Host: Tim Martin
Episode 11: Time Management – Tim Martin
April 26, 2014
Welcome to Success is Voluntary, a podcast devoted to helping you become the salesperson you were always meant to be, where it’s all about helping you learn the techniques and tools that will enable you to win in the increasingly competitive world of voluntary benefits. Welcome your host, a guy who has hired and trained over 2,000 voluntary benefit salespeople in his career, Tim Martin. Success is Voluntary, selling voluntary benefits.
Yes, my name is Tim Martin, and you are listening to episode number 11 of Success is Voluntary. I’ve been in this industry, the voluntary benefits industry, for almost 17 years now. You know, in all that time, I’ve seen a lot of agents come and go. I’ve seen many new agents who look like sure-fire bets fizzle out and fail. I’ve also people I probably wouldn’t have recruited myself come in and set the world on fire.
Why is this? Why do some people succeed while others struggle? I’m convinced it has nothing to do with intelligence, looks, previous experience, training, or ability. In fact, let me tell you a couple of stories that I think will cement this home for us. Several years ago, I hired two gentlemen on the same exact day. They had sequential writing numbers, meaning that literally their contracts had gone in minutes apart. We’ll call one of these gentlemen “B2B Boy”.
Now let me tell you a little bit about B2B Boy. He was an amazing-looking gentleman. He looked like he had just stepped off the cover of GQ magazine. I mean, he smelled good. He looked good. He was witty, athletic. In fact, I think he had been a Division I quarterback. He had a Southern accent, and I was in Washington State at the time. You know, I really wanted to kind of hate this guy. He was really that talented, that prolific, just was a super-sharp guy. I mean if this guy can’t make it, what chance do I have to be successful?
The same day, one of my district managers had hired a gentleman we’ll call “Country Pastor Man”. This gentleman, on the other hand, he was a former pastor. He had just left the ministry. In fact, he was kind of forced out. He had been running a church of 60 people. He couldn’t keep 60 people going in the same direction at the same time, and so his church had split, and he was out of a job.
His wife was a stay-at-home mom. He had zero business or sales experience. The first time I met him, I wasn’t really that excited. He sure was a nice guy and, boy, was he a nice guy, but I felt like he might be a few fries short of a Happy Meal, if you know what I mean. Well, all he did was go out and write $144,000 in production his first year and has been a $200,000 producer every year since.
Oh, yeah, business-to-business boy, I really almost don’t remember his name. The only reason I do is because I’ve been telling his story for a long time. So why? Does anybody listening want to know why one had a great year while the other one, like I said, quite frankly, is forgettable. I find the subject fascinating, and I have a theory.
I call it the no-penalty theory. Let’s face it. Wake up on a Monday morning and take a look at your planner. Maybe it is Monday when you’re listening to this. Take a look at your planner. Well, that kind of dates me, doesn’t it? Take a look at your Google Calendar. How about that? You have nothing in there. All you have today is to go to, maybe, a Monday-morning meeting, and then you’re going to go prospecting.
What are your chances of making $1,000 today? They’re not good, are they? I mean, I’ve seen it happen, where we’ve gone out and we set an appointment with the decision maker, had it right on the spot, gotten their approval, gathered their employees together, did a presentation, signed some people up and made money that day. It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely either. I think we would all admit that.
In fact, if your spouse is on you, saying, “When are you going to make money?” and you look at your calendar, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to convince them that you’re going to make money today, are you? So there’s no immediate reward for your activity today. That’s one of the hardest things I think there is to understand about this business. Oftentimes, the reward or the penalty is delayed. Because there’s no immediate reward for your activity, that also means there’s no immediate penalty.
If you don’t go out and prospect today, it’s not going to change your bank account today. In fact, if you are headed out to go prospecting and you get a call from your buddy who says he just got greens passes to the country club, the country club in your town, you’ve always wanted to play there but you’ve never had an opportunity, you can get on for free today and he asks you to join him, chances are you’re going to jump at that opportunity because you aren’t going to make money today anyway.
Unfortunately, you are going to pay a penalty. That penalty is a delayed penalty, but it’s coming. I remember back when I was a kid, there was a FRAM oil filter commercial with a mechanic, and he would come up, and he would say, “You can either pay me now, or you can pay me later,” meaning, “You can either change your oil and take care of your car now, and it will only be a few dollars, or you can wait until it breaks down, and then you can pay me a lot of money later.”
That’s really what this theory is all about: the no-immediate-penalty theory. Because there is no immediate penalty, what you’ll do, what we all tend to do is we minimize the fact that the penalty is coming, and trust me; it’s coming. See, I really believe Country Pastor Man figured it out, and business-to-business boy…B2B Boy…never did.
