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Discipline in Sales: The Most Underrated Skill For Reps — Here’s Why

Camille Trent

Oct 04, 2022

Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it. Sounds pretty difficult, right? Unfortunately, without discipline, you won’t get far in sales, as the role requires consistent output, consistent enthusiasm, and doing labor-intensive work (like prospecting) when you’d rather be doing anything else. 

Many reps struggle with discipline. In fact, it’s one of the problems sales reps are most likely to identify when asked which aspect of sales they find to be the most challenging. But without it, you’ll be dead in the water — inconsistent, unproductive, and at the bottom of the board, the death knell for many a sales career. 

Thankfully, there are ways you can instill discipline, even if you’re not the most disciplined person in the world. It will take time, patience, and a bit of commitment, but if you’re serious about succeeding in sales, then you’ll make the effort. And if you’re not, well, then you’re probably not made for the sales world anyway.

Here are six proven ways to stay more disciplined in sales:  

1. Know your weaknesses 

Some people are more productive in the mornings, while others find that they get a burst of energy in the afternoons. Similarly, some people might realize they drag after lunch, or can’t get their brain booted up before late morning.

Understand when (and what) your strengths are, then play to those strengths. At the same time, work on your weaknesses. If you know you have a hard time prospecting, make it the first thing you do before you’re allowed to move on to anything else.

The key: make sure you understand yourself. 

2. Time-blocking 

On any given day, salespeople have dozens of things they need to get done, which makes it that much more difficult to sit down and focus on any one specific task. This is why time-blocking can be so effective; it’s essentially blocking off your calendar for specific tasks throughout the day.

For instance, you might block off a 2-hour window for prospecting each morning, and during that time, you would ignore any other (non-emergency) tasks. Time-blocking is used by some of the most successful people in the world, and for good reason — it works. 

3. Remove temptations 

A great way to avoid being distracted is by physically removing distractions from your immediate access. You can do this by keeping any non-work-related browser windows closed throughout the day, or even by physically putting yourself in an area of your home (assuming you work remotely) where you won’t be tempted by things such as the television, the refrigerator (snacks are powerful), or the exercise machine (this last one is a stretch).

The key here is to make it as easy as possible to stay focused by removing those things that tend to distract you. It’s not a magic bullet, but it will certainly help. 

4. Don’t double down on bad behavior 

As humans have a tendency to let ourselves go after the slightest setback. Think about it like abandoning a diet after having one bad meal.

When it comes to discipline, this usually takes the form of slacking off one day, then slacking off the next day because you already screwed up once. In reality, getting back on the horse after a setback is where the rubber meets the road. If you had a bad day, come in the next day and put in some effort.

The key is to look at each day as a fresh opportunity to improve rather than as a continuation of the day before. Every day, you have a chance to get a fresh start. Make sure you take it. 

5. Break down your goals 

Big goals might be exciting, but once you start doing the work to achieve them, they can feel overwhelming and further away than ever. This is why breaking down your big goals into smaller, more attainable ones can make such a huge difference.

For instance, think about how much money you want to make for the year, then calculate how many deals it’ll take to get there. Then calculate how many deals you’ll need per month, how many prospects you’ll need to reach, and so on.

When you’re done, you should have a number of weekly or even daily tasks that will get you where you want to be. At that point, all you have to do is come in and execute. A plan goes a long way. 

6. Remember what you’re working toward

At the end of the day, if you don’t have a goal, it’s going to be difficult to stay disciplined. What is it that’s driving you? Is it money? Is it the things that money can buy — luxury goods, a better life for your family, that seed funding to open your restaurant? Or is it the thrill of the chase — the pursuit of excellence, and the mastery over self?

No matter your answer, understanding what you’re working toward is a great way to help achieve discipline. When you know your “why,” you can use it to motivate you on your “how.” But without it, you’ll be stuck trying to force yourself to do things you don’t always want to do, which is a recipe for disaster. 

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Camille Trent

Camille Trent is the Head of Content at Dooly. When she's not planning content, she's repurposing it. When she's not repurposing content, she's hanging out with her pup and two favorite redheads. Or she's trying to coach the Portland Trail Blazers to victory from her couch.