Time: It’s a funny thing in the world of sales, isn’t it? Ask anyone in business and they’ll say there’s often not enough of it, and how fast it moves depends on the daily tasks ahead.
That’s why we have developed the Sales On A Daily Basis 5 Week Hustle. If you’ve ever looked up at the clock to see it’s 4.59pm and have felt horrified at the fact you haven’t achieved even half your daily goals, then read on, because assessing the value of your time, using it wisely and staying in control of the clock can not only make you more productive on a day-to-day basis, but help you to meet quarterly and annual targets with ease. Here’s some pointers:
Set hard end dates
Deadlines are important in business. You already know this. Setting a hard end date for each task you assign yourself is critical for managing your schedule and meeting quarterly targets. The deadline should be specific and final, but also realistic and achievable. Parkinson’s Law can be applied when setting an effective hard deadline. This law states:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
So, what does this mean in business? In 1955, British naval historian Cyril Parkinson spotted a trend while working with the British civil service. The longer a person had to meet a deadline, the more likely they were to procrastinate and leave the task until the very last minute. Even if there was 6 weeks to get something done, a typical person would wait until the final day before the deadline and complete the task in a rushed 45 minutes. Conversely, as the length of time allocated to complete a task became shorter, the task itself appeared easier to complete and was done so with much more efficiency. The takeaway message is that time can be used more wisely than most of us realise, simply be setting shorter, tighter goals. If you would ordinarily set yourself 4 weeks to do something, bring that time frame down to 2 weeks. Not only will you meet your new deadline, but you’ll free up 2 weeks to set yourself a new specific task.
Goals might include:
- Marketing: Sending x number of marketing emails to your prospect list by a specific date
- Organising and hosting a webinar or Facebook live
- Sending x number of lumpy mails before a specific date
- Committing to x number of telephone follow-ups within one set-aside chunk of time.
When you sign up to the Sales On A Daily Basis 5 Week Hustle, you will be able to organise your time into a set weekly schedule with hard end dates in place.
Split your time into sprints
When a project is in its infancy, it can remain in ‘concept mode’ for a long time before anything really gets off the ground. A team can sit around a table throwing about ideas, fears, hunches and barriers, but this doesn’t do anybody any good, and is certainly a time waster. That’s why we recommend creating ‘sprints’ to get projects off the ground faster. According to The Harvard Business Review, a sprint is a time limited process with a hard deadline that moves a project from concept to concrete. The calendar is cleared of unimportant tasks, and strict schedules are created to ensure the speed of the project is increased without compromising the results. For this to work, all team members need to be on board, and when done correctly, it should still leave time for answering emails and, of course, eating your lunch! Here’s an example: A team at the company Slack couldn’t agree on which of two proposed marketing strategies would be better received by customers. Instead of continuing the debate, which could have lasted weeks, the team organised a week-long sprint to get both ideas to the prototype stage and test them on audiences. By doing this, they saved time and got the answer they so crucially needed. Sprints work hand-in-hand with hard deadlines and can give you the motivation to succeed in concise timeframes.
Calculate the value of your time
It’s inevitable that you spend some of your time on tasks that are ultimately redundant. But do you know how much of your time your losing during the day? We bet if you did, you’d be quite shocked. Now ask yourself, how many of these tasks that could be delegated elsewhere? Perhaps you write your own business blog that prevents you from active prospecting? Maybe you’ve spent an entire day editing a promotional video for social media, or regularly lose entire weeks organising your company finances? Whatever it is that soaks up your time, think about whether it can be delegated. Now, you might be thinking you’re saving money by doing these jobs yourself – but actually, the opposite is true. Even if you spend money on outsourcing, you still save money in the long run. If you were to work out how much you earn on an hourly basis, calculate how much money you’re already losing by doing these tasks yourself. An entire day spent editing a promotional video might be costing you upwards of £500 without you even realising it. Now consider spending half of that on outside help, automatically saving you money and giving you additional time to complete the tasks that really matter to your business. Some outsourcing ideas could include:
- Content for social media and your company blog or newsletter
- Finances / accounts
- Promotional work including video, content marketing, sending bulky mail and landing page design
- General admin tasks
- Human resources
Not only does outsourcing save you time and money but will likely yield better results than if you try to do it all yourself. Remember, you are an expert at what you do, but a professional content marketer or accountant will be better equipped to manage those corresponding aspects of your business, consequently producing superior results.
