It’s the end of the month, and you’re just one deal away from hitting your number. You have the contract out … but the prospect hasn’t signed it yet.
With just that one signature, your month is made. Without it, you’re in the red.
In this scenario, the urge to become a high-pressure sales jerk is overwhelming. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you’re truly committed to serving your buyers, it’s never acceptable to be a jerk. Don’t turn into a jerk just because you are almost at the finish line — after all, this is when your buyer might need your help the most.
Obviously, yelling and making threatening demands is jerk-y behavior. But I find that many reps kill their deal with rudeness at the finish line without even realizing it. All it takes is 10 short words:
“Why haven’t you been able to get this finished yet?”
Translation: “What is wrong with you that you haven’t signed the contract?” That’s what your prospect hears when you ask this passive-aggressive question. Time of death of your deal: The moment this awful phrase is uttered.
This question makes your prospect feel like they aren’t doing a good job getting this done. If you have capably helped your prospect and shown value up until this point and they are ready to buy, don’t screw up your hard work at the last minute because you’ve gotten nervous.
Tell your nerves to calm down. Things will work out the way they will work out, but you being annoying and rudely questioning your prospect’s process is not going to help them or you.
Modern sales reps never, ever pressure their buyer. Sales is about helping the buyer buy on their timeline, not forcing them to fork over the money when it’s convenient for you.
The next time you inevitably find yourself in this situation, take it as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to helping your prospect. Instead of demanding why the buyer hasn’t gotten the contract back to you, ask open-ended questions to uncover the obstacles they’re facing, and learn how you can best help.
Here are some examples:
How can I help you to get started using our product or service?
What things need to happen from here to get this approved?
What are the next steps you have to take to get approval on this?
Who do you work with internally on this and what kinds of things do you think they would have questions on?
What kinds of content will help you internally in getting this done?
There’s a line between being assertive and aggressive in sales. Don’t ever — for any reason — cross over that boundary. You might think that pushing is the best way to close a deal, but I can guarantee you that the only thing aggression will do is kill a sale — in record time.
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Biting your nails. Chewing with your mouth open. Speaking before you think. This is the kind of stuff we usually think about when we think of “bad habits.”
But what about the bad habits that are hurting your performance at work?
There’s a whole host of things many of us are guilty of doing every single day that research shows ends up really hurting our productivity. And the more aware you are of how these things are affecting your productivity, the more proactive you can be at taking responsibility for your choices.
So, ask yourself: Are you guilty of any of these bad habits? If so, it may be time to cut it out.
12 bad habits that are making you less productive
1. rushing in the morning
We all have those mornings where you’re rushing your morning routine and barely have time to brush your teeth before running out the door to make it to the office on time. It’s when the morning rush becomes a habit that there can be negative consequences to your sense of well being and your overall productivity.
When you start off your day in a frenzied state of mind, you’re not giving your brain any time to decompress, reset, and prepare for the day. Instead, you’re pumping it with adrenaline first thing in the morning, which can cause you to crash later on.
If your mornings lack time and space to breathe, try waking up 10–30 minutes earlier and starting off with a quick meditation session. According to a 2012 study, people who mediated “stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.” Try the free app Headspace to start: It gives you 10 free guided meditation sessions, with the option of signing up for a monthly subscription.
2. skipping breakfast
I’ve never been able to skip breakfast, but I know plenty of people who do. Whether you blame it on being too rushed (see #1) or just not feeling hungry, eating a well-rounded breakfast just isn’t a priority for a lot of people.
But it should be. Why? Because, technically, when you’re sleeping, you’re fasting — meaning you wake up with low blood sugar. That low blood sugar is exactly why many of us feel tired, apathetic, and even a little irritable first thing in the morning. It’s not you; it’s your inherent need for the sustenance that, you know, keeps you up and running as a human.
What about replacing food with coffee? Sure, the caffeine rush from your morning coffee can help hide the symptoms of low blood sugar — but it won’t satisfy your need for food. In fact, it’ll likely cause you to crash later in the day, which can really harm your productivity.
Prioritizing a healthy breakfast is a key to boosting productivity for the rest of your day. Try healthy breakfast foods that have the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that’ll give you energy. Foods rich in vitamin B — like oatmeal, bananas, pineapple, and avocados — can help improve your concentration. Avoid breakfast foods with added sugar like sugary cereal, donuts, Pop Tarts, and even bagels.
3. tackling the easy stuff first
It can be very tempting to get all the easy tasks out of the way first before tackling the tough stuff. This is especially true when you’re dreading that challenging task. You push it further and further down your to-do list … until you’ve left it untouched for days or even weeks.
But tackling the most difficult tasks on your to-do list early on in the day is actually better for your overall productivity. Researchers have found that willpower is a finite resource that steadily decreases throughout the day, according to the book The Willpower Instinct.So your brain is much better at handling the hardest tasks at the beginning of the day when you’re more focused.
Mornings also tend to lend fewer distractions, making it easier for you to get things done. My colleague James Gilbert suggests that folks “take advantage of morning hours to crank through meaty projects without distractions, and save any calls or virtual meetings for the afternoon.”
4. checking and responding to emails as they come in
Email is supposed to help us do our work, not distract us from our work. So why does it always feel like a productivity suck?
In an effort to stay on top of a constantly overflowing inbox, it can be tempting to check and respond to every email as soon as it comes in. Receiving email notifications in real time certainly doesn’t help. But constantly switching tasks between work and email can really hurt your productivity.
To help you focus in chunks of time, turn off those pesky email alerts and limit checking your email to specified breaks.
To turn off notifications in Gmail: Click the gear icon and choose “Settings. In the “General” tab, scroll down to the “Desktop Notifications” section. From there, select “Mail notifications off” and click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
If you’re worried about missing an important email, try selecting “Important mail notifications on” and Gmail will notify you for emails it thinks are important to you based on past activity.
