Activity doesn’t precede sales. Effective activity precedes sales. But all activities are not created equal. Some activities offer you a way out-sized result for your efforts. Other activities have no return on the time invested at all. You have to choose carefully where, and on what, to invest your time.
There is no such thing as time management. There is only “me management.”
This little two square by two square diagram is a very focusing little tool. There are essentially four types of activities on which you can spend your time. Let’s look at each one and add some sales functions.
Low Priority – Low Impact
This is the easiest to define and the hardest to remedy. Let’s start here. These activities are a very low priority, in fact, it would be better labeled “No Priority!” This is the time you spend with the WMD’s, the Weapons of Mass Distraction. This includes most of the emails you receive, about 90% of the Internet-browsing you do, many phone calls, and most of the time you spend at the water cooler.
Back to “me management.” This is the hardest area for mot people to improve because it requires self-discipline. But it is the greatest target from which to steal back your time; time you can be using to do something that is a higher priority and/or something that will produce a greater impact on your sales results.
High Priority Low Impact
There are some activities you have to take care of, whether you want to or not. This can be a customer call that you have to take, even though you are not the person who can get them the result they need and you are only going to pass the responsibility to a team mate. It also includes your sales reports, your expense reports, many of the meetings you attend, and some of your sales calls. Yes, some of your sales calls. You know the ones I am talking about; the client loves you, it’s fun, there are rarely any business outcomes.
You may not be able to get all of your time back from this segment, but the better you do at reclaiming it, the better your sales results.
High Priority High Impact
No way around it, you have to spend time here. These activities have a high impact, and they are a high priority. They are going to make up a big part of your time. These activities include many of your customer issues or requests and all of your sales calls and presentations. These activities are either on your calendar or they show up in the form of an emergency. They have to be done now, and you have to do them.
The simple fact is, when you agree to serve clients as a value-creator, you signed on for this. This one area where it is very difficult to reclaim time. This seems like the best segment in which to spend time, doesn’t it? It is a high priority. It offers a high impact on your results. And, Damn it feels good too! We are getting things done! Not so fast . . . The reason you need to reclaim your time for “me managment” is to spend it in the last segment.
Low Priority High Impact
The very best segment in which to spend you time is in the low priority, high impact segment. This segment is where the top 20% of salespeople spend there time, and it is one of the factors that allows them to outperform their peer group. This segment includes the activities that too many salespeople forgo because they lack the discipline, the drive, or the desire.
You know what is in here: prospecting, qualifying, cold calling, sales call preparation, most follow up activities, thank you cards or letters, most of the nurturing work, reading business books and all other forms of personal and professional development.
“Me Management” means spending your time in this segment: Low Priority – High Impact. This is where the out-sized gains in your performance are to be found. The more time you can spend in this segment, the better your performance will be. I promise.
The following list of questions will help you make some decisions about where you spend your time . . . then you have to go to work on your “Me Management” by taking action!
1. What are the low priority, low impact activities that rob you of your time? What can you do eliminate the temptation to spend time on these activities?
2. What are the high priority, low impact activities that you should be delegating to someone else? How much of your time is spent in this segment? How much of this time could you reclaim if it meant a serious, life-changing boost in your sales results?
3. Are all of the activities in your high priority, high impact segment really both high priority and high impact? Do some of them really belong in a lower category but get put into this category because the activity feels really, really productive? Is there even 5% of your time there you could reclaim if you wanted to perform at a much higher level?
4. How much of your time is spent in the low priority, high impact activity segment? What kind of results could you produce if you doubled that time?
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