Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Jill Konrath. Jill is an internationally recognized sales acceleration strategist and bestselling author. As a consultant, she’s worked with companies like IBM, GE & Staples. Plus she’s been featured on ABC News, Fox 2, Entrepreneur, New York Times, Selling Power, The Business Journal and many more publications. Jill is on the front edge of what it takes to be successful today — with fresh strategies for selling to the modern buyer. For more information, visit: www.jillkonrath.com.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE BUSINESS OWNERS FACE IN MEETING THEIR REVENUE AND SALES GOALS?
Jill Konrath: Business owners today are crazy-busy, but they see it as a badge of honor. It’s not. Because they jumping from task-to-task, they’re actually getting less done. Most people are wasting at least 1-2 hours per day, and they’re totally unaware of it. If this time could be spent on revenue-producing activities, they’d be much more profitable.
SmallBizLady: WHAT DO BUSINESS OWNERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE BEING BUSY V. BEING PRODUCTIVE?
Jill Konrath: Being busy is a false sense of productivity; we tackle lots of small tasks but miss the important ones. The root cause? Living in a digital world; everything online is designed to capture our attention & get us to click. Our amygdala (old part of brain) can’t resist; we get sucked in and can easily waste 20 minutes or more each time. Traditional time management techniques don’t stand a chance in today’s built-for-distraction digital world.
SmallBizLady: IN MORE SALES, LESS TIME, YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ATTENTION DEFICIT TRAIT (ADT) AFFECTS PRODUCTIVITY. EXPLAIN.
Jill Konrath: People who have ADT feel rushed, distracted and in a hurry – even when there’s no reason to feel that way. They pop from screen to screen, task to task, and idea to idea. They also feel horribly guilty about not getting everything done and blame themselves. With leads to more stress, more overwhelm, poorer decision making, less creativity and ultimately, burnout.
SmallBizLady: HOW CAN BUSINESS OWNERS ESCAPE THIS CRAZY-BUSY TRAP THEY’RE CAUGHT IN?
Jill Konrath: Start by understanding that we’re wired for distraction; that’s part of being human. When we accept that, we can then take proactive measures to prevent us from getting hooked by them. It’s helpful to get a baseline of how you’re spending your time today; then you know where you can improve. Get RescueTime, an app that that tracks your online behavior. It’s eye-opening. Embarrassing, actually.
SmallBizLady: HOW CAN BUSINESS OWNERS OVERCOME THEIR PERSONAL TIME-SUCKING TEMPTATIONS?
Jill Konrath: Take away the triggers first. You don’t want good working time interrupted by breaking news or ESPN updates. Begin by turning off some notifications from one of your devices; then expand to more notifications and other devices. Realize that even minor interruptions interrupt thinking & require recovery time (10-20x the length of the interruption). Amazingly, you’ll feel less stressed out just by doing this. Experiment with it and see how it feels.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ABOUT EMAIL? FOR BUSINESS OWNERS, IT’S THEIR LIFELINE.
Jill Konrath: That’s exactly why business owners check their email first thing in the morning & bounce in/out of it all day long. Not only does it kill productivity, but it also makes a person stupider. Women’s IQ goes down 5 points; men’s IQ drops 15 points. To be successful we need all our wits about us. I recommend setting up certain times each day to check for and reply to messages. Start with 30-minute intervals, then extend them. Use your time to focus on your business, not the priorities of everyone who appears in your inbox.
SmallBizLady: IT’S HARD TO RESIST ALL THE ONLINE TEMPTATIONS. ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS?
Jill Konrath: One of the best things we can do is leverage technology tools to protect us from the digital distractions. Use SaneBox or Unroll.me to separate important business emails from non-essential reading; it’s great. Use Freedom to block yourself from going online (or to certain sites) for whatever time period you select. Shut your email program down as soon as you’re done doing email; it cuts distractions in half.
SmallBizLady: ONCE YOU’VE MINIMIZED DISTRACTIONS, THEN WHAT SHOULD A BUSINESS OWNER DO NEXT TO DRIVE MORE SALES IN LESS TIME?
Jill Konrath: Focus on what matters most for business growth, the activities that contribute to sales success. I love Gary Keller’s Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do (right now/this month), such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” It’s a great question to really think about. Once you land on it, then you have to break the ONE Thing down into actionable tasks you can get started implementing right away.
SmallBizLady: EVERY BUSINESS OWNER HAS TASKS THEY SIMPLY DON’T LIKE TO DO. WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?
Jill Konrath: The Pomodoro Technique works like wonders when avoiding certain tasks. It gets you started. It’s a beat-the-clock game. Set a timer for 25 minutes, then begin working on that distasteful project. At the end of 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break – away from your computer. Move. Talk to people. Then dig in again, repeating 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break. At the end of the 3rd Pomodoro session, take a 15 minutes break. You’ll make great progress.
SmallBizLady: WHAT OTHER THINGS DO BUSINESS OWNERS DO THAT HURTS THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE MORE SALES IN LESS TIME?
Jill Konrath: Most business owners have great ideas and expertise, but know virtually nothing about sales. Often, what they think is the right way to sell is 100% wrong. Or, they think that they’re just not the sales type so avoid it at all costs. Here’s the deal. Sales is a learned skill. To be successful, it’s imperative to study it, experiment with it and become proficient at it. Failure to embrace sales leads to business failure.
SmallBizLady: PART OF MAKING MORE SALES IN LESS TIME IS GETTING BIGGER CLIENTS. HOW DO BUSINESS OWNERS DO THAT?
Jill Konrath: Landing bigger clients transforms a small business. But rather than immediately calling on corporate giants, work your way up the revenue ladder. If you sell to $1million firms, pursue $5million companies. Get comfortable at that level, then take the next step up. Selling to bigger companies requires much more research and prep too … and an understanding of how decisions are made at that level.
My earlier books, Selling to Big Companies and SNAP Selling, are invaluable resources for learning how to do that.
SmallBizLady: WHAT DO BUSINESS OWNERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT BUYERS TODAY TO DRIVE MORE SALES IN LESS TIME?
Jill Konrath: Today’s buyers are crazy-busy. They could care less about your product/service. Pitching our “stuff” is a huge turn-off. When you meet, be knowledgeable about their business and the people you’re talking to. Focus the conversation on “Why change?” and how you can you help them achieve their goals.
Also, it’s tough to get everyone to agree, so expect a decision to take multiple meetings/months.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR BUSINESS OWNERS TO KNOW ABOUT PUTTING THESE ACTIONS INTO PLACE?
Jill Konrath: To make More Sales in Less Time, it’s essential to value and protect your time. Otherwise you’ll be working day and night, feeling totally stressed out. It’s a process though. Start by minimizing distractions to free up extra hours and more brain power. Then be laser-focused on how you can drive more revenue. It’s challenging, but it’s THE WAY to success.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz