Every business is different, every businessperson is different, and each sales person has unique attributes than the next. But there is one thing that is absolutely the same for all, and that is time. Every one of us has 24 hours at the start of each day, good, bad or between, we all get that exact same amount every day. The question then comes down to how you use it, which is where you have not only an opportunity to differentiate your company from the next, but to determine your success.
At this point many start thinking about time management, but that is not what this is about. In fact I’ll state right here that I think “time management” is a stupid and dangerous concept. You can talk about time in different ways, but in the end, if you are in sales, or a business owner responsible for generating revenue for your company, there are only two things you can do with time: you can use it or waste it! Which is why talk of managing time is just a waste of time.
Time already comes managed, 24 hours to a day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year; whether you are in Chilliwack, Chile or China, it is settled and managed. It is much more productive to talk about allocating time to specific activities, and then managing your activities in the time allocated.
Let’s look at time differently; in North America, the average sales rep has 1,760 hours of selling or face time; if we were to change time to dollars, and said to a rep, here is your investment capital, your job is to grow it by whatever your quota is, a 10% increase in revenues. Looked at as investment capital, you would look at which assets you would allocate portions of the capital to ensure a 10%. Some would go to equity, some to debt, some to assets like gold, and so on. The same can be done with time, where the allocations are made to specific activities, be they prospecting, actively selling, client care, admin, product knowledge, training, putting out fires. Based on your business, territory make up and other factors, you would execute these activities in proportions that best suit your reality. If you are a small or medium enterprise owner, you likely have more activities making demands on your time, if you are a contractor you need to allow time for the work.
It is also important to look at this from a broader than a daily view, for sales I recommend you look at an entire sales cycle. If your decide that you need to allocate 20 per cent of your time to prospecting, then make sure you spend 20% of those 60 day prospecting, not specifically 20 per cent of each day.
Then make sure that you reflect those times in your calendar, blocking (allocating) off the time in your calendar. You plan for other assets, you need to plan for the time as well. Most sales people do not put all their key activities in their calendar, which is why they fail; if it needs to be done then it is as important as anything in your calendar today.
Once you begin the habit of allocating time, and managing your activities within those times, you will also eliminate the need to “multi-task”, another stupid concept. Multi-tasking is just an opportunity to NOT get a whole bunch of things done at the same time. Human beings are not built to execute many tasks at once at a quality level. Sure you can take a call and send stuff to the printer at the same time, but when it comes to revenue related activities, you cannot afford to make half efforts. If you allocate your time, and then manage you actions, you will reduce or eliminate the need to multi-task.
I don’t want to pretend that this can be done with a snap of a finger, but it is worth taking the steps to ensure that you do regain control over YOUR time. When it comes to selling or successfully running a business, people rarely run out of ideas or skills, they usually run out of time.