Put the Phone Down

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.
Being on the phone all day or most of the day is robbing you of productive work time.

The Story:

Oh my God, thought Greg, it’s past eleven, and I haven’t gotten the preliminary proposal done.  Where did my morning go?

And for a moment, he realized that he had been on the phone non-stop since getting into the office at eight am.  Except for a quick dash to the coffee pot, he hadn’t left his desk.  In fact, as he tilted the mug, he saw that most of the coffee was still in it.

“Who did I talk to?” he wondered out loud.

Well, the last call was from my wife reminding me to take the car in tonight.  Ok.  The one before was from that vendor who wants me to attend the trade show.  Actually, she called me twice this morning.  Then there was that message from someone I never heard of.  Yeah, someone named William Bains.  Called him back and wound up with voice mail.  I called him twice.  Or was it three times.  Wonder if that’s a new prospect?

Just then the phone rang, and Greg’s arm shot out.  As the first ring was fading, he answered.  Turned out to be a call from one of the other salespeople wanting to know if he’d meet him for lunch.  As he put the phone down, he noticed it was now just past eleven-thirty.

“Couldn’t have been on the phone that long,” he said to himself.

Looking over his daily plan, he decided that there was no way he’d get the preliminary proposal done at the office.  Might as well collect all the stuff and take it home tonight.  At least then, he thought, I won’t be interrupted so much.

Better call Jim Williams, he thought.  We have that Rotary meeting set up for next Wednesday.  Want to make sure that it’s still on.  Good place to maybe do some business.  Then after lunch I’ll try this William Bains person again.  Never know with one like that where it will lead.

Just then the phone rang again.  For a second, the thought flashed through his mind that he was like some robot programmed by the ringing bell, but then the thought faded.

“Hi, this is Greg.  How can I be of assistance?”

The RESULT:

Greg spends another day not getting done what he had planned on doing.  His daily plan of tasks to accomplish, which he makes at home before coming to work, never gets finished.

DISCUSSION:

Unless your job is to make one call after another, in other words you are a telemarketer, then being on the phone all day or most of the day is robbing you of productive work time.

Unfortunately, one of the most popular myths of a successful salesperson is just that, being on the phone all day.  The phone has been surgically implanted in your ear.

Why do so many salespeople fall victim to myth?  Salespeople, by their nature, like to socialize.  The phone is a great way to do it.  Everyone likes to be informed and feel involved.  So do salespeople.  And if no one screens incoming calls, then every call is put through.

And perhaps the biggest reason why salespeople trip over each other to answer the phone whenever it rings is that you never know if this call is going to be a sale.  If you aren’t available every minute, you might lose the “big one.”

APPROACH:

The first step in putting the phone down and making more money, is knowing how you use the phone.  And right now you have no idea!

For a period of five working days, carry around a little pocket-size spiral notebook and whenever your hand touches the phone, jot down the caller or the person you called, the purpose, and how long you were on.  On the sixth day review this record.  How many calls really had a direct relationship to making sales?  Probably less than 10 percent. Now add up the time you spent on the other 90 percent.  Frightening amount, isn’t it?

How many were purely social calls?

What to do about this?  Screen your own calls by establishing a pre-set time limit for yourself.  Buy a three-minute egg timer and use it.  At the beginning of the call, politely tell the other party you are limiting yourself to three minutes.  Now stick to it.

The second thing you should do is establish a “no phone time” every day.  Use this time to work on tasks and projects you need to accomplish.

Now keep track of your phone habits for another five days.  Look at how much more time is spent on sales.

THOUGHT:

Just because it rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it.  Just because you answer it doesn’t mean you have to keep talking.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

Meet Them Standing Up

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.
Sandler Sales Tip: Be a stand-up person and get things done. | Shulman.Sandler.com

The Story:

“Melinda,” asked Nick on Thursday, “what’s your secret?”

“My secret?” she asked in return.  In the past month, Melinda had been promoted to regional sales director and was now in charge of 31 salespeople in seven states.  Nick could not help but remember meetings with the previous regional director.  Every meeting had been an eternity with boredom as the only result.

“Yeah.  How do you fit three times more meetings into an hour than anyone else?  And before you answer that, everyone who has had a meeting with you feels that you really listened.  No one is walking around saying you just pushed him out the door.  How do you do it?”

“I don’t know, Nick,” responded Melinda, “I guess I’m just a good listener.”

“Well, I think I figured out a possible reason.”

“You have?” she asked.

“You hardly ever meet people sitting down.  Someone comes into the office and you immediately get up and walk toward him.  The whole time the person is in the office, you’re standing.”

“I hadn’t realized that,” responded Melinda.

“Just to see if it works, I started doing the same thing three days ago.  Instead of having the usual chit-chat, people seem to get to the point a lot quicker.”

“Now that you mention it,” responded Melinda, “I’ve actually had people say things like ‘You must be real busy so let me get to the point’ when I get up and walk toward them.”

“Funny you should mention that.  This morning, instead of sitting when Greg came in for his usual morning chat about how horrible his commute is, I got up as he walked through the door.  His comment was ‘I guess Melinda’s keeping you busy; catch you later.'”

The RESULT:

Melinda sees a great many people during her “drop in” hours.  Everyone who drops-in has the perception that Melinda is accessible and that though the time spent with her is brief, things get accomplished.  In fact, when Melinda asks someone to meet with her, the person looks forward to it, simply because no time will be wasted.

DISCUSSION:

The largest time wasters in any business are those 10 drop-in visits from fellow employees, outside suppliers, and other salespeople.  Only about five minutes, at most, of this time is useful for business purposes.  The rest is socializing.  There is nothing wrong with this.  The problem occurs when you have multiple drop-in visits every day.  By the end of the week you can easily lose hours to socializing.  If you see nothing wrong with this, then continue.  If you want to recapture this time for business purposes, then consider changing your meeting posture.

