17/11/2010

By Joe Adams

Ever hear someone say, “I could sell more if I had more time,” or “I wish I had the time to go after that sale”? Don’t believe such words. People make time to do the things they really want to do. And salespeople are no different than others in finding that time.

Nobody should have to tell people in sales jobs that time is valuable. How they use it determines their success at the job, and how much money they make. What about you? Do you use your time wisely?

If there is any doubt in your mind that you are not getting as much out of your time as you could, take a few minutes to figure out how you could do better. There are many ways to save time as well as make good use of it. For example, how do you begin your day? Are you up immediately when the alarm goes off, of even before it does? Successful salespeople seldom have a problem getting going in the morning. They’re full of drive and ready to get the ball rolling.

The time you spend getting to your job should be put to use. If you’re relying on public transport, you can read. If you’re driving think about and plan your day. Planning you day before you start your calls is bound to give you more confidence, and you’ll do a better job because of it.

Do you decide how many calls you’re going to make, and where you’ll be going during the day? If you do, work out the route so that you’re travelling the least distance and spending the lease time on the move. Some salespeople lose a lot of time by travelling far or by ordering a big meal at the midday lunch. They apparently don’t realise that they have shortened the time that they could be calling on prospective customers.

What about the time you might spend waiting? This is the time to read correspondence, review literature, to catch up on the non-selling aspects of your job.

If you spend part of your time at the office, you should plan that time so that you will get the most from it. Early in the morning when it’s too early to make calls is the time to get paperwork handled. Then make notes about your phone calls so that you’ll be sure to handle all matters with one call.

You should be very much aware of people who will steal time from you if you’ll let them. Such people will relate long stories, or talk about last night’s football. There are the joke tellers, who invariably are not satisfied with telling only one. While you have to — and you should, you are human — go along with some of this, you can avoid telling jokes of your own. Better yet, pick a few “one-liners” that you can at opportune times quickly throw out — then get back to business.

Take the time-honoured tip, and avoid discussing politics and religion with your colleagues. As well as being controversial subjects, they invariably lead to long discussions.

There’s an art to breaking off conversations when your business is finished. Time-efficient salespeople are good at it. It’s easy for them to say, “I’ve got to leave, or I’ll be late for another appointment”, or “I hope you’ll excuse me, I’m behind schedule”. And once they make the break, they don’t stand at the door for a further ten minutes saying goodbye.

It pays to periodically make a record of how you spend your time. Very few people have a good enough memory to do it at the end of the day — you’ve got to do it as you go along. Be prepared to be surprised. What most people find is that they spend several hours a week doing something that doesn’t benefit them or their company. You’ll learn that you can do some chopping to put that time to better use. The salesperson who doesn’t keep trying to make the best use of time is simply telling himself that he is making enough money and accepting his standard of living. How many people in sales feel that way?

Every salesperson does better at certain times than at others. When things are going your way and orders are coming in, step up your pace, even if it means working a bit of overtime. There will be other days when you can’t seem to be making a penny. If you’ve had an urge to slack off or take it easy, that’s the time to do it.

Many salespeople have jobs that tempt them, as well as cause them to shortchange themselves. Their companies may never know that they could have made more calls on certain days, that they could have sold more if they were efficient and better prepared to meet and talk with prospective customers.

Salespeople have to take the responsibility for how they spend their time. That’s one of the big reasons why one salesperson does better than another. Do you make the best use of your time so that you can be that better salesperson?

Joe Adams, chairman of Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) Group 11, established his own management consultancy Adams & Associates in 1995. With a passion for helping others to be their best, Joe is an accredited coach for the Institute of Directors, as well as a mentor for the Prince's Trust. Drawing on a wealth of experience as a successful businessman, coaching and motivating a sales force of 650, he has an NLP certificate from Sue Knight, in High Performance Coaching, and is a qualified NCFE life coach. He has been an ACE Chairman since 2002. Joe believes that we are all capable of more than we tend to achieve in life, and that coaching can be the key to realising that potential.


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