5 Apps to Keep You Personally Productive

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Post It Face

Chris Hamoen wrote about his favorite iPhone apps for business last week, and that got me to thinking about what apps I use, and what for. The what for was easy – productivity. With so much to do, so little time, how can we possibly keep track of it all? Without constant reminders, alarms and notifications, I would be lucky to get to work, let alone make it through the day.

For the most part, our lives have become automated and routinized, which is good news for those of us who were not blessed with the ability to multi-task. There are hundreds, even thousands, of tools and applications to help increase productivity in our day-to-day lives. But which productivity apps are making life easier, and which are just cluttering up our daily task lists? Productivity tools are only useful if they are easy to use. Less is more and simple is better.

We cannot manage time – we can only manage ourselves. So, here is a list of five of my favourite productivity tools, the ones I use everyday to do that:

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Getting Sales Done #3 – The Sales Process

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Yes No Maybe

Ed. As you might have noticed, the “Getting Sales Done” series is slowly getting re-published in the “Best of” every Saturday. This week, we’re up to number 3 where we look at David Allen’s Process stage in Getting Things Done. The entire series is listed and linked at the end of the article.

In the previous installment, we equated David Allen’s “Collect” to identifying your leads and the need to collect every scrap of information that might result in a sales opportunity. In Allen’s Collect process, you capture every task that clutters your mind to free it from stress. In sales, you capture everything that affects your sales opportunities to increase your success, and at this first stage in selling, that means leads.

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Categorize Your Customers For Better Results

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Personal Styles

“While personal selling as a communication vehicle has the advantage of allowing salespeople to treat each customer differently, in practice, salespeople cannot take the time to treat each customer in a totally unique manner.”

This is a quote from a 1988 article by Dr. Harish Sujan, Barton Weitz, and Mita Sujan titled Increasing Sales Productivity By Getting Salespeople to Work Smarter. I wrote an earlier article on this and noted that the authors had “10 Ways To Increase Salesperson Productivity.” The first of these is “teach salespeople to better categorize customers,” and the above quote is the first sentence of that recommendation. I wouldn’t argue with that, but maybe I can expand on it a little.

The remainder of this first way to increase productivity is spent discussing the social styles of the individual customers as defined by Merrill and Reid in their 1981 study and publication, and the need for salespeople to be versatile in their own social styling to gain rapport with the customer. Again, I wouldn’t argue with that, but is that really the only customer categorizing we need to do? I know there are nine more ways to increase productivity in the article I’m referencing, but none of them deal with other categorization techniques, so I am assuming the authors only felt this one was necessary.

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Increasing Sales Productivity by Getting Salespeople to Work Smarter

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The Thinker

How’s that for a title? Straight out of what we’re all trying to do today with tools like sales automation and CRM; with devices like smartphones and tablets; with interactions by webinars and web conferencing in addition to phone and email; with Big Data and Drip Marketing and High-Velocity Selling; and with training in the principles of adaptive selling.

Wait. Adaptive selling? What’s that?

Before I explain, I have a confession. The title of this article is plagiarized. Yes, I stole it verbatim from three PhD’s – Harish Sujan, Barton Weitz, and Mita Sujan. It appeared in the August, 1988 edition of the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management. Is there a statute of limitations on plagiarism, because that makes the title nearly 25 years old.

Anyway, back to the question, what is adaptive selling and how can I learn to do it and work smarter? Well, according to their paper, adaptive selling is altering your “sales approaches based on the nature of the customer.” That seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? But is it so basic that the term is gone? Google it. From my computer the first five hits were for simplistic definitions from Investopedia and The Business Dictionary, a referral by the American Marketing Association to a 1990 paper in some other journal, a scholarly paper from 2nd World Conference on Innovation and Computer Science held in Kuşadası, Turkey, and this paper. Not exactly your top search term, apparently.

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Inside Sales – A Productivity Engine

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The field sales force is an extremely valuable resource for every company in the B2B business. It has a strong effect on sales success, it is usually a scarce resource, and it is cost intensive.  No question that everything must be done to maximize the effectiveness and the efficiency of this resource.

One contributor to the effectiveness and efficiency of the field sales force is the internal sales force. Its role is becoming increasingly important. This is to a great extent attributable to the availability of modern IT technology, which strongly contributes to its effectiveness and efficiency.