So where do you look to find the most cost-effective outsourcing opportunities? Should you sign up to the 5 Week Hustle, you can identify which tasks can be outsourced and which are best left for you to do.
Be effective, rather than just productive
It’s important you take a step back and look at how you are spending your time for two reasons. Firstly, you’ll be able to identify the outsourcing opportunities already mentioned, ultimately freeing up time you didn’t even know you had. Secondly, you’ll notice the bad habits you’ve developed over the years – the ones that masquerade as productivity but minimise your effectiveness. According to Atlassian, wading through excessive email, attending meetings and being disturbed by interruptions are the greatest time wasters there are. The average worker checks their email 36 times per hour, and considers half of meetings attended as pointless. Yet, so many activities seem productive, when the exact opposite is true.
Completely rethinking your timetable might be needed and the 5 Week Hustle can help you to segment your time more effectively.
The first step is to analyse how long your everyday tasks take you (you can use a time tracker for a few days to review your habits as raw data) and see if any of these can be cut out completely or reduced down to half their usual time. When it comes to essential meetings, ensure an agenda is set and circulated well in advance, and that your meeting is planned so that running over is unlikely. Start on time, even if employees are late, and set clear goals with hard deadlines for everyone to adhere to.
Take control of your inbox. Create a stricter junk filter and unsubscribe from mailing lists you never open. Also, allocate a specific time during the day to respond to non-urgent emails. According to research, this should be between 8am-10am and 3pm-4pm to ensure your emails are opened (this will save you having to write chaser emails).
As for prospecting, if you haven’t done so already, stop cold calling today. Leave it in the past. It’s a huge time waster and with email and social media, there are now far more effective ways of finding and nurturing leads. Automating your social media can help to save time too, and dashboards like Hootsuite can assist in doing this. Identify key times over a 5 week period to market yourself on social media or, even better, outsource this task to a social media manager and let them do the leg work for you!
Learn to say no
While you don’t have much time spare today, you’ll have plenty extra tomorrow, right? Wrong. This is a common mistake many of us make, and a trigger in causing us to say Yes to things we really should be saying No to. According to North Carolina researchers, this habit is hardwired – and difficult to break! It turns out, we are far less able to forecast our time than anything else (including our finances). For that reason, when you’re asked whether you have capacity to complete a task, it’s important you take a pause and really think about the question. Look at your calendar, check the number of unopened emails in your inbox and decide whether you truly will have the time to take on another project. Granted, this is easier said that done, especially if you are trying to give a good impression or don’t want to let anyone down. If you are a woman in business, saying no might feel particularly trapping – especially if you work in an all-male environment and sometimes find it tough to be taken seriously. So, what’s the solution? Here’s some ideas:
- If you don’t have time now, but might have time next week, communicate this. There may be wiggle room for the project and if so, you can clear a less busy day in the near future and commit to the task.
- Refer the task to someone who can do it now. This ensures the activity is completed and keeps you in favour with the person asking.
- If you have been invited to a speaking event and can’t find time to go, thank the person who invited you and offer to send someone in your place. Alternatively, for a conference or event with videos / slideshows, you can offer to record a video of yourself talking to be played at the event. Always send a hand written note of thanks, regardless of whether you can attend or not.
- Prioritise your tasks and say a definitive no to the ones that won’t benefit your business. You might find that re-shuffling existing commitments in your calendar frees up room for more important assignments.
- Allocate a slot in your calendar each week and leave it blank. This can be used for last minute requests so that you’re less likely to need to say no.
- Say no with authority and clarity. Do not allow yourself to be persuaded into saying yes.
Remember that if you learn to use time wisely, and structure it week-by-week, it can go from working against you, to positively facilitating your activities. Discovering your bad habits, reworking them and implementing a more effective strategy can transform your business in more ways that one. If you would like to speak to us about your current schedule, or need help assessing your business prioritise, you can book a free discovery call today. You can also sign up to the 5 Week Hustle and learn how to set your schedule to work for your business.