It All Really Comes Down to Time

Greeting readers. It has certainly been a long time since I’ve connected with you. Welcome back.

At the beginning of the year, I found myself traveling much more than I normally had to. In addition, we had an almost four month streak of members of our household getting sick. We have young twins and they just started going to nursery school. The amount of ear infections, sinus infections, colds, etc is staggering. Kids really are gross, but I love them.

I didn’t make the decision to get back to writing until about an hour ago. The reality is that Sales and Tonic took a backseat to life, and that’s okay. But, it is an outlet and I wanted to get back to it. I receive really positive feedback when sharing content and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that the most valuable commodity in the world is time. It’s the one thing that we all have the same amount of. We all have 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. If you read any self help book from a successful business person, or a blog from a star athlete, you will usually find a chapter dedicated to their routine and time management. This isn’t a coincidence. The most successful people in the world have an almost fanatical approach to how they manage their time.

A few months ago, we published this article which went into a schedule for aggressive sales prospecting. Aside from a few of our sales travel guides, this was one of the most well received articles we published. That tells me that time management is very important to our readers and you can expect more content like that in the near future.

Stay tuned.

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Balancing a Travel Schedule With Family Life

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Talk to any career salesperson or really anybody who travels for business and they'll tell you that one of the toughest parts of the job is to maintain a work-life balance. Not only are you working hard, but your hours tend to be much more extended than people who solely work in an office. In addition, while travel has its benefits, it is also tough on the road. Delays, inclement weather, and other unforeseen circumstances have a way of beating you down into submission. If you also miss your family along the way, this can be demoralizing at times.

As a husband and father of two young children, I can speak to this from first-hand experience. The constant travel creates a lot of challenges on the home front. Because I am not home all the time, I believe that a little bit of resentment has built up in my wife. She is always with the kids and is in charge at home. Obviously, she supports me and knows why I do what I do, but it is only human to feel this way, especially in times of stress.

In addition, it is tough for me to miss a good chunk of the formative years of my kids lives. I often spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of travel and of the sales lifestyle, but it wouldn't be I completely honest blog if I glossed over the challenges. Fortunately, I picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to help any of you who may be in a similar situation cope.

  • When you are not traveling, be present for your family. Try to bookend business trips with family time

  • As hard as it may be I tried to book very early flights out so I get the entire day before with my kids and wife. I can always sleep on the plane

  • Video chat / FaceTime as often as possible. Because I usually catch  early flights, my wife and kids are normally waking up before I board. This gives me a chance to say good morning to them. I always talk to my kids before they go to bed as well.

  • Make sure you have open dialogue with your family about work and why you have to travel so much. With a spouse, this can help to reduce some unnecessary resentment and with kids, it is just a good practice to share this kind of stuff with them

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Yoga Exercises for the Business Traveler

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Recently we shared a few tips on being more productive in the morning. One of the recommendations was to incorporate some type of yoga workout into your morning. This goes doubly when traveling for business.

The benefits of yoga are well known but lend themselves nicely to business travelers. Most importantly, yoga is a stress reducing exercise. It stretches you in ways that reverse the extremely adverse effects of planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention conference rooms). Yoga can help you sleep better. In addition, it has been shown to help people perform better. This is probably a combination of reduced stress, better sleep, and less pain. Sign me up!

There are a few myths about the amount of time and the type of clothes/equipment you need to do yoga. Most notably, there is the yoga mat. While this can help the overall routine, it isn’t 100% necessary. If you don’t have a mat handy, just lay a sheet on the hotel floor. You can also modify your workout to ensure that the moves you’re practicing are conducive to that set up. In addition, yoga clothes are certainly helpful, but depending on the amount of time you are going to practice, they aren’t necessarily needed. I usually just wear gym shorts and a t-shirt. Speaking of time, how long do you need to do yoga to get benefit out of it? Not as long as you might think. Devoted yogis such as my wife normally practice for 60-90 minutes at a time. While nice, this isn’t practical when traveling for work, especially if you are trying to do other workouts in the morning. Honestly, even ten minutes of yoga can do a work of good for you.