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Sales Reporting – Keep It Lean

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Lots Of Reports

For many sales persons and managers, reporting is one of the least enjoyed tasks and carries a high potential for conflict and frustration. I never met anybody who loves reporting, but for most of us it is inevitable.

Sales people regard reporting as a waste of time because it is time which they could better devote to their customers. They often call it unnecessary bureaucracy. Managers are frustrated, because they don’t get reports on time, so that they have to send reminders. Or they have to interpret long written reports in which the essential information is hidden behind long stories with a lot of irrelevant facts and opinions.

Nobody is really happy with reporting, but everybody has to do it. Almost all companies have some kind of reporting system installed. Why don’t they just drop it and stop wasting time on it? Simply because some reporting is necessary.

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Getting Sales Done #2 – Collect: Gathering Opportunities

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The Best of today brings back Number Two in the Getting Sales Done series. We look at David Allen’s time management step one, Collect/Capture, and discuss its relevance to sales. Not to time management in sales, but to opportunity management.

Collect (or Capture) is the first stage in David Allen’s popular time management process, Getting Things Done. In this stage, Allen emphasizes that everything in your mind that is task-focused must be recorded somehow in a place that isn’t your brain. A scrap of paper, a diary, your computer calendar or task list, text messaged to yourself, just somewhere external that can be later processed.

I won’t go into the background of Allen’s reasoning for this. You would be well-served to read his book for that, and for a lot of other valuable advice that doesn’t apply to our look at his concepts related to opportunity management. The purpose here is to see if there are analogous stages in sales that can be defined and implemented to make you more successful.

In sales, what do we collect that is specific to opportunity management? Leads. They are the raw material of your manufacturing process, and the product you produce is wins. Leads come from everywhere, and depending on what your customer acquisition process looks like, they might well come from you.

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Low Velocity Selling – Persistence

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Ed. Today, Claire Waggoner is going to talk about old school selling, about relationships and trust, and building them with persistence and patience. This is at the very core of relationship-focused selling and the selling skills you must practice to handle all of the different environments that you encounter.

It’s tricky to know when to push on with a potential customer who is not available or responsive, and when to let it drop.  In our current environment, it seems that metrics are applied to figure this out for you. Make 8.4 phone calls without a connection and give up, or three scripted voicemails over six days without a return call and move on, or whatever your theory of prospecting is.

High velocity selling, they call it. And I guess it must work for some people and situations because it seems to be the sales process du jour.

I’ve never used that approach, so I can’t really comment on it. I’ve had it used on me, and I didn’t really like it. If it works for you, great. If you’re doing it because someone told you it works, maybe look at your goals and results to see if that is true. I will say there is not just one formula for this. Your business intuition and style have a great deal to do with success.

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Getting Sales Done #1 – Introduction

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Getting Things Done

Ed. – The Best of today brings back the first in the series that looked at David Allen’s Getting Things Done time management process, and applied it specifically to opportunity management. This was a 12-part series, and we’ll bring back other installments as we go. Links to all of the articles in the series are added at the end.

This is the first in a series of articles that will examine David Allen’s bestselling book and wildly popular time management concepts, Getting Things Done. I’m sure every profession and segment of society has their own take on applying these concepts to their specific environment, but we’ve got sort of an endorsement that relates to sales from the author himself.

From the sequel, Making It All Work:

“But can you really train someone to get things done? Can a definable set of behaviors increase that facility. Popular belief still holds that certain people are by nature more productive while others just aren’t born that way. A similar preconception used to be applied to salespeople until one day someone woke up and realized that there was a characteristic, identifiable sales process.

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The Key to Sales Success: Pick Up the Phone!

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This can actually be an extremely short article. The key to sales success? Pick up the phone, make the call, track the results, do it again. That’s it. You’re a successful salesperson.

OK, there is more to it than that, but one of the biggest obstacles to success anywhere, and certainly in sales, is substituting busy work for progress. “I worked hard all day, therefore I am a good and valuable employee.” One does not necessarily relate to the other.

There can be an astonishing amount of effort put into the planning that goes into organizing the top, medium and bottom groups of clients to call. Then within those groups, who first, second, and so on. Then you can lay out talking points and even roll play them with other people.

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