I read an article recently from Entrepreneur Magazine and decided that there was one more very important competency to add to the list of Competencies That Influence Sales
The magic pixie dust that you, as a sales leader, have been looking for is now known. You now have a solution. Just have people, starting with you, that will make the decision to be on time! Be on time for your meetings, for client appointments, for making prospecting calls and for achieving goals.
Being able to prioritize, stay on track and focus requires the skill of planning, the skill of discernment and the skill of saying "no" to those events that happen (either real or imagined) that we let get in the way of being on time. Clockmakers are in the business of helping us ‘get out of bed’ and be on time…
There, the secret. It's out there now.
Making the decision may not technically be a competency, but being on time, putting oneself in a position to be on time, fits the general definition of competency.
As part of our 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales People, we teach the concept of self management vs. crises management. Time and again, I will inform the audience that you cannot manage or change time. It's a known and stable factor - like gravity. You cannot speed up, slow down or pause time. It moves whether you do or not.
So, what is the issue, what is the problem and how do you "fix" it? It's not like the training and consulting industry doesn't have specialists at "time management" to call on! So why do these courses fail? Why do the participants in these programs continue to miss targets, be late for meetings and not attend appropriately to priorities with all this investment of time, money and resources?
Here are my answers:
- Planning is not a priority. When we teach our course on self management vs. crises management, we start by getting people to identify their day-to-day activities. Next, I ask them to prioritize the activities. Then I ask them how often they run out of time to do the things they need to do. Next, I ask them why they don't have planning on the list. And then, we add planning to the list and make it a #1 priority.
- Time has not been allocated for planning. That can be fixed. Allocate time for your most important priority - planning
- Time has not been allocated for free time. You must allocate time for the 2nd most important priority - free time. People always complain about not having free time. I ask them how much time they allocate for free time. The answer is... None, they don't allocate any time for free time. Don't be surprised if your people are or become burnt out, exhausted and lifeless. Without free time, time to wind down, recharge the batteries, you cannot expect them to be fresh, alert and energetic.
- Prospecting is not a priority. Activities that pertain to business/sales success haven't been a priority. Assuming you are a sales leader, director, executive or manager, the next priority should be prospecting. In our prospecting module, we teach that the ONLY "A" priority in sales is prospecting. While other activities are important, they are not "A" list priorities. "A" priorities get done; everything else is just talk. If your people don't make prospecting an "A" priority, don't be surprised if prospecting doesn't get done!
- There are no consequences for failure to execute. How many times have you allowed people to be late? When they give you an excuse, do you say, "That's okay." The message you have just sent to the entire organization is that no one has to be on time. Though the rest of them thought enough about the meeting to be on time and this one person didn't, that's okay. The best thing to say is nothing. Don't say anything. Don't say a word, don't acknowledge them or the tardiness; just keep on moving and don't reinforce the behavior by making it okay.
I could go on, but I want to make a VIP - Very Important Point. How you address promptness, tardiness and lateness reflects greatly on your entire organization. If you allow margin for showing up on time, then you allow people to leave early. If you allow margin for timeliness, then you allow margin for not showing up at all. If you allow people to ramble in and out of meetings without consequences, then you shouldn't be surprised that people aren't hitting sales activity goals and, eventually, overall sales goals.
Your people begin to understand that, if there is margin for error for being on time, then they can challenge the other areas for margin. In the end, you end up with a great deal of average, mediocre performances and outcomes all because "it's okay to be late."