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6 Time Management Strategies for B2B Sales Professionals

Effective time management benefits everyone in an organization. More specifically, sales professionals that manage their time effectively benefit from less stress, better quality work, improved productivity, and more quickly achieved goals.

For B2B sales professionals, better productivity translates to more sales, and one way to increase productivity is through effective time management. Here are six time management tips you can put to use today:

1. Start with a Daily Plan

Make a daily to-do list. This may seem like an obvious strategy, but many people don’t do it. Every morning, or the evening before, plan your day and stick to it as closely as possible. Schedule tasks that you will focus on throughout the day based on importance and urgency. When possible, carve out time slots for each task so you can focus without interruption for the necessary amount of time.


2. Set Priorities

Identify the top priorities for the day and don’t allow yourself to get distracted with smaller, less important tasks until the top priorities are under control. Write down the tasks that must get done and the ones you would like to get done. Start at the top and work your way through the most urgent tasks first. For B2B sales, this includes account planning strategy, focusing on decision makers, and prioritizing the leads that are most likely to convert.

3. Take Frequent Breaks

One study found that the top performing 10 percent of employees had a tendency to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. While this specific schedule might not work for you, it illustrates the importance of taking breaks. Schedule breaks into your day at a frequency that makes sense for you and protect that time. Pause between tasks to refresh your brain and get ready for the next item on your list. This often means stepping away from your desk so you don’t get drawn back into working before you’re ready to start again.


4. Work Smarter, Not Longer

According to a Stanford University study, productivity drops off sharply after a 50-hour workweek and is essentially nonexistent after 55 hours. Continued long hours are also correlated to absenteeism and turnover. If you can’t complete your necessary work in less than 50 hours, it may be time to consider more strict time management, training to improve, or a discussion with your leader to figure out the root cause of the problem and strategize how to make your workweek more manageable and productive. Use the sales tools at your disposal (CRM, reporting software, and so on) and don’t assume that you can remember it all. The tools are there for a reason, and the more you utilize them, the more productive you will be.


5. Set Boundaries

Social interactions in the workplace can have a positive impact, but not when they become distractions. Urgent requests can also take time away from important ones. Set boundaries that define when it’s okay to be interrupted and when you need to focus. If you have an office, it could be as simple as closing your door for certain periods during the day. In an open office, use indicators like headphones or a sign that says you don’t want to be interrupted and set office hours for the times in which you welcome employee interaction. If you are interrupted and the issue is not actually urgent, schedule a time to discuss it and return to the task at hand. Coworkers will eventually tailor their behaviors around your cues.


6. Focus on Your Weaknesses

When trying to get better at time management, identify the areas where you feel the weakest and focus on improving them one at a time. For example, if you know you’re bad at taking breaks, set a timer. If you like to socialize at work, do it only during breaks or schedule coffee with a coworker rather than having an impromptu chat. By improving your weaknesses, you will become a more well-rounded sales professional who is able to manage priorities, achieve (and exceed) client needs, and work productively to achieve the results you need.


Developing new habits for managing your time takes some initial effort, but when they become second nature you will find yourself less stressed, more productive, and ultimately, with better sales numbers.

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4 Essential Keys to Understanding Your Company's Culture

You’ve heard about the importance of company culture and how it can both attract new employees while keeping current ones engaged. However, you might still be wondering what exactly makes up company culture, why is it important, and does my own company even have a defined culture?

Company culture may seem like a vague and elusive concept, yet there are several ways to define it. Here are four keys to understanding your organization’s culture and the necessary criteria to determine whether yours may need to evolve.

Key 1: Recognize That You Do Have Company Culture

Every organization has company culture, whether intentionally cultivated or not. In short, it refers to the combination of values, goals, ethics, and expectations that govern and influence employee behaviors. If negative behaviors have been left to develop unchecked, with no guidance or direction, then yes, a company culture that supports bad habits may have taken root.

