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Successful Selling: Time Management

18 Mar, 2001 By: Terrill Klett imageSource

Successful Selling: Time Management

I was touched by an advertisement in the reward section of a newspaper that
said “lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours,
each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward offered, for they are gone
forever.” The time thieves are robbing us every day and it’s time to fight back!
Most statistics will say we waste two to three hours a day, which equals about
19 weeks per year! Wow! Imagine what you can do with 19 extra paychecks every
year! This alone is incentive to better budget your time.

In our industry, it is the timesaving feature that we are trying to sell to
our prospective customers. Why is it that we have such difficulty in managing
our own time in our workday? With an analysis of your day, and some practical
planning you’ll be well on your way to finding and budgeting your time to be
successful and productive.

Narrow It Down

First, evaluate your schedule to find what is “unproductive” and “wasted” time.
Unproductive time is spent driving, filing—any of those tasks that can be
important, but should be saved until the appropriate time. Prime sales call
hours should be spent pursuing prospects and attending sales calls. Wasted time
is just that…wasted!

For example: You arrive at the office at 8:12 a.m. and grab a coffee, all the
while chatting with a co-worker for just a few minutes before getting started
for the day. In its totality, you have already wasted about 30 minutes! Don’t
accept those unnecessary personal phone calls, and politely dismiss the
co-worker that loves to “drop by” for a few minutes each day to chitchat. To
track your time, and the amount that is wasted, record the actual time you start
and finish your workday. Create a sheet entitled “interruptions for the day’ and
record each minute spent on personal telephone calls and “drop-ins”. At the end
of the week, total those minutes and identify the main culprit. You may find
some much-needed changes to be made in this area.

Productive Activities

Next, make a list of the activities that make you the most money. These
activities are, for the most part, time spent in front of the customer in
appointments and demonstrations. Take the wasted time that you have already
identified and use it in an activity that will get you in front of a prospect.

The old school of thought, the one that supposes that success could only be
accomplished with long and hard work is not necessarily so today. It’s what you
do with those hours—managing your time, prioritizing, and working hard at it
that formulates success. Stephen R. Covey identified this in his book The Seven
Habits of Highly Effective People. He places time into two categories: effective
time and efficient time. Efficient means doing things correctly. Effective is
where you want to be. Effective is spending your time in the areas that will
generate the best results—the high payoff activities. Dale Carnegie and Zig
Ziglar have also stressed the importance of these two words!

Effective vs. Efficient

On Friday afternoon you can be efficient making telephone calls for four hours
until 5:00 p.m., but it’s not very effective because most “decision-makers”
aren’t available at this time. It would be most effective to make the calls in
the morning. Not only will the likelihood of reaching the decision-maker be
greater, but they will also be in a better mood knowing that the workweek is
drawing to a close! The call is also more non-threatening when you state “would
the beginning or end of the week be better for you” (when phoning on a Friday),
as this seems as though it’s a longer way off than it really is.

Knowing Your Schedule

Determine what your schedule will be for each day and actually write down what
you would like to accomplish in the order of importance. This planning will only
take you about ten minutes, but can save you hours. Block off time to make phone
calls, planning, training or whatever, but always stay focused. This may mean
declining phone calls for a certain time period. The idea here is to make sure
you concentrate on the task at hand. Becoming involved in too many tasks at one
time makes one distracted and much less productive—which means less
concentration and more time spent trying to get back “into the groove”.

Confirm Your Appointments

In this list of accomplishments for the day you should always include
appointment confirmations. Arriving at an appointment only to find it postponed
or cancelled is a huge time thief. Confirm them either by fax, or call and ask
for their voice mail. I have found that communicating by fax is an ideal method
because it makes it more difficult for the customer to have a change of mind.
Write a very positive note on your fax such as “I’m excited about meeting with
you today! I’ll be bringing with me some ideas that will make your company more
productive.” You can include in the message that you’ll be out all day, but if a
reschedule is needed to contact your voice mail. When confirming by telephone,
you may consider asking for voice mail to eliminate the live call and possible
cancellation of the appointment.

Making The Best Of It

All of us are going to experience some unproductive time, because it is
unavoidable. It’s everywhere! Utilize this time wisely. It can be turned into
educational time. Sixty million baby boomers commute to work, averaging 44
minutes of travel (183 hours per year). There is a plethora of cassette tapes
available that we could all benefit from listening to during this time. Stock up
on these sales and motivational tapes, which can be obtained for no charge from
your public library. When waiting for appointments you can be reading similar
materials, or returning phone calls if appropriate.

There Is A Time And Place For Everything The computer has become a deceptive
thief of our time. Delete the games that come preloaded. Control the use of the
Internet by avoiding “surfing” away from your schedule for the day. Return the
personal E-mails during the evening hours.

Make time for some fun out of managing your time. Set a deadline and if
accomplished, reward yourself. Rewards can be as simple as a coffee break or
walk outside to freshen up. Taking a well-deserved break in front of your boss
is enjoyable when you both know the effectiveness of your workday. In order to
make deadlines you may have to learn how to say no. You can’t be all things to
all people all of the time. Deciding what not to do is just as important as
deciding what to do. Eighty percent of the results you achieve are from twenty
percent of the work you do.

Don’t let the time thieves rob you anymore of the precious “diamond” minutes
and “golden” hours—fight back! Start today with one change and watch as the gold
in your commissions grows. Henry Doherty, a great industrialist said, “I can
hire men to do everything but two things; think and do things in the order of
their importance.” Let’s show the Industrialist era that in the “Digital” era
you can do both!

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