12 Great Selling Skills
Chapter 12: Time Management for Sales Professionals
The ability to focus attention on what’s important
is the hallmark of intelligence. – Robert J. Shiller
Over 100 years of research
and many millions of dollars have been invested
in finding the causes of success
and failure in sales
and in almost every other field.
Finally, we have the answer.
The answer is extremely simple.
People are willing to pay high prices
because they spend more of their time doing things
of greater value.
People pay lower prices
because people spend more
of their time doing things of lower value.
Salespeople who spend every minute
of their day focusing on high-value actions
will eventually move to the top of their field
and make a lot of money at the same time.
Salespeople who waste their time on low-value activities
rarely achieve anything important,
even when they represent the best companies
with good products/services
by best on the market.
In this final chapter,
you’ll learn how to take the ideas in this book
and use them at a high level for far better results
than you could ever imagine.
“If you are not taking care of your customer,
your competitor will.” – Bob Hooey
Focus on high-value customers
The Pareto Rule,
also known as the 80/20 rule,
is one of the most important time management
concepts ever discovered,
especially in professional sales.
You should use this rule every day,
with everything you do,
as your foundational time organizing rule.
The 80/20 rule says
that 20% of your activities
will bring 80% of the value of
what you do 20% of the leads
you are offering your product/service
to will become 80% of your customers.
20% of your customers will buy 80% of your products/services.
20% of your customers will be responsible
for 80% of your resale
and referral transactions.
It is always 80/20.
Instead of following every lead on instinct,
you should divide your customers
and prospects into different groups based on value
or potential value.
High Value – The customer or prospect is valued at “A”.
They are likely to buy a lot
and buy again and again
and recommend others to buy your product/service.
– The customer or prospect is valued at “B”.
It’s still important to reach out to these people,
but only after you’ve lost another A-customer or prospect.
Low Value – Group C customers and prospects.
Even if they do buy,
they buy very little.
They may only make a one-time purchase
and have little chance of recommending
or referring you to other customers.
I find it surprising how many sales people
(my younger self included) spend
so much time with zero
or very low value customers,
using too much time
and money with their energy
to the point where they have nothing left
to look for in high-value leads
“What we really need is a mindset shift that will make us relevant to today’s consumers,
a mindset shift from ‘telling & selling’ to building relationships.” – Jill Stengel
Practice creative procrastination
Perhaps the greatest thief of time
and life is procrastination.
It continually delays the hard,
thorny parts of sales,
by giving all sorts of reasons
why you’re not ready to go at all.
Your ability to overcome procrastination
will be a decisive factor in your success in life.
If you keep procrastinating,
you basically have little future in sales,
or in any other area.
However, in reality,
and low performers procrastinate.
But the difference is
that high performers procrastinate on low value tasks,
while low performers procrastinate on high value tasks.
From now on, practice creative procrastination.
Carefully plan your day and decide
what you will procrastinate.
A very good example of creative procrastination
is having a “do not do” list.
Make a list of things you won’t do
until you’ve completed the most important
and valuable tasks.
The more you procrastinate on low-value things,
the greater the chance that you will form the habit
of only doing high-value things.
“Listening is not about skills
or calculated movements or gestures.
Listening is not about what you do.
Listening is about what you intend,
what you feel,
who you are.” – Gavin Ingham
Your Job Description
A salesperson’s job description
is like the purpose of a business.
It’s about creating
and retaining customers.
Your job is to go to market
and find customers,
sell to them,
and then take care of them well enough
that they keep buying from you again and again,
and bring their friends for you.
You should spend 80% of your time creating customers
and only 20% keeping them.
A study done at the University of Minneapolis a few years ago
looked at the typical career path of most sales people.
The researcher observed
that all salespeople would start their careers slowly,
sell better and better,
and then fall into a steady state,
and subsequent reduction in their business results.
What they find is that
when salespeople don’t have customers,
they spend all their time looking for customers.
But once he has sold a few people,
he will find that it is much easier
to see the previous customer again,
for a variety of reasons,
than to endure the rigors of the reasons objections arise
during the search for new customers.
What you do, over time,
will eventually become a habit.
