Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
The Five P’s of Time Management take us through a process to maximize the use of our time. As we now look at Persistence this is when Prioritization, Planning and Preparation become habits. It takes Persistence to make the changes and adjustments that we have covered up to this point. Is through this part of the process that we ask ourselves constantly “Is this the best use of my time?” To be thrilled with the answer to that question on a regular basis we need to follow the Five P’s as noted below:
Time Management Solutions (The Five P’s)
Persistence is where Time Management changes from just theory to actually making a huge difference in your life. It is important to keep in mind what the end result is that we are trying to achieve through this whole process.
We are after effectiveness, not efficiency.
– Peter Drucker
In other words we can be incredibly efficient but actually have achieved nothing. As I have said ad nauseum, we are in the sales business and so our effectiveness is relatively easy to measure. How much did you sell this week, this month, this year? To increase that number, while there are other skills involved, how you change your time management may be the biggest influencer on that number.
Be like a postage stamp and stick to one thing until you get there.
– Josh Billings
If we take this quote to heart then the one thing we should ‘stick to’ as much as possible is selling. While that seems obvious, it is an area where we have a hard time being realistic about how much time we really spend selling. A study done by Sales Marketing Management Magazine found that the typical salesperson only sells 1 1/2 hours per day. In an American Express Study they determined the average travel agent spends less than 30 % selling each day and other studies show it is as low as 17 % on average being spent on selling.
Of course, the question is then asked as to how you define ‘selling’. One could argue that every aspect of a Travel Advisors daily activities are all a part of selling. However, it is important to move away from justifications and strive towards spending more time where you can improve your effectiveness/results. The simplest definition I can offer of ‘selling time’ is any time you are communicating with a customer or prospective customer about a potential purchase. While we can include email correspondence, we know that almost all sales need an in-person meeting or a phone call. Obviously, there are many things that will lead up to the meeting or call including prospecting, marketing, preparation and education. All of those are important and lead to selling time but not what should be counted as selling time.
So the question is how much of your day are you meeting with customers are on the phone with them? I think we can even count leaving messages on the phone as at least that is the attempt to connect. While meeting in person is still the best approach to increase your closing rate and build long term relationships, in todays world the phone will be the where most sales are made, soooo:
“If your phone is not ringing, Pick it up anyway!”
– The Author
When we looked at the first P for Prioritize, we focused on the high level of what is important to you and how to use time management to have the lifestyle you want. Now in the daily work environment we need to prioritize what are the most important uses of your time. It may look something like this:
My Daily Priorities
- Answer the Phone/Greet Clients – Talk to New Leads and Start the Sales Process
- Follow Up Calls/Emails – Continue to talk with Customers through all steps of the Sales Process
- Quarterly and Service Calls – Stay in touch with My Best Customers on a personal level
- Prospecting and Marketing – All efforts to get a customer to react and reach out to you
- Administration and Research – Complete the work behind the scenes to complete sales
- To Do List – These are the tasks to support getting you more time for the above Priorities
So you will notice that the first three priorities are meeting with or talking with customers. Just keeping that in mind on a daily basis may change your whole approach to the day. Bottom line – you can’t sell anything unless you are talking to a customer! You can set your goal for 50% Selling (1, 2, 3), 25% Prospecting and Marketing (4), and 25% Administration (5,6).
Now I can hear you sigh and confess that while this sounds good, it is in 5 and 6 above that time seems to get sucked away. I hear you. Of course, you will have good days and not so good days but here is a basic flow chart to help you with every email and distraction that comes your way:
Idea/Input/Message Comes Your Way – (From Boss, Coworker, Client, Family, Media via email
or in person or any other avenue)
Handle it Only Once:
Do it Now – If the input can be handled quickly, then just get it done asap
Add it to Your To-Do List(s) – You may have Long Term or Short Term Lists but add this
item right away with a Deadline
Calendar it – Schedule any and all activities needed
Delegate it – Add to Follow Up List
Think on it/Read it – Determine if you need to do so now or Calendar the time to do so
Of all of the above choices, delegate may look the most appealing – let someone else do it! Of course, this only works if there is a someone else! If not then it will need to stay on your list. However, bring someone on for even a few hours a week has been the turning point for many advisors in their careers. Remember, if talking with customers is the ultimate goal then having someone else handle the paperwork, research, financials or whatever else is sucking your time may be the solution you need. Just keep in mind that the goal of bringing in someone to help you is to increase your time in selling. If that is not the result, then you really have gained nothing.
If you do bring someone on to help you here are some thoughts on delegating.
Guidelines for Delegating
- Be clear about what you want done, when it should be done, and the expected results you want.
- Delegate both tedious and interesting tasks.
- Be prepared to do some coaching if needed.
- Monitor progress (schedule check-in dates) and provide feedback.
- Keep lines of communication open, to be available as a resource.
- Build a shared sense of responsibility among the team.
- Focus on results, not on how tasks should be accomplished.
- Develop trust in less-skilled staff by providing structured assignments.
- Develop strong performers by assigning projects with high visibility.
Persistence is taking the suggestions noted here and turning them into habits which takes awareness and repetition. Being persistent in your desire to manage your time will be well worth it!