It really just boils down to a simple truth, and it’s so trite. I know you’re tired of hearing about it, but it’s the truth. It’s this: Everybody gets the same number of hours in a day. B2B Boy got the same exact number of hours as Country Pastor Man did. Why was Country Pastor Man better? Why did he survive, not just survive but thrive in our industry, where B2B Boy didn’t? He chose how to use the hours wisely.
You know, several years ago, I was listening to a Brian Tracy tape, and again, that will kind of date me. We used to have these things called cassette tapes. I mean some of you may have heard of them. At any rate, I’m sure I learned a lot when I was listening to that tape, because I always do. However, he says something during that tape that changed my life.
I had to rewind it multiple, multiple times, and quite honestly, there have been days where I have been really mad at myself for having listened to it. I’m going to tell it to you. You might want to skip it because this could haunt you. It has haunted me for nearly 17 years. He said, “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” Let me repeat that so you don’t have to back up. “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”
What does that mean? Does that mean I can never watch TV? No. Does that mean I can never go to a baseball game? No. What that means is I don’t need to watch all 162 Diamondbacks baseball games this year. I don’t need to watch five or six hours of TV a night like a lot of Americans.
Yes, I need downtime. Yes, I need true re-creation, but a lot of times, we make excuses. I can’t tell you how many people ask me, “Tim, I don’t know where you find the time to do all the things you do.” Well, last time I checked, I still only get 24 hours. Same as you do. It’s just…How do you prioritize that time? What do you do with it? “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” That’s what we’re here to explore today.
You probably noticed on the session that it’s called “Time Management.” Unfortunately, that’s a misnomer. You can’t manage time. It passes with or without you. What you can manage, however, are activities and decisions, people, resources, success, problems, failure, materials, and actions. My hope today is to give you some practical solutions and tools to lay out some foundational theories and principles.
Before I give you those tools, though, we do need to continue on with some theoretical things. If you’ve read any of Stephen Covey’s material, you know he is a huge believer in priority management and time management. In his book First Things First, he talks about everybody having roles. You have a role. I have a role. We have multiple roles in our lives.
I’m a parent. I’m also a husband. I’m a member of a church community. I sit on the board of directors for a charity. Oh, yeah, and I have this work thing I have to do too, right? Oftentimes, we think of these roles as being independent of each other, and quite often, they are.
As I talk to people, everybody I talk to talks a lot about having balance in their life. They want more balance. In fact, let me ask you. Do you want more balance in your life? The chances are your answer to that is yes, but we think of balance as either spokes on a wheel or that kind of a thing, where they all have to be exactly equal for us to run smoothly.
In First Things First he talks about that a lot of people think of it as a baseball diamond. They may not think of it as a baseball diamond, but picture the analogy with me for a second. Let’s say you have four roles (just four). That would be lovely sometimes, but let’s just say you have four. You’re a parent, you’re a spouse, you have work, and you have a community. You have commitments in all of those. You have roles in all of those. What we kind of think of is we need to run from base to base to base to base to have balance.
Here’s the problem: I run to work, and I spend some time at work, and the whole time I’m standing there on first base working, unfortunately, I’m not touching second, I’m not touching third, I’m not home. I’m not making an impact on my family. I’m not making an impact with my wife. I’m not making an impact in my community.
What do we do? We feel guilty. We feel distracted because we’re worried about our daughter. We’re worried about the fight we had with our wife before we went to work this morning. We’re worried about that project that we have to do with church this weekend, and so what we do is we try and steal second.
We run as fast as we can to second base, and we spend some time at the kid’s play. “Yeah, I’m a great dad. I went to their play this afternoon. I was the only dad in the audience (or one of three dads in the whole audience). I am a great dad.” But we were on our cell phone texting our assistant the whole time about a situation that was blowing up, or we were worried about one of our coworkers and the situation they were going through and, “How can I help them solve that problem?” We weren’t fully present.
We run to third base. We go and spend some time with the wife. “I need to go show her some attention and remind her how much I love her. Oh, yeah, and I have to do her honey-do list.” The only problem is now I’m worried about my daughter. I’m worried about church. I’m worried about work. It’s a no-win situation. We’re constantly running from base to base to base to base.
I don’t know if that resonates with you, but it resonates with me. No wonder we’re tired. We’re constantly running. We’re constantly running from one role to another to another. The time that we are spending, we’re not fully present. It can be a challenge, so how do we solve that? What can we do that can make an impact on that?
Well, Stephen Covey says what we need to think of balance as is not as spokes on a wheel or not the baseball analogy I just used, but we need to think of it as the Venn diagram. Now I know for some of us, that’s going back a long ways. It was probably the last time we had a math class when we had to worry about the Venn diagram, but think about it. If you can remember, they’re circles that overlap, and Stephen Covey says that what we need to do is we need to look for where those roles overlap and try and spend as much time as possible in those areas.
