There are many things that compete each day to get us sidetracked and waste our time, but for promotional products salespeople, I find the following five to be particularly problematic:
1. Attempting to make appointments with unqualified prospects. Many in our industry spend days, weeks, months, even years trying to schedule appointments with unqualified prospects. This is a huge time-waster in and of itself, but when we are successful at getting such an appointment, it wastes even more time, because we are now actually meeting with an unqualified prospect. The solution? Qualify first, meet second. For the correct, six-step process, click here.
2. Providing quotes for people who have no specific event, timeline or in-hands date. “Yes, get me quotes on 100, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,500 and 5,000. I have no idea what I might buy or when, but if I send you off with these instructions now, at least you’ll be out of my office.”
Providing quotes without a specific in-hands date is an enormous time-waster, because prices change. If the prospect does not have a specific event, timeline or in-hands date in mind, putting together a quote doesn’t make any sense, because the pricing is not likely to be valid anyway. Provide ballpark figures for vague requests and only take the time to put together quotes for people who know what they want and when.
3. Non-mission-critical tasks that need not be done at all. Whenever you find yourself working on an activity that you have not defined as your #1 priority, that is a process failure. Re-prioritize your activities and begin again.
4. Time spent with the wrong clients. This is similar to time wasted with unqualified prospects, but different, in that these people may have actually spent some money with you. To clarify, I define “the wrong clients” as those who nickel and dime you, waste your time and/or don’t appreciate the value that you bring to the table. Solution: Respond to them if necessary, but do not proactively engage with these clients. Increase pricing until they either go away or become worth the investment of your time.
5. Necessary tasks that could better be performed by others. You may do a beautiful job of filing catalogs, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Same thing with artwork, order tracking and nearly every other administrative task. Bottom line: No matter how well you do minimum wage work, it’s never worth more to you or your company than minimum wage.