Finding Your North Star – Guiding Productivity Questions

Do you ever catch yourself in the middle of the day and ask yourself, “What the heck am I doing?! Is this really the best use of my time?” It’s at those times when I realize I’ve allowed myself to be led off course by “non revenue generating activities”. And it’s easy to do.

In a typical selling day, there are at least a dozen issues pulling you in all different directions. Everything from customer support issues,  managing your prospecting process, to call prep & follow up, quoting, account research, etc. As a sales professional, the goal is to identify the most effective strategies to drive more business, then do more of that. However it is so easy to get distracted! To make matters worse, the majority of sales professionals I know seem to suffer from ADD or what I refer to as “shiny object syndrome”.  We’re constantly thrown off course by chatty coworkers, complaining customers, constantly checking email, texts, ext. We’re moving at high speed and have a thousand thoughts swirling around at all times. So how can we stay focused and effective?

Go ahead and do a search on “How to be more productive”… I dare you. The amount of information is staggering. At the time of this article, there were 37,200,000 search results. So with all the information, how do you decide what to spend your time on? Well, I’ll offer you a suggestion I received that has been my “north star”, my guiding productivity questions that govern my daily to-do list. I continually ask myself two questions throughout the day:

  1. Is this a revenue generating activity?
  2. Will this action move my deal forward?

If the answer is yes, it goes to the top of the list, and I find an appropriate time to put it on the calendar. If no, then even if I have to do it, it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. As a side note, overall planning happens at the beginning of the week according to monthly goals, and it all gets scheduled or it’s too easy to miss.

Examples of revenue generating activities are effective prospecting, customer visits / demos, generating and generating quotes to name a few.  That’s not to say you won’t have activities that are not revenue generating, but those are necessary evils and should be managed. If you are undisciplined, you may find yourself in constant reactionary mode and the next thing you know the day is over and you wasted a valuable selling day. I hate when that happens!

Here is a simple trick I recently learned from Jeffry Harrison, a former Army sniper. I thought it was too brilliant not to share. In an interview he gave to The Blaze, he says to stay focused, he uses a technique called SLLS, “Stop what you’re doing. Look around. Listen to your surroundings. Smell your environment,” Harrison wrote. This method brings him right back to the present moment and highly focused. This is his North Star that guides his daily activities. Then he has an alarm that goes off every two hours to remind him to practice SLLS.

Take Away: Give Harrison’s method a shot. Set an alarm to go off every two hours as a reminder to check with your guiding productivity questions. Try this Monday – Friday, 8-5 for three weeks. This will help you to create the habit of stopping, remembering your north star, and asking yourself if what you are doing is wasting your time or making you money. If you are coin operated like I am, the thought of wasting money snaps me out of my trance and puts my day into perspective.

Happy Selling!



About Arlina Allen 23 Articles
Silicon Valley Native, Sales Professional, Blogger & Podcaster

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