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Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, bestselling author, sales leader, and entrepreneur. He posts daily sales tips and insights to The Sales Blog.

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Time Is Your Friend or Your Foe

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When you work in sales, time can feel like your enemy. The goal that you are working towards is timed. Sometimes you have a full quarter to reach a goal, and other times you have a year. The slow countdown starts at the beginning of the period, and when it ends, a new countdown begins.
The clock is relentless. It methodically ticks off the seconds, minutes, and hours. The seconds quickly turn into minutes, the minutes swiftly turn into hours, and before you know it, the time has disappeared before your very eyes.  A minute of doing nothing will have little to no impact on your overall results. Wasting thirty minutes won’t do much damage either. You might be able to waste an entire half a day without any negative repercussions or consequences. That one day isn’t going to cause you to miss your goals.
But you hours quickly turn into days. You can waste an entire day, giving up 20 percent of your week, and it’s unlikely that anyone will notice, nor will anyone say anything to you. You may be able to stretch out a wasted day to a wasted week, or maybe even a couple weeks, without anyone holding you accountable. If someone were to ask you what you’ve been doing, there are always tasks in your inbox that are work-related enough to give you cover. The inbox is a lovely alibi when you are wasting time, always there, willing to cover for you with things that look like work but do nothing to further your goals.
You have thirteen weeks in a fiscal quarter. Giving up one of those weeks is to give up about 8 percent of the time you have in which to produce your goal. Giving up a month is to give up almost 31 percent of your time to produce whatever is required of you in that fiscal quarter. If you allow the time to slip by, you’re giving up the one resource you have that there is no way to reacquire. The time you spend without doing productive work is the time you are losing toward your goal. Later on, when you wish you had the time, it will be unavailable to you.
Sales is a game of urgency. It requires that you do the work now, giving yourself as much time as possible to deliver the result you’re being asked to produce. It’s a mistake to waste that time and shorten the distance to the end of the quarter. In some human endeavors, it is impossible to cram. This is the law of the farm; you plant in Spring, you harvest in the Fall. If you do not plant in Spring, you will have nothing to harvest come Fall.
There is no way to make up for lost time in this sale with an average cycle time of 90, 180, or 365 days. Not initiating a conversation and creating an opportunity 79 days ago, leaves you with 21 days to do what you know takes you 90 days, and with a prospective client who isn’t concerned about working on your timeline.
You might think that this makes time your enemy. But time is neutral. It treats you the same as it treats everyone else. It shows up as a gift, completely paid for in full, yours to do with as you wish. The decision as to whether you invest time in big, important things, or spend it on what amounts to playing the penny slots is entirely yours alone.
When you decide to waste time, it can certainly feel like it is the enemy because you will be deprived of it later, when you need it most. If you decide to manage yourself, using your time wisely, investing it in the most important outcomes you need to generate, time is a powerful ally.
How you feel about time, is really how you feel about your ability to manage yourself and your willingness to focus and give your work your full attention and energy.

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