Simply put: There’s no blank slate when it comes to company culture. If you’re envisioning a specific kind—for instance, a customer-centric one—it’s not enough to simply announce that vision. You must first figure out what (and how) current behaviors need to shift in order to develop a roadmap to achieve those changes. That’s why it’s so important to define your current company culture before you try to steer it in a new direction.

Key 2: Analyze Your Company’s Priorities

If you want to better understand your culture, look at your company’s priorities. These goals and initiatives reveal what your organization values and what it does not (both explicitly and implicitly). Questions to ask yourself about company priorities may include:

  • Do your employees hear more about increasing the bottom line or increasing customer satisfaction?
  • Does your company give employees the freedom to experiment and innovate when it comes to solving problems, or is following protocol more important?
  • Is taking calculated risks seen as a distraction or opportunity?
  • How much (or how little) does your company invest in ongoing training efforts, both in terms of money and time?
  • When your company considers adopting certain efforts or changes, are the thoughts and feelings of both leadership and employees considered?

Exploring questions like this can give you clues as to what kind of culture your company has cultivated. Is it one with a workforce that’s empowered, engaged, and encouraged to innovate and improve? Or a culture where the bottom line is often prioritized? If your company’s priorities give you pause, it may be time to explore a culture transformation.

Key 3: Inquire About Company Culture

Your company culture is made up of behaviors, those that are encouraged, permitted, and hindered. To understand what kind makes up your organization, it’s best to go directly to the source: your employees.

Consider ways to get feedback on which behaviors currently serve the company well and which need to be discouraged or changed to elevate your organization. Gather feedback from all levels of employees, from executives to front-line managers. Surveys, company-wide assessments, and focus groups can all help create a clearer picture of the behaviors that define your current company culture. Again, the key is to engage every employee as you ask for feedback because the sum total of all employee contributions and behaviors are what make up your culture.

Key 4: Look to Your Leaders

While every employee contributes to company culture, leaders have more impact and influence. Examine the messages your leadership team puts forth, and whether action follows those words. Leadership may espouse values and a mission that excites employees, but if leadership itself doesn’t “walk the walk,” their behavior can contribute to a culture of distrust and disengagement. Culture starts from the top down, and your leadership sets the tone for what’s permissible and encouraged in your company and what’s not.

After examining your culture using the four keys listed, where do you think your company culture needs a tune-up—or is a complete culture transformation in order?

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3 Leadership Activities That Improve Employee Performance at All Hierarchical Levels

One of the leaders’ top priorities – whether they manage a small team or an entire organization – is to find ways to improve performance. Technology upgrades and improved processes certainly lead to productivity and quality improvements. However, we cannot underestimate the value of simple and easy-to-implement leadership activities that bring the team together and teach important and necessary skills in the workplace.

Use these three leadership activities to improve performance.

Communication: coaching of builders

Effective communication is essential to maintain high productivity and generate results that meet expectations. Executive leaders, supervisors and employees can benefit from better communication skills. This exercise highlights the importance of listening to and using succinct and clear language to avoid misunderstandings and errors. Follow these steps:

  1. Divide participants into groups of 4 to 7 people. Offer each group two sets that have at least 10 mounting blocks (Lego, for example). Before the exercise, you must assemble a simple object (such as a house) with one of the sets of blocks.
  2. Assign a leader, a dwellee, a builder, and a person responsible for taking notes. The latter should observe and document how people behaved during the activity, what seemed to work and when participants made mistakes.
  3. Give the leader the item you’ve assembled, taking care that only he can see the object. Mark 10 minutes on the clock. When the activity begins, the leader will pass instructions to the delegante on how the constructor should mount an exact replica of the object. Remember that the delegante should not see the object and the constructor should not hear this conversation.
  4. The delegante hears what has been said and then goes to the builder and repeats the leader’s instructions. The delegante can return to talk to the leader as many times as he deems necessary during the 10-minute period.
  5. The constructor uses the other block sets to construct exactly the same object that the leader can see, using only the delegante statements as guidance. The delegante should not see the object during construction.
  6. After 10 minutes, compare the leader object with the constructor’s to confirm that they look alike. Discuss what was frustrating or easy during the process and discuss what each person would do differently to get better results next time.

