Every top performing sales professional I’ve ever met was a master at using the 168 hours per week, the same 10,000 minutes we all are allocated, for what was vital for them to succeed. They allocated and scheduled time for prospecting, for exercise, for date nights, for learning, for family, for community, for rest, and for recreation. They blocked time for what was important to them.
Every top performing sales professional I’ve ever met understands the value of their selling time (what I refer to as the Selling Window). They invest their selling time (in the truest sense of the word) and do it shrewdly! They do not respond to the merely urgent. They respond to the crucial. They are proactive whenever possible, and focused when they have to react.
They organize, prioritize and execute with precision!
Top performers rarely multi-task. They may task efficiently and sequentially but they concentrate on what needs to be done and they don’t get distracted. When prospecting, as an example, they make a commitment to themselves, block time, prepare, and close out the world in bursts of time to focus on the task at hand. Their cell phone is off. Their e-mail is off. Their browser is closed. Two sales pros I know hang signs on their door ‘Gone Prospecting’ to tell their colleagues, please do not disturb! They schedule time for prospecting, even though they don’t like to do it, because it pays off!
Mark Twain is quoted as saying “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” Brian Tracey wrote a brilliant book on time management, procrastination and habits for success titled ‘Eat That Frog’ based on Twain’s advice. A must read at least twice a year! Top performers step up, figure out what is crucial, marshal their resources, stay focused and get it done! And they form habits around this behaviour. As Brian Tracey says, “Your success in life is the sum of your habits.”. They do what they don’t like to do, because they recognize it as being essential ~~~and they don’t procrastinate, they do it first!
Part of effective time management is ensuring that your time invested is in activities aligned with your company’s strategies and objectives. Time (and the attendant energies) should not be spent swimming against the current. Constructive pushback when you don’t agree with policy and strategy works up to the point where you meet an equal or greater negative opposing force. Top performers know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em. They don’t spend much time or energy trying to drive square pegs in round holes! If they can’t align, they leave.
Top performers know when it’s over ~~~and they don’t invest one more minute chasing the impossible or even the improbable. They develop skills to get to ‘NO’ quickly. If they are never going to sell to a client, ever, they want to determine this as soon as possible. When it doesn’t work out, they learn from the experience quickly and move on! No hugging deals to death; no flogging dead horses; no gnashing of teeth in vain lament! On to the next qualified opportunity!
Top performers know when to save time by speeding up the process. They help their clients make decisions within their client’s comfort zone but don’t accept stalls and ‘think it overs’. They know when the best use of time is to slow things down. Complex sales sometimes take their own time and require patience. Push a client to a decision they’re not ready to make either results in a decision not to decide, or worse, their assessment that you’re just another pushy sales person!
Author Laura Vanderkam tells us that time is quite elastic! Please take the time to watch her Ted Talk.
We all get the same 168-hour allocation of time per week! Top performers are brutal with time, and gentle with people! They know the value of time and they highly value it!!
Next post, Thing Seven ~~~~~ ‘Empathy, and Top Performance’.
This is the sixth in a series of 10 articles on the traits and habits of highly successful sales professionals. Please consider providing some feedback by leaving a comment. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read future articles, please consider following me on LinkedIn.