research, phone calls, CRM updates, proposals, social media).

3. Being "crazy busy" is exhilarating. I love, love, love it.

4. Even if no one interrupts me, it's hard to stay focused on a task for more than half an hour.

5. I sit at my desk staring at screens for long periods of time during the day.

6. Thirty-plus minutes can easily disappear due to following interesting links.

7. I'm under lots of pressure (self-imposed or management) to get results.

8. My to-do list feels like it's never ending.

9. I get irritable or bored when I can't check e-mail or go online.

10. When working on something tough, I catch myself going online whenever I get stuck.

Count up your Xs. If you only have one or two, you might be a bit distracted but doing fine. But if you've checked many boxes, it's increasingly hard for you to sell more in less time.

Before we get into tackling the many problems of working this way, however, we need to understand why we behave the way we do-and what factors, internal and external, contribute to this crazy busyness.


Age of Distraction

Every day the cycle repeated itself: Up early, work straight through the day with lunch at my desk. On and off e-mail, in and out of LinkedIn, before stopping for dinner-and then back at it for another round before bedtime.

Working nonstop was exhausting, but I couldn't figure out how to get it all done if I didn't. And all that time wasn't adding up to phenomenal work either. I was losing my oomph. My focus was fragmented, my thinking second-rate. I had trouble starting new projects and finishing existing ones.

In frustration, I'd ask myself, How could a reasonably productive, creative human being have deteriorated so badly in such a short time?

I took solace knowing I wasn't alone. A recent Center for Creative Leadership study found that smartphone-carrying professionals (like salespeople) report they're interacting with work a whopping 13.5 hours every workday. When you add in weekends, they're working a total of 72 hours a week.

That's our life! We work more hours than ever, striving to reach our ever-increasing sales goals. Ironically, the very fact that we put in so many hours is actually one of our biggest problems. John Pencavel, Stanford economist, found that people's productivity dropped sharply after fifty hours per week and fell off the cliff after fifty-five hours.

All those extra hours we put in don't lead to better results. We're not actually getting more done. It's like we have this built-in work-o-meter that says, "I can handle fifty-five hours max. Any more and I'll slow down, putz, and dawdle. I'll look busy . . . but I won't get more done."

In fact, there's a good reason we can't do it all, despite our desires to the contrary. And when we come to realize how our bodies function, we can stop beating ourselves up for not getting everything done-and find ways to deal with these very human limitations.

Wired for Instant Gratification

Sales today is a thinking profession. To be effective at it we need to research customers, search for trends, analyze data, extrapolate needs, solve complex problems, build consensus, develop strategies, and create new approaches. When we're doing this work, our brain's prefrontal cortex is running the show. This highly evolved, reflective part of our brain is the center of our deeper thinking. It's what makes us really good at sales and keeps us focused on doing what's most important.

When we're online, our amygdala-a very primitive part of our brain-can easily take over if we're not careful. Its role is to constantly scan the environment for stalking predators or any changes that might signify danger. From the amygdala's perspective, anything new that pops into its view is worthy of our undivided attention-at least momentarily.

Each time we spot something new, our brain rewards us with a shot of dopamine, a feel-good hormone. This dopamine surge is highly addictive, which is why we keep going back for more of any activity that gives us that high. In essence, we're wired for this instant gratification. We want to read that new e-mail or text message-now. We want to find answers to questions that pop into our heads-now. We have to click on the "Genius Wine-Opening Hacks You Haven't Seen Before" link-now, even though it never entered our mind until two seconds ago. Hooked again.

The cycle continues and we spend more time chasing dopamine-boosting links online, which prevents us from getting work done, stresses us out, limits our engagement with others, and, in general, adds nothing to our feelings of well-being. While it can be thrilling for a while, ultimately it's a recipe for burnout. As Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, writes, "The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive."

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Accept the Challenge 9

1 A Crazy-Busy Confession 11

2 Age of Distraction 17

3 Time for a Change 23

Key Points: Accept the Challenge 29

Part 2 Recover Lost Time 31

4 Discover Your Baseline 33

5 E-Mail: Our Biggest Nemesis 38

6 In-Box Detox 42

7 Overcome Time-Sucking Temptations 46

8 My Week of Distraction-Free Living 51

9 Get Back on Track 56

10 Total Digital Decluttering 59

Key Points: Recover Lost Time 62

Part 3 Get More Done 65

11 Find Your Focus 67

12 The Chopping Block 72

13 Design a Better Way 77

14 Optimize Your Plan 83

15 Give Me a Break 88

16 Quick-Start Strategies 93

17 Open and Close Strong 98

Key Points: Get More Done 103

Part 4 Make It Easier 105

18 The Time Master 107

19 The "As If" Phenomenon 111

20 Path of Least Resistance 115

21 Get into Character 119

Time Master Manifesto 122

Part 5 Add the Secret Sauce 125

22 Work Worth Doing 127

23 A Real Wake-Up Call 131

24 Get Your Oomph Back 136

25 Find Some Help 140

26 Do Absolutely Nothing 145

27 Walking Is Work 150

28 Set Up For Success 154

Part 6 Accelerate Sales 159

29 Tap into Triggers 161

30 Develop Time-Saving Systems 166

31 Unclog Your Pipeline 172

32 Create an Upward Spiral 178

33 Make Decisions Simpler 183

34 Get Bigger Clients 187

Key Points: Accelerate Sales 192

Part 7 Final Words 195

35 Wrapping It Up 197

Appendix 1 Leading a Highly Productive Sales Team 201

Appendix 2 Keep On Learning 209

Ted Talks 209

Videos 210

Online Resources 211

Featured Productivity Tools 212

Appendix 3 Books Worth Reading 215

Acknowledgments 219

Notes 221

Index 233

Bring More Sales, Less Time to Your Sales Conference 243

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