If you develop the habit of constantly meeting
with old customers to pitch,
you will soon develop a habit of not developing new markets.
You become more
and more comfortable seeing old customers again
instead of facing the objections that arise
when you reach out to a new client.
Every minute of the day,
you should counter this trend by asking yourself:
“Where will my next trade come from?”.
That’s where you need
to direct your efforts
and that’s what you need to do throughout the day.
Of course, taking care of your customers in the best possible way
is also extremely important,
but only if you are also doing the job
of finding new customers.
“Being seen as an expert is a good thing.
But you need to be seen as an expert in something clients think they need an expert
to help them with.” – Ian Brodie
Three key activities
The job of a salesperson always consists of three basic activities:
finding, selling and after-sales care.
Search means you keep your sales funnel full
by constantly searching for new leads.
One of the best uses of your time is
to spend the first 90 minutes of each day prospecting
– in new customer development.
Don’t check mail,
make phone calls,
drink coffee or chat with your co-workers.
Instead, from 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 p.m.,
devote all of your energy to a full 90 minutes finding
and talking to new customers.
The offer is when the actual transaction is made.
The majority (95%) of the offers could be improved.
Sometimes a small,
simple change in your pitch can lead
to a huge jump in your sales results.
During the selling process,
you show the customer that
your product/service is an ideal solution
to their need and problem.
How well you do this process determines most of your income.
Once you’ve made an effective pitch,
you have to go ahead
and close the deal.
As they say in the game of golf:
“You drive for show
but you putt for dough
– you move to show
but you hit the ball to score.”
In sales, “hit” is
when you close the offer,
get the customer to agree to buy,
and sign the sales order
or contract with a check.
“Selling is really about having conversations
with people and helping improve their company or their life.
If you look at it like that,
selling is a very admirable thing to do.” – Lori Richardson
Applying the Pareto rule,
you should spend 80% of your time searching
and only 20% of your time looking after the sale.
And don’t mix the two together.
Don’t fall into the trap
that most salespeople
(myself included many years ago) fall into,
which is to keep calling a prospect
who won’t say yes
or won’t say no.
Indecisive leads keep you calling back,
consuming more and more of your time,
just because you don’t want
to waste the time invested in them.
Stay focused on finding and selling.
As you develop new businesses,
you’ll find gaps that you can use
to continue working
with customers who haven’t given you an answer,
one way or another.
“Brands must become architects of community.” – Simon Mainwaring
When are you working?
Sales and marketing managers have conducted many surveys
to find out how long salespeople
actually work in a typical day.
In a survey conducted in 1928,
after tracking interviewees
with a stopwatch,
that the average salesperson worked about 90 minutes a day,
equivalent to about one to one
and a half hours out of the eight hours prescribed.
The rest of the time was spent walking around the office,
chatting with colleagues,
going out for lunch and taking coffee breaks.
(Today, we still have to work on computers,
check email, and commute.)
Over the years,
despite the benefits of in-depth time management courses,
and specializing in motivational
and motivational speeches
and instruction in most time management systems,
still work for about 90 minutes per day,
according to a recent study done at Columbia University.
Whenever I share this information with salespeople,
they always object and claim
that the results of this study do not apply to them.
So then I asked them,
“What time of the day do you actually work?”
You’re only really working
when you’re looking for,
selling, or taking care of customers.
You don’t work when you’re driving to meet clients,
or go out to lunch with friends.
You are not working
as you sit in the office,
reading or preparing documents for a sale.
All of those activities are warm-up activities.
But they’re not really sales.
You’re only really working
when you’re face-to-face
with a real potential client.
We call it “meet time”.
All else is not work.
It’s just a warm-up and conditioning,
just like an athlete before
and after the actual competition.
“It’s about caring enough to create value for customers.
If you get that part right,
selling is easy.” – Anthony Iannarino
In 2009, as the global economic crisis swept
through the United States,
I was invited to speak
as a speaker at a media corporation
that sold advertising positions on radio,
and other media in other information.
This large company has more than 200 sales staff.
The company’s president of marketing told me
that the company expected sales
that year to drop by about 30%.
