Procrastination in Sales

Monday, March 7 2022

By Karen Tippett – Early in my career I had a sign made that reads: Without self-discipline, all you have is potential. It has been on display in my office wherever I have worked. This message, which I borrowed from a long-forgotten office poster, has served as an important reminder to avoid procrastination during my 30+ years in business development. The value of this idea has not diminished over all that time.

Self-discipline plays a key role in preventing procrastination. Without willpower, we allow ourselves to procrastinate. Salespeople are skilled negotiators and can be especially good at rationalizing why they should or should not do something.

Why do we procrastinate?

  1. Perhaps we cannot do it. You may not have the skills required to complete the task.
  1. We think we cannot do it. A lack of confidence might cause you to hesitate. If you do not try, you cannot fail.
  1. It’s possible we do not want to do it…at least not right now. Or ever? How passionate are you about the potential outcome? Is the action worth the effort for the bigger picture? What about small pain for bigger gain? Is your response in sync with your goals? Are you being shortsighted?

When is procrastination a good thing?

Sometimes, putting things on hold may be the right decision. You might be emotionally upset about something that has happened and taking time to process negative feelings before you act can be extremely helpful in maintaining any business or personal relationship.

The key is to be brutally honest in your assessment of the situation. I have learned that one of the best ways to keep on track is to ask the following questions:

  • Is there a worst-case scenario if I do nothing?
  • What potential benefits might result if I leave things status quo?
  • Can I move this action to a specific date and time without negative consequences?

In sales, consider the following:

Procrastination of:                              Results in:

Client follow-up                                   Loss of potential business

Continuous learning                            Falling behind in all aspects of business development

Achieving work/ life balance             Low motivation, reduced energy, and a negative attitude leading to poor results

Nike’s Just Do It is one of the most powerful slogans and has been their corporate motto since 1988. Often thinking in these terms gets you moving forward before you give yourself a chance to produce excuses to procrastinate.

So, go ahead and just do it. You will be glad that you did.

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