One of the top three areas of improvement we consistently hear wholesalers need is productivity/time management.
Which would help to explain why Laura Stack has been visiting with us at Wholesaler Masterminds® periodically for the last six years!
Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE, is best known by her moniker “The Productivity Pro®.” Stack is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the President & CEO of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments.
She is the bestselling author of seven books published by Random House, Wiley, and Berrett-Koehler, including her newest, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). Her books have been published in more than 20 foreign editions, and she is a featured columnist for the American Business Journal, LinkedIn, Time Management, and Productive magazines. Stack has produced more than 50 online training programs.
Book Laura for your next event through Wholesaler Masterminds Speakers Bureau (services provided by Ro Morrison & Associates).
Killing Time: Timewasters that Hurt Your Sales Productivity
“Half the time men think they are talking business, they are wasting time.”—E.W. Howe, writer and newspaper/magazine editor.
If there’s one thing the experts seem to agree upon, it’s that almost all salespeople waste about half their time at work on things other than the business they’re paid for. Aside from the inevitable personal business, the waste often consists of:
- Recovering from interruptions and distractions.
- Pursuing poor-quality leads.
- Lack of preparation.
I won’t cover personal business; we all know what we shouldn’t be doing. The difficulty lies in making ourselves stop. The others, however, are worth considering in greater detail.
Interruptions and distractions have been the bane of every office worker since we first began congregating to conduct business. Many are external—drops-ins, corridor conversations, speakerphone use—but a surprising number are internal. Internet addiction, poor email habits, and multitasking efforts stand out. Most distractions reduce to a lack of focus—which, when broken, can derail you for tens of minutes at a time. The cure is tightening your self-discipline, whether that means wearing noise-cancelling headphones, rousting the corridor conversers, avoiding the Internet, or focusing exclusively on one thing at a time.
Pursuing poor-quality leads may not be your fault, if you’re not the person who collects and distributes them. A sales leader worth his salt knows that while quantity may have a quality all its own, it’s much more profitable to focus on a few top-quality leads than scores of lesser ones. Author David Jacoby claims 15% of all accounts produce 65% of all sales, with the next 20% and the last 65% producing only 15% each. If you’re receiving too few high-quality leads, ask your manager for a more equitable distribution. If you’re the manager, reprioritize how you handle leads, so the best ones receive more effort. Calls and meetings with the wrong clients won’t result in enough sales to offset the time they cost. Or perhaps you’re over-selling the same accounts. Do you or your team call the same people repeatedly because they’re easy to converse with, even if they don’t buy much? Step out of your comfort zone and go after new accounts.
Lack of Preparation. Suppose you fail to confirm an appointment with a client across town, only to find that he was called out for an emergency, took a sick day, or couldn’t be bothered to update his calendar. You’ve just wasted hours. Lack of preparation also results in incomplete sale calls, because you have to contact the client again once you’ve collected all the documents and information you needed in the first place. It also makes you and your company look bad, especially if you provide the wrong facts and figures because you got in too much of a hurry. Surprisingly, too much preparation can also be an issue. When you let perfectionism take control, you may never get started. Paralysis of analysis can kill accounts as dead as lack of preparation.
Time is Money
Sales people sell. Anything that interferes with that—excess paperwork, poor leads, bad habits, distractions, whatever—must go by the wayside. Legend has it that reviewer Dorothy Parker once said about a book, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” I feel the same about timewasters. If you honestly care about your profitability and productivity, do what you must to forcefully eject timewasting habits from your team.
Written by by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE