The most significant challenge for sales professionals is their time control. How a sales professional uses their time determines income. The sales professionals in the top 10% of their industry control, use, and invest their time more wisely and effectively than the lower performing sales people.
The Champion Performers are more effective with their time blocking schedule than lower performers. The concept of time blocking is not new. Most of us have been exposed to it but have yet to master it. Through years of study and coaching sales professionals, I have observed some common challenges that most sales people experience when trying to master their time blocking schedule.
1. Over access problems: The proper screening of calls by an effective gatekeeper can save hours weekly. Too often, issues, problems, and challenges that could be handled by another penetrate the walls and enter our world. These problems could be minor or major in nature, but granting unfiltered access creates large amounts of lost time for many sales people.
There should be a limit in terms of time and people who have access to you. Successful people have a short list of people who have unfiltered access to them. They do not deviate from this short list of people. These people on the short list can interrupt the schedule any hour of the day based on their importance.
My short list includes my wife, my father, my attorney, and a few key associates. The people on the short list are often extremely important to your personal life. There are very few clients that find their way on truly successful people's short lists.
There should be times in your schedule when you are uninterrupted. The biggest error that sales people make is getting sucked into the interruption game. They have limited structure for their time, so access to them becomes easy. Access should be granted, not taken. You are the controller of access.
2. Location Issues: The nature of your physical office can effect production dramatically. It can effect drastically how you use your time.
There are two issues in regard to location for real estate Agents and teams:
- The size of the practice versus size of the space of your work environment.
- Your personal office must be private.
These two areas often are detrimental to production increases. If you don't have enough square footage for yourself and your staff, your production is stunted.
I had a client a handful of years ago who did 150 transactions with her and three associates out of 150 square feet of office space. They were tripping over each other. They were constantly searching to find things they needed in their office. It was amazing they did the production they did out of the limited space they had.
When they increased their space to 500 square feet a dramatic production increase happened for them. They had the discipline, talent, and skill to increase production. Their physical space limited the growth opportunities. The issue of space is essential for a growing business.
The other critical issue is private space for the Champion Agent. There are too many focused activities in a day for the Champion Agent to be in the bullpen of activity. If your staff surrounds you, you're in the wrong place.
A Champion Agent needs their own private office away from distractions and staff. The only way to control their planning and prospecting environment is to make them exclusive to you.
The one way to prospect consistently, and with focus, is to have a private office environment. If you have the buzz of the staff, inbound phone calls, problems, and challenges, even a Champion Agent will be tempted to engage in helping. The tendency is for us to jump back into the issues of servicing at the expense of our new business creation.
3. Appointment Issues: Successful professionals operate on an appointment-only basis. Your doctor, dentist, or attorney operates based on appointments that you set with them. Too many agents are willing to meet at all hours of the day and night. The Champion Agent creates appointment slots and drives prospects into those slots. The goal is efficient and effective use of your time; to see production with every minute you invest in your career.
Studies have shown that 80% of your prospects will meet with you in your schedule. The reason they don't is because we don't want them to. We allow them to dictate appointment times. We juggle our schedule to reflect their needs. We then justify that because we are in a "service oriented" business. We feel that being available to them is equal to service. Operating as a professional on an appointment-only basis is more valuable than running your business on a referral-only basis.
4. Excessive Distractions: We are the most interrupted and distracted professionals on the face of the planet. We experience distractions from phone calls. These phone calls, for most Agents, come on their office, home, and cell phones. Most Agents never get away from the distractions of the phone. We have the distractions of e-mail. More often than not the e-mail is not a lead. It's the fastest offer for Viagra or another unsolicited e-mail. If it is a lead, the conclusion ratio of Internet leads is less than 1%. Why give in to a 1% conclusion ratio if you are engaged in productive activities currently. Other Agents can be a distraction, as well. They can interrupt your rhythm and flow. They can also tempt you to join their coffee and donut group.
There are two effective techniques to use to control distractions. The first is to plan for them. If you want to socialize with other agents, then plan a set time to do that. Block the time in your schedule in terms of the exact day and time. It's acceptable to socialize, provided it's of short duration and you have planned for it.
The second is creating a list of people who are granted instant access. Have your assistant memorize the list. If you don't have an assistant, then work with your receptionist. Have her memorize and know who is granted unfiltered access. If you create a list larger than five people, then trim it down. The list should be five people or less. My list consists of my wife, my attorney, a financial advisor, and my sales manager. Any one else could get filtered out and scheduled for a call later in the day. Who is on your list?
The real secret to highly productive people is they accomplish more of high value with their time. They control their time rather than letting it control them. They minimize the distractions they face daily.
Lastly, they position themselves, through appointments, to be Agents in command. We all have a choice to be an Agent on demand. This is being at people's beck and call all hours of the day and night. The other option is an Agent in command, where you dictate, control, and create your business and clients. That is the Champion Agent approach!