What a Waste
I recently read an article discussing productivity that stated that the average white collar non-management employee is engaged in productive activity only about 32% of the time, specifically 32% of work hours. I have also heard statistics stating that sales people are only engaged in productive activity about 27% of the time. While I am not sure how one measures “productive” activity, it seems alarming that any way you look at it, the implication is that sales people are only productive or working less than a third of the time available to them for working.
Non-productive activities were considered to be things like surfing the web for personal use, personal calls, office socializing, etc. Not to be overly defensive for sales people, but while being stuck in traffic on the way to an appointment may seem like one is not working, it is unavoidable, and while you can make calls from the car, so it would seem that there is some productivity to be measured there.
Rather than trying to dispute the claims, I think it is much better to step back and see how you can change things even moderately and set up a plan to be consistently more productive. The good news is that if you are in sales and on a commission plan, any increase in productivity will lead to more money for you, which is a good thing!
Here are three things that will help you do just that:
If you do work in an office and have to be present at different points during the week, take steps not to be distracted. While you need to be social, there is over doing it. Sharing war stories, discussing the weekend, Michael Jackson’s death, or the next idiotic thing to come out of Jimmy Carter’s mouth; they all maybe good fun, but 10 minutes a day can make a difference. So discipline yourself to minimize these rituals. Get yourself out of the office as soon as you have fulfilled your obligations. If you do have to be there, politely discourage interruptions and of course do not be interrupting. Find an unused office or boardroom away from your normal workspace and get things done. That’s 10 minutes a day, almost an hour a week.
Establish your “must do’s”, rank them in order of importance, then DO IT. A while back in our monthly newsletter I wrote a piece called “Allocate Time – Manage Activities”, in which we encouraged people not worry about managing time, but rather figure out how much time they need to allocate time to the right activities, then manage they way they do them. So once you understand and validate you required activities, based on metrics and objectives, rank them in importance, assign the time and do one thing, (multi-tasking is overrated and does not work in sales), don’t do other things. If those other things really need to be done, then you will have allocated the time, if you did not, then they can wait. Remove yourself and do it. While you may not save time, you will make more of your time, and add the 10 minutes above and add it to your top priority, and wow!
One Man’s Research Is Another Man’s Time Wasted
This is specifically aimed at those who “really want to prospect, but never find the time”, you know the ones, who had their list ready, were going to make the calls, you know the ones from the trade show last week, but just as they were about to go at it, the Justice League called and they had to save the planet. Then there are the sellers who continue to lament their missed opportunity to become a Las Vegas card tick lounge act. You’ve seen them, they keep shuffling the cards they have collected, when they finally pick one five minutes later, they hold it out, looking for the psychic connection that will reveal all they need to know to make the sale. A further five minutes is spent looking at the card waiting for it to grow arms and fingers that will pick up the phone and dial it for them.
But the winner of the this category are the “scholar come sellers”, the people who have to study everything there is to know about a company, the executive and the janitor, before they can pick up the phone to set an appointment or better yet, to leave a voice mail. I have people tell me that they make 10 prospecting calls a day for the purpose of getting an initial appointment, they also tell me that they would spend as much as 20 -30 minutes researching each of those calls. That’s 200 to 300 minutes, 3-5 hours a day. Please, they are either lying, sales people don’t do that; not making the calls, or both.
It is important to be prepared, but don’t over do it, do what you need to get the appointment, then when you have the appointment, but don’t do the deep dive before it is needed. Unless of course your goal is to look productive, instead of being productive.
What’s in Your Pipeline?