Does anybody really know how you spend your time?
The issue of how technology helps – or hinders – the time management discipline of B2B sellers was at the core of a recent juicy assignment. Company sales leadership thought they were aware of how their sellers operated, yet a discussion with one of their high-performing sellers exposed deeper gaps that begged for attention.
When I sat with one of their top sellers to discuss general business challenges from the field, she said, “Management doesn’t know how I spend my time…and I’m not sure I want them to know how it’s spent”. (Hmmm, okay…I bet they do but let's keep talking!)
I probed further to find that while this top producer was confident in her abilities to close business, she felt negligent about how she managed her time, and admitted to feeling a little guilty about the type of tasks she worked on. She thought if management truly knew how she operated, they’d be poking around too much…she was ok with her frustration as long as they didn’t move her cheese. Ultimately, she claimed senior company and sales management did not understand the intricacies of how business was transacted.
When I played this back to my constituent at the top of the firm, she swatted it like a slow October fly hanging around too long after summer. “BS…we go on calls, we talk to clients, we talk to managers in all departments and are CONSTANTLY talking about process and how we can align resources more efficiently.”
So where’s the rub? Who’s right and who’s not so right?
First, I am not Judge Michael expected to pass blame. I’m a flashlight…a 1,000 lumens LED monster light (HA!). My role is to shed light and then provide a fix….in this case, I needed to help both parties. Below summarizes what I said to both parties.
Here’s what I said to the top seller:
In sales, the reality is we think we get more accomplished than we actually do, yet often feel we get NOTHING done...and in our hearts, we know we can do much more."
Here’s what I told the senior company executive:
After this experience with my client, I concluded time management is a dirty little concept that nobody inside the sales operation wants to talk about: how much time does it really take to conduct business? How much time does it take to do your job? How much time does it take to prospect a customer…and turn him into a client? To close a piece of business? To service the business? It’s one of those basics that gets assumed, and as you see here, it can’t be ignored or seller discontent and inefficiency will grow in the org.
Asking anyone in sales if they feel they manage their time correctly is like asking someone who bought a car if they got a good deal: EVERYONE SAYS YES. The reality is more like this: in sales, we think we get more accomplished than we actually do, yet often feel we get NOTHING done...and in our hearts, we know we can do much more.
Contact me. I’ve struggled too. I feel your pain.
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