No More White Space!

“My wife’s jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.” –Rodney Dangerfield

If you want to identify who is serious about dominating their market, simply ask to see their calendar for the next two weeks. The calendar is like the life signs of someone in the hospital; either you’re improving and getting healthy or you’re on life support. A white, empty calendar is the equivalent of someone on life support – assuming their career is still alive at all.

White space on your calendar is chief among contributors to a sales professional’s ability to dominate, let alone succeed at any level. Too many sales people have far too much white space meaning that their time is open, flexible and unaccounted for. This unaccounted-for time is costly. It’s time not scheduled in front of a client or a potential client. It’s time that, left unplanned, will disappear and will never be seen again.

In every work week, there are forty hours typically available to the average person. In a study done by Pace Productivity, here is how the average sales person spends their day:

  • Selling: 22%
  • Order Processing: 12%
  • Service: 10%
  • Administration: 23%
  • Travel: 13%
  • Lunch/Breaks: 6%
  • Miscellaneous: 4%
  • Planning: 10%

The primary reason a sales person has a job is to sell and yet only 22% of their day is spent actually selling. On the other hand, 78% of their day is spent doing the work that doesn’t get them paid including 23% of time spent on administrative tasks, 12% on order processing, and 10% each on service and planning.

During a typical day, this means a sales person spends less than two hours in front of a client or future client. Two hours? Less than ten hours a week doing what they get paid to do while over 30 hours a week is spent doing “busy” work.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there are a lot of demands on the time and for the attention of every sales professional. But what concerns me the most is that if a sales professional truly wants to dominate he or her market, why are they spending 78% of their time doing what someone else could be doing for them?

The reason the majority of sales professionals have white space on their calendar is because of this focus on the 78% of unproductive, non-revenue producing activities. What would happen if they shifted to 50%? What if you personally shifted your focus so that 70% or more of your calendar was focused on revenue production? A shift from 22% to 70% isn’t just a 48% improvement in your results; instead it can have a 500% or more improvement in your actual results.

Reassign Non-Revenue Tasks

While your company may not hire a personal assistant to help you with your busy work, there isn’t anything to prevent you from hiring a virtual assistant – from your own country or from abroad – to help you accomplish more.

What can you assign to a virtual assistant? Here are a few ideas:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Online Research
  • Database entries
  • Data presentations
  • Managing email
  • Social tasks
  • Travel Research
  • Scheduling
  • Chasing business
  • Industry knowledge prep

What about the cost of hiring a virtual assistant? It depends on where they are based.

  • In the United States: $15 to $65 per hour depending on the work
  • In India: $6.98 per hour

Just like hiring anyone live, you can interview and select the viritual assistant you want. Just because they are virtual doesn’t mean you just get stuck with any schlep that sits at the desk.

Best of all, while this is a cost of doing business, it also means there are tax incentives available to you as a result as long as you follow a few rules:

  • No benefits are provided other than pay (no insurance or retirement benefits);
  • An independent contractor (virtual assistant) typically works on a project basis, whereas an employee works under a long-term contract;
  • An independent contractor (virtual assistant) typically sets their own schedule, uses their own tools and equipment and does the job with minimal supervision.
  • You provide them with a form 1099 by January 31 to every independent contractor you paid at least $600 to in the previous calendar year.

I’m not an accountant nor do I play one on TV, so I recommend that you discuss this with a certified professional to see what the tax advantages would be as they pertain directly to you. But, in the end, I think you’ll be pleased with the outcome.

Bottom Line…

Consider what will happen if you can eliminate most, if not all, of the white space on your calendar. Instead of white space, imagine having lots of scheduled appointments and personal visits set up with existing clients and future clients.

If you fall into the category of “average sales professional” and face-to-face sales calls only account for 22% or less of your time (be honest with yourself!), then you really need to explore what the outcome would look like if you maximized your available time. What will happen if you truly devoted yourself, 70% to 80% of the time, to real selling opportunities?

I think we both know the answer to this.

Now stop imagining and make it happen!

Go big or go home!

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