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BILL LEE: Is Poor Time Management Limiting Your Productivity?

How to double your sales via smarter time management.

Forty-one% of the salespeople I interview tell me that TIME is the number one obstacle preventing them from doubling their current level of sales.

“Double my sales? You’ve got to be kidding. There are not enough hours in the day. I’m slammed. In fact, just last night I was sitting at my kitchen table until eleven o’clock trying to catch up on the takeoffs I’m behind on,” one salesperson told me.

If there’s one way we are all equal and it’s most likely the only way we are all equal — it’s that we all are given 24 hours a day. Now, of course, some of us get a great deal more accomplished in their 24 hours than others do. In this article, I’d like to share some ideas on how salespeople might avoid some of the obstacles preventing them from using their time more effectively.

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Do you know where you waste time? We all develop bad time management habits. Salespeople who fail to analyze how they are using their time and eliminate the bad habits that have crept into their day-to-day routine will “hit the wall” faster than those who are continuously analyzing and measuring how they are using their time.

Here are six ideas I believe will enable salespeople to use their 24 hours more productively:

1. Keep a time log for two weeks.
Keep good records on how you are currently spending your time, then scrutinize those records to identify bad habits you have developed that are costing you time and efficiency.

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2. Resist a “quote and hope” selling style.
Stop prematurely asking prospects to give you a set of prints to takeoff so you can quote them. Even if your prices are competitive, the odds are extremely low that a prospect will give you an order on the first call. Often times you cannot earn a return on the several hours it takes you to do the takeoff and prepare the quote. So avoid the takeoff/quote syndrome until you believe you’ve done enough for your prospects to have earned the right to a piece of your prospect’s business.

3. Have the personal discipline to avoid prospects who are time consuming to develop, and who represent low sales potential.
It has been my experience that it takes no more time to develop a reasonably high volume prospect into a customer than it does to convert a low volume prospect. Review any and all prospect danger signals in advance of prospect calls so they are fresh on your mind: Price buyer; no supplier loyalty, jumps from supplier to supplier; slow pay; demanding.

4. Separate your social life and your sales life, and know good friends from good customers.
Discipline yourself not to spend an inordinate amount of time with customers whom you have become personal friends with, but also whom have such low purchasing potential that you believe you’ll never get a satisfactory return on the time these particular customers require.

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5. Smart phones can be a blessing or a curse to time management.
While these communication tools make us accessible at virtually all times and give us access to cyberspace from the most remote parts of the territories you serve, they are also extremely tempting to use for entertainment. Pay special attention to how much time you’re spending playing games or surfing social media sites.

6. Plan your day.
Before you go home at night prepare your to-do list for the following day. Then prioritize the top 10 to 12 items on your to-do list so when you arrive at work the next morning it will be easier to do first things first. Another timesaving tip: Take the time to jot down the person’s telephone number next to the name of anyone on your to-do list you must telephone.

Time is a limited resource. Use the time you are given wisely

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