Here are a couple of yoga mat suggestions that you can buy. Neither of them are expensive but they both do the job. The first one is the AmazonBasics brand and works perfectly fine at home or in the yoga studio. The second one is specifically designed for travel.

For your convenience, here are a couple of videos on YouTube that I’ve used while traveling:

Exercise 1 - 10 minute

This workout is only 10 minutes long but is incredibly effective at giving you a great stretch. It’s an effective way to wake up in the morning. Usually by the end during the child’s pose, I feel so much less tension in my neck and shoulders.

Exercise 2 - 20 minute

This is less a yoga workout and more of a flexibility workout but it accomplishes all of the benefits previously mentioned. If you can fit 20 minutes into your already packed morning schedule, you will absolutely thank yourself for it later in the day.

Exercise 3 - when sick

Unfortunately, business travel often leads to illness. No matter how much airborne you take or sanitizer you use, you can’t avoid germs and illness altogether. It’s so easy to stay in bed for an extra 30 minutes when you’re not feeling well, but the following work out is really useful in the situations. It doesn’t take very long at all, as it clocks in at under 10 minutes, but it will unscramble your tight muscles and give you a better shot at kicking off your day the right way. 

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Daily Schedule for Aggressive Prospecting

Prospecting...real prospecting, is something that takes laser focus and coordination. A large majority of salespeople either largely ignore this critical task, or do it in an incredibly ineffective manner. Unless you have a crack team of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) or a wonderful Marketing team with a great lead generation program (ha!), in order to be successful in pipeline building you will need to invest a lot of time into cold calling. Honestly, even if you do have the marketing and SDR support, you should still spend time on prospecting.

Below is a sample schedule that we put together which covers a bed to bed routine which should yield tremendous, repeatable pipeline building results. There are a few concepts to pull out of this that might not seem as obvious to everybody, but I promise that they help a lot.

For one, you’ll see that we recommend starting your day at 5AM. While it may seem counterintuitive to start a busy and long day by waking up super early, the idea here is 100% about getting that worm! Some of the most successful people in the business world wake up earlier and there are a lot of benefits which we have covered before.

The meditation suggestion is there to help get you in the right mindset for a long and grueling day. Remember, sales is a marathon and you need to center yourself before jumping into it. Separating research and calling is very important. You really want to eliminate all distractions prior to picking up the phone. We highly suggest turning off email while calling as well, aside from anything you need to send email follow ups.

It is also very important to block off time to do administrative tasks, client research, to read articles about your industry and prospects, etc. Multitasking has a place in many professions, but we are suggesting a radical departure from it when trying to build up your pipeline.

If you follow this schedule, you will see some major pipeline generation in very short order. Remember, most of the sales professionals are getting away from the phone. All of a sudden, the telephone has become the biggest differentiator in sales. This is mind-boggling and insane to many of us, but it is a great potential opportunity for hard working sales maniacs!

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What is the Sales Lifestyle?

Sales is unique among professions as it is practically the only one where you can name your own salary and actually execute on it. The only limitation is the opportunity in front of you and how hard you’re willing to work to get it. With this level of opportunity and potential, comes a certain set of demands that people in other professions may not understand. Sure, doctors are responsible for life and death situations, as are police officers, firefighters, and other brave individuals, but this does not change the uniqueness of sales.

For these reasons, sales people often live a lifestyle that cannot be related to by others. Based on which decade and you look back on, the public impression of salespeople varies. Due to the popularity of several movies set in the 1980s, icons such as Gordon Gekko, Jordan Bellfort, and even Patrick Bateman have given the world an unfair perception of salespeople. They think of us as greedy, freewheeling, materialistic, dishonest, and inherently evil. But, those of us who have carried a bag in our career know that the true values which we live by a much more down to Earth. The best salespeople:

Work hard and play harder
Eat what they kill
Win at all costs

Very little has been written about the sales lifestyle, but as one of the most popular professions in the world, there is a real need for these insights. First, a salesperson must feel good about themself. We receive rejection on a very regular basis (and honestly, the more rejection you receive, the better you are probably doing). Our self confidence has to be recharged on a regular basis. Some salespeople will focus on building a personal brand, but I think it is more about looking and feeling good about yourself. Fitness, nutrition, and sharp fashion typically help do the trick.

