By Francis Wade
May 19, 2013.
Many salespeople in Jamaica believe that
their results are all about the numbers.
They focus on seeing the most
prospects in the shortest amount of time. They approach sales planning with
'brute force' and they see time management as a tool to cut out all non-sales
However, this approach overlooks
Great time management is not
just about getting a lot of stuff done. It also has to do with the way people
complete tasks. Salespeople who stress and panic about finding new customers
end up perfecting the habit of being frantic and distracted.
Once, I met a salesperson who
closed a very quick sale with me. In subsequent interactions, I found that I
had to work hard to get anything done with him: lost email and full
voicemail-boxes were the norm.
After about a year, he
disappeared altogether, and when I sought him out to make another purchase, he
could not be found. I was forced to find another salesperson.
A few months later, he called
out of the blue, explaining that someone had mentioned my name to him and it
had jogged his memory. I was surprised to hear that he was still in the
By then, it was too late: his poor time management had cost him the sale.
Among salespeople, this story
sounds familiar; it's a frequent occurrence here in Jamaica. Sales
professionals often cannot organise their time well enough to do the basics,
like maintaining contact with customers and prospects long enough to make it
through a complete sales cycle.
Nurturing a relationship for the
one or two years it takes to close a sale requires good time management. Many
salespeople find themselves too frantic and distracted each day to keep track
of the information that comes in, let alone adjust their own activities in
Instead of developing the more
advanced habits of calmly creating and executing plans, they jump on their
smartphones and start putting out fires before breakfast.
In the middle of a meeting with
a prospect, they answer calls, texts, and email messages, hoping that a 'bigger
fish' is trying to contact them.
While they drive from one
appointment to another, they multi-task furiously and endanger their own
welfare as well as others. They don't have time to take care of their health,
appearance or relationships; that neglect eventually catches up with them.
Whether or not you think you
currently engage in all these behaviours, you should:
1. Recognise the symptoms:
As salespeople, you wear your
high energy level and ability to work hard as a badge of honour. You often put
in longer hours and don't consider the need for time- management assistance.
However, you may be overlooking
some of the modern symptoms of time-management failure: overflowing email
inboxes, feelings of guilt from not spending enough time with loved ones, late
arrivals, and a growing reputation for losing track of action items.
2. Know that you are not a
Machines have neither feelings
nor living spirits, so they can be run into the ground and replaced at will.
Human beings aren't the same.
When you ignore your well-being
and treat yourself like a robot, you'll pay for it in disease and burnout. You
can delay the consequences, but you can't deny them.
3. Shed outdated time-management
Research shows that we develop
methods for managing time in our teens and early twenties.
These methods may have lasted a
lifetime in the past, but the information explosion means that today's
professionals need to adjust and revamp their time-management methods many
times, especially when technology advances.
Some salespeople are unable to
use the latest technology designed to help them take better care of their
customers and prospects. They rely on old skills - like getting someone else to
manage their email - and it leaves them out of touch and unable to manage the
information that they encounter each day.
If you're relying on old skills,
learning new ones won't just advance your career, it will also ease your
workload and improve your well-being.
4. Put in support to change
It's tough to change ingrained
behaviours, and time management is no exception. If you need to upgrade your
productivity skills, it won't happen overnight, no matter how motivated you
Instead, you need external
support from several directions in order to effectively change your habits.
Your manager may often be the best influence, but whatever supports you use,
make sure you have something in addition to personal willpower.
As a salesperson, you must treat
your time-management systems carefully.
Time isn't just money – it is opportunity.
Francis Wade is president of Framework Consulting and author of
'Bill's Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure'. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org