How To Avoid The Yes Trap
Most salespeople say yes too often. As a result they end up starting more work than they can finish, and the tasks they do complete are often riddled with errors or inconsistencies.
We are evolving into a nation of yes-people for whom no task is too much to ask and every task is commenced with “Consider it done.” Salespeople are the leaders of this movement.
In sales it is easy to fall into the Yes Trap. If you serve customers you are granting requests. This translates into taking on many tasks in order to gain rapport and close sales. This kind of mind-set forces you to become an “ideal worker” who becomes a hostage to his or her job. It’s the kind of world where parents can’t make a living and be an effective parent at the same time.
Scaling Back Without Losing Sales
There are only two ways to scale back your busy workload and free up more time:
say no more often.
According to one survey, the average American salesperson sells for only 90 minutes a day. Another study reveals that salespeople spend 80 percent of their time doing tasks that simply don’t affect their bottom lines.
More than likely you are spending three-fourths of your time each day on tasks that don’t affect your bottom line. A salesperson’s inability to spend the majority of his or her time carrying out the most productive, bottom-line tasks is the Yes Trap, and it is rooted in a salesperson’s inability to say no.
The Value of Saying No
To best exploit your time, you have to figure out what you’re spending most of your time on. There are three categories of tasks that we carry out on any given day: unnecessary tasks, necessary tasks and productive tasks.
Unnecessary tasks. These are activities that prohibit your business from moving forward, and therefore waste your time. These kinds of tasks include e-mailing friends, answering random phone calls, chatting with co-workers, instant messaging, making personal phone calls, Web surfing and playing computer games. These are the tasks you need to stop.
Necessary tasks. These tasks might move your efforts in a positive way, but at a less productive pace than other activities. These activities are a good use of your time, but for strategic direction only. They include goal setting and planning, qualifying prospects, dealing with necessary paperwork, observation and evaluation. These are tasks for which you need to regulate your time investment.
Productive tasks. These activities represent the work that most effectively moves your business in a positive direction and are the best use of your time. They are often actions that reflect the discoveries you have made completing necessary tasks. The top two activities in this category are strategic prospecting and selling. No other tasks add more to your bottom line.
The goal with necessary tasks is to spend high-quality time on them but not a high quantity of time. The following are the main tasks in this category and the boundaries we must construct for them:
Paperwork: Paperwork can become a major time killer if there are no boundaries in place. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes every other hour on paperwork. Delegate your necessary paperwork to an assistant or team member. If you don’t have an assistant, a good tactic is to block out at least 30 minutes every other hour for doing paperwork.
Planning and Goal Setting. Spend one or two days planning once a year. If you isolate yourself during your annual planning sessions and are careful to set realistic, value-centered goals, you will not have to spend time amending your plan throughout the year.
Surveying Customers. Don’t let this build up. Design a strategic survey that elicits the information you desire from your customers, and then ask for their feedback before you close the sale so that errors are quickly pinpointed and addressed. One restaurant does this between the time you finish your entree and before dessert and coffee are served. These surveys provide great material for evaluating your progress during your observation and evaluation time.
Observing and Evaluating. Spend one hour on the last workday of every month observing and evaluating your progress against the goals you’ve recorded in your planning session. Record your observations and necessary improvements and file them each month.
Communication. Most voice mail and e-mail messages can wait. Don’t continuously respond to calls and e-mails. Pick two to four specific times a day to answer e-mails or particular phone calls. One salesperson spent 25 hours a week listening to and returning calls and emails. After she put in some boundaries, her business boomed by nearly 200 percent because she had more time to be productive.