Under constant pressure to meet quota, productivity is at the forefront of every sales rep’s mind. Yet, regardless of the many sales productivity tips and tricks published online, 65% of B2B organizations say they still struggle with sales productivity (source).

Although the sales productivity quandary can be attributed to many different factors—it’s largely due to bad habits formed after years of sales experience—bad habits you’re likely not even aware of.

So if you’re ready to be more productive in your sales job and learn new strategies to improve sales productivity, keep reading!

In today’s blog post we break down your bad sales habits and teach you the tactics you need to be more productive.

1. You try to do too many things at once.

Often, in the corporate world, sales professionals are praised for multitasking—yet, working on too many things at once can be a huge productivity suck. In fact, research shows that when employees multitask, their overall productivity declines and the quality of their work suffers.

If you take pride in juggling a handful of tasks simultaneously throughout the day, it’s time to reassess your approach. If possible, set a regimented schedule that allows you to focus on one task at a time. Be sure to prioritize your most important responsibilities so you can tackle them during the time of day when you feel the most attentive and focused.

2. You make too many cold calls.

You don’t need to work in sales to know the phrase, “cold calling.” In fact, it’s a phrase sure to elicit a negative response—whether you’re a sales rep or just an average consumer on the receiving end of the line.

Cold calling is a classic sales technique, but many sales professionals question its effectiveness. And, unfortunately, the statistics won’t make you feel any better about cold calling (source):

  • Less than 2% of cold calls result in a meeting.
  • Less than 1% of cold calls result in a sale.
  • Cold calling is ineffective 90.9% of the time.

Now, we aren’t saying that you should get rid of cold calling altogether. But, if you’re only making cold calls, your productivity will inevitably take a hit. After all, being productive isn’t about the number of calls you make, but how efficiently you spend your time. And, as the statistics show you, cold calling can be incredibly inefficient.

Luckily, there are many ways for you to establish contact with a prospect before calling them – a technique aptly titled “warm calling.” You can warm up your cold calls in a number of ways:

Social selling:

Find your prospects on social media and engage with them prior to making your initial phone call. This will familiarize the prospect with your name and your company—and it will make your introduction that much easier.


Referrals are a great way to warm up cold calls. Think about it—prospects are much more likely to hear you out if you have a mutual connection or if a friend or colleague recommends your company. So we recommend using your personal or professional network to secure prospect referrals.

Direct mail:

Work with your marketing team to develop eye-catching direct mail campaigns—the more personalized the better. Like our previous points, this tactic also familiarizes your prospects with your brand prior to your first conversation.

We know what you’re thinking– warm calling sounds like more work, how is that going to boost productivity? We say, not necessarily. Even if warm calling means making fewer calls, the calls you do make will be much more productive. The motto, “work smarter, not harder” might be a cliché, but that’s the mindset to develop when it comes to your sales calls.

3. You attend unnecessary meetings.

Here’s a scenario every sales professional can relate to– you start your day, and just when you get into a productive groove, you have to stop everything to attend a quick meeting. You work for another hour or two, stop for another meeting, and so on until the end of the workday. No matter how quick a meeting is, it will still throw you off and disrupt your rhythm. With so many interruptions, it can be difficult to keep focused and get back on track.

The solution? Don’t be afraid to say no to a meeting. Of course, some meetings are necessary– but more often than not, they involve subject matter that can easily be conveyed in an email. And, your colleagues are probably just as eager to do away with needless meetings, as they want to boost their own productivity as well!

4. You don’t set personal goals.

Sales reps often share the same goal– hitting their quota. But, your quota shouldn’t be the only benchmark you strive to hit. It’s also important to set personal goals. Ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in three months?” “What improvements do I need to make?” “How do I define personal success, and how can I get there?”

Although this may seem silly, personal goals are a crucial motivator when it comes to pushing forward through difficult or tiresome parts of your job. Personal goals are more effective than company-given goals simply because they are your goals, not the goals set in place by your manager or organization. Personal goals give you a destination to work towards. Without them, you can easily get off track or lose the energy you need to keep making progress.

5. You limit your sales follow-up.

Consider this scenario: A lead comes in and you follow up immediately with no luck. Maybe you send a quick email and try one last time to reach them on the phone. Logically, it seems more productive to move on to a more responsive prospect—rather than wasting precious time following up with a dead end. But, believe it or not, 80% of sales require at least 5 follow-ups before the deal is closed (source). Yet, reps only make an average of 1.3 calls to a new lead before moving on (source).

