Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Year's Resolution - Six (6) guidelines in working smarter

It’s impossible, right? In order to get more done, you need to invest more time or hire more people. Working ten hour days will make you more accomplished than a colleague that only works seven. Hiring a person will double your output but will cost you at a time when budgets are shrinking.
Working smart beats working hard. In some cases working more can actually damage the amount you get accomplished. Also, getting someone up to speed in understanding your business and acquiring the right skills can cause you to work even more.  In both cases, the degree effort matches outcomes has been overstated.
Working less and accomplishing more isn’t easy. It requires thinking creatively to find more effective ways of doing things. But first you have to be open to the possibility that your methods aren’t as efficient as they could be. Once you do that you can look for ways to get more accomplished without just increasing your to-do list. Here are a few guidelines to start looking:
1) The 80/20 Sales Rule

The 80/20 rule basically suggests that a small amount of inputs contributes to a much larger amount of outputs. Using this rule means to minimize time spent in the unproductive 80%.
In application, you can’t simply cut everything that doesn’t directly contribute to your bottom line. Some things, however trivial, still need to get done. The purpose of the 80/20 Sale Rule is to force you to be more ruthless in cutting time in areas that contribute little. Here are a few suggestions:
·         Cut prospecting time (see below, sharpening the saw) time to invest more in growing your key accounts.
·         Say no to people who want commitments that don’t contribute enough value.
·         Spend more time developing an inbound marketing strategy and get prospects engaged and interested in you.

2) Interactive Selling - Critical Path

Instead of performing a needs assessment and jumping to the proposal, work the Critical Path interactively with the prospect before you deliver a proposal.  The Critical Path is a list of actions that is key in developing a no-surprise proposal.  You will find your prospect will be a valuable contributor, you’ll spend less time producing the proposal yourself and you’ll increase your probability of getting the sale.  Give yourself and your prospect action items and deadlines which will cultivate a desire to collaborate.  A proposal that concludes with a Critical Path is far stronger than one that ends with a price.
Here are some applications:
·         Document the history and projection portion of your interactions with the prospect from the time the initial meeting up until the proposal is completed. 
·         Chunk the project into smaller tasks and action items. Again, strive to complete those pieces, rather than just working on the project aimlessly.
·         Include the history portion on the last page of your proposal.

3) Sharpening the Saw

There’s an old story of two lumberjacks in a tree-cutting contest. The first picked up a rusty axe and ran into the woods immediately to start chopping trees. The second spent almost until the end of the contest sharpening his axe. After which he walked up and quickly felled the biggest tree.
The moral? Don’t use rusty tools.
Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t intend to be excellent at. Delegate them to someone who does have a sharp tool. Based on the above, if you want to invest more of your time in growing key accounts, building no-surprise, interactive proposals, why not contract with the AppointmentLab who is focused and skilled at getting you appointments.  Perfect the things you want to master and make it a priority to sharpen your tool beyond what is necessary to cut. The right partner can save you time and money.
4) Rule with Numbers

Assumptions are the biggest waste of your time. When your intuitions about the world don’t match the way it works, you can never be efficient. The only way to combat false assumptions is to test them and follow them up with numbers. The results of a test can save you hundreds of hours if it shows a current process has no impact or suggests a faster alternative.
Key Process Indicators (KPIs) - Don’t just measure the result of the sale.  Measure for example, how much research it takes to qualify a prospect, how many prospect interactions (emails and calls) it takes to get the appointment, how many prospect visits it takes to get the sale.  See how they go up, down, or change over time and how they impact your sales results.

5) The Marginal Rule of Sales Process Management
Is it better to be a perfectionist or sloppy? A perfectionist develops a process that he/she follows, measures the results and continuously improves.  One can never be efficient in getting an appointment, negotiating and contracting without following a process.  For example, randomly calling prospects or not preparing for a sales visit is a waste of valuable time. I think the answer is simpler: If the input invested gives less output doing a comparable task, it becomes haphazard, unproductive and more importantly, you could be losing potential clients.
Here are some applications to try:
·         Develop a systematic process by communicating a valued business reason (VBR) for prospects to meet with you.  Try following our Don’t Give Up process. 
·         Measure the difference between different amounts of time spent within your process. Analyze at what point in the process you are getting the appointment and compare the effectiveness changes when you change the amount of time it takes. Can you really justify spending 20 hours per week conducting  research, developing VBRs, Success Stories, e-mailing and calling on prospects instead of spending more time with your existing clients?
·         Are you getting a “yes” with a slower proposal process?  Analyze the success rate percentage using time spent on the Critical Path (above) with the client.  You don’t merely want a decision, you want a yes!  Interactive selling raises your closing percentage and boost the number of times you get a yes.

6) Energy Management

Energy management, as opposed to time management, forces you to think of results as a function of energy, not time invested. Working intensely for a short period of time can accomplish more than working for days, tired and distracted.
Working yourself into low energy can actually make you accomplish less than if you rested. Here are some ideas:
·         Work in bursts. Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Don’t constantly switch in-between which leaves you neither rested nor productive.
·         Keep your prospect engaged. Maintaining the prospect’s interest and optimism while the proposal is under development lessons the burden on you to develop the “perfect solution” all by yourself.

·         Rest, health and fun matter. Enslaving yourself to your work can actually accomplish less. Master the ability to recharge yourself when you need it.

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