A hot topic of discussion of late has been effective time management. Many of the Sales and Recruiting professionals I coach and mentor (link) are sharing with me that they struggle with effectively managing their time. What I have discovered through the course of having these conversations is that sales professionals become paralyzed trying to decide what to spend their time on. They claim that they want to focus on prospecting but “unexpected emergencies” prevent them from doing so. They claim that these unexpected events or emergencies take precedence over their sales activities. My question is, do they? Really?
Having worked in the industry for fourteen years I certainly understand that on any given day you face unexpected events that can wreck havoc on your daily plan. And yes, it can be very frustrating. However, we have a choice in how to handle these unplanned events. How you chose to adapt to these unexpected events determines your success in this business. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose for a second that every unexpected issue you face truly does have to get resolved on the spot. That doesn’t change the fact that you still have to find enough time in the day to do the amount of prospecting necessary to be successful in this business. Accomplishing this feat comes down to the decisions that you make each and every day. Think about how many decisions you make each day when doing your job. Should I send out this submittal now or should I follow up with this sales lead? Should I pick up time cards or continue prospecting into this new account? Should I call this candidate back to answer their question about benefits before or after my prospecting time? Do I prospect or send in the drug screening information for my candidate? Should I make prospecting calls or sit in on a candidate interview? These are just a few examples of the choices you have to make each day. These choices may seem small and meaningless at the time, but your choices impact your results.
The next time you find yourself in the midst of making of one of these decisions ask yourself, “how does this fit into helping me hit my overall sales goal for the year?” If what you are working on does not fit into your overall strategy and goals than you are probably focusing your time on the wrong activities.
Here is my advice and it is very simple. Rather than simply reacting with a knee-jerk reaction to these unexpected events, simply take a few minutes and think about the overall situation. Don’t just react, think it through. You will find that a few minutes of thinking before doing anything will save yourself a lot of time in the long run. Ask yourself, “is this something that has to be completed today?” “What is the impact if I don’t address it today?” “Am I the only one who can solve this issue or can it be delegated to someone else?” “Is addressing this issue going to generate revenue for the company?” “Am I really going to lose this customer if I don’t get back to them until the end of the day or even tomorrow?” They key is being able to recognize the difference between issues that truly need to be resolved on the spot and those issues that can wait. And from my experience, many “issues” can usually wait. But what I have found is that most sales people in the industry think otherwise. They put their sales activities on hold and simply react to the new set of circumstances.
Here are a few other words of wisdom on time management.
Establishing Your Priority List:
Ask yourself: “What is it that you and only you can do?” This is your priority list. Delegate everything else.
Ask yourself: “Am I doing what I do best and getting the best return for the company?”
Remember the Pareto Principle.
Time 20% of our time produces 80% of our results
Counseling 20% of the people take up 80% of our time
Services 20% of the services bring in 80% of the profit
Reading 20% of the book contains 80% of the content
Job 20% of our work gives us 80% of our satisfaction
Donations 20% of the people will give 80% of the money
Leadership 20% of the people will make 80% of the decisions
Picnic 20% of the people will eat 80% of the food!
People 20% of the people will be responsible for 80% of the success
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.