So, if you’re among the group of sales professionals who give up after one or two calls, you might actually miss out on sales opportunities. Resist the urge to give up quickly and your persistence will pay off—making you more productive in the long run.

6. You answer emails right away.

When you’re in the middle of a project and you see a new email hit your inbox, what do you do? If you’re like most sales reps, you stop what you’re doing to read and respond to the message immediately.

Here’s the problem with this, sales reps receive a lot of emails throughout the day. If you stop what you’re doing every time you receive a new one, you’ll struggle to stay focused on the task at hand. So, we recommend you turn off email notifications when you’re working on an important task.

Schedule a specific time to check your emails so they don’t pull you away from whatever project you’re working on.

7. You don’t disqualify prospects until it’s too late.

Remember when we said you shouldn’t give up on prospects too quickly? There’s one caveat– if you know a prospect isn’t a good fit for your products or services, you should move on as soon as possible. We know, it’s not easy saying goodbye to a potential sale. But the sooner you disqualify an unqualified lead, the less time you’ll waste.

Think about it—is it better to waste months nurturing a prospect who’s made it clear they aren’t a good fit for your product or moving on to new leads. To avoid the former scenario, you must ask important qualifying questions during your sales discovery call. Don’t wait until your second conversation to learn that a prospect doesn’t have the budget to afford your services.

8. You stick to your script.

You might think you’re saving time by using the same generic script on every initial discovery call. But, in reality, you’re doing the opposite. If you aren’t engaging with prospects on a personal level, you’ll give them little reason to do business with you.

Use your tried-and-true list of questions as a guide, but be sure to go off-script and personalize your conversations with every prospect you interact with. Will this require more preparation and research? Sure, but it will also make you a more effective seller. Again, sales productivity is all about results, not call volume.

9.  You spend too much time on administrative tasks.

Here’s an alarming statistic that unfortunately, won’t surprise many sales professionals– the average sales rep only spends about a third of their day selling (source). That’s right, the rest of the day is made up of reading and sending emails, entering data, researching prospects, attending meetings, and scheduling phone calls.

It goes without saying– selling is the most important part of a sales rep’s job, so it should take up a lot more than a third of the average rep’s day. Here’s the good news, though: The latest sales enablement tools can take much of that pesky administrative work off your hands. Speak to your manager about investing in sales automation software and say goodbye to the tedious busywork that’s keeping you from selling.

10. You write every email from scratch.

As previously stated,  the average sales rep receives a significant amount of emails each day– and they send a lot of emails too. But, if you start with a blank message each time you send an email, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent elsewhere.

Instead, we recommend that you craft reusable sales outreach email templates. You can always tweak these email templates and personalize them with specific prospect information. But even doing that will take less time than crafting a brand new email for each prospect. Of course, make sure your outreach makes sense for each prospect prior to sending—this strategy won’t help you if you use only one email template for all prospects that enter your sales funnel.

11. You never take a break.

We know what you’re thinking– taking a break seems counter-intuitive.  But, here’s some good news: Not only is it acceptable to take a break, but research has shown taking a break can actually increase your sales productivity.

Think about it, working nonstop creates an atmosphere of stress and inevitably leads to fatigue. That’s a huge problem when you’re trying to give your full attention to prospects and customers.

So, block off some time throughout your day to step away from your desk. Go outside, catch up on some current events, chat with friends– whatever you like to do to take your mind off your work. After, you’ll feel re-energized and ready to tackle your next project with increased focus and motivation.

12. You get distracted online.

As with most modern office jobs, sales professionals spend a ton of time on the internet. They must conduct prospect research, engage in social selling, and reach out to potential customers, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with that– the Internet presents sales reps with an infinite amount of distractions.

It’s okay to indulge in these distractions during breaks. But it’s important to recognize when it’s time to block distractions out. If you’re struggling to stay focused, consider using distraction-blocking apps that keep you from getting off task.

Final Thoughts About Your Bad Sales Habits

As you can see, there’s no one-stop solution or quick fix to improve sales productivity. As sales reps, we’ve been conditioned to look for simple productivity “hacks” or secrets. But, the best approach is to assess your current habits and change those that are outdated or inefficient.

We know how hard it is to kick habits you’ve had for years. But, it’s important to be honest about your sales strategies and to be open about your weaknesses. If you can do that consistently, you will be more productive– not just right now, but for years to come.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our USA business database is the resource you need to grow and transform your sales organization.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

Subscribe to the ZoomInfo blog.

B2B marketing, growth, sales and more.

    Related Content