Should have. Would have. Could have. Does that sound like you when you are reviewing why you didn’t move fast enough to close a lost deal? We’re all guilty of procrastination. And, we all have, we think, perfectly valid excuses for why we haven’t finished certain tasks on our lists. The only way to change our behavior, and our sales outcomes, is to address the issue.
In her post on Quartz at Work, Lila MacLellan encourages readers to first figure out if procrastination is truly the root cause of your current problem. Let’s say you’re just about to reach out to the difficult prospect, and an urgent task comes from the boss. Can you call it procrastination if you don’t get to that prospect call until tomorrow? Maybe not. In another example, your department may be called to the break room to celebrate a birthday with cake and ice cream. Certainly, you’d rather enjoy a piece of your favorite cake and socializing. If you spend longer than a few minutes at this event and use it as an excuse to put off the call, you’re procrastinating.
Consciously think about the times you tend to procrastinate. Acknowledge what you are doing. Sometimes, it’s helpful to identify the emotion linked to your procrastination. Are you afraid you’ll hear the word ‘no’ from the prospect? You might. You might also get a positive answer. There’s no way you’ll know until you try.
Next, develop an action plan. Often, conquering procrastination is as simple as taking the first step in a dreaded task. Write the prospect’s name and number on a piece of paper. Or type the information on your screen. Then jot down the questions you want to ask. While you’re at it, write down the prospect’s likely objectives. These actions will help you visualize completing every step in the task you’ve been putting off.
If a specific task seems too overwhelming to conquer, MacLellan suggests composing a list of many tasks. Put your big task somewhere in the middle. Work down the list, one item at a time. Each time you complete a task, cross it off. The sight of progressive accomplishment will boost your confidence and your resolve to complete all of the jobs you’ve been putting off, especially big one that could end in a signed contract.