Reason? The market has crashed hard and fast,
customers have cut advertising spending,
and the economy is in a state of stagnation.
I asked him,
“Why don’t you aim to increase sales by 30%
instead of allowing yourself to accept
that this number will be reduced by 30%?”
I then went on to say,
“After all, your salespeople only work 90 minutes a day,
about 20% of the time.
If you can get them to work three hours a day,
or 40% of their time,
your sales will go up instead of down.”
This president is quite intelligent
and easy to see.
He thinks that’s a great number,
but he says it doesn’t apply
to the company’s sales force.
He told me that they are all professionals
with an average of about 10 years of experience,
they use their time very well
and effectively in every working day.
Even so, we decided
to give each person a stopwatch during the conference
and encourage them
to calculate the exact number of minutes they spend
in person in a typical day,
and then then reports that number
to the company on the last day of the month.
The conference went very well.
I explain these information
and numbers to the company’s sales staff.
All received stopwatches
and all agreed
to accurately report the number of minutes each day
and week they spent in face-to-face meetings with clients.
About six weeks later,
when the company had received reports from all sales staff,
I received a phone call from the president.
With a little shyness,
“I was amazed when I added all the numbers,
and realized that the average salesperson
at our company actually only works 90 minutes
42 seconds everyday.
“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade,
a person or persons into a win-win situation.” – Bo Bennett
To be successful in business,
you must implement the “minute rule”
in your sales activities.
This rule states that only face-to-face minutes with leads
and customers count as sales time.
When you increase the number of minutes you spend in person,
you increase your sales and income.
Because selling relies heavily
on the rule of probability
or the rule of averages,
if you simply increase the minutes,
you will and you must increase the level of sales.
You should also use a stopwatch
to calculate your current level in sales.
A stopwatch allows you to accumulate time,
because you can press the start button
when you want to time it
and the stop button every time
you visit a client or prospect.
At the end of each day or week,
you will know how many minutes
you actually “worked” that day or week
(The first time you use this calculator,
the results you get will definitely be shock you!)
to increase the number of minutes you spend
by an average of 10% per week.
If your average is 90 minutes a day,
you should aim
to spend 100 minutes a day meeting
with clients over the next week.
Over the next week,
you should increase to 110 minutes,
then 120 minutes,
then 135 minutes,
and then 150 minutes,
and finally 180 minutes per week
– twice the average
– within seven weeks.
All the salespeople
I’ve shared this idea with have doubled their income
in just two months.
Many sales people,
by reorganizing their time immediately,
have been able to double the number of minutes they spend.
to meet his customers face-to-face within a week.
And their income also doubled in that short week.
They come to me at my seminars,
shake their heads,
“I never realized how easy it was
to double my income
until I heard this rule.
And it works every time.”
If you also work on improving the number of minutes
you spend in face-to-face meetings
with customers each day,
and at the same time continue
to improve your sales knowledge and skills,
you will actually make your sales results
as well as your customers.
His income skyrocketed.
It’s not unusual for sellers
to double their earnings in just 30 days,
even in a slowing
or falling market,
with these simple strategies.
“The best salespeople wonder what it would be like to be in the other person’s shoes.
They know they can’t play that game
unless they continually strive
to train themselves in how we as human beings communicate.” – Bob Phibbs
How to increase face-to-face meeting time with customers
The starting point for doubling
or tripling your sales is simply doubling
or tripling the minutes you spend meeting
with real potential customers face-to-face.
Plan to meet potential customers based on geographical factors,
to reduce travel time.
Group your meetups by area-specific
so you can meet more people with less travel time.
Because of the fear of rejection,
it has become very common
to schedule meetings
with customers far from their workplace,
and as a result,
they may have to spend most of the day visiting customer
and then back to the office.
But the best salespeople divide their sales area into quadrants
and then spend the day working in one of them.
When a customer is ready to meet with a salesperson,
they place the customer in a specific quadrant
to work with that customer on a specific day.
Start earlier each day
so you can meet more people.
Make your first meeting around 7 or 8 a.m.
Often, the most potential customers are not idle during the workday.
But they will gladly meet you
before or after regular business hours.
