Scaling growth... by maximizing the impact of time.
Yesterday, we offered some advice on how to make your business goals more likely to be realized in the coming New Year. In revisiting that post, among the many things you can do something about, there’s one factor that renders us all equals in abject failure: not one of us can manufacture extra time. No matter how fast we eat our lunch at our desk or drive a mile or two over the limit on the way to our next sales appointment, we’re stuck with the standard 24/7, 365 days a year. But among the most successful people in our field are those that have a talent for time management. And if you’ve got a minute, let’s check out some of their secrets.
As we pointed out yesterday, however, given the variety of responsibilities and distractions even the most dedicated salesperson has, the reality is, that strategic 12-month business plan really only has five-and-a-half months of working time to be executed. Don’t panic! Here are some tried-and-true time-maximizing tips.
Before we get to the tips, let's review just how important your time is. It's very easy to sit here on January 3 and feel like you've got 362 days left to hit your quota, make the number and have the impact you desire. However, you must keep in mind that before the year even started, you've already lost more than half of it.
First, let's get a picture of the year:
Now, let's account for weekends and holidays:
Oh yeah, don't forget to take some vacation (and before you say you're too tough to take time off, remember that studies on productivity demonstrate that those who don't take time off to rest and rejuvinate are less effective and less productive than those that are):
And finally, let's account for all of the non-sales time that's eaten up:
The moral of the story: Make sure you maximize the time time you do have available.
10 Time Management Tips
Keep a business diary that not only displays your full schedule of appointments and activities, but allows you to notate the events with important thoughts and facts. Also, note the time spent on each of those entries as this, over a period of weeks and months, will paint a pretty accurate picture of where your time allotment is being spent productively…and not.
- Strategic Use of Time.
As Step #1 above begins to reveal the efforts and energies you expend most effectively, start carving out more and more of your time to be scheduled in those pursuits.
- To-Do List.
First thing on Monday morning, sketch out a five-day plan for the week, incorporating a To-Do List into your business diary. Then take a few minutes every morning to adjust the day’s events accordingly. Lists do a remarkable job of keeping you on track when your schedule becomes crazed.
- Pre-Sales Call.
Take a few minutes before every call or client visit you make and write down the key points of what you’re hoping to achieve. Treat it as a mini-component of your overall strategy, and each small initiative will be more successful, ultimately forming a steady, seamless arc to your desired transaction.
- Quality Leads = Quality Time.
Spend more time with high-potential customers and quality referrals, and less time on shaky prospects.
- Research, Research, Research
The single-most valuable time you may spend may very well be invested in the study of your prospective customers’ businesses and research into their specific needs. Part Two of that process would then be devoting time and effort in creating solutions for those needs. This should be at the very core of your no-sell, advisory approach, and if executed well, will yield the greatest return on your time spent.
- Ignore Your Multimedia.
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s really not. Phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook can be more of a distraction than they are a vital engagement at any given moment. Schedule a block of time during the week to engage your social media initiatives. Return calls and emails at the end of a productive day. You’ll have spared yourself countless interruptions that would have occurred in the midst of your getting something critical accomplished. But don’t hesitate to give certain colleagues or clients a code word, such as “Urgent,” if it’s vital that they reach you quickly.
- Delegate & Eliminate.
Whenever possible, hand-off the tasks that drain the time of a business sales professional and are better handled by a talented administrator anyway. Hey, your success probably translates into their bonus. And cut out all the extra stuff that really doesn’t matter.
- “Do Not Disturb”
Boss and co-workers be damned, put up a sign if you have to when you absolutely have to get work done.
Remember, the week runs out at the same time every Friday evening no matter what you do. But if you’re allowing some breathing room for that 25% of effort that likely results in 100% of your success, you’re doing all right.
Even if you can’t become a "Master of Time", if you learn to manage that precious commodity a little more shrewdly, you can certainly be a better master of your own destiny.