For anybody who is in an outside sales role, traveling is a part of the job. Whether you are a world traveler or carry a local territory, being on the road has its set of demands. One of the best ways to survive and thrive in this type of role is to make the most out of business travel. Try new food, drink new drinks, and take advantage of getting to see the world on the company dime. If you have to be on the road, you might as well have a blast.
And then there is the scariest part of the lifestyle; the dreaded work-life balance. Whether you are single, married, have children, or anything in between, there are demands both at home and at work, and you can’t afford to ignore either of them. You absolutely need to strike this balance.

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Hangover Alert! Quick Fixes to Reduce Puffiness/Dark Circles Under Eyes

A career in sales, especially where travel is involved, will wreak havoc on your body. Whether from a hangover or simply from the long hours of traveling, meeting clients, entertaining in the evening, etc, you are likely to show many of the physical signs of fatigue the next day. There are many ways to mask a lack of sleep from a performance standpoint, caffeine being the one that stands out the most, but there are also some great solutions to revitalizing yourself and reducing the physical signs of fatigue. Here are a few that I’ve used over the years.

Tea bag on Eye

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The caffeine in a tea bag has an almost magical effect. The combination of warmth and caffeine is very invigorating and results in a noticeable reduction of puffiness and darkness under the eyes. The application is very simple. Heat up a couple of tea bags. You won’t want to apply to your eyes when they are completely hot, so after heating them up, remove them and put them in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes. After they’ve cooled down (but should still be pretty warm), place one under each eye for a few minutes.

Cucumber

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I can’t really explain this one, but it has the added effect of also calming me down. It’s incredibly simple. Cut a couple of cucumber slices and place them on each eye for 15-30 minutes. This can also be a great time to meditate or catch a quick power nap. 

Cold Spoon

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I often use this in combination with the tea bag method, alternating at different times during the day. Stick a teaspoon in the freezer and then let it thaw for about five minutes. From there, just place under each eye for about a minute or two. It will reduce puffiness and can also help wake you up a bit.

Hangovers and general fatigue are no joke, and these are only a few methods to reduce the effects, but every little bit helps.

Believe the Hype. Use Airborne Before, During, and After Flying

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty or so years, you are familiar with the vitamin supplement, Airborne. As a refresher, Airborne is a supplement containing an insane amount of Vitamin C, in addition to a number of other vitamins, minerals, and herbs. It was originally developed by a school teacher. Most likely she was sick of getting infected by the classroom of outbreak monkeys that she dealt with on a daily basis and found a combination that worked for her.

Since then, Airborne has been used by many a savvy business traveler and is hailed as an unofficial germ condom for said travelers. The theory is that the tablet, gummy, or powder hits your body with so many vitamins and minerals that your immune system gets a temporary boost, thus protecting it from most airborne (ahh) viruses.

There are actually no Federally sanctioned studies to back up any of these claims, but this is one of those rare situations where a large percentage of the population can attest to a product. At most, it does give the immune system a boost. At worst, it doesn’t hurt. The only possible side effects that have been communicated are related to whether or not a person has an issue with any of the vitamins, herbs, or minerals in Airborne. It’s got a lot of the same stuff as a multivitamin but cranked up to 11.

Airborne should be a part of all sales traveler’s bag of tricks. My personal regimen is to take one the night before a flight and again an hour before the flight. If I have a scratchy feeling in my throat after the flight, I will also take one that evening. I repeat the process for return flights. In addition, I also order an orange juice on the plane to give myself that additional boost of Vitamin C. The worst side effect I’ve had to deal with is multiple trips to the bathroom on the plane.

Do you have any other tips for boosting your immune system on flights? If so, please share.

