Time is money



Did you know that each department in your company has a time manager? The sales department’s time manager is responsible for prospecting and cold calling as well as setting sales goals.
Additionally, the sales time manager is responsible for researching new accounts, driving to appointments and meeting with customers. On top of all the other responsibilities, the sales time manager also has to develop presentations and follow up with customers.
Do any of the above duties sound like something straight off your job description? Let me be the one to tell you, in case you have not received the memo: you are your own time manager!
Time is like cash, you can only spend what you have. There are 86,400 seconds in every day, and each second of every day holds the exact same value. A person with good self-discipline is like a piggy bank except that instead of collecting loose change that can be spent at a later date, the self-disciplined person looks for empty seconds that can be used immediately.
A person with good self-discipline works smarter, not harder. For example, a person with good self-discipline knows that a follow-up phone call can be made to a new customer during two minutes spent sitting at a stoplight. Perhaps the conversation will continue once the light turns green, but the distracting part of dialling the client’s phone number will have taken place during a safe moment on the road.
Some people concentrate best in the morning, yet others are better in the evening. A person with good self-discipline knows which hours of the day are best, biologically, for working on concentration-heavy materials such as developing presentations and creating sales goals. A fun website for determining your own high and low energy times of the day is www.care2.com/biorhythms.
A person with good self-discipline does not confuse activities with action. For example, leaving a catalogue with a receptionist instead of your customer/contact person is an activity that costs valuable time. An action is setting up an appointment to meet with a customer, face-to-face, and bringing a catalogue to the meeting.


Pareto’s Principle
The Pareto’s Principle 80/20 rule holds that 20 per cent of your daily actions yield 80 per cent of your results. I have applied the 80/20 rule to concepts in previous articles, and I am referencing it again now because it is an important aspect of time management.
One way to keep tabs on your actions is to make a ‘not to do’ List. This list will surprise you because it will show the difference between activities (ie dropping off a catalogue) and actions (setting up an appointment with a decision-maker).
Likewise, create a ‘to do list’, and rank the actions from most important to least important. Focus on the most important actions until they are complete. The list will help you to become a self-fulfilling prophecy for success, because as you start to complete important tasks you will see that you are productive with your time and you will visualise, with concrete examples, yourself as an effective time manager in control of your own time. A useful website for further exploring the 80/20 rule is http://management. about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/Pareto081202.htm.


Maximise ROTI
Investors aim for a high rate of return on their investments (ROI), right? Of course they do! Investors want to gain money. Sales professionals are investors too, only we don’t invest money as capital. We invest the precious, fleeting resource of time.
Here are two tips on how to increase your return on time investment (ROTI):
1 Create a list of pre-call objectives before each and every sales call.
• Plan at least two objectives for each appointment – especially for existing customers with whom you have developed a friendship. Having a list of objectives will help you to keep your appointment time focused on adding value for the customer either through products or procurement.
• Pre-call objectives will ensure that your customers receive a positive return on their time which, in turn, will result in ROTI for you! You both win.
2 Confirm appointments. Don’t waste valuable travel time for an appointment that may or may not take place.
• Never travel more than five miles from your office without confirming a scheduled appointment.
• Confirm appointments one day in advance.
• If necessary, leave a concise voice mail message: "This is Jeff; I am confirming our 9am appointment tomorrow. My phone number is 123-456-7777. I look forward to seeing you."
Tomorrow when you create your ‘to do list’, add ‘make one quality sales call’ to it, and hold yourself accountable for making that quality call. It may seem like a mindless task, but there are some sales professionals who make as many as nine sales calls in a day yet never bring any added value to their appointments. They don’t focus on spending quality time. Why? Because they worry more about getting a high quantity of sales calls and less about the details of each call.
Quality and quantity are not the same but they are related. You will be a more efficient salesperson when you make quality for your customers your top priority.
Take a look at the chart which represents the Sales Performance Formula. Top performing sales professionals generate a large quantity of high quality sales calls. (See top right).
I don’t like to make guarantees; however, there is always one exception to the rule. I guarantee that you will be a more effective sales time manager if you follow these steps:
1 Write out an estimate of how you are spending your time.
2 Use a time log to record your time for one week. My time log is a PDF file that I download to Outlook on my desktop and my PDA. If you would like a free copy of the time log that I depend on, send me an email.
3 Create the ideal (realistic) plan of how you will spend your time.
Time management is crucial to success in any business – especially sales. Good self-discipline and the 80/20 rule will help you to maximise your ROTI and a time log will help you to understand how you are spending your time. Always remember to keep quality at the forefront of your sales goals and you will be your department’s best ‘time manager’.