The best sellers understand how important it is to develop the ability to adapt. But how do you continue to adapt and stay motivated over the long haul?
This question is more relevant than ever following the rapid shift to remote work that accompanied the global pandemic. Sellers scrambled to meet their buyers’ and their business’s evolving needs, while dealing with a dizzying array of personal and professional uncertainties, all in a virtual environment.
And the uncertainty continues as businesses begin to open back up. Will we go back to face-to-face selling being the norm? Will sellers continue to work from home? Will travel bounce back to what it once was? Will mass events be held?
Challenges in the New Normal
If you prefer “the way things used to be,” if you’re thinking things will change when the world gets back to “normal,” think again.
According to recent research from McKinsey, two-thirds of buyers prefer remote interactions with suppliers, while 83% of B2B leaders believe a mix of selling across channels—in-person, remote, and digital self-serve—is a more successful way to develop business compared to exclusively face-to-face.
It’s clear that for sellers the new normal means being flexible about where and how you interact with buyers, addressing any issues you face around selling in the current environment, and staying motivated.
The challenges are real: distractions and interruptions are everywhere, you have less structure around your day, and it’s easy to procrastinate and fall into bad habits. The good news is these are challenges you can address. You can build your motivation like a muscle to achieve your sales goals.
7 Ways to Stay Motivated Over the Long Haul
Here are seven actions you can take starting today that will help you harness your motivation and be proactive when selling virtually, even amidst uncertainty.
- Plan actions weekly. Get clear on the tasks you’re going to complete and plan for them. It’s called task clarity, and a study published in Harvard Business Review reveals it’s the most motivating factor among those studied. Your actions might be prospecting, writing proposals, learning how to collaborate with buyers online, and so on. Spending 20 minutes a week planning your weekly actions is enough to provide focus, give you task clarity, and help you feel motivated to take action.
- Track progress weekly. Don’t just plan your actions weekly, track them weekly with someone else. Research has shown that people who write their objectives and track them weekly with a partner are significantly more likely to achieve their goals.
- Calendar your investment time. We know from psychological studies and our own client work that if you put something on your calendar, you’re much more likely to do it.
Block out time to devote to your investment activities—the actions that will bring you closer to achieving your goals. For example, this could be conducting an online collaboration session with stakeholders at your top account, or doing prospect outreach, or building an interactive virtual proposal presentation to win a major opportunity.
What’s investment time for you will depend on your goals. Putting investment activities on your calendar will reduce procrastination and help you get started.
- Put your greatest impact activity (GIA) first. Don’t just calendar your investment time, put your most important activity first in your day. This is the one activity that, should you do it consistently at high quality, will get you the greatest eventual return on your time investment. Put your GIA first and you get it done. It also tends to lead to more time focusing on investment activities and less time spent elsewhere.
- Talk to yourself with positive self-talk. Sometimes what’s holding you back from being proactive is…you. To change a belief, change how you talk to yourself. This can be as simple as reframing what you’re telling yourself.
For example, instead of, “I’m terrible at leading virtual sales meetings,” tell yourself, “Joe, you need to learn what a great sales meeting looks like, then you can learn to lead one.” (Using the third-person format of the positive statement is even more effective than first-person.) If you think you can’t, you won’t even bother to start. But if you think you can, you’re more likely to do it.
- Say “3… 2… 1… Go!” to get started on any task. Positive self-talk can get you in the right mindset and rapid activation talk can help you start. As soon as you think about an important task that you should be doing, say “3… 2… 1… Go!” and immediately get started.
You have a short amount of time to begin before your brain tells you “that’s too hard.” The counting interrupts that shutdown and once you get started on the task, you’re more likely to continue.
- Say “When I, Then I” and add “Will I?” to change your habits. For example, you might say, “When I turn on my computer in the morning, then I will get started immediately on prospecting and not read the news stories.” If this an important habit for you to change, ask yourself in the morning, “Will I actually focus on my greatest impact activity and avoid the news stories when I begin work?” Adding “Will I?” to the “When I, Then I” makes the practice even more powerful.
By adopting these seven tactics to stay motivated and proactive, you’ll set yourself up to succeed regardless of what’s going on around you—whether you’re selling in-person or virtually, attending events, or traveling.