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How much selling life do you have left?

photo courtesy of flickr ToniVC cc

The new movie "In Time" is a sci-fi thriller based in the future where currency is no longer money, but time. Everything is paid for with time off of your biological clock. All of your investments and income are paid to you with additions to your biological clock. Actually, a pretty old concept...time is money.

The main character receives a gift from a time-wealthy man of a huge addition of time to the character's biological clock with the simple admonition, "Don't waste my time." You see, that gift of time came from the giver's own life.

As a professional sales person, the direct relationship between time and money is so clear. Yet I know that as sales people we squander our time, and if we want to make more money, we need not to waste our time.

First, let's get a sense of how you spend a 50-hour work week. (Who in sales has a 40-hour work week?) Remember, you will need to answer as an average, as if you were looking at your time for a year so that you include fluctuations in work activity, for example, seasonal trade shows.  Click here to take the quick quiz below by Friday 12/2 to see how you compare.

1. How much time do you spend prospecting? (This includes networking, cold calling, trade shows, emailing and social media mining)

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

2. How much time do you spend managing current accounts? (Includes visits, phone calls, emails, internal meetings)

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

3. How much time do you spend preparing for new customer sales? (Proposal preparation, quote preparation, researching, presentation development)

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

4. How much time do you spend selling to new customers directly? (This can be by conference call, webinar, or face to face. This also includes following up.)

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

5. How much time do you spend administratively? (Attending internal meetings not related to sales, entering CRM data, entering orders, completing expense reports or call logs)

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

6. How much time do you spend in to and from travel?

a. <10%

b. 10-25%

c. 25-50%

d. 50-75%

e. 75%+

This survey gives you a sense of what your time looks like. If you want to add detail to it, I suggest keeping a time log for one month and just track these six categories. If you add a few custom categories for yourself, keep the list to no more than 10.

I did this exercise with precision and rigor about 25 years ago and again 10 years ago and the results were amazing. I found that when I looked at what amount of time I was spending in each category compared to the amount of money it generated for me, I was living a professional life that was way out of balance. I spent most of my time doing things with very little financial yield.

Because I am a speaker, consultant and author, what I do now that generates real income is a short list. In my offices we have a saying, "If Tom's not on the microphone, we aren't making money." This keeps me and everyone else focused -- in my case, on what generates the greatest yield and contribution for the business. As a business owner, I have a lot of other responsibilities than just "being on the mic." However, I know where my greatest leverage is. I have a simple question for you whether you are a sales rep, a sales leader or a business owner.

What's your "microphone?"

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