By William Blades

There are two parts of your anatomy where “use it or lose it” applies. Since I am a CMC and not an MD, let’s talk about the brain—the key to your currency.

The brain comes into play because anyone who thinks he’s too busy to improve his methods is fooling himself… or, at least, he thinks he is. The average sales person loses three to four hours per day. No big deal; that only adds up to 25 weeks per year. That’s for each salesperson!

Let’s look at 10 ways to accumulate… not lose time.

Top 10 list

  1. Design your sales visits in proper geographical sequence. If geography isn’t your thing, call AAA and they’ll route your entire week. Running up the odometer and non-productive time is rampant in the sales profession. Don’t be lazy in designing your sales curriculum—and your life.
  2. Reduce visit time by doing less talking. Clients don’t remember over 99 percent of what you said anyway—unless you’re a charismatic individual (do a reality check here). There are two messages for you in this section.
  3. Over the telephone, don’t imitate doctors and weather forecasters by asking, “How are you?” and “How’s the weather there?” Professionals don’t use these stale openers. This wastes a few minutes several times daily. And if they answer, “I have a cold” or “It’s rotten here,” you just spiraled downward.
  4. Use strategic thinking to answer “Why am I going there?” Ask yourself “What am I going there to learn, share and how will the ‘movie’ end?” No great answers? Don’t go. The client will have more important things to do anyway.
  5. Think like an ant. Question: How much do they carry? Answer: All they can. Ever see an ant foreman with a whistle telling all the workers to knock off at 4:30 p.m.? No. And you shouldn’t knock off so early every day—wait until all the ants are gone. Make one extra visit after your competitors rush to beat the traffic. The only time I suggest you place last is in the race home.
  6. Set up 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. breakfast appointments at the client’s office. Get a small caterer to come set everything up… and take everything away. Cool. And while displaying panache, you would get 250 extra visits a year, before 8:00 a.m., if you scheduled one every day. OK, I hear you groaning. Just do two per week. That’s still 100 over a robot-like salesperson.
  7. Think, “How can I pick up five minutes, at least 12 times each day?” It’s very easy. Don’t hang on the telephone so long. Don’t wear out your welcome. Don’t stay longer in Mary’s office because she’s so nice. And Joe, he loves to go on and on with you about his latest catch off the Florida Keys. And no whining—five minutes spent complaining is five minutes wasted. Chump change.
  8. Invest major time with major clients and minor time with minor clients. Often, we have blurred this formula even to the point of doing a 180-degree flip-flop. Stay away from “comfort zone” visits. When things are cool, get hot!
  9. Think about how you’ll do one ordinary thing for each client, in an extraordinary manner. The oxymoron “terribly pleased” would fly off their lips a lot faster. Even the guy who sweeps up after elephants in a parade knows why he’s there—ya just gotta love show business. Are clients saying “You’re the best ever?” If the answer is “yes,” you love your business, too.
  10. Planning for the year brings massive changes to your focus and results. Starting the year with a written plan keeps you motivated and beamed in on your attack. No drift. And plan for the year about three months prior to its beginning. If you’re not planning, you aren’t thinking. And if you aren’t thinking… then what are you doing?

By the numbers
A picture is worth… a lot! Study these numbers well so that your minutes and hours are bankable.

Annual Income Each Hour Worth Each Minute Worth Save 1 Hour Per Day

$50,000 $25.62 $ .42 $6,250
$100,000 $51.24 $ .85 $12,500

There are several messages to draw out of these numbers; but the primary one is if someone currently earns $50,000 and wants to earn $100,000, she needs to think and act like a $100,000 person. That is, she needs to place a higher value on her time; such as over $51 an hour—not the $25 that she is currently earning. Also, see the far right hand column—losing or gaining one high quality hour per day is worth an extra $12,500 to the go-getters. Now, how about the three to four hours lost daily that I mentioned above?

Investing time
One of the biggest goals you can have is to place value on your time. So, where should you spend (invest) your time? It will depend on your goals. Here’s the basic steps for goal setting:

  • Set major goals,
  • Evaluate the required time versus the tasks,
  • Set specific objectives, long- and short-term,
  • Determine the needed resources,
  • Anticipate the obstacles, and
  • Prioritize and set deadlines for all tasks.

The best time to plan for the month and the week? Saturday mornings. Why? Well, that means you buy into the philosophy that there are not any TGIFs because Saturday isn’t a holiday. It’s an earned day off. I find that the majority of salespeople who buy into the TGIF trap are those who set very low personal standards and still consistently fail to meet them.

Saturdays are also great for planning because you can totally focus on just planning and thinking. It’s a laser-like effect. You know how two hours in the office on Saturday equals about eight to 10 hours in the office during the weekday? The same is true for planning. No interruptions enable you to develop a plan more quickly and with more clarity.

Things to ponder
—Company meetings should be scheduled for 29 minutes. This forces preparation, focus and fast action.

—The average person gets interrupted every eight minutes. The average one lasts for five minutes in duration. That equals about four hours per day.

—Eighty percent of those interruptions are typically rated “little or no value.” That’s three hours per day possibly lost.

—Listening to self-development tapes during your commute; just five minutes each day for two years creates the opportunity to learn 500 little improvements.

—There’s one word that everyone must use regularly and that’s “no.”

Abe Lincoln had a great quote: “Things may come to those who wait, but only those things left by those who hustle.” You can drift without a written plan. A well-defined plan can help to keep your hustle up, keep you focused toward goals/objectives/deadline dates and the value of your time.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned “use it or lose it.” If you choose to think otherwise, just remember Ben Franklin’s words: “Lost time is never found.”

About the author
William “Bill” Blades is a professional speaker and consultant specializing in sales and leadership issues. Based in Scottsdale, AZ, he holds a certified management consultant (CMC) and certified professional secretary (CPS) designation. He can be reached at (480) 563-5355, (480) 563-0515 (fax), email: [email protected] or website:


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