One of the biggest complaints I hear from sales professionals and entrepreneurs alike is that they don’t have enough time. They don’t have enough time to make calls. They don’t have enough time to set appointments. And, therefore, they don’t have enough time to close sales! I’m sure this isn’t you (wink/wink), but just in case you know someone who you could pass this on to, please read on.
I can certainly relate to this. I’m a busy entrepreneur as well. Although I have a team, I still do a lot of selling myself. And if I don’t make it a priority and put it on my calendar, it just doesn’t happen. Putting it on your calendar, by the way, is key! But we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I want you to dream for a moment. That’s right, dream! I want you to think about your ideal life as well as your ideal business (or ideal career). What does it look like? What does it feel like? What would you be doing differently than you are today? Having a clear picture of your ideal business and life makes it much easier to create a plan because you can work backwards from that end game. It’s one of the premises of my book, “One Great Goal.” If you don’t know what you want, it’s pretty hard to get it.
Because the real question is, “Why are you working so hard?” If you’re working hard without a real plan, then I can almost guarantee that you are spending your time on things that really don’t matter—and thereby you are wasting your time. Knowing what you want and why you want it will help you get committed to scheduling your time more effectively and you will actually stay motivated for the long haul.
Great! Now that you know what you want and why you want it, I want to share some time management strategies that have really helped me over the years—whether I was working for someone else or myself. Now, as you read this list, you might say, “Yeah, Ursula, I KNOW that.” That’s great that you already know it, but are you actually DOING it? I sometimes feel like I know something, but if I’m not doing it, I really don’t know it. So give yourself the opportunity to KNOW it and DO it.
1. Have Clear Sales Goals
How much do you really want to sell this month? Most people sell on “auto-pilot,” meaning they don’t set new clear goals every month. They just keep setting the same goals over and over again because they are operating off of their financial set-point. That, my friend, is a complete waste of time. Your financial set-point is that dollar amount that you seem to reach every month no matter what. It’s usually the amount of money you need to pay your bills and/or cover your costs, but that’s about it. It doesn’t allow you to save for a vacation or pay down your debt. You can change your set-point by setting clear goals and breaking down the numbers to get there, which I’ll show you how to do next. By having clear sales goals, you will stop wasting time because you’ll know exactly what to work on every day.
2. Make Selling a Priority on Your Calendar
This seems super obvious, but you’d be surprised to know how many people don’t actually put their sales activities on the calendar. For example, in my book Selling with Intention, I share the importance of having an Intentional Schedule—a schedule that supports your overall sales goals by working backwards from your sales stretch goal. If you desire to close $50,000 per month in sales and your average sale is $5,000 and your closing ratio is 50%, then you need to have 20 meetings to reach your goal. That equals five meetings per week or just one meeting per work day. That’s it! When you start to break it down, it usually becomes much more achievable.
3. Develop a Top 20% List (could be 50, could be 100)
Once you’ve created clear sales goals and started making selling a priority, it’s important to create a Top 20% list. This constitutes a list of your ideal clients—the ones you really want to work with. By creating the list, you stop wasting your time wondering to yourself, “Who am I going to call today?” This list could me 25 contacts or 125; it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you call this list until you reach your contact.
Statistics tell us that having a “to do” list will increase our productivity by 25%. If that’s the case, then imagine how much delegating will help you. The best part of having a “to do” list is knowing that you can delegate to your team. After you write your list, take a look at each item and decide, “Should I DO it, DELEGATE it or DELETE it?” I heard someone say that once and it really stuck with me over the years. This method will save you tons of time so you can focus on selling.
5. Outsource Your Social Media—or Part of It
Social media is here to stay and the truth is that most of us need to be participating in it. Maybe your clients aren’t on Facebook, but you know you can find them on LinkedIn, then focus there. Or, maybe it’s time to start that conversation on Twitter. Whatever the case, I recommend that you get started—but get help. There are so many amazing social media companies out there today that can help you get started. By outsourcing your social media, even part of it, you will save a ton of time. Plus, you will then have time to call the leads that are being generated by social media.
6. Say “No” More (to meetings that waste your time)
I was speaking with a client recently and she was telling me how busy she was. But she said, “It’s mostly people who just want to pick my brain.” This individual is an expert in her industry, so of course people want to pick her brain. I told her to say NO to those meetings unless she thought she could convert them into new clients. The key is to be discerning regarding the meetings you take. You can always give back by speaking at organizations and letting people pick your brain then.
7. Take Control of Your Email
Last, but certainly not least, you must take control of your email. This is so much easier said than done, but you either take control of your email or it will control you. The best advice I’ve ever received regarding email is to only check it a couple of times per day and spend 30 focused minutes answering emails or delegating the task to someone else. If you own your own business, set up special email addresses to direct your email more easily. For example, we use firstname.lastname@example.org to catch the general inquiries. We also use sales@___, admin@___, accounting@___, etc. Just create a system that works for you.
Now that you’ve got all of these great ideas, the real question is, “Which ideas are you willing to implement to save time and sell more?” Before you head off into your busy day, take a moment to choose a couple of these ideas that resonate with you and make a decision regarding how you will implement and start managing your time more effectively. I promise you that by doing that you will indeed be on track to take your sales to the next level!