Planning Time Planning

Yes, I meant to title this post “Planning Time Planning.” For many, planning their time is a task that “sort of happens” throughout the day. As things come up, they get added to the calendar. That is called “scheduling.” Creating time in your daily routine to plan your time is something different.

Make Time to Plan Time

A common complaint from salespeople who do not practice effective time-management is that they do not have time to plan their time. You often hear, “How can I take that time out of my busy day to plan, when I never have a spare moment?”

I’m here to tell you if you don’t make time for planning and self-improvement, you might as well plan to earn the same income you earn today for the rest of your life. Is that what you really want?  I don’t think so.

It is a proven fact that by taking the time to plan, you will save 20-30 times the time expended in the planning process. Let me illustrate what I mean. A study was done on how managers planned their time. They found that managers who invested only 5 minutes planning a specif­ic task, would spend 55 minutes to complete it. Those managers who invested 15 minutes on the planning process, spent only 30 minutes completing it. Look at the time saved! I would say that the time invested planning was well worth it, wouldn’t you? When you make a committed effort to allow time for planning each day, the week, the month, and the year, you will achieve much more than if you just plan one day at a time… and you’ll live a more rewarding life.

When you begin each month reviewing your commitments to loved ones, those commitments will be top of mind when there are options for when to conduct business. When you have your personal, family, and career goals mapped out for 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, and this year, it’s much easier to decide how to invest your time this month, this week, and tomorrow.

 

Types of Activities to Consider

I like to keep things simple. I like charts and graphs and lists. They make my life so much easier to manage. When planning, I break my activities down into categories as follows:

Immediate Activities – These are only those things that MUST be completed today–by you. When you prioritize what’s really important, it’s easier to stay focused. How do you know which things are immediate activities, and which ones can be put aside? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. If I could achieve only two or three of these activities today, which ones would they be?
  2. Which activities will yield the highest pay-off or reward?
  3. Which of these activities would complicate my tomorrow if they were not achieved today?
  4. Which of  these  activities could be delegated to someone else, thereby, leaving me more time to generate more business or enhance my personal relationships?
  5. Which activities, if postponed, would damage my relationship with loved ones, clients, or business associates?

Have your immediate activities in front of you at all times. If you can’t see what needs to be accomplished today because you have buried yourself under other less important work, it could get lost in the shuffle, and so could your business.

Secondary Activities – It is usually a little easier to determine this group of activities. They are important and will bring a sense of accomplishment. They are likely to become immediate activities in the near future, but aren’t today. If, after completing your immediate tasks, you have extra time, it’s wise to give these activities some attention (aka getting a jump on tomorrow). It’s important that you place information for these secondary items in their designated locations. By that I mean not on the top of your desk where they can distract you. Don’t allow yourself to become preoccupied with piles of paperwork. This will only cause you stress and confuse you as to what needs immediate attention.

Relatively Unimportant Activities – You will be surprised how hard this list of activities is to determine at first. We tend to think everything needs our attention, or it wouldn’t come our way. This is simply not true. There are many unimportant activities that others pass to you or ones that will have a way of working themselves out if given a little time. By putting them in your relatively unimportant category, you may never have to spend time on these things when you should be investing time on your immediate activities. Or, they may be something you can accomplish during a break in the action of your Immediate or Secondary activities.

When we don’t plan time planning, we allow the daily demands of our lives to take over and run us. That’s not the way things are supposed to be.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

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Four Time Traps that Kill Sales

time trapManaging time really means, we manage ourselves. That includes avoiding the time traps that plague salespeople. Sadly, many of us are keeping ourselves from achieving the success of our dreams because these four time traps kill sales.