Back to our family. Now I’m going to bring this home for our business here in just a second, but back to our family roles or our personal roles. Unfortunately, I would like to tell you I was better at this than I am, but let me give you a quick example of a day that I hit it out of the park. Our church decided that we were going to adopt an area of town here in Phoenix called Sunnyslope.
Now Sunnyslope is a very economically depressed part of town. The houses are 50-60 years old. For those of you who don’t live in Arizona, that may sound like not that old. I know people in Ohio who live in 200-year-old houses, but you don’t see that a lot in Arizona. These are really run-down houses.
What we decided to do was we would adopt a house, one of these projects. A bunch of the members from the church would show up, and we would literally strip this house inside and out, yard, the whole thing, and paint it, get rid of their old landscaping that was overrun, and put in low-water landscaping.
Typically, the people who owned these houses were World War II vets, quite honestly. They bought them right after World War II and lived there their whole life. They didn’t have smoke alarms. They didn’t have screen doors. There were a lot of things that these houses needed. The City of Phoenix actually donated tools. They brought out dumpsters for us, the whole bit, and the church would descend up on this house and completely redo it, inside and out, in one day.
Now think about that. I have an opportunity to help my community, be a member of my church. I took my wife, so I’m working side by side with my wife on this, and I brought our kids to help, as well, helping them to understand that we’re trying to live out the values we espouse, giving them an opportunity to serve.
Not only did we touch one or two roles that day, but, oh yeah, and by the way, I closed a little business because one of the people there owned a business, and we were able to talk on a break and convince him to offer voluntary benefits to his employees. That’s a pretty perfect day. I touched all my roles and showed my kids exactly what we believe, not by talking about it but through actions.
So what do we do in our business? Let’s think about it. What kind of roles do you have as a representative in the voluntary benefits arena? Well, you’d better be prospecting, or your number one role had better be looking for new business, because I don’t know whether you know this or not, but you are in a constant state of attrition in this business.
You are constantly losing policyholders. They die. They leave employment…either voluntarily or they get fired. They drop their policies next year. You’re not going to keep 100 percent of the policies you write. You’re always in a constant state of attrition, so you’d better go find more new business. That’s prospecting.
What is another role you do? Well, obviously, you’re sales. You have to do employer presentations, decision-maker presentations. You have to sit down with Frank, the business owner of Frank’s Welding, and convince him it’s in his best interest to offer your benefits to his employees. You have that role too.
You have to be a salesperson to the employees. You’re going to be doing that. You might be an administrator. You have to help that payroll person understand that when you say take $17.23 out of Mary Sue’s check, that’s what that means. I know it’s not rocket science, but sometimes we do have to sit down and explain to them or fix the billing because the carrier screwed it up.
We have to help with claims. We have to network. We have to get referrals. We have to be a good team member and show up to our manager’s Monday morning meeting. We have to continue our training. We have to work on self-improvement, and those are all just roles at work. Again, how are we going to do this?
How can we be effective in all these roles without running from base to base to base to base exhausted, the same exact way that I was just talking about? Well, we served Sunnyslope. You have to look for those areas where they overlap, and you have to be intentional about it. You can’t just let it happen.
For a long time now, Sunday afternoons, I’ve taken a look at my calendar for the upcoming week. Where am I going to be in a position where I can impact people? If I’m going out to do an open enrollment, that might be an opportunity for me to look for other businesses in the area, or I can stop by and check on their billing.
If I’m out to see an employer about a billing issue, I want to make sure that I have everything I need with me to write business, because you never know. As soon as you walk in, an employee may approach you and say, “Hey, is it too late to get that cancer plan?” You’re going to feel awful silly if you have to tell them, no, you can’t do it because you forgot the materials to do it.
By the way, when you come back three days later, they’re not interested anymore. You have to look at all the areas that you’re going to be impacting, and you have to be intentional. Where can I hit more than one area? Where can I make the biggest impact and then go spend as much time as possible right there?
“This is great in theory, Tim. Yeah, but what should my week look like? Give me some practical guidance as to what exactly I need to schedule.” I’m sure everybody who is listening to this would love to hang out for a week or two with the top producer in their company, figure out what they’re doing because, as Adam Maggio said last week, “Success leaves tracks.”
If we can find out what the top producers do, all we have to do is do that. That’s all we have to do. Do exactly what they did. So understanding their calendar, and what they’re doing, I think that’s pretty huge. Right? Well, guess what? I’m going to share that with you today. Before we do that, we have a couple of more theoretical things we need to talk about.
Stephen Covey. Again, one of the top writers on this subject and speakers on this subject. (The late, great Stephen Covey; we’ve lost Stephen now.). There’s a video that he put up on the Internet, and it gets yanked down all the time, where Stephen Covey did a demonstration. Maybe you’ve seen it. maybe you haven’t, but I’m going to describe it for you.
