A different spin on time management

Time management has been on my mind lately. Came across the following article in my routine reading. Good stuff.

How Is Your Time Being Spent?

“Time available for selling” is plummeting.  Several years ago, we assessed how sales people for a very large client were spending their time.  Both they and we were shocked with the results, less than 20% of their time was being spent directly on customer related activities. Let me sharpen that definition a little, primarily so you […]Related Posts:Lean Sales And Marketing — Time Available For SellingGetting Things Done Through Our PeopleTime Available For Selling, Again……Lean Sales And Marketing — Standard Work354 Sales Conversations In Just A Week! No related posts.

Managing somebody else’s time

Good time management is one of those fundamentally, indispensable business skills. It’s rightfully part of every basic sales training course. As a sales leader, your time management aptitude is even more critical. You also need to be sure that everyone on your team manages time well.

But trying to manage your sales pros’ time for them is doomed to failure.

timemgmtThey’ll revolt. They’ll push back against the (perceived) micro-management even when it’s for their own good.

So now what?

The answer is, change the question. Nobody can lead or manage a sales team by dictating what needs to be done when. The only answer is based on identification, tracking, reporting and discussion of a handful of core metrics. And the only way to identify the core metrics is to first clearly define the sales process that’s being measured.

For starters, answer the following:

  • What are the stages of your organization’s sales funnel?
  • What are the crystal clear completion criteria for each of those stages?

With those answers in place and a half-way decent CRM system, four critical metrics emerge:

  • Number of opportunities at each sales funnel stage
  • $ Value of opportunities at each sales funnel stage
  • % Opportunities Advanced from each stage
  • Cycle Time for each stage

Those metrics in turn can serve as the basis for really, really useful conversations. (Ummmm, maybe those conversations could be called coaching???) Picture yourself sitting down with each of your reps kicking around the following talking points:

  • Your “Metric X” is 27% lower/higher than the team average
    • Why is that?
    • If it were higher/lower, what impact would that have on your sales?
    • Should it be higher/lower given your territory?
    • What can you and/or I do to drive it higher/lower?
  • Your “Metric Y” is 19% lower/higher this month than it has been over the last year
    • Why is that?
    • Is that good or bad in terms of closing deals?
    • What can you and/or I do to drive it higher/lower?

No dictating in that sort of discussion. And no directing of where to invest time. Just agreement on what metrics deserve focus and mutual thinking about what to do next and how to do it.

So it’s not managing somebody else’s time. It is, however, causing time to get invested where it’s most needed. It’s coaching and it’s leadership.

Heavy responsibility. No training. Sporadic support. Lower pay. Apply now!

Heavy responsibility. No training. Sporadic support. Lower pay.
Apply now!

That was the tongue in cheek view of a colleague considering taking on a VP Sales job. As with most humor, it’s the ring of truth that makes the joke hit home.

heavyrespFact is, the sales management job at any level does indeed involve a lot of responsibility. The old saw, “Nothing happens until a sale is made,” is as true today as ever. The entire organization (i.e., everybody’s paycheck) depends on sales management getting sales to happen.

Sales management training? Ha! I was with IBM when I got my first management job. They sent me off to the week-long New Manager School. It was outstanding! But it had nothing to do with sales. Even one of the greatest selling machines in history didn’t have a class specifically for sales management. Real data is hard to come by, but best I can tell, a good 90% of sales managers never get any sales management training or education at all.

Support? Good luck! And note that there’s a lot of self-inflicted pain here… We sales types are so relentlessly positive and militantly independent that we invite the world to not bother lending a hand.

And yes! Most great sales managers (as well as most not so great sales managers) could rake in a lot more cash just managing a territory.

So why do any of us want to be a Sales Leader???

‘Cause it’s the most fun, challenging job ever, that’s why. The need to learn, grow and change is intense and never-ending. It’s endlessly fascinating. I’m in!

Click here for a steady stream of thinking about Sales Management Development and becoming a better sales leader.

“New School” Version of an “Old School” Tactic

oldschoolYet again, Isaac Newton’s “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” came to mind as read Matt Heinz’ post about business cards. (See link below.) This time the lesson reinforced for me is that many – if not most – business practices never really become obsolete. Sure they need to be updated, adapted and tuned to take advantage of new technologies, but the fundamentals remain in place.

Methodical, relentless, continuous improvement of everything we chose to do is not optional.

Exchanging business cards is for sure an old school practice, but with a few tweaks, becomes decidedly new. Read the original post, then come back for a quick summary

How to convert business cards into an active network & pipeline

Next time you swap business cards:

  • Ask for permission to add a subscription to your blog (or your company’s blog) for the new contact
  • Send a LinkedIn connection invitation within 48 hours
  • E-mail the new contact with a link to or attachment of “someting I thought you find interesting”
  • Add the new contact to your CRM (via a smartphone-based card scanner)
  • Add the new contact to the appropriate “Contract Nurturing Track” (…you do have several “Contract Nurturing Tracks” tracks defined and automated, right? At least a “touch” every week/month/quarter/year, right?)

Update all your old school practices! (…or dump them!)

So they expect you to do more with less

I heard the complaint again today. From a so-called “Sales Leader” no less. I’d have preferred the guy had stabbed a pencil in my eye. “They expect me to do more with less.” “They,” in this case being the board of directors.

Of course they expect you to do more with less, you dummy!

All – that’s ALL – 100% – the whole enchilada – of human progress has been, is and always will be utterly and totally dependent on figuring out how to do more with less. This is not new information. It’s one of the most basic of business & economic principles.

morewithlessCave dwellers stumbled on the fact that seeds are pretty darn nutritious. Then one of the clan noticed that a whole lot of seeds could be found on the plants growing near that spot 5 miles away where the elephants poop. She become famous and rich (for a while) by gathering more seeds with less walking around – less effort – and selling a boat-load of them.

Then another of the clan discovered that the seeds he accidentally dropped last year sprouted up right in the back yard! Seeds! Right there near the back stoop! More seeds available with less effort. He dropped a whole bunch of seeds on purpose, and the next year become famous and rich (for a while) by gathering more seeds with less walking around – less effort – and selling a boat-load of them.

The year after that he and she collaborated. They walked the 5 miles out & back, hauled elephant poop to the yard and spread it around the seeds. WAY more seeds this year! With WAY less effort! Yet more fame and fortune!

Then others made a few more improvements and the next thing you know they invented a computer-controlled, GPS-guided, weather-forecast-integrated, plowing-planting-weeding-watering-fertilizing-picking-cleaning-packaging-delivery Food Machine version 739,468,967. Now, instead of 99+% of world population working on producing food, less than 1% can do so effectively and efficiently.

If you can’t sell more this year than you did last year – year after year after year – and with less effort, you are making zero progress. While you and your team are walking the 5 miles to where the elephants poop, our competitors are implementing Food Machine version 739,468,967.1 and are talking to customers about placing orders for version 739,468,967.2 that’s due out next summer.

(…and please, don’t ever complain again about being expected to do more with less!)