To turn off alerts in Outlook: On the “Tools” menu, click “Options.” Open the “Preferences” tab and click “E-mail Options,” then “Advanced E-mail Options.” Under “When new items arrive in my Inbox,” clear the “Display a New Mail Desktop Alert (default Inbox only) check box.
Pro tip: Even when you’re checking email, you don’t have to respond to every single one right away. If you’re worried about forgetting about email, I highly recommend using Andreas Klinger’s method for triaging email in Gmail, which you can read about here.
The premise behind his method is to triage emails by urgent emails that need action/reply, not-so-urgent emails that eventually need action/reply, emails that are awaiting reply, and emails you delegate to someone else.
5. checking twitter, facebook, and your other social feeds
To turn off notifications in Google Chrome: Open Chrome, click “Chrome” in the menu bar on the top left of your screen, and choose “Preferences” from the dropdown menu. In the n ew browser window that appears, choose “Settings” from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen, and click “Show Advanced Settings” at the bottom. In the “Privacy” section, click on “Content Settings.” Scroll down to the “Notifications” section.
From here, you can either choose “Do not allow any site to show notifications” if you want to turn them off altogether. Otherwise, click “Manage Exceptions” and see what Chrome currently allows notifications for — and then alter that list as you see fit.
To turn off Twitter notifications on desktop: Click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner and select “Settings” from the dropdown menu. From the sidebar on the left-hand side of your screen, choose “Web notifications,” and uncheck every box. Click “Save Changes.”
6. keeping your phone with you at work
Raise your hand if you have a small panic attack when you realize you don’t have your phone with you — whether you’re sitting at your desk, attending a meeting, grabbing coffee … heck, even going to the bathroom. (I’m guilty of this, too.)
There’s a reason Blackberries were nicknamed “Crackberries” back when they were popular: It’s because smartphones are probably the easiest distraction on the planet. And when you keep your phone with you at work, you’re putting your productivity levels at risk.
Why does receiving that text or call hurt our productivity so much? Researchers from that study say that, although the actually moment of interruption is short-lived, our thoughts are disrupted for a considerably longer period, making it tough to refocus.
There are a lot of different ways to curb your phone addiction. The simplest is to turn your phone on silent and put it away while you’re at work. If that isn’t cutting it, try an app likeForest. This app will prompt you to plant a virtual tree when you start working, which “grows” over the course of 30 minutes. The more 30-minute periods you don’t use your phone, the larger your forest will grow; but if you leave the app, you’ll have to start all over again.
Next week we will follow on with 6 more bad habits that make us less productive.
It’s hard to believe, but some businesses are still slow to embrace social media for marketing and brand-building purposes. These businesses cling to outmoded methods of marketing without taking into account just how influential and far-reaching social media has become for consumers in B2C and B2B.
“Not having the right social media channels for your customers to reach out to you is the 1985 equivalent of not having a phone line,”In case you’re not yet fully on board with social media, here are compelling reasons why not using it can harm your business:
1. people won’t know how great your business is
Let’s assume you do things right and you’ve built a small, but loyal customer base. Wouldn’t it help to let more people know about your satisfied customers? On social media, businesses routinely share customer testimonials with their followers, while customers are happy to share their buying experiences all on their own.
2. you’re unaware of what customers are saying about you online
Whether you like it or not, customers unhappy with your product or service won’t hesitate to share their experiences on Facebook and other platforms. Without a social media presence, how can you monitor negative reviews or attempt to answer them and demonstrate a policy of responsiveness?
3. you lack a method for engaging with your target audience
Social media is interactive. Small businesses build communities around their brands and instill customer loyalty. Engagement may include sharing product updates, conducting customer surveys, sponsoring contests, etc. A small business that lacks a social media presence must work much harder to engage its customer base.
4. traditional advertising is more expensive than marketing on social media
Not only does creating and distributing advertisements add up to significant costs, the level of customer trust in traditional advertising is fairly low. Start-ups in particular enjoy a much higher success rate using social media to promote their products or services.
5. it’s much harder to build a reputation as a thought leader
It’s likely you’re an expert in your particular field of business. But without a social media presence, who will ever know? Small businesses regularly create and promote content of value to their followers, in the process building a reputation as an industry thought-leader — which adds credibility when they reach out to prospective customers.
6. you can’t easily spread the word about new products or upgrades
Businesses use Facebook and other channels to launch a new product or announce a major upgrade. Customers are sometimes invited via social media to “test-drive” the new product and offer helpful feedback. This kind of customer input increases the odds of a successful launch or upgrade, because a business knows in advance what works (and what doesn’t work) with their target audiences.
7. you’re less likely to know what your competitors are up to
Never assume that just because you don’t have a social media presence, the competition is abstaining as well. They’re not! Monitoring the social media activity of competitors enables you to stay informed about their marketing efforts and who their customers are — information that could prove essential for your own marketing campaigns.
8. it’s harder to recruit quality employees
Businesses use social media as an active employee-recruitment tool — and job candidates do the same when it comes to checking out potential employers. Having a vibrant online presence (not just your business website) makes your company more attractive to talented candidates, the very individuals you most want to apply for your open positions.
9. in a crisis, the lack of a social media presence can be devastating
Sooner or later, almost every business experiences some type of public relations or product-related crisis. Companies that successfully “bounce back” usually integrate crisis management with social media in the planning stages. They use Twitter and other channels to beat back unfounded rumors and speculation, while ensuring a continuous flow of customer-friendly information. A business with no social media presence can be badly harmed by a tsunami of angry voices online.
Late to the show? Look at social media platforms your customers follow and start building your own community of fans and friends alike.