Accountability: clarity on objectives and expectations

When expectations and deadlines are not met, we sometimes attribute these results to lack of accountability. Often, however, this is not because the individual responsible for the task did not try hard enough, but because the expectations of this individual were unclear. If team members start work without actually understanding the purpose or objectives of a task and also the desired outcome, they will make mistakes that can be costly and cause delays.

This leadership activity teaches employees how important it is to clarify the issues before starting a task to increase accountability. Here are some scenarios in which this activity can be useful:

  • Meeting with managers organized by an executive.
  • Daily quick meetings conducted by supervisors with their direct subordinates.
  • Teambuilding session with all employees.

Here’s what to do:

At the beginning of the meeting, tell the group, “You are sitting the wrong way for today’s meeting. You have 60 seconds to improve this organization.” If team members ask for more information, repeat the instructions. Perhaps some of them will keep insisting, while the others will already start moving the seats. Note what they do, but don’t give other information, feedback, or instructions. After a minute, ask them to stop and ask these questions:

  1. “Have you achieved the goals? How do you get it?” Talk about how the team might not have achieved the goals because they weren’t clear.
  2. “Who asked for an explanation? How did you feel when I refused to give you more details?” Explain that when participants do not ask for an explanation and when the person responsible for the project does not clarify the doubts, everyone runs the risk of making mistakes and not being able to complete the task.
  3. “How has the pressure of time changed your behavior?” Tell them that when people are stressed or under pressure, they usually start work in a hurry, without confirming if they understand what was requested, which often causes problems.

Finally, this activity will show how employees should handle a task that generates questions. It will also show the leader how to set clearer expectations and create a culture in which communication is clear and accountability is the rule.

Ability to solve problems: team collaboration

When facing a new challenge or dealing with an idea or project, teams need to know whether to organize on their own, create an action plan, solve problems, and work together to achieve a common goal. With this exercise, you’ll encourage participants to test their creativity and ability to solve a team problem:

  1. Offer a variety of materials such as paper, cardboard, wooden blocks, pencils, paper clips, canudos, and more.
  2. Divide participants into teams of four to eight members. If the group is smaller, teams of two or three members are sufficient.
  3. Explain that the goal is to build the tallest tower in 20 minutes using any of the materials offered.
  4. Then talk about each group’s strategy and ask:

○ Who planned before it started and who started the task in a hurry? What were the results of these two approaches?

○ How did the groups define who would do what?

○ Was there a leader? Or did everyone do their part?

○ What was the hardest part of the task? And the easiest?

○ How can you apply these learnings to the projects you are currently participating in?

Depending on the type of group that participated in the activity, the following questions may be different. For instance:

  • For individuals of any hierarchical level: based on this activity, which communication strategies of the leader were most useful?
  • For supervisors: in this activity, when did communication failures occur? How have they harmed the creation process?
  • For executives: As a builder, what would you need to receive from the leader but didn’t? As a leader, have your instructions been followed accurately? How could you improve accuracy and understanding?

These three activities help develop some of the most important leadership skills: communication, accountability and problem solving skills. They are important for individuals of any hierarchical level in the organization, from the executive team to the employees. With each exercise, they learn to work more efficiently,both individually and as a team. With this, the performances improve throughout the organization.


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7 Characteristics All World-Class Sales Professionals Possess

What does it take to become a successful salesperson? Is it the ability to persuade or negotiate?No—or, at least, not entirely. Sales models of the past may have relied on persuasion techniques to trick prospects into buying products they didn’t need. But today’s customers are far savvier, and there’s no shortcut to becoming a successful, trusted salesperson. Instead, salespeople who aspire to become leaders in their field should concentrate on cultivating a certain set of characteristics.

Here are seven characteristics that all world-class sales professionals need to possess in order to succeed in today’s business landscape.


