Problem- Best in class sales forces have recognized how time management is hurting their teams. For example, sales people were meant to be enabled with technology and it certainly does that. It has also become a disabler in the same regard by causing distractions. Distraction defined as executing non revenue generating activities during the work day. Sales people are spending more time on non selling activities like responding to emails, CRM updates, company admin and attending conference calls.
The definition of busy and the definition of effective have become more blurred. The ‘A’ players of tomorrow are learning what to ignore and deploying life hacking.
Life hacking was originally used by computer programmers to help them avoid information overload. This is a now a tactic being used by all people. There are 4 key steps to life hacking:
1. Current State–Understand what your key time buckets are- (current customer meetings, prospecting, generating proposals)
Once you determine what they are, track your time in 30 minute increments for 2 weeks. Keep a small notebook with you and set a reminder in your outlook to recur every 30 minutes that says “record time”. This two week investment will pay off. When people are first asked to capture their time by looking back on the week prior they usually can account for 25-29 hours despite the fact they were “super busy”. Nobody is questioning your work ethic. This is work execution.
2. Optimal State–Determine what your key time buckets should be in an ideal world. Sit down with your boss or the top performer on the team. Show them your list of activities and where you spent your time the past two weeks. Let’s say cross selling/up selling new product or service lines to existing customers is your number 1 objective and you want to spend 16 hours per week doing this. Unfortunately, your discovery showed you only spent 10 hours on it last week. What is preventing you from doing more of this and can it be off loaded?
3. Efficient Execution—go to work on improving your execution inside each of the key buckets. In our example above, recognizing you should spend 16 hours vs. 10 cross selling/up selling is the first step. Now, how do you execute this activity with precision? Two examples of what ‘A’ players we studied are doing to maximize execution:
1. Customer Meetings: Send the material for the meeting 48 hours in advance, along with the key items that need to be discussed and pending decisions. If there are no decisions to be made, ‘A’ players are not setting up or attending these meetings. Updates can be consumed at your own pace.
2. Coaching: ‘A’ players are specific about time spent with their boss. Instead of showing up for the bi weekly or monthly coaching session, ‘A’ players say “these are the following things I would like your help during our time out in the field” And the boss reciprocates by being prepared. The difference between practice and focused practice.
4. Review Results– Talent Management tip — ‘A’ player spends 1 hour per month, on the last day of each month, reviewing their results. This is an example of life hacking. Spending 1 hour to study where your last 200 went and your next 200 should go is a best practice. Output: They now become more discerning and control time vs. allowing time to control them.
Call to Action
- Open your calendar from last week
- Determine how many time buckets you have
- Ask yourself if your most important buckets got the majority of your focused attention