Here's the deal: you know most of what I'm about to tell you.
Sure, there will be a nugget or two you didn't know, and there might be a new angle or approach to some things you're already doing that will get the creative juices going, but the answer lies within.
If you're struggling to hit your numbers...struggling to do the activities you know you need to do...struggling to even get out of bed each day to get after it...you have deeper issues than
Meditate and journal and take ice baths and roll naked on your lawn to ground yourself and to become one with the cold calling spirits trapped in your Bermuda grass."
Since leaving the Air Force in 1997 for a career in full-time commission sales, I've worked for some crappy companies and had some crappy bosses and sold during some crappy economies.
Some things can't be fixed, which is why I've changed jobs in under six months more than once since then, and it's why I eventually started my own thing in 2006.
So something you may need to do before 8 A.M....is find a new job.
Now, assuming you like what you do, who you do it for, and the people that you serve—selling is serving—and you want to either get out of a slump or put your sales career into overdrive, here are 8 things every salesperson should do before 8 A.M. to make that happen.
I don't know any successful salespeople who sleep in. Yeah, yeah, there's that one programmer/developer/entrepreneur dude who doesn't start coding until 10 P.M. and sleeps until noon and built a bazillion-dollar company, but that ain't me, and that ain't you.
If you're a W2 salesperson or small business owner responsible for sales, you gotta get up and get after it.
Back in the 80s, the Army had this campaign slogan, "We do more before 9 A.M. than most people do all day."
It's true in the military. It's true in business.
Go to sleep
Look, going to bed at a decent time helps you wake up early the next day, and 10 P.M. on a Tuesday is, technically, "before" 8 A.M. on Wednesday...so get your butt in bed.
This takes discipline.
This requires you to put the phone down, turn off the game, and resist the urge to "just see how the next episode starts."
The hip bone is connected to the leg bone. The time you go to sleep is connected to the time you wake up.
Check your email
I know, I know.
All the gurus tell you to NOT check your email because then you're being "reactive" and working off of someone else's schedule.
I get it.
But here's the deal: the role of a professional salesperson is to find a need and fill it.
- Orders come in overnight.
- Orders are canceled overnight.
- Meetings are rescheduled overnight.
- Meetings are canceled overnight.
- New leads come in overnight.
- Shipments are delayed overnight.
- Flights are delayed overnight.
- Flights are canceled overnight.
In other words...shit happens overnight.
But if you're on your game, you should be able to
- skim your inbox,
- put out any fires,
- spin a few plates,
- piece together a few broken plates,
- update your boss,
- put in needed requests from Ops, Marketing, and the C-Suite, and
- Confirm your meetings for the day, all in under 30 minutes.
After all, it's early.
Nobody is nagging or interrupting you.
Scan your inbox, get ahead of any issues, put the ball in everyone else's court, then get on with your day.
Prepare your body
As I write this, I'm 53 years old and a new grandfather. I've trained 5-6 days a week since I was in first grade, but not always at oh-dark-thirty.
Back in the day, I had a workout partner, which I highly recommend, and we hit the gym early.
We were lifting weights on a 3 x 2 schedule of back & biceps, shoulders & triceps, abs & legs twice a week, and we rested on Sundays, and by "rested," I mean we drank beer and golfed. (You can golf in Texas year 'round.)
As I started traveling more, I made sure I got legs done on Mondays because they are the most important part of your body, and I knew I could get decent exercises done in hotel gyms for my other body parts.
Now, preparing my body takes a different path.
For seven years, I did the 3.5-mile Tampa Bay Frogman Swim and usually got my training swims done early in the morning, A) because it was hard, B) because I didn't want to get sunburned being in the water for an hour at a time, and C) training in a bit of a chill helped me prepare for the real swim, but 2021 was my last swim.
I always make sure to hydrate as soon as I wake up, and I eat something small because I eat a high-protein, low-carb diet, and I'm always hungry in the morning. (I don't go to bed with a full stomach so I can get better sleep.)
So I'll usually eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs, maybe a protein bar or shake, and maybe a banana, depending on the day.
I'll do some stretches since I'm old and always sore from Jiu-Jitsu, which I've trained in 5-6 days a week since January 2017, but rarely in the mornings.
I know that some goo-roos and legends are up at 3 or 4 A.M. and pump iron, run a marathon, complete a Murph, jump in an ice bath, and do yoga all before sunrise, but that ain't me, and it doesn't have to be you, either.
But you do need to clear your head and get the blood flowing so you can take on the challenges of the day, which means moving and fueling your body properly and early.
Start your prospecting
Despite all the goo-roos saying not to check your email, people are still addicted to email, SMS, and social media.
So meet your prospects where they are, i.e., start emailing, texting, and DMing them early.
Most executives have no work/life balance. They work early, work through lunch, and work late.
So be the first one in their inbox and watch your day get better by the hour.
