“If anything is worth doing, you should always do the best you can.”
I strongly disagreed with this advice from one of my English undergraduate professors. He was telling us that we should spend as much time as possible studying for our final. I had five classes that semester, meaning that I had five finals, two projects, and two research papers to finish up in the next week. My grade was a high A in my English class, and I only needed a 68% on the final to keep my A. I had an 89.2% in my finance class and the grading was structured in such a way that I needed a 92% on the final to pull it up to an A. Since I was working with a limited resource, time, I had to spend it carefully. I focused my efforts on my finance class to pull my grade up to an A and barely studied for my English exam.
Any professional needs to understand this concept if they want to maintain sustained growth. Your time is your most valuable resource. This is especially true for those in sales. Not every activity you do is profitable, and not every activity is worth doing well. It is difficult to let go of some responsibilities, but it is vital to your growth! You will experience exponential growth in your sales once you grasp this concept. Here is how to get started:
Take inventory: How to you spend your time?
Keep a log of how you are spending your time. Are you making cold calls? How much time do you foster existing partnerships? Are you working on administration issues? How involved are you after the sale? How much time are you spending maintaining accounts? What are the activities you wish you could do more of (speaking at events, networking, building your brand)?
Know your goals: What are you trying to accomplish?
Are you trying to establish your brand? Perhaps you are just starting out and trying to grow your network. Are you trying to foster repeat sales from existing customers? My goal was to get straight A’s. Clearly understanding your goals will help you through this exercise.
Analyze your activity: What is paying off?
Are you getting any sales from the time you spend maintaining existing relationships? Do you get any sales from your cold calls? Do you have relationships that are not likely to generate any new activity? Are there relationships with amazing potential if you could just spend a little more time cultivating them? I had to spend my time studying for my Finance exam to ensure that I reached my goal.
Identify activities that are not profitable: Can someone else do this?
Many of the activities you spend time on are not profitable and do not help you achieve your end goals. Identify these time wasters and drop them as quickly as possible. When something is necessary, but not worth your time, try to delegate to someone on your team. If you are a one person team, see if you can outsource these activities so you can focus your efforts on things that pay off. If you find yourself stuck with unprofitable activity, minimize the time and effort you spend on it. I had to take my final for English, but studying for it was not likely to pay off since I was already comfortable with the material and did not need a high score.
Your time is your most valuable resource. You don’t know how much of it you have, and you can never get it back once it is gone. Analyzing how you spend your most precious resource is never wasteful, and it is a key to reaching new levels of success. If something is worth doing, it is not always worth giving your best effort. It is smarter to do some things well enough and give your best to what is profitable.