“Pay attention and adapt your style
to that of your prospect and customer.
I work with great salespeople
and the most successful know
how to connect with a variety of buyers.” – Colleen Stanley
ORDER FOR BREAKFAST WITH CUSTOMERS
When you call a potential customer,
and he or she is too busy
to see you,
invite the customer
to join you for breakfast
at a restaurant near his workplace.
We’ve noticed that
people may have lunch appointments,
but no one has had breakfast appointments.
when you invite someone to breakfast,
they will feel both comfortable and excited.
Maybe no one has ever received
such an invitation before.
When you meet and have breakfast
with a potential client,
about an hour
before the person begins his or her workday,
carefully refrain from talking about work.
Ask general and personal questions.
Ask about the person’s current job status.
Ask how the economy affects jobs and sales.
But don’t talk about your product/service at all.
The whole purpose of inviting someone
to breakfast is to build trust.
It is intended to build a friendly relationship
between two people.
At the end of breakfast,
the prospect will usually suggest
that the two of you go to the office together
to discuss your product/service,
even though you haven’t mentioned it
at all that work.
“It is now a given fact, in any sales-related seminar
or conference you may attend,
that traditional sales methods are being relegated to the annals of history.
The new, more discerning customers of today have seen to that.” – Jonathan Farrington
If the prospect doesn’t make another appointment,
call him back in about two
or three days
and tell them how much you enjoyed having breakfast
with them the day before,
and say you have some ideas
that could help them significantly improve their business
or personal life.
Then ask to meet the prospect
for a few minutes to share those ideas.
The tool to meet customers
before the workday starts and/
or invite them to breakfast is used
by one of the highest paid salespeople in the world,
for meeting busy people
or to build Building relationships
for the purpose of selling is inherently difficult to begin with.
“There is only one boss.
And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down,
simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
WORK ONE HOUR LATE
To increase your face-to-face meeting time,
decide to work an hour later.
Offer to meet with decision makers after regular business hours.
Especially when you talk
to business owners
or senior managers,
you will find they start earlier
and work later than their employees.
They may not be available
during the workday,
but they are usually free after 5 or 6 pm.
the person you ask to meet after work will suggest
that you go out for a drink together.
Of course, you accept.
But when drinking together,
you must absolutely avoid talking about your products/services.
Consider this time as merely an opportunity
to meet and socialize.
Use this time to develop a close relationship,
to build rapport and trust.
Usually, after you’ve spent
For 30 to 60 minutes sitting together at the end of a workday,
the prospect will suggest
that you meet in his office at another time,
when you can seriously discuss the matter
by your product/service.
“If you harness the power of innovation,
you’ll convert sales complexity into a brutal competitive advantage.” – Tim Sanders
CONTROL YOUR ACTION
The reality is that in sales,
you can’t predict where your next deal will come from.
People will buy
or not buy for a multitude of different reasons,
some related to you and your product
and others to factors over
which you have absolutely no control. .
Therefore, you must focus on
what you can control,
and those are the sales activities
that you make every day.
You can control yourself
and what you do from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
And in this way,
you can control your sales results,
the only thing that is not directly
under your control.
The sales activities are completely controllable
while the sales itself is not.
When you do a specific thing,
you increase your chances of making a sale.
and frequency of contact determines much of the quality
and volume of the sales results you generate.
If you talk and meet more people,
you will create opportunities to make more high-quality sales,
your skills will improve,
and your sales and income will increase,
you will increase.
It is a matter of logic,
a matter of law,
and it is entirely within your control.
One of the best definitions of time management
is “controlling a sequence of events”.
In time management,
by setting priorities,
you can decide what needs to be done first,
what needs to be done second,
and what should not be done.
You are always free to choose the sequence of events that
you will participate in in your work life.
And by choosing the right chain,
by doing the most important things first,
you will indirectly control your level
as well as your income from sales.
“We do a lot of one night stands in lead generation
and not enough in long term relationships.” – Michael King
FOCUS ON THE MAIN TOPIC
Here’s the key time management question:
“Is what I’m doing bringing in a deal?”
