It almost seems that the further along we advance in technology, the more it simply enables us to slack off. It is virtually guaranteed, for example, that you’ve watched more than one recipe video this week that someone’s aunt posted on Facebook–and while you had the best of intentions to replicate it for tonight’s dinner, you’ve already forgotten what the dish even was. Likewise, the biggest distractions in our day aren’t always the most obvious. We may think at the time they’re actually pretty useful. We justify them in our heads as things that we may be able to use in the future, or do some mental gymnastics to convince ourselves that we’re being productive. But the truth is there are plenty of seemingly good things out there that we could well and good cut out from our workweek altogether. In sales, no sentiment is truer than that “time is money.” And every second that a salesperson isn’t using to sell, or prospect, is a second that they’re missing out on the money that’s ready to be made. Here are just three of those secret killers that are no doubt sucking the productivity out of your week right now. See if you can’t eliminate one from your day today.


Now this may sound counterintuitive as you’re waiting for an important email from your manager as you read this–or it may sound altogether too close to home as you’re reading an email from your manager that you didn’t need at all. But it’s hard to find a person who wouldn’t agree: email is a big, ugly time-suck. Writing for Entrepreneur, growth and marketing expert Alice Default raises this point: “So many things could happen in your inbox, from emailing a colleague for a quick question to managing a complex project with meetings and document sharing. The question is though, should they happen there?” The truth is, email is a great tool, but you’re probably using it like a Swiss Army knife. Try translating your team’s goals onto a KPI dashboard, throwing the stack rankings up on a leaderboard, or taking that 15-email thread conversation offline and solving it in person instead of continuing the chain of miscommunication.  

Bad Leads

On the other hand, you may have a highly motivated salesperson who’s simply misguided in their approach. One of the biggest killers for any salesperson’s productivity is chasing after unqualified leads. This could happen for a number of reasons: they don’t know the product well, they’re not doing their homework when prospecting, or they simply don’t have well-defined goals. Whatever way you look at it, keeping them isolated certainly isn’t the solution. Help those sales people chasing after bad leads to look up from their own cube for a second and see how your high-performers are doing it. Whether it’s through a little friendly office competition, or simply by giving someone the chance to shadow a few cold calls, it’s important that your sales team knows how to sniff out a bad lead as early as possible.


But of course, no matter how sharp your sales leaders are, there’s no one who can really escape the terrors of paperwork: from expense reports to contracts, there are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Make sure that wherever you can, you as a leader are making sure your team spends as little time as possible on the grunt work that keeps them away from prospects and clients. Those silent productivity killers are all around us. It’s up to you and your team to sniff them out, and then snuff them out. Don’t be fooled by the fakers, focus on the work that really needs to be done.