I have a very common request from sales leaders. Recently I was speaking with a client in Beijing. This manager said they really needed our help in the area of time management.
The four key areas most sales professionals have to focus on are:
- Prospecting or Developing Opportunities
- Negotiating/Handling Objections
Of course, there are plenty of other things we have to do, but I think we can all agree that these four areas cover the basic framework of a sales professional’s day-to-day activities.
However almost 100% of the time, when we begin to investigate where time is being wasted it is around the first two areas above: Prospecting and Qualifying. What we also find virtually 100% of the time, the issue is not a need for a class on time management, but the lack of logical and repeatable processes to be proficient at how they are spending their time.
Four Ways to Win or Lose a Sale
- Win Fast
- Win Slow
- Lose Fast
- Lose Slow
Of those four, only one is truly unacceptable: Losing slow
If I win fast or win slow, either way…I win. Losing fast is even more ideal in terms of time-management because it affords the ability to quickly move on to other opportunities that can be won. It’s the death by a thousand paper cuts that drains the lifeblood of time out of us.
When we dig into most organizations, we find the absence of logical, repeatable processes masking as time management issues. The fact of the matter is the real problem involves a lack of skill or knowledge of those logical and repeatable sales processes. Once the knowledge or skill issue is addressed, the Lose Slow problem is resolved giving the rep back ample time to work on more productive endeavors.
It’s About the Leads, Right?
I’ve worked for many managers who said, “Throw as much against the wall each month and see what sticks” or “double or triple the number of calls you’re making each week if you want to sell more.” It’s like the guys in Glengary Glen Ross telling their boss they need the Glengary leads to be successful. Not true. There is certainly a case to be made for more activity. It’s a critical component of the job. However, if you’re exponentially ramping up your activity but lack proficiency in your activity, the activity itself is wasting time.
The key to sales success is very simple.
Activity x Proficiency = Sales
At AXIOM, we call that the Sales Success Formula. What you do coupled with how well you do it is the secret recipe on how to be successful. You can’t be good at only one or the other. It requires being good at both. So, next time you think you have a time management problem, start to evaluate whether or not it’s really time management or one of the things we’ve discussed here.