Stephen Covey takes a big, huge, plastic jar, like a Costco-size plastic jar. He reaches underneath the lectern, and he grabs a bucket full of rocks. These rocks are about the size of your fist. What he does is he puts those rocks into the plastic jar, and he asks the audience, he says, “Is this jar full?”
Well, about one-third of the audience seems to think it’s full. The other two-thirds say, “No, no, no, there’s a lot of air left in there, a lot of space between rocks.” Stephen Covey says, “You’re absolutely right. There is a lot of space in between those rocks.” The next thing he does is he reaches down, and he grabs a bucket, and it’s full of about pea-size gravel. He takes that gravel. He pours it into the jar, and he has to shake.
He pours some more in, and he shakes, and he pours some more in, and he shakes. Finally, after a few minutes, he has all that gravel in there. Now he asks the audience again, “Is this jar full?” Now they’re a little hesitant to say. It looks pretty full, but they know it could be a trick, so he says, “Well, those of you who don’t think it’s full, you’re absolutely right.”
He reaches down, and he grabs a bucket full of sand. Well, it takes him a little bit longer to get the sand in, but eventually he gets the whole bucket of sand in there, and now it’s looking pretty full in there. He asks the audience “Is this full?”
Well, they are really hesitant now because they think it’s full, but they don’t want to look like an idiot and be wrong. Stephen Covey says, “You know what? It still has a little bit of room left,” and he reaches down, and he grabs a pitcher of water. He pours that water into the jar. After a few minutes, he has that nice little surface tension just going over the top with water, and he says, “Now the jar is full.”
Then he asks the audience, he says, “So what do you think the moral of the story is?” Lots of people have all sorts of answers. Most of them are something along the lines of, “Well, no matter how full you think your calendar is, you can always use white space in the margin. There’s always a place to put more activity. There’s always room for something else, especially if you’re really diligent and using a time management system and working hard. You can always use those little spaces in your calendar.”
Stephen Covey says, “You’re absolutely wrong. That’s not what the moral of the story is. The moral of the story is if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you never get them in there. If we start with the water and sand, we would have trouble even getting the gravel in afterwards, right? If we used enough water, we couldn’t get anything in. Something is going to give the minute we put anything else in, right?”
He said, “So you have big rocks.” He calls them boulders. “You have boulders in your life, and the only way that you’re going to get those boulders into your calendar is to put them in there first.” Again, I’m dating myself, but all the way back to when I used to carry a FranklinCovey planner, they told us never to write in it in pen. They said to just write in pencil.
I followed that advice except for family obligations…again, back to my daughter’s play or my other daughter’s basketball game or date night with my wife or family vacation, those kinds of things. Those didn’t go in in pencil. Those went in in pen. Those were super important to me. Those were the things that mattered most to me, so I wasn’t going to risk competing priorities, the tyranny of the urgent, to take over and not allow me to spend the time I needed to with my family.
Back to our business application, what are the boulders as it pertains to your business? What are the things that you really you need to do that are going to drive your business forward? What are the things that actually drive your revenue? Is it building packets? Maybe. You have to do those, but could those be done at a different time than 10:00 Tuesday morning?
In fact, several weeks ago when I had Moe on here, my friend Moe Sullivan, he asked, “Tim, so if somebody is building a packet at 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, that’s just as bad as going to the movies, right?” I said, “Yeah,” at first, but the more I think about it, I was wrong. It’s not as bad as going to the movies. It’s worse.
See, if you’re going to the movies at 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, you at least know you’re blowing off work. You know that what you’re doing isn’t productive, but if you’re building product packets to drop off at an employer at 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, you feel like you’re being productive, and you’re fooling yourself.
What are the things that drive your business forward? What are the things you have to do? What are those boulders in your business? How much time are you spending on them? Are you allowing the tyranny of the urgent to pull you away from it? Think about this. Let’s think for just a second that you’ve determined that prospecting, going out, cold calling in person is one of those boulders in your business.
It’s Tuesday morning, and you have the morning scheduled to go do that, and your cell phone rings. You’re about half an hour into it. Your cell phone rings, and it’s the HR director. You look down, and you see, “Hey, it’s the HR director of my most important client. I’d better take this call.” I mean that makes sense, right? It’s the HR director of your most important client.
They say, “Hey, Tim.” (Which would be a weird thing if your name isn’t Tim, but let’s pretend your name is Tim.) “Hey, Tim, this is Janice over here at Ritter Cabinet. My son broke his arm over the weekend, and I need to file a claim.” Well, here’s the deal: Your first temptation is to say, “You know, Janice, I’m right around the corner. I’ll come over. I’ll help you pull down the forms offline. We’ll get this stuff together, and we’ll get that claim filed for you.”
You know why that’s your first inclination? Because she’s not going to tell you no. When you’re out prospecting, people happen to tell you no, and you’ve probably already had several by the time she called. Your first mistake was answering the phone. By the way, let me say that again. Your first mistake was answering the phone.
