The role of a sales leader is straightforward (in theory): to lead a sales team to produce profitable revenue. In reality, however, there are a mountain of things standing in the way of achieving that goal. Spend more time in 2017 focused on high-value leadership activity by avoiding these five productivity-sucking pitfalls.
1. Parachuting in on every qualified opportunity
You can sell, or you can manage — but you can’t do both at once. Swooping in to save every deal won’t benefit your team. What it will do is detract from your time to coach and cultivate their selling skills. Keep your leadership focus by tracking leading indicators, and intervening when necessary with targeted coaching. To make the most of your time and effort remember that it’s not your job to sell, it’s to coach your team to sell more effectively.
2. Being a slave to your inbox
There are a few facts of life: the sky is blue, you must pay taxes, and on any given day you will be bombarded with emails. Make it a priority to organize your email into a system that works well for you. And if you’re a compulsive email checker, dedicate a specific time in your day (maybe one hour first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon) and stick to checking emails at those times. If you’re worried about the ship sinking while you’re away from your inbox, consider setting up an alternate form of communication (like text or a messenger app) so your team can get in touch with you if something is highly time-sensitive.
3. Making yourself too available
An “open door policy” is a good way to encourage open communication with your sales team, but it doesn’t mean you can’t create boundaries with your time and availability. How many times have you had your nose to the grindstone, really making progress only to be interrupted when someone swings by your office with a question. Research cited by NPR shows that once we’re interrupted, it can take up to half an hour to get back into a productive groove. Designate time during your week to work uninterrupted on priority items. Then block off the time on your calendar and communicate to your team that this is your GSD (Getting Stuff Done) time — and to only interrupt if it’s crucial.
4. Scattering your one-to-one meetings
This pitfall piggybacks on the research from above about being interrupted. Instead of scheduling your one-to-one meetings throughout the week, book them in chunks. By having your meetings back to back on one or two days, you can reclaim that extra “in between meetings” time and turn it into longer, uninterrupted periods to tackle your to-do list.
5. Holding meetings that aren’t “meeting worthy”
Atlassian research shows that employees spend 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. Respect your team’s time and free up some of your own by only scheduling meetings that are 100 percent necessary. Be honest and ask yourself if a topic deserves its own meeting, or if it’s something that can be covered with a phone call, a conference call, or even an email. When you do hold meetings, keep them short and on track. At The Brooks Group, we follow the meeting system set up in Gino Wickman’s book Traction to keep meetings on point and highly productive.
You can take back your calendar and increase productivity by avoiding these five pitfalls, but to really get exceptional results from your sales team you need a structured plan in place.
Steve Hackett is a Regional Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. His ability to spot challenge areas along with his gift for “coaching the coaches” has improved the sales performance of thousands of salespeople from all levels of sales — from transactional to highly complex strategic deals. Steve’s passion is ensuring that training participants go back to the field with usable, effective sales skills.