Lesson in Time 'Mis-Managed'
I just left a sales meeting. It was yet another one of those “Why aren’t you selling more?” themes that seems to repeat over and over again. It’s frustrating. Since my boss referenced something that he heard you say (“Everyone can make seven calls a day regardless of how busy they think they are.”), I thought I’d reach out, share some thoughts and ask for your help.
It is amazing where the time goes and how a day flies by. When did things get so danged busy? As soon as I left the meeting, I jumped right on to my computer to share my thoughts on LinkedIn. I was interested to know from my fellow salespeople if they believed there was time in the day to include new business activities. And, you know what? Every single one of the salespeople who responded agreed with me wholeheartedly. It was actually an excellent conversation and one that took almost an hour to complete.
As a frequent LinkedIn contributor, I have worked my way up the ranks to become a Top Influencer in all 10 groups that I am involved with. Pretty cool, huh? My comments are rich in description and frequent in number, making me one of the online elite. I take this as a sign of admiration from my peers and it makes me feel really good about myself.
One discussion topic I started recently, “Why is there never enough time in the day to sell more?” has dozens of comments and we all agreed that the day is already full enough to think about adding to it. Well, not all of us agreed, actually. There is this one member who posted an opposing viewpoint. It was a brief comment without much substance and, man, was he ever reamed as a result! He never replied. I looked him up and apparently he is a top sales performer at his company. Go figure. But back to the issue at hand…
Take today, for example. Here’s how my morning went. You tell me if there’s room for new business development: It was mid-morning and I was returning from a customer visit. They had given me a couple of jobs and I needed to get back to submit them to Estimating and write up the specs.
On the way back to the office, I drove behind a car with the license plate “PRNTER” and I just had to take a picture with my cell phone so that I could post it to Facebook when I returned to my desk. After only 30 minutes, I had more than 50 “Likes.” I know because I saw the numbers rise as I watched a couple of cool videos my Facebook friends sent.
Lunchtime came and I spent it as I normally do: At my desk, working. First, I checked my inbox and replied to emails that had come in that morning. Then, I went back to LinkedIn and checked my inbox there, too. In addition, I added my congratulations to those who had work anniversaries and birthdays in my network.
Speaking of my network, there were five connection requests waiting for me. All five were salespeople, just like me. I looked each one of them up and all five seem to be struggling to grow their sales, just like me. Weird. I get a lot of that. But I connect with them all and try to include them in the conversation.
The afternoon arrived and it was jam-packed with activity, as usual. Pricing was back from Estimating on those new jobs and I called my client, leaving a message for her to call me back so I could deliver the news and get a Purchase Order. While I waited, I did a little homework on the customer.
If there’s one thing that Farquharson and I do agree on, it’s the value of researching a client or prospect. This requires, as it did this afternoon, a lot of time reviewing websites and social media outlets so I can keep up. Between that activity and frequent peeks at my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, the rest of the day raced by, as it usually does.
Anyone who looked at my appointment calendar would fail to see the full story. To answer the question posed in that sales meeting (“Why aren’t you selling more?”), no one answers the phone, we don’t have any marketing materials, our price is always too high and I’m not sure that I’m calling on the right kinds of clients. But the number one reason is that there is simply not enough time in the day. And everyone who I communicate with during the day agrees with me.
Can it be possible that we are all wrong, Bill? Could the dozens of email exchanges that we make discussing the subject be off base? My online friends and I have a lot in common. In particular, we have a lot of sales challenges and struggles. Our sales are below par. We all face the “Your price is too high” objection far too often. None of us is earning the money that we would like to earn.
All are somewhat in awe of the sales reps around us who don’t face any of these sales issues. We wonder how they do it. How do they know the best prospects to call on? How is it that they get appointments where we fail? And where do they find the time to make it all happen? They get the same number of hours in the day we do. They have the same sales territories and equipment capabilities. It’s completely mind-boggling, but it sure makes for interesting online discussions.
You would think that being a LinkedIn Top Influencer would translate to increased sales. My group peers find my comments and frustrations to be similar to theirs. Yet we all, each and every one of us, suffer the same complaints.
That is, except for the one guy I mentioned earlier. His online contributions are few and infrequent. His posts appear at night, in the early morning and even on the weekend. His network consists almost exclusively of buyers, marketing people and other influencers. What does he know that we don’t?
Well, it’s almost 6 p.m. and another busy day has passed. I will pick the subject up where I left off first thing in the morning by reaching out to that guy with an email and a LinkedIn message. Lord knows it will probably take him forever to get back to me. Some people just don’t value electronic communication like I do.
Looking back on this message to you, I think it is a good representation of the problem. There is just not enough time in the day. Heck, just expressing these thoughts to you took me at least an hour, if not two. And this is exactly what I am talking about. How am I supposed to make even one call, much less seven, if I spend my time on such non-selling activities? Hey, wait a minute… PI
About the Author
Bill Farquharson is vice president at Epicomm and a featured presenter on PI XChange. His Sales Resources page contains archived tips and Short Attention Span Webinars and is found at sales.epicomm.org. Farquharson can be reached at (781) 934-7036 or email firstname.lastname@example.org