Did you know that your cell phone is for your convenience? It’s not for the convenience of your clients. It’s not for the convenience of your family. It’s not for the convenience of your boss. It’s not for the convenience of the agents that report to you. Your cell phone is for your convenience. I would suggest you don’t answer, first of all.
If you’re out prospecting, I don’t care if you’re walking between one door and another and you’re most important client calls. Don’t answer. Don’t answer. It’s just that simple. Call them back at your prerogative, not when they call you. Now I know that’s going to sound controversial, but the reality is that in the name of giving “great service,” you allow yourself to be dragged away from the thing that’s the most important to your business: finding new clients. Why do you allow yourself to do that? Again (I said it already), because you don’t want to get told no by prospects.
The reality is, when you show up over at the cabinet shop, does Janice have her stuff together? Does she have the documents that you’re going to need to file the claim? Of course not. Of course not. You’re going to have to go back again anyway. So let’s pretend for a second that you answer the phone anyway. (Like I said, don’t answer the phone, but let’s pretend you did.) Here’s what I would say: I’d say, “Oh, my gosh, Janice. Is he okay? Okay. Good. Good. Good. Glad to hear everything is okay. Do you have access to the Internet?”
“Okay. You’re going to go on our website. You’re going to look for this claim form. Print it out. Get it filled out as much as possible. Get together the doctor’s notes, the emergency room papers, all those things, and I’ll stop by 3:30 Friday afternoon. Make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. We’ll get stuff faxed in right while I’m there and make sure that you get paid.”
You’ve already exceeded her expectation. What insurance agent comes to her to help her with her claim? None. That’s the answer. They send you to their claims center, or if it is auto insurance, they make you go around to different body shops and get appraisals, get estimates, right? They don’t come to you (very seldom, at least). They don’t come to you and help you file a claim. You’ve already beaten her expectation. You’ve already given her incredibly good customer service, way beyond what she expected, and you did it on your terms.
Okay, I’m going to get on a rant here. It absolutely kills me, by the way, when I call an agent, and this is their phone message: “Hi, my name is Tim Martin. Sorry I missed your call. It’s very important to me. Please leave your name, number, time you called, the reason, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
That sounds okay. Why is that a problem? Well, what is the standard of service for, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can”? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people get frustrated because they left their agent a phone message and they haven’t gotten back to them that morning. You know, “as soon as I can” has a different connotation for everybody.
Here’s what my message says: It says, “Hi, my name is Tim Martin. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave your name, number, time you called, and I will get back to you within 24 hours. I promise.” See, now I’ve set an expectation. Now I’m not going to wait 24 hours. I’m probably going to call them back within an hour or two, the next time I take a break and check voicemail.
That’s going to blow their mind because I promised them 24 hours. I get back to them within two; they’re thrilled. If I say I’ll get back to them as fast as I can and it takes me two hours, they’re wondering who the heck else was more important than they were that it took me two hours to get back to them.
All right, one more little rant on your voicemail message. Whatever you do, please do not have this on your voicemail: “Hi, my name is Tim Martin. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave your name, number, reason you called, and I’ll get back to you at my earliest convenience.” I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m damn well good and ready. That’s what that says. Don’t be that person. I can’t stand that. I won’t do business with somebody who has that on their voicemail. It’s a stupid pet peeve, maybe, but drives me crazy.
As long as I’m on a roll, one more thing about voicemail. When you are leaving somebody else a voicemail, I’m glad that you have memorized your phone number. Apparently, you’re proud of it because I can’t tell you how many voicemails I get that say, “Hey, my name is Tim Martin. Please give me a call back,” and then they leave their phone number, but they say it so fast I can’t even understand it.
You expect me to back up and listen four times to get your phone number. Say it early, slow, clearly, and then say it again at the end. “My name is Tim Martin. Again, my phone number is 555-428-1212.” (That’s not my phone number, by the way, but at any rate, you get the picture.) All right, enough voicemail stuff.
Here’s the thing: One of my heroes in this business, Les Heinsen, says that everything you do in this business can be classified in one of two areas. It’s either goal achieving or it is stress relieving. See, going and helping Janice file her accident claim is stress relieving. She’s going to think you’re a hero. She’s never going to tell you no while you’re there. She’s not going to be mean to you and ask you to leave her building. Going out and cold calling, on the other hand, is goal achieving. It’s going to be uncomfortable. So be careful. Don’t get sucked into things.
Here’s the thing about calendaring: Like I said, I promise you I’m going to give you a glimpse into the top producers’ calendars. It’s really hard to do on a podcast, so you’re going to have to look at the show notes to see what it really looks like, but we’re going to give you an idea as to what kind of time as far as timeframe.
