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What Sales Can Teach You About Productivity

Sales is an intimidating job. It was always the one area of business I liked to steer clear of. So what happens when one day you wake up and suddenly you’re in sales?

Through a series of restructuring at the company I was working for, my department got eliminated and I was moved to a sales position. I was terrified. Sales people famously have a bad reputation and I didn’t want to be one of those annoying people on the other end of the phone.

What holds people back most in sales is their mindsets. In prospecting it’s easy to get caught up in procrastination, perfectionism, and paralysis from analysis. In my first week, I suffered from all three. I was doing as much research as possible, to make my calls perfect, only to continually put off making the actual calls. It was a never-ending loop of low productivity.

Cold calling "Power Hours"

I couldn’t continue at the rate I was going so I purchased “Fanatical Prospecting” by Jeb Blount. The book is filled with great advice but my biggest take-away was about blocking time in my calendar for cold calling.

“Salespeople and leaders are absolutely stunned at how much they get done when they block their time, focus on a single activity, and set an outcome goal for that activity.”

I had to stop avoiding what I was afraid of – which was failure itself. So I started blocking my time. I would book a meeting room for an hour at a time and I would start calling. I had my list ready. There would be no distractions. I would just keep making call after call. I even put it in my calendar as “Cold Calling Power Hour.”

My productivity skyrocketed. I was making more calls, handling rejection better, and even getting more people to agree to meetings. Jeb Blount writes that:

“Time blocking is transformational for salespeople. It changes everything. When you get disciplined at blocking your time and concentrating your power, you see a massive and profound impact on your productivity. You become incredibly efficient when you block your day into short chunks of time for specific activities. You get more accomplished in a shorter time with far better results.”

An hour is all you need

The Power Hours were so successful, I started implementing them throughout the rest of my day. At this time, I was also working on a few other projects. It’s tough to keep yourself motivated and focused to do more work, when you just get home from work. It’s easy to get distracted with dinner, your family or watching your favourite TV shows. So I started blocking hours of my time.

I’d have an hour for dinner and TV. An hour for one project and an hour for another project. Before I knew it, my night was done and I accomplished a lot of work. I was productive.

Power hours are great for two reasons:

  1. Our work adjusts to fit the time allowed, so we get more done in less time.

  2. Anyone can stay focused for an hour.

Studies have even proven the effectiveness of focusing on one task for an hour at a time. Dr. Travis Bradberry, who’s an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership performance, writes that “The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest.”

Individuals who worked in hour or 52-minute blocks had a unique level of focus in their work. For that hour, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish.

Next time you’re not feeling productive enough, try scheduling some Power Hours. Sales is a difficult job and if they’re able to be productive, so can you. Power Hours help you tackle the things you’ve been avoiding. They help you get over your discomfort and find success.

One hour of productive discomfort is better than an entire day in your comfort zone if it means you get results, and believe me, you will.

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