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⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
Being a Revenue Generator is incredibly hard work. It’s akin to other top performance crafts – athletics, arts, and entrepreneurship. The top performers in these fields don’t just focus on their skills and talent to stay on top of their game, they create holistic systems that ensure they can repeat quality success.
Today’s edition will unpack four valuable tools that were at the heart of my personal operating system so that I could repeat multiple 7-figure earning years in a row as a strategic SaaS seller and accelerate my path to becoming my own business owner.
Read time: <9 minutes
In 2019, I had a monster year in tech sales.
I individually led strategic account pursuits that won $8.9M in annual recurring revenue for my company, earning me over $1.2M in commissions. I knew 7-figure earnings in sales was possible, but not for a seller like me.
After all, I was:
– A college dropout
– A socially anxious introvert
– A guy with no standout skills on paper
All around me on my team, there were:
– Better speakers
– Better presenters
– Better negotiators
But there was something that I had that others didn’t seem to tap into: I was willing to turn all of these obstacles into opportunities that made me better at my craft.
Instead of trying to be the best in each of those areas, I got really good at “orchestrating” success, meaning if I wasn’t the best negotiator, then I would recruit the best negotiator in the organization, Rick, our Head of Gainshare, to help me close large deals.
Since I wasn’t the best consultant, I would pull in James, our lead solutions expert, to wow our clients using the whiteboard.
And since I wanted to help clients think about unlocking big, transformative ideas, I recruited Mel, our Head of Transformation to give more credibility in front of prospects.
In addition, I didn’t sit idly by while I struggled with the things that stressed me out.
This may all seem like a lot to fit in, like “How did you have time for all of this?”
But looking back, it’s clear that my actions were purposeful, whereas with others on my team, I observed a lot of wasted action – whether it be on complaining about how tough things were, or over-indexing on non-essential activities, or thinking too small.
These things eat up your time too, and although they may expend less energy, they waste potential at a bigger clip than rolling up your sleeves and being deliberate about improving areas of weakness.
The price of success
In 2020, this performance was “gifted” with the largest quota in the company (gee, thanks).
Then, Covid came in March, shutting down the world. After the initial shock and awe subsided after a couple of quarters, did my quota drop? No. I was still expected to win new business.
Although late 2020 and 2021 were a big boon for SaaS, it was a huge challenge for a net new logo hunter like me, especially in industries I had been pursuing, like travel and hospitality.
It was a personal journey to design my work around the life I wanted to live instead of living for work, as I had been doing for 15 years prior.
Like the fastest sprinter in the Tour de France, I wanted to exert the least energy possible while earning the biggest gains attainable.
That may sound unambitious in a culture obsessed with hustling, but I considered it the only way to perform in the knowledge economy. We use our skills and knowledge to deliver results, not labor and sweat, as if we’re clocked in to the assembly line at a Ford factory.
Realizing that I had enough skills to have a massive year, I wasn’t seeking more sales skills that would repeat those big years, I needed to implement strong systems that would do a lot of the heavy lifting for me.
So when the challenges and obstacles started to pile up, I got really granular with the finite resources all Revenue Generators have:
I began dividing up my days between deep work and shallow work and tried to eliminate as much context-switching as possible (because you lose focus when switching between tasks, like going from email to working on a presentation).
A study done by Anders Ericsson suggests that most people can’t do more than four hours of deep work in a day. Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, suggests the same in his book.
The deep work is the stuff I knew would move the needle on large 7- and 8-figure transformation deals, like building custom presentations, writing narrative-based business cases, and preparing for important prospect meetings.
Shallow work, like communicating on Slack, responding to my emails, and updating my CRM – I wanted to eliminate that as much as possible.
And then the rest would be meetings (internal and external), which would require a lot of energy for me.
Since I wasn’t hopping on a plane every week like I was in 2019 due to Covid, I knew I had more control over raising my energy levels.
To do this, I focused on sleep and taking proper breaks throughout the day.
I needed to ensure I was getting both the proper amount of sleep for my body and getting more consistent with my bed and wake times. I also improved at taking more breaks throughout the day using The Pomodoro Technique.
Lastly, I had to get my caffeine intake under control, as it was normal for me to grab a double or triple espresso in the afternoon during my energy dip. However, caffeine stays in your body for 10 hours and it was disrupting my sleep patterns.
From The Perfect Day Formula, I learned a method that improved the quality of my sleep, and subsequently, my energy each day called the 10-3-2-1-0 rule. It works like this:
– 10 hours before bed: No more caffeine
– 3 hours before bed: No food or alcohol
– 2 hours before bed: No more work
– 1 hour before bed: No more screens
– 0: Zero presses of the snooze bar in the morning
According to numerous studies, the average modern worker makes 35,000 daily decisions – from simple, subconscious ones like “What was that sound – do I need to find safety?” to hard, conscious ones like “How should I respond to this email from my manager?”
