Procrastination is an emotional comfort-zone for most salespeople. You cannot relate to a "future you" today. Someone with no sales pipeline. Someone who is missing their sales targets. So you put off what is hard today. It is a coping mechanism. In this article, I outline simple actions you can take now to kill procrastination. And make progress while feeling better.

Dealing with Procrastination in Sales

“The wrongheaded notion that you can manage time…. you are only setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. What you can manage are your priorities and your expectations of what you do in time”… Brigid Shulte (Author of Overwhelmed)

Procrastination affects most people. But what is it?

According to Timothy Pychyl (Professor of Psychology at Carleton University Ottawa), Procrastination is an “emotional-centred coping strategy”.
Emotions hold you back. But you are unaware.
So the first step is awareness of how you are feeling. Ask yourself “Why do I avoid this?
– Is it because it is not meaningful?
– Is it because it is boring to you?
– Is it because the task is not structured, which is creating uncertainty for you?
– Is it the fear of making the wrong decision? Fear can kill action. It can hijack you. Fear is a reality for every salesperson. And to overcome fear, you must first acknowledge it.

Is it because you are a perfectionist? Here is what John Perry (Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University) has to say about it “Perfectionists aren’t people who do something perfectly. Perfectionists are people who fantasise about doing something perfectly “.
– The perfect pitch isn’t necessary to succeed in sales.
– The perfect email isn’t necessary to succeed in sales.
– The perfect piece of content isn’t needed to succeed in sales.
– The perfect phone call isn’t needed to succeed in sales.
In 30 years I have not met a “perfect” salesperson. I know I never will. Sales leaders may strive for perfection. But good enough will do now.

Do You Focus On Future You?

Research proves that people view their future selves as another person. It can explain how you can disconnect yourself today from your future. For example, an over-eater, or smoker cannot relate to the overweight or sick future self. So they disconnect from that future person. Which leads to procrastination today.

Hard = Easy

Putting off something hard today makes us feel better today. However, it makes us more unhappy in the future. In sales putting off your prospecting today (which for most of us is the hardest part of selling). Will definitely make you unhappy in the future. And it is guaranteed it will make your boss unhappy too.

How do you overcome procrastination?

Focus on your progress and NOT the task. When you take action on your SHITs (Super High Impact Tasks). Celebrate your progress. On average you only complete 59% of your tasks. Don’t focus on the 41% you didn’t complete. Focus on your wins.
When you prospect, focus on your successes like new appointments and qualified leads. NEVER focus on your failures. You are in a game of failure. It comes with the territory. Action diminishes failure through repetition.

Say NO more often

As a sales leader, your work is important too. Allowing others to steal your time is of no benefit to anyone. Learning to say NO can have a dramatic impact on your effectiveness. Recently someone I work with outlined his simple NO tactic. When his colleagues asked him to meet for breakfast, he politely says NO. His best time for generating new leads is between 8 AM and 9 AM. He is consistently outperforming the “breakfast clubbers”.

Make the first step your Habit

Charles Duhigg suggests that when you talk about procrastination, you are really talking about taking the first step, or not taking the first step. Make a habit of focusing on the first step. It is proven to make the whole process a lot easier. It gives you energy and motivation to keep going. So, write down now what your first step should be each day.
“Procrastination is the only thing I have time to do” Zig Ziglar.

Cherish High-Energy Times

Research proves you are at your most alert at certain times of the day. Times when your memory and your ability to think clearly are at their peak.
For most people, this is the first two and a half hours after they waken. Scheduling time in these periods can reduce procrastination and improve effectiveness.
“it turns out that most people are productive in the first two hours of the morning. Not immediately after waking, but if you get up at 7 AM you’ll be most productive from around from 8-10:30”. Dan Ariely

Set goals with action plans.

Here is ONE strategy you should employ that will have the single most significant impact on your ability to overcome procrastination. It is “Make A Plan”.
The research is overwhelming on this subject. “People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives”. – Howatt 1999


Block time to focus on your SHITs (Super High Impact Tasks). It works.

Avoid “Dual Task Interference”

Harold Paschler is a University of California scientist who studies “dual-task interference.” Your brain cannot do two things at the same time. Your brain is coping by jumping from task to task. But by doing so, it is less attentive to each task. Paschler’s study shows that dual-task interference can cause a person’s intellectual capacity to drop to that of an 8-year-old.
So, all you multi-tasking salespeople. Close all of your applications. Turn off your mobiles (unless you use them to sell). Switch off your notifications. And you won’t turn into an 8-year-old selling.

Key Takeaways
Procrastination is an emotional comfort-zone for most salespeople. You cannot relate to a “future you” today. Someone with no sales pipeline. Someone who is missing their sales targets. So you put off what is hard today. It is a coping mechanism.
Ask yourself “why do I avoid this”? And start saying No more often. Focusing on the first action. And blocking time to focus on your key sales activities.


Regards Ronan

Ronan is the “Sales Infrastructure Guy”.

Helping high growth tech companies build world-class sales systems and processes that scale.

Call me on +353(86) 7732201

Ronan Kilroy | Insthinktive Sales Leadership Ltd. | Blanchardstown, | Dublin 15, | Office 01 8220523

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