Skim the news
Most of the local news is depressing, and most of the national news is thin and manipulated, so be careful what you skim but you need to know what's going on in the world, in your state, in your city, and especially in your industry.
Set up Google Alerts on your prospects, clients, and topics to give you a curated update on what's happening. (These come by email, which is why I say you should check your email.)
Create Lists and edit your Topics on Twitter. (Read this post on how to get the most out of your Twitter feed for timely info that will help you grow your sales.)
Review and reply to posts in relevant groups such as:
You're in sales, which means you are meant to serve, which means you find problems and solve them for your customers.
If you don't know the problems they are currently facing, you can't help them.
By being well-versed in your industry plus up to date on the issues of the day, you can better serve your clients, so know what's up, but don't dwell on it or get caught up in it.
Skim. Know. Go.
Create some content
In my free program, 12 Weeks To Peak™, I have you write 700 words and create one video every single day.
People don't do business with you for one of two reasons:
- They haven't heard of you.
- They have heard of you.
Out of sight is out of mind, and the eyes of your prospects are being drawn to a thousand different things every day, so you better show up there.
"But Wes, my industry is highly-regulated. I can't just make content."
The hell you can't.
You can always share a Tweet and ask your followers their thoughts.
You can always share an Instagram post to your Story.
You can always share an interesting news story that you found during your morning skimming of your LinkedIn profile and say, "Big news from the Federal Reserve. How do you think this will impact the markets?"
In other words, you can be known as a curator of the interesting and the relevant.
Anyone can learn to become a friggin' brain surgeon if they watch enough free YouTube videos, but it's hard to find all the relevant material, which is why people pay for convenience.
Make it convenient for your ideal customers to sort through the noise to find the signal.
"But Wes, I suck at creating content, so there's no way I can make new, compelling content before 8 A.M."
You probably do suck at creating content.
Do you know how to not suck at doing something?
Start doing it.
In January 2017, I sucked at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Today, I suck less.
In October 2008, I sucked at Infusionsoft (Keap).
By 2012, I wrote a 700-page book on it and became their partner of the year.
So start writing.
Maybe you spend Saturday mornings or Sunday nights writing to get posts in the queue.
Maybe you spend an hour every night before you go to bed writing.
Maybe you spend your lunch hour writing as you eat a sandwich at your desk.
Maybe you get up an hour earlier and write.
Maybe you make your videos in the car on your way to work.
Maybe you make your videos on your daily walk.
Maybe you make your videos after work as you sit at your desk and record a tutorial on your screen.
I don't care when you create the content, but get it done daily.
Know your numbers
If you can measure it, you can improve it, but most salespeople don't know their numbers, and most sales managers don't know their people's activity numbers, so everyone struggles, which is why I made this free sales calculator.
Sales managers need to manage activity and pay on results.
You, as a professional salesperson, should review your CRM to know what you have lined up for the day, such as:
- Deals to close
- Proposals to send
- Demos to conduct
- Leads to follow-up with
In total, there are five key areas that professional salespeople need to focus on.
I call that The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™ and it looks like this.
When you know what you're supposed to do every hour of every day with every lead, prospect, and customer, and you do it, your success is guaranteed.
Bonus: Detach. Delete. Declutter. Distrust.
"If it bleeds, it leads."
News organizations have followed that principle since they came into being, and no entity is above using clickbait titles to suck you into their world so they can sell ads for crap you don't need.
You need to actively and intentionally detach from the junk news, the water cooler office gossip, and inane social media arguments that will suck you in and ruin your day before it even begins.
Just say no.
Remove yourself from these conversations and debates.
Unsubscribe and delete your subscriptions to newsletters that add no value to your life.
Clean up your inbox.
Clear your desk.
Clean your car.
The hip bone is connected to the leg bone.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
You need to unfriend, unfollow, mute, block, unsubscribe, and walk away from a lot of people that are currently in your life.
You need to treat yourself like your own best customer.
You need to prepare to win.
You need to expect to win.
You need to do what winners do.
You need to dress as winners dress.
You need to talk as winners talk.
That's how you'll become a winner in the profession of sales.
This means you must distrust the hype, the bullshit, the smoke and mirrors, the promises, the guarantees, the shortcuts, the easy buttons.
There are no secrets or hacks.
Stop signing up for every program, course, inner circle, mastermind, masterclass, war room, president's club, titanium-level coaching, platinum elite mentorship, and $7 online training trial.
No, I'm not saying not to get coaching. I have had some sort of mentor/coach/mastermind since at least 2002 because investing in yourself is the best investment you'll ever make.
But you don't need 37 such programs, and you don't need to sample every launch that comes across your social media feed.
Find one coach or mentor or mastermind or community and go all in. Suck everything out of it you can to become the greatest version of yourself, then move on when and if you outgrow it.
But until you do, stop looking around.
Detach from the noise.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.