I knew that if I wanted to repeat high-earning years, I needed to get really focused on my attention and not let it wander on low-value distractions or get caught up on trivial things (like the latest gossip on the most recent leadership departure).
One of the biggest traps I found was letting my attention get easily swayed by notifications and emails in the early part of the day. This would set me down a reactive path where my attention was given away to others, leaving me with nothing meaningful completed at the end of the day.
To combat this, I set up a “Discipline Zone” from 7 – 11 AM, where I would not open Slack or email until I got my startup up routine and most impactful work done.
There were four key tools I started using religiously to better leverage my time, energy, and attention as a more Purposeful Performer:
4. Thrive Space
After trying several wearables from Fitbit, to Oura Ring, to Apple Watch, I found exactly what I was looking for with WHOOP.
It’s like having a personal coach on my wrist 24/7.
What I like about WHOOP compared to other wearables is:
– There is no distracting screen.
– I don’t have to take it off to charge it up.
– It gives me deep details on my sleep performance.
– There is a coaching tab, including a specific sleep alarm suggesting the best time for me to wake up based on real-time data on my body.
– It has an easy-to-use journal built-in to allow me to quickly check off the habits from the previous day to understand the ones that improve my sleep and recovery performance (like using an eye mask and ear plugs…game-changer BTW!).
– It has a real-time stress monitor, which helps me understand what happens to my physiological state during high-stress meetings (and gives me breathing exercises to excite or calm myself down in preparation).
– It’s a subscription, meaning they are on the hook to constantly make it a better product and service, and I always benefit from getting the latest tech and features from them.
– Plus the weekly and monthly reporting, well-designed app, and social community are all awesome too.
When it comes to task managers, it’s hard to beat Todoist.
It’s available on all of my devices and syncs up perfectly. This is where I capture everything I have to do, and then can turn those tasks into projects.
The iPhone widget is really useful, as it allows me to capture ideas and things I need to do quickly wherever I am.
Todoist is where I think of ideas and tasks, and Sunsama is where I execute on them.
It’s powerful because it combines all of the most important things I need in a “single pane of glass:” email, calendar, tasks, and more, and then it allows me to work through each of them calmly, whether it’s a calendar event, like a meeting, or a deep work task, like a proposal, or anything else, like responding to an email.
I’ll capture everything I need to do in Todoist (which syncs with Sunsama), and then each evening I set up my next day. It allows me to drag and drop items and move them around – either based on time or importance (like high-value activities that need to go in my Disciplined block).
It even allows me to assign a time to the task, so I can see how much work I’m trying to accomplish for that day, suggesting to move things to the next day if I have more than eight hours scheduled for that day.
Then, I can use it to track my time on all of my work.
Thrive Space was a tracker I built for myself using a simple Google Sheet.
The intent behind it was to capture everything that was happening in my days, from my sleep performance, to total time worked, to time in meetings, to my deep work efforts, and more. Then, I designed it in a way that it would give me a holistic “thrive score” at the end of each day so I could replicate the days where my score was highest.
I used it as a directional personal guide with some interesting findings. My scores were highest when I:
→ Did my hardest task 90 mins after waking up and before my first meeting
→ Focus on responses at a specific time vs staying in my inboxes all-day
→ Spend 25+ mins taking breaks outside throughout the day
→ Participate in no more than 4 hours of meetings in a day
→ Complete 6 concentrated blocks of deep work
→ Sleep 7+ hours the night before
>> JOIN ME: I have been using a new version of Thrive Space and will invite a small group to test it out in August for FREE. To apply, go HERE. <<
It was really hard work getting into the 7-figure earners club for the first time in 2019.
It was the culmination of two years in the making after I got into the right environment to pull it off. It took me 24 months to lock in $11M in ARR working “the old way.” However, after making these switches, I closed $14.1M in ARR in just nine months.
Of course, there are subtle nuances to that performance, in that, I was selling some new products and services that weren’t available to me previously and the fact that not meeting in person was a normal way of life for everyone.
But, no doubt, 80% of those results, not to mention my ability to start growing my personal brand on LinkedIn and build my own business while employed full-time all happened because of this operating system.
I still use all four of these tools today every day.
Hope this was helpful. If so, drop a reply with your biggest takeaway that you’ll start trying this week.
See you next week!
If you liked this, you may also benefit from reading: Use This Simple Model To Focus On High-Value Activities
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