Sales is the fuel for any company. For a startup, it is it’s lifeline. And, because startups are often crunched for resources, the sales expert in this setup is expected to deliver on several things at once: from generating leads to qualifying them, the actual selling, onboarding, support and account management.
Being a salesperson is often a lonely job. Why? Because often you are the only representative of your entire company for the client. You have your own sales targets to chase. You will like to create pipelines that you alone will pursue.
Is it really surprising that sales jobs often fall under the ‘Individual Contributor’ bracket? Yeah, even HR reaffirms that you are on your own.
I sell a cutting-edge tech product every day to scores of people. Naturally, it set me thinking about what might be a consistent trigger to stay motivated in a job that largely requires people to be self-starters. What are some things that I can do on a daily basis that will keep me productive, yet not burn me out? What can be a sensible intersection between my own capabilities and my company’s targets?
It turns out that, as in everything else- habits and routines play an important role. Here are some things that have helped me stay on top of the game.
1. Know your most productive hour
Research says that you are most productive about 2 hours (and a good breakfast) after you wake up. It is crucial that you schedule the most important activity at this time of the hour.
To me (and any sales professional), creating a pipeline is the starting point for all my other work. I cordon off a good portion of the morning, between 9 AM and 11:30 precisely, to focus on this work. Luckily, support calls tend to begin after this hour – so seems like a perfect time to work uninterruptedly.
2. Manage your energy
In a work day, you have several tasks to manage. The key to getting things done is to know your own self, before planning your work. By this, I mean you should know(and totally respect) the time when you need breaks. Know when you feel a burnout. If you know you are going to be handling a particularly difficult client, it takes more out of you than a relatively easy client. Do not schedule heavy tasks immediately after a conversation with your difficult client.
In my case, I have the least energy at the end of the day, say from around 4 P.M to 6 P.M. At this time, I schedule more routine tasks like internal team updates, meetings, etc. In other words, this time is for things that need to get done but do not require your best version.
3. Block Out Distractions
It may seem superfluous, but one innocuous email can toss your entire day to the winds. A client might just need “one quick question” answered, which will actually suck up your entire morning. Or it could be one funny piece of new that you decided to follow and by the time you are out of the rabbit hole, you realise it’s lunch time.
I have found that working without distractions is good – but it’s even better when you can do it on a daily basis. Why? Because then your team understands and comes to expect your working style. Cooperation becomes easier. Collaboration yields faster results.
4. Use Technology Effectively
You might have spent all afternoon chasing one single lead and felt very productive. But, hello! Who are we kidding? If this guy made you turn corner after corner and led you to a dead end, you are only moments away from smashing your computer. (Okay, quickly getting away to down 4 mugs of coffee while listening to another colleague’s equally worthless chase saga will help). Of course, this is part of the job. But, who says we can’t use some smart tools to minimise dud afternoons like this one?
At Exotel, we eat our own food. We analyse our leads by studying data from our customer. We integrate easily with other CRM software to keep put pipelines updated with the most promising and relevant leads.
We prepare for the most promising leads by listening to conversations from him and other similar customers. Our responses are mired in data, not simulated scenarios. We avoid physical burn-out that’s caused by unnecessarily switching between a telephone set and the computer. Exotel integrates the web calling feature, so we can call a client from the computer which studying his data. Cumulatively, all of these add up to some very high numbers.
And finally, you can graduate from frantic coffees in the afternoon to chilled beers in the evening.
A version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn.