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Time Management - Sales Productivity's Black Hole

Mar 24, 2008
I spent a number of years as a consulting nuclear chemist and radiation protection specialist at commercial nuclear power plants. Which means I love physics!

I've always been baffled by the concept of managing time, because from a physics perspective time can't be managed. The proof is obvious when we consider... it's impossible to manage our time so effectively that we get 25 hours in a day, nor is it possible to manage our time so poorly that we only get 23 hours in a day.

We can't find time or make time.

The only thing we have control over is what we do in the slices of time each day.

A great deal of people manage their day by using a to-do-list. Stop and think for a moment, traditionally, how do we create a to-do-list?

The phone rings, emails arrive, clients or prospects call, boss assigns a task, a coworker needs a favor, sales calls to make, follow-ups to perform, demos to give, proposals and contracts to write, not to mention; market research to conduct and articles and white papers to read. If new tasks pop up while we're engaged in any of these activities, just add them to the list.

Yes, we can rewrite our task list. Yes, we can assign numbers or letters to denote importance, but what does that have to do with being effective?

So many people confuse their to-do-list(s) with their priorities. They run around with their hair on fire, adding tasks to and checking tasks off the to-do-list.

The gravitational attraction of the mountain of information and activities competing for our attention is like a giant black hole gobbling up space in our head and time in our day. Finally, our busy day ends without completing the key sales activities that add prospects to the funnel, move deals closer to close and increase our capabilities as sales professionals.

So what should we do?

Instead of trying to better manage our time, we should focus on managing our effectiveness. Sales effectiveness is a function of our ability to identify and prioritize high impact sales activities that are in alignment with achieving of our objectives.

Stop focusing all your efforts on planning your day and start planning your week, month and quarter.

1. Develop objectives for your territory, sales and personal development
2. Set objectives for each of the key phases of your sales process
3. Define the success metrics and targets for each objective
4. Create a rolling 90-day action plan and organize tasks by objectives
5. Create a model work week - your weekly schedule
6. Move your tasks off the action plan and onto your calendar
7. Measure progress towards achievement of the objectives weekly
8. Say no to everything else

I highly recommend Sally McGhee's book Take Back Your Life using Microsoft Outlook 2007 to Get Organized and Stay Organized (she even covers work life balance).

So how do we identify the high impact sales activities?

Start by answering three questions:

1. What does a great day of selling look like?
2. What do you have to do to prepare to have that great day of selling?
3. What do you have to do to string more great days of selling back to back to back?
About the Author
Martice E Nicks Jr

Professional Speaker, Master Sales Productivity Consultant, Coach and Trainer

Martice has 27 years as a successful consultant in government and private sectors. He focuses on optimizing and integrating systems that drive revenue and facilitate organizational performance. Clients realize between 15-30% increase in revenue in 90 days.

Come join the discussion at my blog Sales Productivity Secrets
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