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Time Traps

Proven Strategies for Swamped Salespeople

by Todd Duncan Thomas Nelson 2005 240 pages

Leadership & Mgt. Strategy Sales & Marketing Finance Human Resources IT, Production & Logistics Career Development Small Business Economics & Politics Industries Regions Concepts & Trends

Instead of spending time selling, many salespeople waste much of the workday on tasks that don't generate sales. The key to unlocking your productivity is "task" management, not "time" management. Basing your self-image entirely on work is "the identity trap." Avoid it. Set boundaries on your time, rid your day of unnecessary tasks and focus on activities that build business. If you spend an inordinate amount of time doing things other then selling, you are saying "yes" when you should be saying "no." Relinquishing control of some aspects of your business frees you to focus on selling. In sales, technology can be more of a burden than a boost if you let technological difculties dominate your time. Nurture high-value customers to generate more revenue in less time. You can achieve more success if you are not afraid to risk failure. Time loses its value if you squander it on wasteful pastimes.


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What You Will Learn In this Abstract, you will learn: 1) Why being busy doesnt mean you are being productive; 2) How to drop unnecessary tasks that eat your time; 3) How to sell more in less time; and 4) How to use unscheduled time to maximum advantage. Recommendation Countless tasks compete for a salespersons time every day. Salespeople who fall into these time traps sacrice the hours they need to invest in their ultimate purpose: selling. Sales and work-life balance expert Todd Duncan identies the eight most common time traps that snare salespeople (and other businesspeople, also), including the identity trap, the organization trap, the control trap and the party trap. He explains how to dodge these traps and streamline your workday so that you devote most of your time to selling. He offers strategies for selling more in less time, such as nurturing relationships with high-value customers to generate repeat business and referrals. Duncan also suggests ideas about how to use all your new free time, offering guidelines for balancing your life outside of work. There is a Christian avor to his advice, but it is subtle and shouldnt deter those who are not spiritually oriented. This isnt a magic formula for increasing sales or buying time; in fact, much of the information is not new. But getAbstract recommends it as a nicely packaged approach to maximizing the value of your time as a salesperson, not only in your workday, but also in your life.

Time Traps Each salesperson faces an omnipresent challenge: how to spend your time doing what you want to be doing and should be doing selling. Instead, salespeople nd themselves whittling away hours doing everything but selling, including faxing, lling out forms, ling, answering e-mails, talking on the phone or rewriting to-do lists. Time traps lurk around every corner. To harness the full power of your capabilities as a salesperson, learn to elude these traps.
Most professionals try to solve time pressure by using the same old time management tactics. But, time management is a waste of time. Instead, use task management to unlock your productivity. Take control of your time, your life and your success by avoiding the eight time traps that ensnare salespeople and other businesspeople, as well. Heres how to beat these lurking pitfalls.

We cannot manage the clock; we can only mange our thoughts and actions.

Instead of nding themselves in their work, many salespeople begin to lose themselves.

The Identity Trap Working long hours has become an American tradition. When a salesperson spends a great deal of time working, his or her entire self-image can become entwined with the profession. This might help a salesperson rack up sales (though not always), but it isnt the formula for being a successful human being. When work greedily gobbles your time, you have little left to devote to being a good spouse, devoted parent or loyal friend, much less to staying in shape, pursuing a hobby or even watching a sunset. The good news, however, is that most salespeople want more from their jobs and their lives than the pursuit and accumulation of money.
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It seems the bane of the salespersons existence: a fastrunning, oftenraging current of responsibilities that rises like a river in spring.

Salespeople who succeed at work and in their personal lives share a common perspective about time. They assume personal responsibility for taming lifes hectic pace. They know that working is not living and, contrary to the popular saying, time is not about money it is about having a full life. Those who balance their lives and their work have come to realize that the more you work, the less you live your life, so the way you spend your time profoundly affects your self-esteem. To take control of your time, and to achieve equilibrium between your life and work, do two critical things: 1. Determine how to spend less time at work (without losing sales). 2. Determine how to spend more time on the other things you enjoy in life.

If you dont put boundaries on your business, you wont have balance in your life.

The Organization Trap Salespeoples responsibilities tend to accumulate and multiply. Metaphorically speaking, you can come to feel as if a raging river is dragging you along in its current. The more tasks cascade toward you, the more you feel like a salmon struggling to swim upstream: overwhelmed, out of control, in danger of being swamped.
A 2003 survey revealed that U.S. salespeople spend only some 20% of their workdays actively selling and prospecting. They spend 43% of their time on administrative tasks, use up to 30% commuting or attending meetings, and waste 7%, doing nothing productive. Working harder is not the solution. Instead, invest your time in productive tasks, not unnecessary chores. Take these four steps to dam up the oodwaters of your tumultuous workday: 1. Accumulation Set boundaries that help you inhibit interruptions, diversions and distractions. 2. Admission Distinguish between necessary activities and nuisance work. 3. Action Carry out your crucial, productive tasks. 4. Assessment Identify and avoid obstacles that steal your energy and focus. Block that raging river and control the outpouring of your time by including these ve barricades designed to help you reduce the superuous interruptions that are apt to swallow your day: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Do not give your home phone number to your clients. Do not give your ofce phone number to your pals. Disable your computers alert functions for incoming e-mail and messages. Only respond to a ringing phone if you anticipate a specic caller. Dont review your private e-mail at work.

Maybe its time for you to say good-bye to the old you, let go of the time you cannot change, and begin giving yourself fully to the time you still possess.

Fewer deep relationships are more valuable and less timeconsuming than many shallow ones.