  1. Disorganization – How much valuable selling time has been lost or compromised because we’re looking for information, our keys, or an address? Have you ever been flustered at the beginning of a meeting with a prospective client because you lost track of time? How about forgetting their suite number and having to backtrack to the directory to find their office in a large complex? These are all things that we can and should control if we want to be successful. By being organized and giving attention to the details of every aspect of our business life will allow us to have more and better quality interactions with potential clients.
  2. Procrastination – This includes underestimating the amount of time something will take. Stop putting things off until they “have to” be done. Try increasing your time allotment in preparing for client contacts by 20% and feel the difference in how you feel. It’s likely you’ll feel more calm, more competent and prepared. And that competence will show on the outside–increasing the confidence potential clients have in you. True professionals in sales do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. They battle procrastination at every turn, instead economizing on their preparation time to allow for more client time.
  3. Unnecessary or unnecessarily long phone calls or meetings – Treat every client contact like a meeting. Set a goal for it. Prepare a brief agenda (so you don’t forget to cover any key points). And, estimate how long the contact should take. Remember to add 20% of time to allow for important sidebar comments your client might make. And, write out how you anticipate ending the contact. A brief summary of what was covered is a good strategy. When you don’t have a plan for your client contacts, you’re giving the clients free rein on your time. If you do business with people who tend to be chatty, set the stage at the beginning of your contact with them with something like this: “Paul, I’m happy we’ve connected today. I’ve prepared heavily in order not to waste your valuable time. I believe we can cover all of our most important topics of discussion by 11:30 so we can both move on to our next commitments in a timely manner.” This sets an end time for the contact that will, hopefully, be honored by both of you.
  4. Unconfirmed meetings. Stop being afraid that people will cancel on you if you check in with them the day before or morning of a scheduled contact. We’re all busy people. Not everyone watches the clock. It’s easy to underestimate the time needed for things (see point #2 above). Send a quick email or make a brief call prior to your scheduled meetings and say something like this: “Hi Sue. I’ve worked hard in preparation of our time together. I’ll be ready promptly at 2 for our meeting. I promise not to waste your time, and to provide you with the information you need in order to make a wise decision about (name one of your benefits).” When the recipient knows you’ve done work in preparation for the meeting, they’ll feel at least a twinge of guilt if they were thinking of cancelling. If you confirm by phone and something has come up to require a change of plans, at least you’ll have them on the phone and be able to re-schedule right then and there.

[Read more…]

How to Multiply Time

how to multiply timeTime is as precious a commodity as money. Let’s explore how to multiply time so you can get more sales productivity out of the time you have to invest in your sales career.

Everyone knows you can make twice the income by working twice the number of hours, putting forth twice the amount of effort. The secret to true success is in making the time you currently invest in your business twice as productive.

To begin with, you must understand that there are two entirely different kinds of time.

  1. The first is opportunity time, during which you achieve your goals such as internalizing information on your industry or product, getting your hands, eyes and ears on those new products, and providing follow up service to existing clients.
  2. The second is replenishment time, during which you rebuild your strength through exercise, recreation, relaxation, and sleep.

If you can’t get the hang of switching from opportunity time to replenishment time, you’ll soon face a period of burnout where you’re neither successful nor in sound physical condition. You’ll run out of fuel. Then your flame will go out, your power will shut off, and you’ll drop like a stone.

People who appear to be highly productive often suffer burnout. Many have lost several years as a result. Some have quenched their flames so thoroughly that they never managed to get their engines going again. They gave up on their dreams of having  successful careers.

The dangerous part is that burnout sneaks up on you. Don’t try to fly high when your tanks are low. Touch down and refuel your spirits — spend a few days away in a completely different atmosphere from your workday world. I know it can be hard to force yourself to do this, but believe me, the benefits are incredible.

When you are involved with opportunity time, you need to be tough about it. It’s amazing how much of our working life can be eaten up by trivial interruptions unless you make a conscious effort not to let that happen.

The key is to figure out the best time of day each day for selling and to focus your efforts on sales activities during that time. Don’t do filing or clean your desk during sales time. Yes, it needs to be done, but not during selling time.

Successful business people always jump on the most important thing first. What is the most important thing that you should do right now? Learning to answer that question quickly then acting on it will increase your productivity ten-fold.

If you have a daily sales goal, start working on it as early in the day as your potential clients are available. Don’t wait until you take care of other things before you start selling. The weight of that sales goal will crush you by day’s end. Start doing this every morning, keep on doing it, and you’ll soon discover that you’re not worrying anymore. You’re enjoying the work, you’re feeling good about yourself, and you know you’re winning.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Poor Time Management Is a Career Killer

clockI’m sure you realize that poor time management is a career killer. Click the following link to watch a special video message and learn how you can manage your time more effectively: Poor Time Management in Sales

You see, we all have 86,400 seconds in a day. No one has any more, no one has any less. The key to great income, great financial independence in the future is making those seconds productive and not waiting for business but going out and making it happen.

