By Jay Manno

Early my sales career, I was a black belt of having a lot of activity.  I was driven, worked hard, kept track of everything, and even when I wasn’t a high producer or hitting my goals, I felt good because I still had a lot of activity.  I had a lot of meetings, made a lot of calls, didn’t take a long lunch, and worked beyond the 8-to-5 model.   Wow, was this an awakening!  I could do this for weeks or even months and feel great about it, but when I looked at tangible results (aka revenue, new customers), they were non-existent.   While my pipeline of business looked strong, it was actually weak. I felt full, but was pretty empty.

As we mature in our careers, it shockingly often takes less activity to be successful, because we are focused.  We use a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun.  Meetings and conversations are direct and to the point.  We learn to know the end game, and anything that wastes time will be eliminated.

I am a true believer that when mentoring new additions to our team, sometimes activity is the only thing we can measure.  In our business of sales, little activity yields little results, and I believe this applies to most people and companies.  However, we must not fall into the trap of masking our perceived success with activity that isn’t showing results.

If you struggle with this, try the following, because you probably could use tweaking in your time management skills (that’s an entire topic on its own):

  • Look at your calendar monthly, then weekly, then every night before the next day  (if you don’t use one, you’d better start).
  • Block off time for specific activities that align with the goals you have in place (if you don’t have goals, you’d better make some).
  • Remove unnecessary stuff that gets in the way of your success (if you don’t know how you define success, you’d better think hard about it).
  • Block out time for things as trivial as meals, breaks, and me time.
  • Use a sales tracking system with a next-step category. (If you are not using something, you will fail).
  • Learn to say no. As you become more successful, everyone will begin to want something from you.

It’s the first day of a new week. What are you going to do with it?

Jay Manno is vice president, new market development, at Southland Printing.