How to Optimize Your Time to Maximize Your Value as a Seller for Yourself, Your Company and Your Customer
The Sales Conversation
“Some of us have wondered how to become more efficient as salespeople while completing the many day-to-day tasks necessary that lead up to great sales conversations. If that describes you, then this episode is definitely worth your time.”
In this episode, Bruce Scheer talks to David Guarino about the importance of learning to manage and focus your time to become a more productive and valuable seller. David is a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and has over 25 years of sales experience in the electronics and manufacturing industries. In addition to serving as the Director of Business Development at Piston Automotive, he is also the owner of Driven Recruiting, an employment service that replaces the traditional hiring process with an assessment-based talent matching system.
Optimizing Your Most Important Resource: Time
We all know that time is finite, and yet so many of us struggle to use it effectively. For salespeople, failing to use time effectively can reduce productivity, increase stress, and limit our ability to have meaningful engagements with customers. Yet in our fast-paced, technology-infused present, it is easy to get distracted or lose focus. That’s why it is so important to learn how to focus and maximize our time to provide value as a seller.
Why is it important to optimize your time as a seller?
Remember that everything in business changes. This includes sellers, clients, and companies. With change comes new technologies and systems, new client goals and needs, and new sales strategies and business practices. Let’s not forget that the things we sell change, too, which necessitates that we all become effective adapters to our respective “worlds.” Adaptation, however, requires energy and time, and the more the industry changes, the more components are added to the average workflow.
For David Guarino, change came not only to his chosen industry – automotive and manufacturing sales – but also to his perspective. He once saw the sales industry as focused on what sellers can do for the company, which he argues led to less trust and transparency for the seller and the consumer. Over his 25 years of experience, that changed, and he now sees sales requiring a focus on the value of time and how best to manage it.
For sellers, time optimization must look at the relationship between the seller, the client, and the company. Two major questions serve as a starting point for interpreting these relationships:
- How do we create value for our customers and our companies?
- How do we manage time to maximize that value?
Creating value through time management requires us to identify the goals and interests that each entity brings to the table. We can then align our personal goals with those of the company, which is crucial for determining where we are most productive and how best to maximize productivity through a focused workflow. These goals can also direct you to the things that are most important for your sales conversations. Ultimately, the goal of optimizing your time is identifying what matters so you can learn to distinguish between the things that deserve more of your time and the things that serve as distractions from your goals, your customer’s goals, and your company’s goals.
What can you do to manage your time?
According to David Guarino, there are three primary goals you can meet to manage your time more effectively:
- Identify the areas and times in which you are most effective
As we explored in our discussion with Casey Murray, one of the most important processes for salespeople is to self-assess. For managing your time, there are some key questions to consider: How do you learn (process)? When do you learn (time of day)? Where do you learn (place)? Matching your productivity times and places to your personal and professional goals (seller, client, and company) will provide a starting point for establishing a focus for your time.
- Avoid task-oriented workflows and distractions
Email notifications, everyday passive sales, and program management are important, but they are always present and can serve as a distraction. You don’t need to be responsive to these things at all times. After all, it’s not a race. Instead, focus on the most value for your time by turning off notifications when you don’t need them, filtering your email messages to place the most important items first in your workflow, and use priority scheduling to avoid creating long lists of tasks that often never end.
- Develop a routine
Once you have identified your productive times, places, and actions, you can build a daily routine that prioritizes the important things from seemingly urgent things. Routines should place your most critical components during times when you are most productive. Other things such as answering non-critical emails can be built into the routine at less optimal periods to give you a natural workflow.
One method for meeting all of these goals is to build a calendar model for your schedule. Unlike the task-based model, calendars emphasize the important pieces and remove the temptation to treat everything as urgent, which can be stressful and unproductive. Calendars offer structure to your workflow and let you focus on what you do best.
Lastly, we must all take care of ourselves. Pay attention to your sleep patterns and mental health. Losing too much sleep can dramatically impact your productivity. Additionally, elements such as diet and stress can impact your mood, behavior, and thought patterns, which, in turn, can also reduce productivity and work satisfaction. While some of these things are difficult to manage in our lives, it is essential to build a life routine that is reasonable for you. More information on the impact of sleep on our lives is linked in the resources section below.
What can you do to manage your customer’s time?
Many salespeople are familiar with meetings, whether with clients or colleagues. While David Guarino believes that meetings should be avoided except when they are essential, he also suggests that we establish clear agendas for meetings with clearly stated objectives. Agenda-based meetings often reduce the frequency of distractions and unfocused discussions that lead to less meaningful and valuable sales interactions. Additionally, agendas establish respect between you and the client and appear professional by design.
To make agendas more effective, you can also ask for client input. Remember that a client’s commitment to a meeting is incredibly important to them precisely because they are giving you their time. By asking for input, you help the client set their own goals and priorities; they can also suggest changes that may make the meeting more productive for both sides.
Agendas can also reduce our tendency to rush just to complete a task. Rushed communication is always less valuable than meaningful and purposeful communication. To avoid the rush instinct, consider these questions before you respond to an email or direct sales conversation:
- Are you responding just to respond?
- Are you listening to understand and provide value?
- Why are they asking for information?
These questions get at the nuances of a sales conversation, which help us identify what a client is actually looking for.
Where does this ultimately lead us?
According to David Guarino, sales are always personal, and we should strive to emphasize the personal connections in our sales conversations. It comes down to a simple question: why should anyone care?
In our technology-heavy world, it can be difficult to see the difference between the important things and the things that distract us by appearing urgent. Yet, we must always consider whether our technologies and systems serve our agenda as sellers rather than the agenda of distraction. For this reason, ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you using the tools properly?
- Are they enabling you to be more productive or effective?
- Are they cumbersome and distracting?
Every seller will have a slightly different response, but your answers may let you see a simple example of the distractions that take away from your productivity as a seller.
- Value of Time – Recognize that time is valuable to everyone in a sales situation. You, your clients, and your company know that time is important; nobody likes wasting time or feeling like they don’t have control over how their time is used. Once you identify how to value your own time, you will be better equipped to adjust your routine and schedule and focus on the things that matter most.
- Routine – Build a routine that focuses your energy on the important things. It is easy to become distracted by email or other common interactions that seep into our work lives. While you can’t ignore all of these things, you can establish times for certain activities so you can focus on what matters most to your sales strategies. This is part of building a routine that maximizes productivity.
- Agendas – Use agendas to make meetings with clients or colleagues more meaningful. Agendas can serve as a guide for a meeting, which increases the potential for productive engagements. When establishing agendas for meetings, make sure to identify the goals of everyone involved and adjust your agenda accordingly.
- Driven Recruiting
- Connect with David on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Mentioned in the episode:
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Sales Truth by Mike Weinberg
- Verne Harnish Links:
- Find Your Why and The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- When by Daniel H. Pink
- What Great Salespeople Do by Mike Bosworth and Ben Zoldan
- Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell by Mike Adams
- F.U. Money and Unlock It by Dan Lok
- OutBound Sales Conference
- Other Fantastic Resources on this topic:
- Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
- “Sleep Scientist Warns Against Walking Through Life ‘In An Underslept State’” by Terry Gross (NPR)
- The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino
- More Sales Less Time by Jill Konrath (Author of Snap Selling)
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