In the words of Ben Franklin, “Lost time is never found again.” And wasting time, or focusing attention on non-productive activities, will severely impact your ability to succeed. So take the time to prioritize and organize this January, and reap the rewards all year long.
1. Keep distractions at bay: Distractions and poor organization are time vampires. Constant connectivity to the internet, mobile apps and social media, both alluring and highly addictive, can suck the life out of productivity. As tempting as it is to get the latest news online or to check the statistics of your favorite team, distractions like these will slow you down and derail the momentum of getting real work done. An important task that might take an hour of focused attention can quickly morph into a day-long project if you are mentally sidetracked with non-work related web browsing.
2. Sell during selling hours: Computers are a business tool and often serve as a virtual office space where most resources are stored, whether you’re on the road or not. While it’s critical at times to be in front of the computer, there’s a risk of spending an entire day on time wasting tasks. The average person checks email 74 times a day, spending 28% of their time in email. Instead, stay focused on the most important priority—selling. The highest performing sales executives are in front of the prospect when the prospect is accessible. In other words, sell during selling hours. By pushing your administrative tasks to slower times of the day, you have a better chance of engaging with your prospect when they are available.
3. React vs. Respond: Clients and prospects can also be time bandits. To efficiently manage your time, stay keenly aware of what is urgent versus what is important. The difference determines whether the action item requires you to react or respond. React to urgent needs. Respond to important requests. To avoid wasting time by reacting to requests that can wait, ask clarifying questions; For example, “To keep your project on schedule, when do you need my response?” Knowing what the task requires will allow you to allocate your time appropriately. Be sure to prioritize important tasks, both urgent and not urgent.
4. Know what you’re good at… and what you’re not: As Cal Newport writes, “don’t follow your passion; rather let it follow you in your quest to become, in the words of Steve Martin, ‘so good that they can’t ignore you.’” Use delegation as an effective tool to prevent from being spread too thin. Each person has a specific skillset. Instead of taking on too much, try to delegate to the people best suited for the project. That will preserve your time to focus on tasks that match your strengths, while allowing others to work on the tasks they are best at.
5. Your competition shines when you are under the spotlight. What distinguishes a good sales executive from a great one is the ability to accurately qualify prospects. Most of us have a number of prospects in our pipeline who will never make a decision. Some prospects will never close, no matter how much time is invested. By using a clear and consistent qualification method, you can disqualify them and spare yourself the time of going down that rabbit hole. At ValueSelling, we teach the Qualified Prospect Formula®, a concise, reliable qualification process that weeds out unqualified leads, enabling you to spend your valuable time on prospects who can say “yes” to your solutions.
Every day, new challenges arise that require you to reevaluate where to spend your time. Staying focused on your overall goal helps you to prioritize accordingly. Ultimately, by restricting your distractions, properly evaluating your opportunities, understanding your own abilities, and fully and appropriately engaging in tasks, your productivity rate will soar. There will always be time-busting activities to accomplish. But understanding how your day will be impacted, and then managing your time effectively will take you to a higher level of sales success.