If you go to the show notes, which will be at www.successisvoluntary.com/011/, as in episode 11, I’ll have a sample calendar there which you can download by PDF. In the meantime, let’s talk about what the top rookie producers do. The reason I know this is because I’ve surveyed them. I’ve asked them to show me their calendars. Over the last 17 years, I’ve put this together, and I’ve been teaching this for a long time.
Listen. You don’t have to do this. Everything you do in this business is voluntary. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to. I don’t care. I wish you would, though, because I promise you if you’ll do this, your life will get a lot better. You’ll make a lot more money. You’ll have a lot less stress. Try me. Try me. Prove me wrong. Run this calendar for 90 days and prove me wrong. I promise you it’ll work. We’re moving into practice.
Okay, John Maxwell says, “My success is determined by my daily agenda.” In his book Today Matters… In fact, that’s the thesis. If you want to boil it all down for the book Today Matters, it is, “My success is determined by my daily agenda.” Here’s what I want you to do: On Sunday night, I want to you to start to do this. I want you to lay out your week, the whole week, and I want you to do it in faith.
“What do you mean, Tim? I’m not even a religious person.” You don’t have to be religious. I’m just telling you do this by faith. Put these things in your calendar even though you don’t know where they’re going to come from. Put them in your calendar anyway.
Here’s what you need to put in your calendar: You need to spend probably, on average, around eight hours a week in some kind of a meeting or training. You’re going to have your Monday morning meeting with your sales manager. You’re going to do role-playing. You might have to go to a class at your state or territory office, sales school, something like that, but you’re going to pretty much, on average (at least for the first several weeks), average about eight hours, about a full day’s worth of meetings.
You need to put a minimum, a minimum, of 10 hours worth of walking and talking, prospecting in the field, door-to-door, walking through, asking for Frank, the owner of Frank’s Welding. Black out 10 hours a week for employer presentations, the decision-maker presentation. This is where I’m talking about doing this in faith. Put them in your calendar: “I’m going to do an employer presentation at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 1:00…” You get the idea.
Put them in your calendar. Beside it, write in there “ER presentation” or “DM presentation.” Write it in your calendar. You don’t know who it’s going to be, but now you’re going to go fill it up. You need to spend 5 hours to 10 hours a week meeting with employees who can and will buy your product.
Again, you may not know who those are going to be on Sunday night, but put it in there because here’s the thing I know: if you wait until you fill up your calendar to try and put in those boulders (remember, those big rocks?), you’ll never get them in there. Go ahead. Put it in. Even though you don’t know who it’s going to be, put it in there.
You need one to two hours a week in networking. You need about four hours a week in some kind of planning, admin, office, paperwork kind of a mode. Just don’t put those hours in at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning, but it is okay to put them in your calendar.
You know when I found the best time to do that? Friday afternoons. A lot of business owners, especially in Arizona in the summertime, take off for San Diego early Friday afternoon, so you’re not going to get a lot of traction on a Friday afternoon. That might be the time to do some admin and planning, those kinds of things. You also need one to two hours a week in self-improvement.
Now, here’s an interesting thing about that. I said do it in faith. There are all sorts of reasons I could talk about this, but I’ll tell you a couple. First of all, the subconscious mind is a very powerful thing. As soon as you put it in your calendar, you’re going to go to work trying to fill it up.
Your subconscious will go to work then you’ll consciously go to work at it. You have time. You’d better fill it. A game I always played with myself was I pretended that the absolute top rep in the country was going to come and work with me that day. How many appointments would I have for him or her? Obviously, as many as I possibly could. So that’s what I’m telling you. Go to work. Get it filled up.
When I used to own my Domino’s Pizza stores… It’s so silly. This goal-setting thing is ridiculous. We used to try and sell breadsticks. Now breadsticks, as you can imagine, are a very high-profit item. We’ve already paid the driver to deliver the pizza there, so we don’t have to pay him any more money. We already have the ovens on. It really doesn’t cost us anything more. The phone person who answered, we’re not paying them anymore. There is very nominal food cost to make breadsticks and a nice profit margin.
We wanted to sell a bunch of breadsticks, so I tried everything to get breadsticks sold. I would run contests where we would give away free pizzas or movie tickets to the phone people. Every time I did that, I saw a little bit of a jump in breadsticks. You know what really drove breadsticks? The nights I put up a banner. Say we were used to selling 100 orders of breadsticks a Friday night.
I had a banner made that said, “175 orders of breadsticks or bust.” We would hang that up on a Friday night and would sell 200 orders of breadsticks. I wouldn’t run a contest. I wouldn’t give them anything extra, but just by having a visual goal our people would reach for it and often exceed it. That’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about put these things in by faith. You don’t know where they’re going to be. You don’t know whom they’re going to be with, but you know when they’re going to be.
