My time management system is simpler than most. Every evening I make a handwritten list of what I want to accomplish the following day, often waking up late at night to add a few new items. I review the daily assignments on my 45-minute ride to work, while also talking to clients, assistants and business partners.
The morning commute to work enables me to get some of my “to do” list done and helps put me in the best working mindset. I think most salespeople could benefit from a self-motivational pep talk so that they look forward to the day, rather than dread the tasks they face.
Once at the office, I close the door on my personal issues—a needed plumbing repair, weekend plans, and other potential distractions—to concentrate on my mission of closing more transactions and helping manage the company.
As soon as I sit down, I’ll begin taking calls from a wide variety of people: anxious clients, prospects, lenders, Realtors and my own salespeople and support staff. Throughout the day I juggle a myriad of management tasks along with my own sales activity.
While I now spend only about 40 percent of my day on personal sales, it remains the part about which I am most passionate. Making sales enables me to stay connected to the lifeblood of the company. I especially enjoy talking with prospects who challenge me with a series of objections or questions before we reach an agreement.
I have a well-deserved reputation for carrying on multiple phone conversations simultaneously. Unlike others, my company eschews the use of voice mail. My belief is that if the phone has rung three times, it has rung two times too many. People shopping for a product or service typically do not want to wait for a call-back; they will find another salesperson who can offer the same item.
If our originators aren’t able to take a call at their desk, it goes directly to their cell phone, which they are encouraged to answer right away. I have two desk phones, a BlackBerry and another cell phone, and all are usually ringing throughout the day.
When I am speaking with a customer or lender and another phone rings, I will ask the first caller if they want me to call them back or if they can hold for a minute; they usually want to wait. Then I will see if I can briefly help the second caller or ask them to hold or wait for a return call; and then return to the initial conversation. Frequently I will have three to five calls under way at the same time; my record is 11 simultaneous conversations.
Of course, I also have assistants to help manage incoming calls, but the point is that I strive to get client’s answers and address their concerns immediately, rather than having a long list of return calls. It is a more efficient use of time and also impresses customers when they think you are handling their issue right away.
There is another major part of my daily routine — lunch in the office. I almost never go out to lunch…not with a Realtor, lender or loan originator. That is because lunch is for losers, which sounds extreme but is actually a very solid concept.
This is part of the “working smarter” mindset that salespeople seem to understand and appreciate. As a survey from Right Management and LinkedIn have confirmed, fewer than half of workers leave their desk to eat lunch.
Other studies have emphasized the importance of getting away from your desk during the work day. However, there are other ways to do so—such as long coffee breaks or a walk around the office building—without being absent during the valuable lunch hour.
I understand that many people may still think the Lunch is for Losers attitude is too harsh and closely associated with a boiler room operation, so I am willing to soften it somewhat to Salespeople Who Take the Regular Lunch Hour are Losers…of Additional Income.
Of course, I understand that salespeople do need to leave their offices. While we encourage customers to visit our offices, obviously this isn’t always possible. Our customer service pledge ensures that we will meet with them at their home or office. In addition, many salespeople develop their initial base by being “on the road” to meet with clients.
My work day has significantly changed during the past 10 years – more e-mails, calls, and people to manage and fewer hours spent directly with customers. However, one of the constants is my focus on accomplishing a great deal every day.
As I leave for home each evening I look forward to the following day. On the drive home, I reflect on what I and our entire company have accomplished and what we have to look forward to. I never want to lose that enthusiasm.
Daniel Milstein is author of The ABC of Sales – Lessons From A SuperStar (www.abcofsales.com) and CEO of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group (www.GoldStarFinancial.com), ranked by Inc Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing, privately held companies nationwide for two consecutive years. Milstein has been recognized as the #1 mortgage originator in the nation, has been among the top 40 finance professionals in America for 10 years, and has achieved more than $3 billion in personal career mortgage sales.