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In Sales the Clock is Always Ticking

In Sales the Clock is Always Ticking

What’s in a day? One thousand minutes.

Time management is often written about in the sales and business world, and with good reason: most of us are bad at it. However, this article has an interesting approach that could be extremely useful when applied to the sales environment.

In it, the author states that most people are awake for 16 or 17 hours a day. This is about 1,000 minutes, which can be divided up into 10-minute ‘blocks.’ He then encourages us to think about our daily activities in terms of these blocks – having a shower may take one block, whereas meeting a friend for a coffee could take up to nine blocks.

We could even map these blocks onto a grid with different colours for different activities. The key is to evaluate your daily activities in terms of how many blocks they use up and whether this use of time is worthwhile.

To determine whether the activity is worth the time we spend on it, the author asks us to think about our activities in relation to a long-term goal. For example, going for a run may take up ten blocks twice a week, but if you are training for a marathon, you would probably consider this as time well spent.

This is particularly interesting when thinking about how we divide our time at work, with statistics suggesting that only 20% of the average workday is spent on ‘important’ or ‘crucial’ things, with the other 80% of our time being spent on tasks that have little to no value.

Where to Put Your Effort

In B2B sales, there are so many ways to use your time that it can be difficult to focus on what’s important each day.

Every day brings a new challenge, and if you were to map out how you used your blocks of time on a physical grid, most days would look very different. For example, if you’re building a sales pipeline, the time you spend on certain activities would be very different to when you’re closing a big deal.

If you are building a sales pipeline, you’re more likely to spend your time creating an overview of all of your prospects, whereas if you’re closing a big deal, all your attention will be focused on one client.

The key here is to be deliberate – manage your time rather than have it manage you and create a clear, realistic plan that is continually evaluated.

The Working Day: 42 Blocks

If there are six ten-minute blocks each hour and the average working day is seven hours long, that means that our working day can be divided into 42 blocks.

To achieve maximum efficiency, it’s important to think about how we use those blocks every single day and to make sure that the use of this time is aligned with achieving your business goals.

For example, if your goals are long-term and you know sales cycles are long, prospecting and building high-quality sales material may be the best use of your blocks as it will pay off in the future.

Your use of your blocks must also be aligned with short-term priorities, like closing a big deal or working on incoming requests to make sure you are up to speed.

With every task you plan, big or small, think about it in terms of how it can benefit you and if it’s worth your time. If you’re working on a long-term deal and the opportunity arises to close a deal that is less significant overall, but would bring in some useful revenue for the short-term, you will need to think carefully.

You need to decide whether to put your long-term deal on the back-burner for a couple of weeks so you can close the new one, or whether to sacrifice the small deal and focus all your attention on gaining an account that could bring in business for years to come.

There is often no right or wrong answer, but the process of deliberate decision-making will help you gradually improve your time management.

Plan Ahead to Achieve Your Goals

Every ten-minute block you allocate to a task represents a huge opportunity for a hundred other things you could have been doing, so choose wisely.

Spend the first block or two of each working day planning out how you’re going to use your 42 blocks. If you like, you could make a colour-coded grid on an Excel spreadsheet to help you visualise your time – just make sure you don’t spend too many blocks making it look nice!

Allocate a further one or two blocks at the end of your day to review what you have done against your goals. Did you get everything done that you needed to? If not, can you find the time to finish it tomorrow?

By seeing your blocks as part of the wider picture, be it that day, that month or even the whole year, you can manage your time more efficiently and stay focused on your goals.

To find out how Red Flag Alert’s highly accurate data and real-time updates on over six million UK businesses could enable you and your team to manage your time more efficiently, don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn, on 0344 412 6699, or at richard.west@redflagalert.com to set up a friendly, informal chat or a meeting.

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