Take Inventory of Your Actual Selling Time

alt text for the iimage of four people watching the clockYou feel really busy while you are at work. It feels like you are always doing something productive with your time. It might surprise you to find out how little time that you actually spend selling.

This week (and next week), take a daily inventory of your time. Use the following categories to determine where you spend your time and your energy. Don’t bother capturing the time you waste on the Internet (time spent here, of course, isn’t counted as wasted). Don’t bother capturing the time you spend driving or updating your sales force automation software (both necessary, I know). Just capture your real sales time.

At the end of the week, look and see how much time you spent in the following areas.

Prospecting Time

How much time do you spend prospecting for new business opportunities each week? How much time did you spend calling your dream clients for an appointment or walking in doors when you are in the field?

The time you spend prospecting is the greatest indication of your future results as a salesperson. More prospecting means more opportunities. More opportunities means more won deals, provided you are effective and not just active. The reason that this appear first on the list of activities to track is that salespeople often pay too little attention to prospecting or give it the necessary time.

It is almost impossible to spend too much time prospecting. You should allocate this time before you fill in the rest of your calendar each week.

Actual Sales Call Time

How much time do you spend on sales calls? How much time do you spend face-to-face with a dream client (or a prospect you later disqualified)?

Your actual sales call time is time you spent with dream clients that are somewhere in your sales process.

Don’t count the time that you have blocked on off your calendar; that it isn’t an accurate accounting of your time. You may have blocked off a full hour, but you may have spent either more time (even when it wasn’t necessary) or less time (even though you needed more) than the full hour you allotted.

This is the most effective use of your time as a salesperson; you are with your dream clients, creating value.

Nurturing Dream Clients

How much time do you spend each week nurturing your dream clients?

How much time do you spend on the telephone with them learning about their business and working to discover a way that you can add value?  How much time do you spend emailing them your white papers, or other information that might share your differentiating and defining value-creating ideas? How much time do you spend working to create value before you claim it?

This is different than prospecting work. This is the work that has to be done to win the dream clients that we know we can serve well, and that presently belong to our competitors. To gain the opportunity to work with them in the future requires that you build and nurture the relationships now.

Managing Outcomes, Implementing, and Executing

How much time do you spend implementing and executing, ensuring that your client is achieving the outcome that you sold and that you promised to deliver?

After you have won the deal, you have to ensure that your client succeeds—you and your company will not succeed otherwise. This takes time, and the bigger the win, the more time it actually takes. It is time that is necessary and well spent, as long as you don’t spend more than is necessary to achieve your outcome. Taking more time than is necessary can steal the time you need to prospect and nurture your next dream client.

Internal Selling, Troubleshooting, and Building Solutions

How much time do you spend selling inside your own organization? How much time do you spend building the relationships that will help you to help your dream clients? How much time do you spend troubleshooting on your client’s behalf? How much time do you spend with your team building the solutions that serve your dream clients?

To succeed in sales, you need the support of your internal team. You need the support of your management. You need to build the relationships that grease the skids for you and for your dream clients so that you can produce results and faster.

You need to spend time troubleshooting on behalf on your dream clients, making sure that you can make the necessary changes to produce results when their business change.

You need to spend time with you internal team building the solutions that will generate the outcomes your dream clients need you to help them achieve.

Quality time spent here can make selling easier by making your solution the right choice to meet your dream client’s vision, and it can help you to help your team produce outcomes. You need to allot time, but you cannot let it destroy your prospecting, nurturing, and your actual sales call time.

How You Invest Your Time

You have to make trade-offs with how you invest your time.

If you would surf the Internet, you are spending time that you might have invested in prospecting.

If you spend more time than is necessary completing an RFP, know that you have spent that time here instead of investing it in nurturing your dream clients.

If you spend your time at the water cooler (some of which is necessary to having the human relationships that make business work, I know), know that you have spent that time here instead of investing it in working worth your team on achieving better outcomes for your dream clients.

Once you have done an inventory, you will recognize how little time you spend actually selling. Once you know how little time you spend selling, what you will do to improve the way you invest your time?

Conclusion

Generating sales results is the results of how we invest our time. Taking an inventory of how you invest your sales time is the first step to improving how you invest your time, and clearing the calendar to spend more in sales-related endeavors.

Questions

  1. What are the sales-related tasks that generate your sales results?

  2. Do you allocate your sales time before the week even starts, including the time you need to prospect and nurture your dream clients?

  3. What are the non-sales-related tasks that you allow to steal your time? Where would that time be better invested?

  4. How much time do you actually spend with your clients and your dream clients each week? How could you double that time?


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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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