If what you’re doing isn’t bringing in a deal,
slam on the brakes
and stop it immediately.
when you work for a paycheck or bonus,
you’re getting paid just to be “present”.
But when you work in sales,
you can only get paid
when there are sales results.
You won’t get paid just
to be nice in the workplace.
You won’t get paid just to arrive
and leave on time.
You will only get paid
when a transaction is made,
and you need to fully focus on making the sale.
In sales, the more people you meet,
the better your results will be,
more experience will be gained
and they will improve your abilities
and you will get better every day.
The higher your sales activity level,
the more energy you will have.
The more people you meet and talk to,
the more sales you make.
The more you sell,
the more motivated
you’ll be to meet more people
and make more sales.
Your business career will thrive
with more and more success.
There are four questions
that you should ask yourself
and answer every day to keep yourself focused
“Excellent customer service is the number one job in any company!
It is the personality of the company
and the reason customers come back.
Without customers there is no company!” – Connie Edler
1. What are my highest value-added activities?
The answer is quite easy.
Your highest-value activities are finding,
and closing deals.
You should spend 80% of your time doing these activities,
“Treat the customer like you would want to be treated. Period!” – Brad Schweig
2. Why am I getting paid?
Imagine your child asking, “Dad,
why do people pay you when you go to work?”
What will you say?
In the most sincere way,
you would say,
“They pay their parents because they make a sale.
Parent’s income depends on the number of transactions
and the size of each transaction that the parent completes.”
and answering this question yourself will help
you stay focused and on track.
“People do not care how much you know
until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt
3. What can I,
and only I can,
and if done well,
will make a real difference?
This is one of the best self-management questions.
there will be tasks that only you can do.
If you don’t do those things,
no one will do it for you.
If those tasks are done well by you,
they will make a real difference
to yourself and your future.
Sometimes those tasks include scouting
and finding new people to talk to.
They also include adding knowledge
and improving your skills
so that you can spot leads you didn’t see before,
excel in all parts of the sales process.
Sometimes the only thing you can do
is plan your day
and organize your time properly
to get results.
“Put yourself in their shoes.” – Jesse Harrison
4. What is the most valuable use of my time so far?
This is a parenting question in time management.
All the time management books
and studies in the world serve one simple purpose.
It’s to help you identify your most important task,
and then to help you organize,
and complete that task
before doing anything else.
Whatever your answer to this question is,
be sure that
what you’re doing at this point is valuable
and that you won’t do anything else
until complete what you’re doing.
Learn how to manage time.
Read books, listen to video programs,
and attend courses or seminars.
The real quality of your time
management determines the quality of your life.
Do not waste time.
Stay away from people who are wasting time.
Get out of the office.
Let’s have a quick lunch,
have a coffee and let’s go.
From the moment you start in the morning
until you stop working in the afternoon,
be determined to work all the time.
This decision alone can make you one of the most productive
and highly paid sales professionals in your field
in an incredibly short amount of time.
“We do a lot of one night stands in lead generation
and not enough in long term relationships.” – Michael King
Once upon a time, there was a Fortune 500 sales agent
that was consistently ranked
as the most underperforming sales agent in the world.
Out of 2000 offices,
it consistently ranks 2000th in terms of efficiency
and sales record,
even though it is located in a large
and very prosperous city.
One day, out of desperation,
the company sent a sales manager from the West Coast
to change the current state of the company,
even though the previous business manager had completely failed.
The company sends out a notice to all sales staff that
the new sales manager will be in the office
in the early hours of Monday morning,
at 8 o’clock,
and everyone must be there to attend.
Attend sales department meetings.
At 8 a.m. on a Monday,
vendors began to appear,
with their coffee cups in hand,
At 8:15, most of the people
from the sales team were already there.
The new sales manager introduced himself to each person,
asked and remembered their names,
and then convened a sales department meeting.
He opened with a question:
“What do you not see in this office?”
The salespeople looked around
and paced back and forth,
what the manager was talking about.
Then he said,
“You don’t see any customers in this office.
Your job is to come
and meet customers.
if there are no customers in the office,
you should not be in the office either.
Then he stood up and said,
“The sales meeting is over.
I want everyone to get out of the office
and meet with clients throughout the day.