The second thing that it allows you to do is it gives you some posture with the business owner. I want you to imagine this: You’re a business owner. A salesperson shows up, and they say, “Hey, I have my calendar here. I can meet with you Monday any time, Tuesday any time, Wednesday any time, Thursday any time, Friday any time. If that doesn’t work for you, let’s look at next week. Oh, I have, yeah, all that available next week too and the week after. You know, in fact, you’d be my first customer ever. Can we do business together?”
Of course you’re not going to want to work with that person, so I did a lot of appointments Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. If the business owner wanted to meet with me on a Wednesday, I said, “Geez, you know what? I’m already busy.” You know why I was already busy? Because I had time scheduled for prospecting.
Now, there are a lot of agents, what they will do is they will go, “Oh, yeah, no, no, I’d much rather meet with you, Mr. Business Owner, than go prospecting that day. Yeah, I’ll meet with you Wednesday.” You just gave away all control. You want to be seen as somebody who is a professional, who is busy, and who is important.
I would say, “Oh, man, if this week doesn’t work for you, how does next week work?” I would say, “Oh, you know what? I have some time Tuesday morning or it looks like Thursday afternoon. I have a 1:00 on Thursday afternoon. That’s all I have left for you.” It creates instant credibility. It creates that posture that you are somebody who they want to do business with, not that you’re begging for business. Okay?
The third thing is does for you is it keeps you engaged. It keeps you accountable. Instead of having some nebulous “I’m going to set a bunch of appointments this week…” I have 10 slots I have to fill up. I either did it, or I didn’t do it, but there is no hiding now. Did you get it done, or didn’t you get it done? It’s just that simple. It creates some instant accountability on yourself. Did you actually do it?
I have a theory and corollary. Here’s the theory: if it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done. I just believe that with all my heart. If you ask anybody who’s worked for me for any length of time, they’ll tell you they get sick of me saying that, but it’s the absolute truth. I don’t care what your intentions are, if you don’t put it in your calendar, it’s not going to happen.
The corollary of that is: don’t cheat your calendar. You cannot cheat your calendar. You cannot answer the phone when you’re supposed to be prospecting and go help somebody with a claim. You’re cheating your calendar. You’re stealing from yourself is what you’re really doing. You’re also calling yourself a liar.
Again, I’m going to go off on a little bit of a rant here. Zig Ziglar says that the snooze alarm should be outlawed. I couldn’t agree more. Listen. I know some people aren’t morning people. I struggle with it from time to time depending up on how much sleep I get the night before, but I never ever, ever, ever hit snooze.
Here’s why: You start the day on a lie. You said to yourself, “Hey, I’m going to get up at 6:00 tomorrow morning.” Well, 6:00 comes, and you hit snooze. What you said is, “I lied to myself last night…6:00. I think I’ll get up at 6:09 instead,” and then the alarm goes off. You hit snooze again, and you started with two lies. Don’t do that.
I know that’s a silly little thing, but I’m telling you it will change your outlook. If you’re somebody who is used to hitting the snooze alarm a lot, move the alarm clock across the room. Make yourself get out of bed, and then don’t get back in. All right, enough of a rant. I’ve been going on some rants today. I guess I must be channeling my inner Dennis Miller here today.
Okay, one more thing about this calendar…really important. Really important. To maximize your efficiency, you need to put like activities in as big of blocks as possible. Here’s what I mean by that. If you have been out prospecting, you know this to be true: The first couple that you do are rough. The first couple of times you walk through the front door of a business and ask for Frank of Frank’s Welding so you can get an appointment with him, it’s just rough. You’re out of sorts. It feels like you’re running in cement. It takes a little while to find your groove.
Why would you do that to yourself multiple times per week? It’s silly. You have the first call of the day. Have that once, not multiple times throughout the day. It’s the same thing with the decision-maker presentations, the business-owner presentations. If you have scheduled five or six in one day, I promise you, you’ll get on a roll. The first one will be a little rough, but by the time you get to the second and third one, you are on a roll. By the time you get to the sixth one, you’re unstoppable.
Don’t break them up. Don’t do one on Monday, one in the morning and one late in the afternoon on Tuesday, one on Thursday, and one the week from never. Do them as tight together as possible. Add these activities in lumps, big blocks of time. Big blocks of time. Put them in as big of blocks as possible.
Here’s a great theoretical part of that: University of Michigan, obviously, because of their proximity to Detroit, they do a lot of time and motion studies. A lot of the big auto manufacturers, the Fords of the world and Chryslers of the world, they’re always interested in time and motion. They want to figure out what the most efficient way to build a car is, and so they do all these time and motion studies with the University of Michigan.
Well, this is an experiment that’s been repeated multiple times over multiple years, and it’s been validated over and over and over again. They get 20 college kids to come in. All of them have to snap 25 pencils, they have to stack up 25 quarters, and they have to make a paperclip chain of 25 paperclips in a row.