A world-class sales professional knows that preparation for a potential sale begins long before the pitch. Before even getting on the phone with a prospect, they have already done the research, digging deep into the prospect’s company and industry and problems the prospect may be facing. A world-class salesperson will also research the current sales environment to learn what the competition has up its sleeve.


Savvy salespeople don’t act like typical salespeople. During a sales meeting, they’ll let the prospect do most of the talking. Rather than pushing for a sale of their product or service, they understand the greater importance of focusing on the prospect’s needs (both perceived and real). A world-class sales professional is aware of the “slimy salesman” stereotype and is careful not to come off that way. Combating that stereotype is easy when you make the sales meeting all about the prospect.


Taking the time to listen pays off for a world-class sales professional. By letting the prospect talk about the problems facing their company, the salesperson learns more about what solution the prospect thinks they need, and can identify the solution the prospect actually needs—knowing that those are not always the same thing! A truly successful  salesperson is able to take on a consultative role and help prospects understand their situation and the possible solutions in order to make an informed decision. Salespeople bring value to the sales meeting through their knowledge and insight, not just the products they represent.


World-class salespeople ensure that their prospects feel that they are a priority. Customer needs are becoming increasingly complex, which means customers expect a high level of customization and sophistication. A focused, thorough salesperson consistently delivers on that expectation to create a personalized experience.


World-class sales professionals can focus on the prospect’s needs while still speaking from a place of authority and insight. Through body language, tone of voice, and warm rapport, a salesperson can embody an executive presence and demonstrate expertise. An authoritative presence should always be in addition to, not in place of, extensive research about the prospect and their goals and challenges.


World-class salespeople don’t disappear after closing a sale. They ensure their new customer receives the care and service they deserve. Sales professionals also explore ways to build a long-term partnership–one that benefits both their company as well as the customer. By designing a post-sales service plan, they seize opportunities to build rapport and create a world-class customer experience in order to continue earning their business.


True sales professionals are confident in their abilities but humble enough to know there’s always room to improve. They’re always exploring ways to maximize the effectiveness of their company’s sales approach, even if it means a sales process overhaul, and they understand the importance of providing top-notch sales training for their team.

If you don’t feel you possess all of these traits right now, that’s okay. Highly-successful sales professionals aren’t created overnight. The difference is that they continually work to hone their skills, and they invest in training that helps them sell more effectively and authentically.


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The 4 Keys To Developing Top Talent In Your Organization

Leaders are responsible not just for managing and leading talent, but also for helping individuals develop and grow so that they can perform to their potential. Though most leaders would agree that developing talent is important, training alone is not enough. Leadership requires not only setting expectations and providing feedback, but also positioning employees for success and providing an environment that encourages continuous learning and performance improvement. Here are four things leaders can do to develop organizational talent that reaches their full potential:


Leaders can make considerable progress in developing talent by delegating tasks that challenge these individuals to try something new. Delegation doesn’t mean just handing off a task to someone, but going through a process of discussion, explanation, and coaching to help the person learn and perform at a higher level. Leaders can identify which responsibilities to delegate (and whom to delegate them to) by communicating expectations, providing regular feedback, and then trusting individuals so that they can take accountability for the outcome of the delegated task. As individuals take on more newly delegated responsibilities, they will grow more confident in their ability to perform at a consistently higher level.

Coach and Mentor

Coaching isn’t limited to a one-on-one relationship established only for that purpose. In fact, leaders have opportunities to coach their people on a daily basis, and can often provide useful in-the-moment coaching that helps to accelerate employee development. Coaching is more than giving advice and suggestions for improvement. It requires first making a connection and showing employees that you care about their development and aspirations for growth, and then providing opportunities for them to learn and grow. Managers can coach and mentor by regularly asking employees about their career aspirations, discussing options for training, and identifying assignments and other opportunities to learn. Once leaders have established a connection with individuals, they can more effectively provide coaching that includes observing employee behavior and communicating helpful strategies for skill building and development.