APPROACH:

The biggest initial problem with standing up while meeting with people is that if you have been a “sit down” person in the past, it will take a while for people to get used to the “new” you.

People will come in and head straight for the chair, regardless of whether you are standing or not.  They do this because they are trained from past encounters.  You have to break their training.

The simplest solution to keep them from sitting is to create a large pile of books and papers on the chairs.  When they realize they can’t sit, say “Bill, what can I do for you.  You can see I’m piled up.  Let’s stand and talk.”  Don’t say you’re busy.  If you do, people will hear that you have no time for them, and you will develop a reputation as being inaccessible.

After five or six meetings like this, you will have retrained the person to meet standing up.  Stand up meetings are, 99 percent of the time, short and to-the-point.  The best part is that people will enjoy meeting with you because you don’t waste their time.

If you want to keep a meeting short with other people in their work space, and if they are sitting down when you arrive, sit for about a minute and then stand up as you continue with the conversation.  Within a minute or two, the other person will cut to the essence of why you are there.  Be warned:  If you sit down again after standing, you will double the length of the meeting.

THOUGHT:

Be a stand-up person and get things done.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

Nurture Helpful Relationships

All work and no play is bad for business. Change your attitude.

By Dave Kahle

Early into one of my sales positions, my boss informed me that the operations manager was upset with me.  I was too focused and task-oriented in my dealing with the company’s internal personnel who made things happen in the business.  I’d come into the office, drop projects and requests on everyone’s desk, and head out again.

My task-oriented behavior was upsetting people.  As a result, they were balking at cooperating with me.  My projects were being left on the bottom of the pile, and other sales people were getting more cooperation.

I had better change my attitude, he told me, or I’d find it very difficult to succeed in this organization.

My lack of good relationships with the people who could make things happen for me was hurting my performance.  Eventually, I came around to understand that.  I swallowed my pride, bought each one a six-pack of premium beer, apologized, and started focusing on building positive relationships with everyone inside the company.

That was a turning point for me.  From that point on, I could accomplish far more because I had gained the willing assistance of a number of people.  In so doing, I stumbled onto a powerful time management principle:

Creating relationships that result in people gladly working to assist you can be one of your most powerful time management strategies.

Click the link below to read the entire article.

The Ninth Time Management Secret: Nurture Helpful Relationships

Excerpted from “11 Secrets of Time Management for Sales People“, Career Press

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

I Don’t Know Where My Time Goes!

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.

I Don't Know Where My Time Goes! | Sandler Sales Training

The STORY:

“I know for a fact,” said Greg at the sales meeting, “exactly where I spend my time.”  Looking around the table for a moment, he went on.  “The only problem is I never have enough of it.”

Most of the other salespeople nodded their heads in agreement.

“I do everything I can to make sure that each day is productive.  I even list the things I want to accomplish that day, and five days out of five, I never get through the list.”

“Greg,” asked Joan, the Sales Manager, “do you think perhaps the things on your list just cannot be accomplished in one day?”

“No, “he replied, “That’s not the problem.  The problem is all the interruptions.  Someone stops by to ask me something, and there go fifteen minutes.  Someone calls, and there go another ten minutes.  At least five times a day for both.  And then you have the PIB problems.”

As all of the other salespeople chuckled and nodded their heads, Joan asked, “What do you mean PIB problems?”

“Well, that’s what we’ve all taken to calling them…Pain-In-the-Butt.  Like when the laser printer jams at least once a day and no one knows about it for five minutes.  What you’re printing then disappears into the never-never land of bits and bytes.  So now, if you send something to be printed, you head over to the laser and wait to see if it printed before you do anything else.”

“I see,” replied Joan, also smiling, “what other PIBs do you people have?”

The RESULT:

Joan is about to get side-tracked dealing with PIB problems.  While important, PIB problems tend to be simple to deal with because no one has to change his behavior.  Solving the laser problem requires nothing more than a simple technician’s visit.

DISCUSSION:

There are two basic types of problems that waste time.  The first are mechanical problems such as the jamming laser.  Other mechanical problems could be the office phone system, a person’s car, and so on. When the mechanical things don’t function correctly, time is spent putting up with them until, hopefully, a solution is found.  Usually the solution can be discovered quickly.  Money can buy a technical quick fix.  If the money is not available, then everyone involved is absolved from doing anything.  “Hey, it’s OK to waste the time because there is no money to fix it.”

The second type of problem that wastes time is much more difficult to identify and solve.  These types of problems are usually centered around the behavior of the person or persons involved.  Greg quickly listed two situations that waste time.  People stopping by to chat and people calling to chat.  By his estimation, 25 minutes are wasted when both happen.  And at five “chats” a day, Greg has just wasted two hours.

What’s difficult about solving Greg’s two time wasters is that he may actually look forward to both occurring.  Or he may view them as “a necessary evil” of doing his job.  Either way, he knows time is wasted and does nothing about it.

APPROACH:

Mechanical time wasters are easy to identify.  “If I spent (fill in the dollar amount), I could do this more quickly.”  You, and perhaps others, have to determine if spending the money is worth it.

Personal time wasters require you to recognize them for what they are.  Jot down the two that immediately come to mind.

Drop-ins?  Unexpected phone calls?  Drop-ins can be dealt with by simply stating, “Can this wait until (time)?”  Nine out of ten can wait.

Unexpected phone calls are similar.  “Appreciate your calling.  Let’s make a phone appointment at (time).”

What others do you allow to happen?

THOUGHT:

You do know where your time goes.  You have to decide if you want your time to keep going there.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.