Thank you very much, brothers and sisters.”
Polite but convincing,
he pushed everyone out of the office,
into the hallway,
and into the elevator.
The sales people are very annoying.
They’re used to using half a Monday
to talk about their weekend getaways
and game shows on TV.
Now, without warning,
they are pushed out in search of customers.
What should they do now?
Some people say,
“Damn it, I’m going to go out and finish my coffee.”
Others said: “Dammit.
We’ve had enough clients,
now I’m going to meet them.”
The next day,
when they arrived at the office
and attended the sales meeting at 8 a.m.,
they found all their desks
and chairs had been removed.
There’s nowhere left to sit.
The sales manager,
who led a stand-up meeting,
said, “Since there are no customers in this office,
and it’s your job
to spend time with customers,
I sold all the tables
and chairs are gone
because you won’t need them anymore.
We’ve put some tables
and chairs in small rooms
in case you’re in the office,
but more importantly,
I want you to go out and meet clients
throughout the day.
Have a nice day!”
The sales meeting was over,
he stood there and waited
until everyone had left
and then went back to his work.
Of the 32 salespeople who worked in that office,
10 refused to accept this kind of rule.
and find other jobs
that can be a lot easier 22 people left
and started meeting customers,
starting to sell, even more.
The more sales they make,
the more active and dedicated they become,
for a very clear motive.
Within six months,
this dealer’s sales situation
began to improve compared to other dealers.
At the end of that year,
it ranked 1000th out of 2000 dealers.
At the end of the second year,
it entered the top 10,
and by the end of the third year,
it was the number one dealer in the world
on the Fortune 500 list.
The reason is simple,
the sales manager,
who has become a shining star in the industry,
has an extremely simple formula:
Force salespeople to go out
and attend face-to-face meetings.
Communicate with customers throughout the day.
Everything else will work on its own.
And it really worked.
“Train your prospects to pay attention
and to open
and read emails that you send.
Don’t encourage them to ignore
or delete your messages because they are of inconsistent
or no value to them.” – Bridget Gleason
You decide your own success
you are the president of your own personal sales corporation.
You are the president of the company
with one employee
You are responsible for selling a product
or service to you personally.
Your rewards are determined by your results
– your personal level in sales.
You don’t have
to sit around waiting for someone to come
and tell you to get out
and take the time to meet the customer in person.
You can make that decision yourself,
and practice it over and over
until it becomes a habit,
automatic and easy.
By focusing on selling,
you will soon become one of the best salespeople
of your generation.
In his wonderful book
The checklist manifesto,
Atul Gawande describes how the best people
in every field use to-do lists
to manage complex tasks.
Professionals such as engineers, doctors,
and pilots all use to-do lists to reduce mistakes,
increase productivity and efficiency.
Business professionals can also greatly benefit from
using to-do lists as an experimental battle-time management tool.
Create five to-do lists:
• Annual To-Do List
• Quarterly To-Do List
• Monthly To-Do List
• Weekly To-Do List
• Daily To-Do List
Once you’ve created your annual to-do list,
use it to create your quarterly to-do list.
Use a quarterly to-do list
to create a weekly to-do list
and use a weekly to-do list
to create a daily to-do list.
Always stick to this list,
especially the daily to-do list.
You can increase your performance
and reduce stress significantly
by keeping yourself on track every day.
Use a list to plan your work
and work on the plan.
It’s one of the best time management tools discovered.
“Customers don’t care at all whether you close the deal or not.
They care about improving their business.
It’s easy to forget this in the heat of a sales cycle.” – Aaron Ross
Here are some key questions
to help you create an action plan
to take control of your time and life as a salesperson:
What are the three most important factors determining your income?
What are the three benefits of excelling in the key results area in sales?
In which operating area should you apply the 80/20 rule
to your current sales activities?
What are the three most important things you do that determine
how much money you make?
What are the three most important things you can do every day
to maximize your sales and your income?
What are the three times you actually work in a day?
What are three things you can change in your sales job
to increase the time you spend at work each day?
Finally, if there was one thing you would do immediately after
what you learned in this chapter, what would you do?