Set an Example

The behavior of leaders can have a major influence on employee behavior. One survey found that 42 percent of new managers developed their management style by observing a previous manager. Leaders can find success in developing talent by focusing on continuous improvement and showing others through their own example the importance of developing leadership strengths. Leaders who demonstrate a desire to become better through leadership development and building their skills in other areas show through their example the value of expanding and growing as a professional. When employees see leaders sharpening their own skills, they are more likely to follow that behavior and seek out development opportunities for themselves.


Identify Targeted Training

Training that targets a specific area, such as communication, teamwork, or leadership development, can give employees the necessary building blocks to consistently perform at a higher level. However, training delivered in a vacuum won’t produce much in the way of results. Training activities should mimic the real world in order to offer maximum value to employees and teams. Experiential learning is an ideal choice for developing talent because it allows employees to learn by doing and includes exercises that parallel real challenges employees face at work. When employees can see a strong connection between what they learn and practice in training and what they experience at work, they’re more likely to use newly learned skills on the job.

Talent development is a necessary component of ensuring your workforce possesses the skills and knowledge required for future growth. Helping employees learn and grow requires a combination of targeted training and support from leaders to help employees achieve their aspirations and perform to their potential.


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Strategy vs. Business Execution: What Matters More?

As a leader, you have the power and skills to diagnose challenges and capitalize on strengths in a timely and effective manner—but business excellence doesn’t stop there. More often than not, the best-laid plans go awry because big visions are met with an unclear road map for execution.

Strategy vs. Execution

For leaders, strategy and business execution are uniquely important. Strategic skills allow a leader to create policies, establish direction, and determine how to effectively allocate resources to achieve a larger goal. Execution, on the other hand, involves the tactical, practical skills needed to put a plan into motion. Where strategic thinking allows a leader to craft the future of an organization by making broad decisions, the tactical skills of execution are required to bring the vision to life. How do you know which to focus your energy and time on?


You Can’t Have One Without the Other

The truth is, the best leaders balance strategic thinking and tactics. Building a strategy that embodies your organization is great, but if you don’t have the chops to turn that strategy into an actionable plan, it’s just a pipe dream. Many great visions fall apart before they even get off the ground because of a lack of planning.

A great tactical thinker can take the strategic vision, understand the objective or goal, and break it down into operational pieces. This allows for the planning of actionable steps and realistic resource allocations in order to achieve the desired outcome. For many leaders, however, their strength is either in knowing what to do (strategy) or in how to do it (execution)—but not both. When a leader is balanced in both areas, strategic thinking takes tactical realities into consideration and those very realities are driven by the strategic plan. The question is: How does a leader find the right balance and training to be both a strategic thinker and to thoughtfully execute the organization’s vision?

Achieving Strategic and Executional Excellence

Although it’s critical for organizational leaders to be able to develop strategy, their skills are irrelevant if they can’t follow through. An agile leader is someone who is a pro at crafting and executing organizational strategy. This involves breaking the larger vision down into actionable steps, establishing a plan to track progress, ensuring the right stakeholders are placed in the right roles, and remaining flexible to address any challenges or priority shifts that come up. Once the strategy is set in motion, it’s important for a leader to be able to change tactics—not strategy—to achieve the most successful and impactful results as competing priorities come in.

One of the best ways for a leader to master the arts of both strategy and business execution is through experiential-based training. Learning in this way works because it mimics the same challenges leaders face every day in the workplace, allowing them to learn by doing—not by simply watching, reading, or listening. In fact, retention rates for training that use experiential methods are as high as 80 to 90 percent, compared to traditional learning environments whose rates are just 5 percent. Experiential learning is immersive and engaging—and fun—and puts leaders in the types of scenarios they’ll face every day while executing strategy, giving them the opportunity to practice their new leadership skills in a risk-free, controlled environment. This allows leaders to leave training with the confidence, knowledge, and skills to turn the organization’s vision and strategy into action back at the office.

Strategy and business execution are both vital to any organization’s success, and leaders must be ready, willing, and able to craft the vision and make it actionable. Becoming strategically and executionally excellent is the answer to giving your organization a competitive edge, which can improve engagement and drive results.


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