Here’s what they found: Half the group, the one side of the group, they have them break all the pencils first, then stack all the quarters next, and then put all the paperclips on one at a time, and they time that. The second group, what they have them do is they have them break a pencil, stack a quarter, put on a paperclip, break a pencil, stack another quarter, put on another paperclip, break a pencil… You get the idea.
Well, the group that does it in batches, the group that breaks all the pencils first, stacks all the quarters second, and then puts the paperclip on, it’s not that they’re a little faster. It’s not even that they’re twice as fast. They’re better than twice as fast. They’re like almost three times faster doing it that way in batches than the group that does them one at a time.
So think about that. If that’s just such a simple, little task, imagine with what we do. So much of what we do is mental, and we have to be mentally prepared for the next step. Every time you change tasks, the time and motion experts will say that you waste at least 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re sitting at your office and you’re doing a batch of email, do a batch of email. Answer them all before you go on, but don’t do an email, take a phone call, walk out and hang a picture, come back, and do another email. You get the picture.
Do things in as big of batches of time as possible. Time-block it out, I call it. I think Todd Duncan is the one where I read that in his book (great book) Time Traps. In fact, if you want a great book on time management and client management and how to really propel your business forward, I think it’s one of the finest books ever written on the subject. It’s called Time Traps by Todd Duncan. There will be a link to it in the show notes.
All right, speaking of time, it’s kind of ironic. We’ve been talking about time management, and I’m running out of time for this podcast. All right, so let’s do this. Let me give you a little inspiration.
I started teaching this class nearly 16 years ago. I’ve taught it to groups upwards of several hundred people at a time, and sometimes it’s six people in a Friday Fundamentals class. In all that time, I’ve had dozens and dozens and hundreds of people ignore it, ignore the advice, just have it go in one ear and out the other.
I’ve also had multiples of people, dozens of people who have said, “You know what, Tim, I’m going to try that. I’m going to dedicate myself to what you’re talking about, trying that system for 90 days. I’m going to put these appointments in my calendar by faith. I have no idea where they’re coming from. I’m going to put things in my calendar and then not cheat my calendar. If it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done.”
To a person, everyone who has tried it and given it 90 days has come back and thanked me. I have, literally, a file folder full of notes on this one subject. “Thank you, Tim. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It’s changed my business.” If you’re struggling, it’s time. It’s time that you took this business as a business.
McDonald’s, I promise you, has a very tight schedule of what their employees are doing, exactly when they’re doing it, and they make a ton of money. I’m pretty sure Intel doesn’t just decide, “You know, I think we’ll make some chips today. I wonder what kind or when or how many.” They have a very, very tight production schedule. Why don’t you? Good question.
Hey, if you need more help on this, I’d be happy to coach you on it, as well. All you have to do is reach out through my website www.successisvoluntary.com. Ask for a 30-minute coaching session. It’s free. Coaching isn’t for everyone. Maybe it’s for you. Maybe it’s not. Try it for free. See how you like it. All right. I’m going to close with this. I’m going to finish the same way I started.
John Maxwell said, “My success is determined by my daily agenda.” If you came up to me and you said, “Tim, I’m just getting started,” or, “I’ve been in this business for a little bit of time,” or maybe, “I’ve been in it for a couple of years,” even, “and I want to take my business to the next level. What do you think my chances of success are?” and I tell you, “I have no idea. I don’t have a crystal ball, or at least I left the one I do have at home, apparently.” I have no idea.
If you would let me hang with you for a day, I don’t even have to talk with you. I don’t have to interact with you. I just need to be a fly on the wall. If I could hang with you for a day, I think I would have a pretty good idea. You know, what time did you start? When did you finish? What did you do with your time during the day? Did you treasure it? Did you waste it? What was your level of intensity? Heck, what was the level of intensity of your walk between your office and the copier? What was your attitude like most of the day? What books did you read or podcasts did you listen to?
See, your success really does boil down to what you do with your time. And guess what? Every day counts. I really believe the Bible when it says that you will reap what you sow. You will either reap a reward or a penalty for today’s activity or lack thereof. The choice is yours. I love Zig Ziglar. Zig said it the best. He said if you will do the things you ought to do when you ought to do them, there will come a day when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.
Remember everything is voluntary, including success. Take it in your hands now. Head over to www.successisvoluntary.com/iTunes/, and stay up to date with all the latest tips, news, and techniques in the world of selling voluntary benefits.
Hey, I appreciate you listening so much. Could you do me a huge favor? Jump on over to iTunes and rate this podcast. It would mean a ton to me, and it will help other people find it, people who haven’t yet had a chance to discover it. I want your honest opinion. Would you jump over there? Rate the podcast. Leave a comment, and I will forever be thankful. Thanks a lot.
We’ll see you back here next week. You’re not going to want to miss next week. I have a phenomenal guest for you. Thanks a lot. Oh, and remember. Everything you do is voluntary, including success.