Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Does this sound familiar? Like many people these days I find I am a multi-tasker, that is when I am not procrastinating from a top priority.

We fool ourselves into thinking we can do different tasks at an acceptable level of competence at the same time. A favorite example of why this is wrong is a very common practice that I indulge in myself; listening to music while eating. It certainly is more pleasant than gobbling food between tasks. If you are really honest you will admit that you are not quite catching all the music which might be better enjoyed laying down in the dark with earphones. On the other hand the music can distract you so that you eat more than you might otherwise or you don't chew as thoroughly as you might otherwise or you might not savour the flavours quite as much. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but don't kid yourself you are getting the most out of both activities.

There are only two things you can do at one time giving them both justice. They are waiting and anything else. If we are really honest most salespeople are really waiting for that easy order--the huge one that comes over the phone and for the whole package with no questions asked. Once in awhile you might get that, but more than likely, success was achieved while doing some work while waiting. The same thing happens with any task--you can hope someone else does it while giving you credit or do something while you are waiting for that to happen.

Waiting demands patience. Don't jump the gun or you might disqualify yourself or delay more productive efforts. At the same time you have to be ready to leap at what might be a very time sensitive window.

The two most important focuses of a sales person are first to communicate directly with a realistic prospect (a customer is a prospect for a future sale or referral) and the second is to be prepared for that opportunity. Preparing can take an infinite amount of time. It involves knowing all about what you are hoping to sell, identifying reasonable targets for the effort, persuading someone with some influence to let you make your case, presenting in the most optimal manner and following up. If you do all those things fairly well you might do more than sell a few products to one person; you might start a chain of repeats and referrals. Eventually you might receive that mythical phone call (or email).

We all know that some things are more important than others. Some of us have thought deeply and developed goals that tie into what we most value. Having a goal and a purpose is vital to deciding what you should do at any moment. What tasks will contribute to that goal/purpose? How would you rank them in importance?

You want to talk to some important decision maker, but she is busy or on vacation or just not able to give you proper attention. Determining a more acceptable time should be a priority.  If possible you might want to talk to some other person. If that is difficult or not quite the right time you can check your other priorities--identifying other people to talk to, information to master, presentation skills to master, following up on those you talked to before, doing the paper work.

A priority that often gets overlooked is rest. You know when you are not rested you don't think quite as clearly, you get irritated more easily and you miss some details that could make a difference. Another priority that gets overlooked is the need for exercise and to eat properly. An unhealthy person is handicapped and will find it difficult to keep pace with all the demands of selling (or much of anything else).

There is usually some kind of trade off between time and money. After all you want to have some time to enjoy whatever it is you value most. If you make more money in less time that seems to be the ideal solution, but others feel they not only need to make more money in less time, they need to work longer to get the really precious things they desire. Maybe you have that sort of choice.

A lot of people on a "normal" job are really just waiting for that cheque at the end of the week that will solve a few problems (like food clothing, shelter and FUN). While they are waiting they might do better to concentrate on doing a good job which to me means being both efficient and effective. If you can satisfy the one paying you, you just might end up not only getting to work more, but to work at something more challenging and rewarding.

Several times a day force yourself to answer this question, "What is the best use of my time right NOW?" Have it flash on your computer, have a note on your desk or on your calendar. If you have done all the preliminary sorting out of what your goals are this question will direct your actions in a productive manner. Maybe all you need is a picture that symbolizes your goal.

For a salesman the real boss is the customer. You don't need to turn everyone into a customer, but you do need to find enough customers to make the effort worthwhile. Everyone should remember that nothing happens until somebody sells something.

The photo is of Sharon, my wife in front of a Veradero sunset. I hope to arrange my time in such a way that I can have that view a few more times.

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