Yesterday I took a little break from my mini-series on personal productivity and business building but, today I am back at it! Did you know there are only 2 reasons that you don’t get things done? Maybe you have a sales goal that you haven’t achieved, a bad habit you are trying to break or a a company growth goal doesn’t seem to be coming true. If that’s the case, there are only two reasons why and I think they will surprise you. It is vitally important in any area of life to recognize which of these two is holding you back and keeping you from accomplishing your potential.
#1 – You Don’t Know What to Do. I have often mentioned a conversation that I have regularly with struggling sales people. They call me and tell me that they can’t make any sales and this is followed by a number of excuses. These include, the area they are in, personal issues that are diverting their focus, the need for more advanced training and on and on. When I ask them to give me their pitch, they often stumble around making it obvious to me that they have no idea what their pitch should be. Then, when I follow up with the most common objections, they are stumped and have no idea what to say. The reason they aren’t making sales is that they don’t know how to sell.
One reason you don’t get things done is that you don’t know how to do them. If you are truly giving the task for your full focus and you are still not accomplishing what you want to accomplish, it is time to learn something new. Time is not even close to a finite resource even though everyone says it is. Time is relative to your skill set. If I sat down to create computer software from scratch and then a good friend of mine, Jack Christensen (A top notch computer programmer) sat down at the computer next to me, an hour of my time would be worth about 1/1,000 of an hour of his time with this task. That’s because I don’t know how to create a computer program and he is an expert at this. The same thing holds true for sales, management, presentations, paperwork, administrative tasks, customer service and every other task you are trying to get done. If you added more knowledge to the equation, you could get more done in the same amount of time. Put another way, there is always someone who could do what you are doing in half the time. This is because they know about a technology you don’t know about or they have a specific skill set that makes them more effective. You either need to find this person and get advice or read their book.
#2 – You Choose to Do Something Else. I am always amazed by how much of our lives we somehow think has trapped us. We are the victim of circumstances. “I have to return this phone call right now.” or “I have to help my friend rehab his basement.” or even “I have to pay all the bills on time.” All three of these things may be important and we should probably CHOOSE to do them but, we don’t have to do any of them. It was a great day for me when I realized that 100% of my actions were a choice that I made. I am responsible for my all of my actions. I don’t control my circumstances, but I have 100% control over my response to circumstances. Some choices are easier than others but, they are all choices. Once you realize this, it will open up a whole new realm of possibilities.
If you know how to do something well but you are not getting done, the only possible explanation is that you have chosen to do something else. I would say if your life is fairly steady and predictable, you should take some time yearly to re-evaluate what is important and what is not important for you to do. If you have a fast pace life that is changing and you are experiencing significant growth personally and professionally, you should re-evaluate what “Important” means on a quarterly basis. Here a few statements that I hope will help you make the difficult choices you need to make in order to succeed.
If something you are doing is not producing results that are driving you closer to your goals, this task is not important and you should stop doing it, even if that makes someone upset with you. Communicate to them what you are trying to accomplish and be honest with them.
Many people don’t realize it but they have a life mission of not making anyone upset or they would say, “Doing what I have to do” and this is a terrible way to live. What do you want to accomplish and what action steps can you take to get there. Don’t let yourself off the hook by saying, “I am just doing what I have to do.” You are making choices, some good, some bad. Take responsibility for each of them so you can improve.
Relentlessly seek out ways to automate, delegate or eliminate those tasks towards the bottom of your list in importance but high on the list of time investment. Make a list of all the tasks you complete. Next to each task write two numbers. First, on a scale of 1 to 5 which tasks do you feel are the biggest waste of your time. Those tasks would get a 5 score. (Most important tasks would get a score of 1) Next to that, on a scale of 1 to 5, how much time do you spend on each task? If you spend a lot of time on it, that would be a 5. Then, add those two scores together and start working to automate, delegate or eliminate the tasks with the highest score.
Ruthlessly protect your schedule from busy work. Again, if a task is not important, why are you doing it? Early on in our business I used to get well over 100 emails per day from sales people asking me questions and I would get usually 50+ phone calls per day. During this time I was also working to grow our business, hire people, etc. I probably worked about 50 hours per week at that time because that is about how much I decided I would work relative to my other commitments. In case you are doing the math, that means I didn’t answer all my emails or return all my phone calls. On one occasion, I actually chose to delete my entire inbox because it got so far out of control. I decided that if something was truly important they would email me back. (don’t do this very often, this is the Atom Bomb of time management LOL)
Many times, I would call a sales person after supporting them for a month and say, “I am looking forward to working with you but, right now you haven’t sent in a statement or a sale, so I am sure you understand that I cannot invest more time at this point. You can watch my videos and as soon as you have a statement, shoot me an email and I will give you a call after the cost analysis is done.” Did this make them happy? No. But, every minute I invested at that point was a minute I could be spending doing something that would produce results. Many of these sales people did go on to get a statement, and our conversation was the wake up call they needed. Do you have follow ups like this? You keep going back and they keep blowing you off? STOP GOING BACK! Go find someone who is interested.
Focus a large chunk of your day on something important. So many sales people convince themselves they are working hard or working smart when they are not doing either. You are probably reading this blog post at the end of your day, so let me ask you this question. How much time did you spend in the field today? What percentage of that time was spent prospecting for new business? You and I both know that long term, this is the only activity that is going to yield results for the sales professional and yet many sales people will go a whole week without spending any time truly focused on prospecting. If you are going to take a week off, my advice is to go to Disney world, it is a lot more fun than the guilt that comes from an unfocused week where, at the end, you think, “Where did that week go?”
Take an hour today, and think through what tasks or projects you should be getting done that would have the biggest impact on your business 1 month or 1 year from now. Are you getting these things done? Are you making daily progress on them? If not, ask yourself this question. What book could I read or adviser could I talk to that would give me more knowledge in this area. If you conclude that you have the knowledge to get started, follow up with this question. What tasks am I choosing to do that are not important? How can I delegate, automate or eliminate these tasks?
Have a great day!
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The Truth about Merchant Services Sales
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How to Sell One Merchant Services Account Per Day