Time is Money; Guard it and Protect it Judiciously
In today's hyper competitive marketplace sales people face greater accountability and transparency with their customers and their own companies than ever before. "Overinvesting in and under resourcing of customers is a phenomenon of another era, known as the old era of selling. In the past, costs to the company of overinvesting were either ignored or written off as a normal cost of doing business," says Jerry Stapleton.
Sales people have shareholders in the form of their companies, their productivity and their own time. They have to be fiscally responsible and prudent to determine who they should pursue, who they should not and where they will get the greatest yield for their effort.
When you do not protect your time and judiciously allocate it appropriately, you are like a criminal robbing yourself at gunpoint. "Winning is not enough. The goal is to win easily and quickly with minimum cost. Because fielding an army or a salesforce is expensive, so the goal is to win quickly. The key in winning easily is choosing the right battles," says Gary Gilardi. I would also add that the goal is losing quickly when you are destined to anyway.
The biggest time waster in selling is caused by sales people's unwillingness to lose at all cost. They are actually too weak to lose. They burn up precious time because their ego can only take a long drawn out death march, as opposed to an efficient, clean, sudden death.
Too many sales people are not willing to be masters of the obvious. They avoid healthy confrontation and decision-making because they are fearful of reality checks. They avoid the obvious like the plague, because they do not value their time and their resources enough.
You should have a genuine and authentic desire to always not waste your customer's time. The closer and more diligent you are to fulfilling this, the closer you are to not wasting your own precious time. And as soon as the goal is not to waste your own time, ironically, the more inclined your customer is not going to return the favor and waste your time. When both you and your customer do not waste one another's time, everyone wins.
The time sales people invest in their pipeline of deals should be judged on the basis of reciprocity of time from their customer. Keep in mind that time is never the real issue for your customer. The real issue is your customer does not believe you are worth their time, and often you are not. So get real! Find out with whom and under what circumstances your time will be well spent.
Generally the reason customers do not have time for you is they do not trust you implicitly, or they do not have a compelling reason to change. Usually they do not want to change is because they do not have enough problems to justify the problem of changing. Lack of time is usually a symptom. Lack of time so often is due to lack of problems.
Prioritize your time by using the standard, that every minute you spend with one prospect, amounts to lost time you could have spent with another. The time you wasted pursuing bad deals, amounts to the time you could have used to sell good deals.
Time is just another form of money. Like one's prices, you cannot afford to discount your time. All allotted time should be evaluated with the calculation that it is either a potential asset or liability.
The biggest problem I see with my clients in my training sessions when learning to sell more strategically, is the perception that it takes so much longer to sell this way. Yet sales people are more than willing to burn up huge blocks of time chasing unqualified customers who have no money, no problems and no authority. As noted psychologist Rollo May wrote, "It is an old ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way."
Beware of the "yesaholic customer." These type of customers have a very high need for acceptance and a strong desire to avoid healthy conflict. They can be a real time drain. Sales people waste an enormous amount of time resisting reality and common sense. They chase "yesses" that are not a real "yes," but a "no" masquerading as a "yes."
Ironically, the way to follow the path of least resistance in respect to time, is to first embark on the path of most resistance. The way to save time in sales is to spend the most time upfront doing your due diligence and your qualifying, so you ultimately can save a lot of time on the backend of deals.