When you are in the ofce, spend your time selling. Avoid activities that sap your energy and waste your time, such as surng the Web, playing computer games, reading the paper, relling your coffee mug every hour, shopping online, gossiping in the hallways and attending useless meetings. By setting up these ve boundaries and eliminating time-wasters, you can free nearly three hours per day or hundreds of hours per year. This is time you can use to sell.

The Yes Trap Customer service is an essential part of being a salesperson. Salespeople feel that it is necessary to become a yes-man or yes-woman with a can-do attitude, willing to tackle any task. This requires a huge investment of time and energy. When you become so busy granting requests that you no longer work efciently, youre caught in the busyness
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Invest regular deposits of time in a customer and youll reap the full value of the relationship through repeat business and referrals you might not have otherwise received.

dilemma. The symptoms of this problem are errors, tardiness, absentmindedness, unpredictability, frustration and stress. You have two choices: sacrice sales or say no more often. If you spend signicant chunks of time doing things other than selling, this trap may have you in its jaws. To test this diagnosis, look at the three kinds of workday tasks: unnecessary, necessary and productive. Unnecessary work drains your time and prohibits your business from achieving the goals you have set. Necessary tasks move your business forward, but at a slow pace. They include paperwork, planning and goal setting, surveying customers, observing and evaluating your productivity, and communicating with customers. Productive tasks move your business in the right direction most effectively. They are the best use of your time. Structure your workday so that you spend as much time as possible on productive tasks. As for the rest, just say no.

If you have a dream and dont have a team, your dream will die. But with a team, your dream will y.

The Control Trap Focus your energies on the aspects of your business that generate the greatest return and learn how to let go of everything else. Unfortunately, most salespeople nd letting go very difcult. You may be reluctant to relinquish control because you believe no one else will do as good a job, be as committed or understand what needs to be done as well as you do. Reprioritize your time to focus on the only two activities you must accomplish to fulll your sales goals:
1. Building trust with the right prospects. 2. Adding value to existing customers. To produce more by working less, take these steps: Ask yourself what you would do if you could devote 100% of your workday to the activities that bring the greatest return. Make yourself CEO of your sales business, even if you work alone. If possible, hire an assistant and then utilize your company's resources fully. Begin building a strong staff, a team that will support you and extend your abilities.

The sales profession is fallible salespeople offering fallible products to fallible customers.

The Technology Trap In sales, technology can be a boost or a burden. It can provide wonderful tools for communicating, prospecting and selling, but technological difculties can bleed hours out of your day. Just consider the time you spend e-mailing, combating viruses, deleting spam, answering nuisance calls, xing glitches or reading manuals. To keep technology from hampering your advancement:
1. Shorten the leash Between cell phones, PDAs and e-mail, salespeople are available around the clock, all week long. This isnt always a good thing. Sometimes you must give yourself work time that no one can interrupt. 2. Substitute, dont stockpile Never buy a new techno tool before divesting yourself of the old one. 3. Ask directions Sometimes doing it yourself is not the best use of your time. 4. Test your tools efciency The newest gizmo is not necessarily better than the one you already have. Research before you buy. 5. Go backward to go forward If a techno tool is not essential to getting the job done, dont use it. Sometimes the old ways are best.

Failure, if perceived right, is the sharpest tool for whittling away our inconsistencies and inefciencies.

Time Traps

Copyright 2006 getAbstract

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An identity wrapped up in work...keeps you from realizing your dreams.

The Quota Trap Time is a valuable commodity, yet many salespeople consistently underestimate what their passing hours are worth. Sales quotas that emphasize the quantity of sales over the quality of sales further devalue your time. Quotas use competition, greed and the threat of job loss to prod salespeople to achieve targets that are often unrealistic.
When you focus on quantity alone, you may be sacricing the opportunity to build sustaining relationships with your clients. This results in less return business and fewer referrals, and makes it necessary to prospect constantly. Instead, increase sales and make more money in less time by pursuing and nurturing high-value customers. You might have fewer customers, but they will generate more revenue. To make this strategy work: Evaluate prospects rst, and then pursue them. Give prospects advance notice of your call. Dont allow customers to waste your time. Turn customers into partners.

We are designed for something more. Something more fullling, more rewarding, more enriching, more exciting.

The Failure Trap Feasting on success in sales almost inevitably means swallowing a few tastes of failure along the way. To overcome failures emotional impact, use it as a learning experience. The paradox of failure is that, while its not the most productive path we can take, it is often the most efcient teacher we can have. So, begin with the attitude that any new challenge bears the risk of failure. When you are not afraid to take risks, you can reach for a higher level of success.
As you build your sales career, be prepared to take exciting, stimulating risks, even if they scare you. Set your sights on a goal and make a personal commitment to achieve it by setting rm deadlines. Tell an associate about your plan and ask him or her to hold you to it. Consider hiring a sales coach to help you stay on track. Set high standards, so that if you fall short it wont have a big impact on your business.

It is your heart that reveals what makes time matter to you.

The Party Trap Ideally, success should make you more content by allowing you to spend time and attention on the people and activities that matter most to you. Yet, success breeds its own unique problems. If you use your newly won time to pursue the wrong things, then you are still wasting time or, in the words of Solomon, you are chasing after the wind. Getting caught up in the party trap is easy. Flushed with the rst bloom of success, you might want to boost your lifestyle by purchasing nice clothes, getting an expensive car and dining at fancy restaurants. This is okay in moderation. However, avoid the trap of starting to cherish material possessions and losing perspective on the priorities that really matter in your life.
Invest your time in your family and personal relationships, your health and tness, scal security, education and the purposeful meaning of daily living. There is much more to life than work, and now you have the time to experience it.

About The Author

Todd Duncan is author of the bestseller High Trust Selling. An expert on sales and worklife balance, he consults, conducts seminars, and publishes tapes and books.
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