Sales Hacker Chat Recap With Jill Konrath

Q1: What Do you Feel Is the Greatest Issue Facing Sales Professionals Today?

Overwhelm. Every seller I talk to feels crazy-busy, like they’re working day and night. It’s been a growing trend. Most recently, research by @CEB_Sales confirmed that seller overwhelm is the #1 issue too. It’s affecting performance too. Despite working more hours, sellers are getting less done & feeling more stressed. A major root cause is digital distractions. Getting sucked into email, LinkedIn, Twitter & more. All the time. Digital distractions cause everything to take longer and eat up 1-2 extra hours/day. To see if you have a problem, download a preview of More Sales, Less Time & take the quiz.

Q2: How Can Sales Professionals Better Manage Online Distractions?

Start by getting a baseline. As I talk about in More Sales, Less Time, a good app for that is RescueTime. With RescueTime you discover your biggest time sucks. It’s eye-opening, and embarrassing to find out how you work. A sales pro can leverage apps like Freedom to prevent them from going online for periods of time. It’s essential to turn off all notifications too. They are constant temptations to take you off task. Another suggestion is to close down email when you’re done checking it. It’s hard for sellers to do, but essential.

Q3: What can sales professionals do to drive More Sales in Less Time?

Once a sales pro has regained control of their distractions, the next thing to do is focus on what matters most. Every day/week, it’s crucial to ask: What will make the biggest difference … and make everything else easier if I do it?” For most sellers, the key is to increase customer-facing activities and prep time to ensure you do a good job. Plan your day and week before you begin. Block off time segments for essential activities. Take breaks too. At least once an hour, get up and move. It’ll re-energize you and make you more strategic/creative.

Q4: How can sales professionals leverage systems thinking to lighten their workload?

First thing is to identify possible “systems” in what they do–like prospecting, proposals or presentations. Let’s look at prospecting: it’s a coordinated set up “touches” that roll out over time – a system. Rather than treating each touch as a unique event, smart sellers develop the whole system at the onset. Then, they search for ways to improve the system, identifying what’s working and what needs tweaking.

Q5: What can sales professionals do to motivate themselves to do tough tasks?

Tough tasks? Like prospecting, dealing with a challenging customer issue? Personally I love the Pomodoro technique It’s like playing beat the clock. Set a timer for 25 minutes, then get to work and get it done. After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break where you get up and leave your desk. Move. Then repeat this cycle two more times before taking a 15-minute break. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done this way. Guaranteed to double your productivity.

Q6: Where Do Most Deals Go South(west) And How Can Sales Professionals Prevent Them?

Most deals go south before they ever get going. Issue #1 is lousy prospecting with a focus on products/services. When you create messaging that’s addresses key issues or offers fresh insights/information, you pique curiosity. Plus, if you personalize it … or connect with people via social media ahead of time, success rates skyrocket. Issue #2 is lousy initial meetings. If buyers feel like you’re “pitching”, then immediately pull back. According to @forrester, only 15% of execs said their meetings with sales people met expectations. If you blow your first conversation, you don’t get a second one.

Q7: How Can Sales Professionals Set Themselves Apart From The Competition?

Lots of ways. Be highly knowledgeable about the buyer before you connect. Focus on helping them achieve their business objectives, not selling. Constantly bring buyers new ideas, insights and information that they’ll find valuable. In short, consider that YOU are the primary differentiator, not your product/service. Invest in becoming an invaluable resource who your buyers want to work with – or can’t live without.


Q8: How can Trigger Events lead to more sales in less time?

First off, a trigger event is an external or internal happening that changes a companies priorities. External trigger examples: changes in political climate, competitive moves, new technology, new legislation. Internal trigger examples: new leadership, change in strategic direction, relocation’s, stagnant 1st quarter earnings These triggers loosen the grip of the status quo. Buyers open to new options to respond to changing conditions. Sellers who track/follow-up on triggers are much more successful than others. Buying processes are significantly faster. Fewer competition are involved; sometimes none. Discounting is reduced. And, less time is spent on pursuing less qualified leads. Here’s a great e-book on leveraging trigger events—Hidden Gems:

Q9: At What Point Should An Opportunity Be Unqualified?

Any time an opportunity goes beyond the “typical” sales cycle, it’s a major red flag. When buyers are unresponsive, stalling or unwilling to let you engage with others, it’s a red flag too. Could be related to buyers not seeing value, talking to wrong people, other priorities or lack of trigger events. And sales pros should look for their own complicity in this. They could be creating issue. Example: Why don’t buyers see value? Why aren’t they talking to right people? Sales pros should regularly unclog their pipeline, freeing time and mental energy to go after real opportunities.

Q10: Where Do You See The Most Room For Improvement With Sales Professionals?

On a daily basis, focusing on what they can do to increase their success rate in every aspect of their job. That requires thinking, prepping, strategizing, and ultimately experimenting with new ways. It also requires a willingness to be on the edge of your comfort zone all the time – which is a challenge. On a more macro level, top sellers focus on becoming an invaluable resource for their customers. Becoming an invaluable resource requires a significant time investment, but the payback is huge.