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Introduce Meditation to your routine

As I’ve gotten older and wiser (supposedly), I’ve come to realize that I am not exactly great at regulating my stress levels. In fact, I’m pretty damn awful at it. Luckily, I’ve recently introduced meditation into my daily routine. Now, I was like many of you, likely considering this to be for hippy dippies and yogis, but I have to say, it’s made a world of difference. There are so many benefits of meditation. These include, but are not limited to, better management of stress, the ability to be more present and mindful, a lower resting heart rate, and just a general feeling of gratitude to yourself for doing something positive for your body (in sharp contrast to the stuff I normally share on this site).

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to meditate for very long each day. Five minutes a day is a great place to start. One thing I have to recommend for anybody who travels a lot is a set of wireless headphones. That way, you can meditate anywhere, anytime, no matter who is around.

 I’m not nearly zen enough to figure this out on my own, so I’ve downloaded and tried a number of Apps and Websites. Here are the ones that I’ve found to be most helpful.

  • Simple Habit - This is my go-to for daily meditation. They have a lot of 5 and 10 minute options, which is kind of what I set as my daily minimum. They also have a wonderful feature called “On-The-Go,” where you can enter what you are doing at the moment and they will suggest a specific meditation. The free version is very good, and sufficient for many people, but the paid version is worth the money if you are serious about making meditation a priority.

  • An app with some cool features, some of which I haven’t taken full advantage of, is Calm. They have a pretty great set of Sleep Meditations and Sleep stories which I have tried and like a lot. I haven’t used many of their traditional meditations, but they have a good reputation..

  • Meditation Studio is similar to Simple Habit in a lot of ways. One thing that sets them apart is that you can get a full series of guided meditations in their free version, while Simple Habit will usually only give you the first two. Their guided meditations are topical and very useful.

Once you have gotten used to meditation, you might want to download Relax Melodies. This app is a little more self-driven. You can essentially weave together various sounds and listen to them on a loop. One key benefit of this app is that you can also download them to your phone, which is excellent for air travel.

The four apps above are a great place to start. Of course, there is always Youtube, which has seemingly unlimited, but poorly curated options available. If any of you have come across any apps or techniques that you’d like to share, please comment, tweet, or email us at contact@salesandtonic.com.

 

Cold Brew Coffee for the Win

Coffee is a drug, make no mistake about it. It’s an expensive habit, but one that most salespeople are hooked on, somewhat hopelessly. I personally can’t function in the morning until that sweet, sweet caffeine has touched my lips. Sad, right? I know I’m not alone. The morning is pretty straightforward. Get a programmable coffee machine (or a Keurig if you don’t care about taste), set it for 5 minutes before you normally wake up, lumber into the kitchen, and come back to life.

This works for me every morning. The real issue is midday, especially when working from home or in the office. I don’t often have time to stop by a coffee shop, and don’t really like how coffee comes out when I try to brew 4 or less cups. Recently, I’ve started making cold brew coffee. This isn’t to be confused with iced coffee, which is more or less just regular coffee over ice. Cold brew coffee takes a little more effort, but is well worth it. Typically, for scientific reasons that I’m not qualified to discuss, this results in a less bitter, less acidic drink, which is perfect for an afternoon pick me up. Better yet, you can brew a pitcher of the stuff and it will last for up to a week. Simply serve black, over ice, or over milk and you can control the relative strength as well.

There are tons of recipes out there, but here is the easiest way I’ve found to make it:

What do you need?

  • Pitcher

  • Water

  • Whole Coffee Beans (don’t go cheap here)

  • Cheesecloth or Mesh Strainer

Instructions:

Normally you will want to use a ratio of 2 parts water, 1 part coffee bean, but this will take some trial and error. If you find your first batch too strong, add more water. Conversely, if your first batch doesn’t grow hair on your chest, add more coffee.

I recommend grinding the coffee beans coarsely, not too finely. Again, this will take some trial and error.

Place the coffee in the pitcher with the water. Steep for at least 12 hours. Some people do this in the fridge, and others on the counter. The choice is yours. I prefer the refrigerator.

After 12 hours, run the mixture through the cheesecloth and pour into a clean pitcher. Sometimes you will have to run it through twice to remove any persistent coffee grinds. Now, serve over your choice of milk or cream (or none at all) and enjoy.