Susan's Blog

De-Clutter to Climb to the Top

If you’re in sales, you know that clutter and a lack of organization in your life can lead to superfluous stress; the steps to declutter and prioritize seem easy, but as various tasks pile up, so does the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious. However, there’s a simple way to prevent the clutter from deterring you from focusing on your goals of generating revenue and reaching the top as a successful salesperson.

In mountain climbing, there’s no ambiguity about the need to travel light. The more weight you carry, the harder your journey will be.

In sales, this takes on another meaning.

We’re living in an age of information overload. As salespeople, we’re burdened with blizzards of e-mails, endless meetings, and countless demands on our time. It can be all too easy to become overwhelmed. Suddenly we may look up and discover that our best-laid plans to focus on revenue-generating activities have been derailed. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to success is to de-clutter both our personal and professional lives. In short, we have to take some of the weight out of our backpacks!

How can you do this? The first step is to jettison everything that stands in the way of your ultimate vision of blowing away your quota and becoming a top performer. That means setting priorities every day and then completing every task needed to fulfill them as efficiently as possible.

Start every morning by carefully assessing which activities must be accomplished that day, which can wait, which can be delegated, and, best of all, which can be eliminated entirely.

“I do that already,” you may be grumbling to yourself as you read this. Every day, you diligently compile a “to do” list of everything that’s on your plate. But, if you’re like many salespeople, your list is an unstructured collection of tasks that don’t reflect the priorities required to achieve your vision or provide a realistic time frame for completing them. Lists like these simply don’t work.

As salespeople, we should think of our “to do” items as physical objects that we place in our backpacks to help us achieve our daily mission. We must pack with care and purpose. We must delay, eliminate, or reassign any activity that doesn’t help us ascend “Mount Quota.”

High-priority tasks are usually the most difficult ones, so they create the heaviest loads. These are the phone calls we don’t want to make, the industry research we need to conduct to understand a new client’s business requirements, or the meeting with a prospect who now seems to be leaning toward a competitor.

If you’re like most salespeople, you may find yourself focusing primarily on easy tasks. You probably devote too much time to doing busywork, attending unproductive meetings, and in general, reacting to other people’s priorities. Just think how many sales you could have closed if you had spent that time meeting with prospective clients instead.

In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler encourages you to take a step back and focus on the heaviest, most difficult tasks that are sitting at the bottom of your pack first. Once you start putting energy into those, that debilitating load that’s been on your back since you initially scribbled down your to-do list will disappear and you’ll be one step closer to meeting your goals and climbing to the top.

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