After more than a decade at Salesforce, I've seen the number of distractions at work grow along with the pressure to continually pack your pipeline with viable leads and new business. I've also been lucky to work for and manage many salespeople over the years, and have figured out that sales success isn't always about experience or your education level. In fact, some of Salesforce's best sales reps had never sold software before working here.
What all successful, productive reps have in common is the capacity to learn.
Amid the growing pings, email notifications and workplace pressures, I've developed guidelines for a standard set of skills and recommended reading to help salespeople cut through the noise and stay productive.
1. There's no MBA in selling.
You don't need to go to business school to learn how to sell. Find a mentor that motivates and inspires you to strive for excellence. Also read books, articles and listen to podcasts on selling.
An oldie but goodie is The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB. They really dig into the behaviors and attitudes that will help you achieve high performance. I also listen to Tony Robbins, who has books, videos and presentations that are the holy grail of workforce coaching.
Additionally, I follow Salesforce's Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar on social media.
2. Focus on the relationships, not the number.
Your relationship with customers is what will drive your productivity and success, and eventually lead to selling more.
3. Study your customers, not just any news.
Every morning I scan the New York Times for business and global news. When I was a sales rep, I'd read the local news for where my territory was and industry articles for the top industries in my territory too.
This made me sell smarter and reduced the need for me to cram in research about a customer before meeting them... because I already had this knowledge baked in.
4. Block time for you.
If you don't keep space on your calendar for work, someone else will take it up with meetings.
Keep undisturbed time during your day for cold calling, company research or customer proposals.
5. Focus on the end goal.
If everything is important then nothing is important. Eliminate demands that don't help you drive revenue and don't get distracted by requests that aren't related to your customer's success or the problem you're trying to solve.
Until you have finished your necessary daily tasks (created a proposal, called certain customers) don't let yourself get pulled into too many directions.
6. Track your data.
With customer relationship management (CRM) tools, you really get what you put into it. Get notes out of your notebook/excel and into your CRM so that you have easily searchable info on customers and clearly know your next steps and deal history.
Use your mobile phone to access this CRM data.
7. Analyze your data.
Know what contracts are renewing, what deals need attention, where you have been successful. The best employees can back up their work with data that proves their success.
Always have this data at your fingertips.
8. Treat yourself.
This is a no-brainer but too many people forget to do the basic things to keep you healthy and happy. Put your family first, get sleep, exercise and eat well.
Treating yourself every once in awhile is necessary to give you the boost you need to stay productive.
9. Tweet yourself.
Use social media to find pipeline and follow social posts by your customers to learn more about their business. Try texting as a means of communication with customers who are hard to reach.
10. Win as a team.
You may be an expert, but you can't close a deal or succeed in any area of business without leaning on someone else.
For example, a prospect of mine had a number of technical questions that I wasn't able to answer, so I reached out to a sales engineer to oversee the issue and ensure the customer's needs were met.
In another instance, a prospect asked to speak to customers who had had similar implementations, so I reached out to a colleague who had relationships with the right customer and would be willing to speak to my prospect.
Our sales team felt so confident in our collective strength that it didn't matter what we shared, and in the end we needed each other as resources to win.
This post was originally published on Inc.