Too many people in selling careers fail simply because they haven’t mastered the ability to control their time. They have a strong desire to retain the freedom offered in a selling career, but they don’t have the strength to master their time effectively.

Managing your time in selling is an awesome responsibility. If you are willing to accept that responsibility, you must also create a burning desire within yourself to master time-management techniques. You must develop a tremendous pride in your ability to manage time in order to do it well. And, time management is really self-management. We all have the same amount of time each day. It’s how we use it that matters. When you invest as little as 10 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you want and need to accomplish the next day, you’ll be more productive and reap the rewards of greatness.

To determine whether or not you’re handling your time well, ask yourself this question, “Based on my overall production, which is a reflection of my ability to properly manage my time, would I buy stock in me?” If your answer is no, you’ll need to learn to control your time and temper your freedom or you’ll find yourself becoming a “job jumper,” possibly jumping right out of sales entirely.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International Inc.

Time Planning is Worth Your Time

Most people don’t set out to waste their time. They want something for it. In fact, all but a few of us want every nickel we can get for our time when we’re selling it. This is as it should be. But most of us are less determined to wring all the other values from our time that are there for the taking. In other words, most of us don’t work as effectively as we could at the business of becoming more productive.

The way to change this is through time planning. Let me give you some reasons why this is so important. [Read more…]

Pay Attention to What You’re Thinking About

Rarely do people choose the details of their futures. They choose their daily habits and those daily habits dictate their futures. Re-read those first two sentences several times. Then, think about your daily habits. How are they dictating your life?

  • Are you often rushing in the morning because you oversleep?
  • Is it a part of your routine to search for your mobile phone or keys every time you leave the house?
  • Do you travel through rush hour traffic every day with a sour attitude?
  • During time you plan to work, are you daydreaming about what you’d rather be doing?
  • Do you grab just anything for lunch?
  • Do you catch yourself watching the clock the last 5 to 20 minutes of your work day?
  • How do you spend your evenings?
  • How well do you sleep?

Those basic aspects are part of everyone’s day. It’s easy to fall into habits that may not be good for us. Why is that? [Read more…]

Do the Most Challenging Tasks First

challenging tasksSome salespeople hate paperwork. Others hate making phone calls. It’s hard to believe, but true. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, procrastination is an easy habit to fall into when you’re facing a task that’s less than desirable or that requires a lot of brain power. They best way to avoid that trap is to handle your most challenging task first every day.

When planning your time (preferably planning tomorrow before day’s end today), work your most difficult tasks in as early in the day as possible. By getting them done early, the weight of knowing they’re on the horizon won’t slow you down while working on the rest of your tasks.

It’s wise to dig deep into those challenges when your energy level is at its peak in the morning. Never save your biggest challenges for the end of the day.

Learn more positive selling habits with the “Certified Salesperson” audio CD!

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).


Develop the Punctuality Habit

One of the best things I can ever hear from my clients is, “You’re early!” It’s always said with pleasant surprise as if salespeople are notoriously late. Unfortunately, many are. All too many people have developed the “always running a few minutes late” habit. And it is a habit. Sad but true, that habit puts those folks out of the running with many potential clients.

Running late presents a very negative image. Unpredictable and unprepared are other ways potential clients will interpret your actions if you run late for meetings with them. Neither of those words are very comforting when you’re considering doing business with someone over a long period of time or if the purchase involves much of their security (spelled M.O.N.E.Y.).

Champion salespeople have figured out that there are more benefits to be had by arriving early. If you must wait in the lobby or a conference room because you’re early, observe the workings of the office…the interactions among the employees. Understanding their level of professionalism and comfort with each other will help you make your presentation just right for them.

Also, being early may afford you the opportunity to chat with the receptionist or another staff member and gain valuable insight into the decision-maker’s thought process about the decision to do business with you.

Early is good!

LEARN MORE>>

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Living by the Golden Dozen

Here’s the best way I’ve ever found to pull the best performance out of yourself. It’s an extremely simple method. Not easy, simple. First, hang copies of these twelve words where you’ll see them at work, in your car, and at your home:

I MUST DO THE MOST PRODUCTIVE THING POSSIBLE
AT EVERY GIVEN MOMENT.

Now comes the important part: Dedicate yourself to living that declaration.

It doesn’t help to look at those words once in a while and think, “That’s what I’m going to start doing just as soon as I can get myself together.” If you really want to achieve, start living by those dozen words now. [Read more…]