Keeping Order in Chaos

There’s no denying that sales is a stressful profession. We aren’t surprised when we hear from companies – even successful ones – that at their core, they are chaotic.

The stressors that sales pros face may be internal, such as meeting personal goals and increasing their net worth. They can also be external, such as pressure to perform well, meet company sales targets and deal with difficult clients. Many deal with both.

For some, chaos can be debilitating, killing productivity and hindering their sales performance. The stress can build up and negatively affect the mental and physical health of professionals. For business, the result could be damaged client relationships, missed opportunities and poor sales outcomes.

When it comes to sales, chaos is the norm. We can’t stop it, but we can manage it.

In fact, many sales managers actually thrive in chaotic situations. The stress that results from chaotic environments can be a positive influence. It challenges us, keeps us on our toes, and forces us to grow and develop.

The best sales managers embrace their stress and use it to move forward. It takes more than never-ending coffee and to-do lists to reach optimal productivity in a chaotic environment. From mobile apps, to establishing a daily routine, dealing with professional stress and chaotic environments takes strong management skills and the right set of tools to help you manage your day and the tasks that make it up.

Here’s how successful sales professionals stay productive, even in the face of chaos:

There’s An App For That

We’ve said this before and it’s worth saying again, mobile phone has changed business forever.

There’s no denying the power of mobile software and its role in increasing effectiveness and efficiency in sales. It’s quite simple; professionals who work well on the go have the right tools to support them. Using productivity apps is a great way to complete your work even when you’re not at your desk.

One of our favourite, yet underrated apps is TurboScan.

TurboScan turns your iPhone/iPad into a multipage scanner for documents, receipts, notes, whiteboards, and other text. With this app, you can easily scan your documents and store them or email them as either a multipage PDF or JPEG file. TurboScan costs a mere $1.99 (or local equivalent) making it the cheapest scanner and fax machine you’ll ever buy.

It’s without a doubt an application that should be installed on any professional’s mobile phone, as it’s an easy way to improve your overall productivity.

For more ideas, check out our post, Four Awesome Apps That Every Sales Pro Should Try.

Plan For Success, And Success Will Happen

Those who plan, succeed. It’s that simple. While chaos can rarely be planned, we know it’s an inevitable part of the profession. It’s going to happen. The key to thriving in it is planning for the unplanned.

Develop a plan for what your day will look like tomorrow and stick to it. Include waking up, eating breakfast, going to the gym, time for making connections, phone calls and even time for social media. You need to leverage your calendar to act as a tool that will help you achieve success. Use your calendar to schedule time to build relationships, make introductions and even grab a coffee.

Carve out time for unplanned events by creating breaks in your workflow. We’ve discussed the importance of It’s important for you to manage your day and not let your day manage you.

This small but mighty productivity rule has been proven by famous writers, thinkers, politicians and successful business minds time and time again.

Deal With Your Tasks One At A Time. Start Now.

One of the biggest productivity killers and stress creators is the pile of tasks we create for ourselves by deciding to deal with things later. Whether you read an email and decide to come back to it later or you leave a sales meeting with a plan to follow up later, dealing with things as they come is the most productive way to get things done.

Susan O’Connell understands the power of dealing with tasks as they happen. She suggests that we “deal with something once. Do it now. Then it’s off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.”

Think about how easy it is to open an article in a new tab and say you’ll read it later. Think about how easy it is to hold off responding to an email just because you’re not in the mood to respond. That’s a surefire way to get caught in chaos down the road.

Try applying the “deal with it once” rule to tasks like email, voicemail, meeting requests and other tasks that only take a few minutes to complete. It will help you be more productive and ultimately get closer to achieving your goals and the bigger tasks.

Say ‘No’ – It’s The Key To Your Sanity

Learning to say ‘no’ is one of the most powerful tools a sales professional can have. In fact, a study demonstrates that those who learn to say ‘no’ effectively live a more productive life.

According to the study, there is a right way to say ‘no’. The most effective way to decline is to say, “I don’t”. Whether you’re saying no to distractions, temptations, clients or co-workers, the best approach is to use “I don’t”.

Once you put these words to use for you, you’ll be able to keep focused and accomplish your goals. For example, “I don’t check my email in the morning”, “I don’t work more than 10 hours a day”, or “I don’t make meetings on the weekend.” are all easy ways to say no. Empowering yourself to say no will give you the time you need to focus.

To further convey the importance of saying no, take this quote from Stephen Covey:

You have to decide what your priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside

If you’re able to identify your goals and have a real passion to achieve them, it becomes easier to say no.

Do The Most Challenging Things First

Most people are more productive in the morning before things hit the fan. In the morning, when you’re working on all cylinders, focus on your most challenging tasks. Use your afternoons for meetings and small tasks. This is a great way to ensure that you accomplish the most work in the most optimal working conditions. When stressful situation arise in your day, you’ll be able to handle them better knowing that you met some of your goals earlier that morning.

Think About Email Differently

Email (after Facebook) is the most famous productivity killer. It’s a time-eater, a distraction, and can even be a nuisance. While we can’t get rid of it, we can do it better.

The most productive way to deal with email is to make time to do it and then ignore it. Try dedicating two to three pockets of time in your day just to reading and responding to emails. This way, you’re not being pulled from other tasks each time new mail hits your inbox.

Also, avoid copying multiple people on emails if you’re not sure that the content is relevant or important for each recipient. This can be distracting to others and can result in a reply-all tsunami.

What are some other ways to keep productivity alive in the face of chaos?