I once asked one of the greatest salespeople I know what the secrets were to his success. He said there were not secrets, but there were definitely two things he tried to manage very well.
One was listening. We talk more about listening in another post but he listened differently than most people. The second, he said, was time management.
According to my friend, he learned early on that because of the lack of formal structure or routine in the sales profession, time management was a challenge that had to be mastered directly by the salesperson. As he looked to peers and mentors for guidance, he realized that most salespeople did not manage time very well. Most of them were spending their time doing anything BUT selling – meetings, paperwork, transportation, personal business, whatever – and that if he could discipline himself to spend more time actually selling than his competitors, it could be a huge, fundamental advantage.
In this context, it is important to note that he defined selling as active communication with clients, so that could be a formal sales meeting, phone call, meal together or entertainment. Anywhere he had the chance to interact with both information and emotion was hopefully solidifying all aspects of a growing and healthy relationship.
I know this sounds a little like Sales 101 but in our workshops, when we ask people to map out their typical day, they are often shocked at how much time they spend “not selling.” And we are seeing this amplified with working remotely. It is easy to get distracted at home with kids, spouses also working from home, pets, package deliveries and even the temptation to turn on the TV.
There are so many things salespeople cannot control – the economy, the competition, the market – but one thing you can absolutely control is your time, and that may be the most important element of all.