What does it take to increase your production in today’s market?
Certainly skill improvement and changes in methodology, the manner in which you work a desk, are primary.
However, improved technique and methodology will not be maximized if enhanced focus and time management are not addressed as well. As Larry Nobles, well-known speaker and author of the best foundational book ever written for our industry, wrote, “Stop trying to get $300K in production from $100K worth of work!”
In a very strong market, it is easy to drift, getting good results from less and less time, concentration, and effort. In any market, however, enhanced focus on time management will yield more substantive time on the phone...and that, combined with improved methodology, is the only way to get the production you deserve.
Eliminate Time Theft
Wal-Mart, perhaps the most successful retailer in history, warns their employees of “Time Theft.” This refers to time taken during the working day which reduces the results for which they are paid. Wasting time in the office on totally non-productive activities is thus the equivalent of stealing from your own income, your own family, and your own future.
How much time do you actually spend on the phone generating income? The facts are that when this is measured by monitoring equipment, the average recruiter spends less than two hours a day on the phone. And even top producers rarely hit three hours! Where does the rest of the time go? Let’s look at some common answers.
For many, a major impediment to success is personal phone calls.
If not stopped and stopped quickly, these will grow to excess. The difficulty and cost of this problem goes well beyond the quantitative amount of non-work-related time that is taken on the phone. The greater cost is the reduction of intensity that happens as a result of these constant interruptions!
Peter Drucker in his exceptional book “The Effective Executive” made reference to this when he mentioned the fact that every human activity has 3 facets. Regardless of the length of time one invests, the “beginning” and the “wind down” are pretty close to the same. Thus, according to Drucker, a one-hour block of uninterrupted time is worth not 4 but 10 15-minute blocks of time. Why? Because the “doing” time, the central portion that yields effectiveness, increases by that much, though the warm up and the wind down stay pretty much the same.
What this means to us is that a stream of incoming non-business calls tends to interrupt and cause us to have to warm up all over again! But how do you eliminate these? You can’t very well hang up on nice people. Still, something must be done or business will suffer...and suffer badly. This includes the cell phone and texting! Turn your cell phone off, barring a crisis.
It is, of course, simple to say “But I have Caller ID. I’ll just let the calls go to my answering machine.” However, it may be a genuine emergency. And of course, many of us don’t want to be rude and will automatically answer the phone from someone we know...only to be slightly regretful that we did. So what to do?
Try this ...
When a call comes in, ask yourself, is this really critical? The reality is if a nurse calls from school indicating that your child has a broken arm, you must deal with it immediately. But you won’t get many such calls. An overwhelming percentage will not be critical, but just people “calling to talk.” Once you figure that out, it is fairly easy to take it from there.
Indicate that you do want to speak with this person. “Bob, I appreciate the call. I do want to talk with you.” You want to be polite and friendly. However, you have a business to run and things to accomplish.
Claim an important conference coming up. “But I am right on the verge of a very important conference. I want to talk with you, but I have got to get to this meeting. May I get back to you this evening?”
Do return the phone call ... after working hours! Over a period of time, if you continue with this procedure whenever a non-critical personal call comes in, it will become clear to these “social” callers that you are busy with work and can only take important calls. This will eventually stop the non-important ones that drain your time, energy, focus...and income.
This is significant! Between hobbies, non-business interests or friends, many recruiters will get a constant stream of these. If you don’t stop it, it will significantly affect your production.
Perhaps you believe that you can afford these time wasters. But the reality is if you wish to achieve full results, you cannot allow it. Put a sign on the phone if you don’t remember to do this to serve as an ongoing reminder. Slowly reduce these calls -- just like that.
In many offices, there is a clear separation in the determination of each recruiter to succeed.
Some recruiters will tighten up, become more focused, work both smarter and harder, and will ultimately fight their way to high production. Others will slow down, complain, make fewer calls, and engage in pointless time-wasting conversation to avoid getting on the phone. Look around your office, and see these two camps. Which one are you in?
The difficulty is that the latter group will make a definite effort to interfere with their tough-minded co-workers! Conversation about personal matters, complaints about management and the market, irrelevant “questions,” “suggestions” and “ideas” will all increase dramatically. While it is indeed the job of the manager to weed out these bad apples, it is your job to ignore them and go to work with a renewed dedication. And that is not always easy.
The best way to avoid these impediments to your success is simply to be busy. When they walk into your office/work area and attempt to engage you in pointless conversation, just say “I’d love to talk with you, but I’ve got an assignment I’ve got to find people for. Let’s talk after work.” Then pick up the phone and make a call! Repeat a modified version of the same thing when they try to side-track you when you are away from your desk.
These people may be nice, but your primary function other than improving skills is staying on the phone -- regardless of well-meaning distractions.
The High-Tech Time Waster
The internet as a means of identifying potential candidates and clients has merit.
However, unrelated to the internet as a business tool, it is also a major handicap in achieving your financial goals. There is a real probability that you have not escaped some distractions relative to the internet. Consider the following:
· A Nielsen Survey found that the majority of on-line shopping, auctions, stock trading, chat room visits, news reading and, yes, porn traffic, take place during working hours.
· A recent Robert Half International survey found that 60% of executives said that time spent accessing the web for non-business purposes was undermining their employees’ effectiveness on the job as well as their own.
· A recent Men’s Health magazine survey of 2,000 subscribers asked the question, “What interferes most with your productivity at work?” The #1 answer (74%)? The Internet!
So what’s the answer to this modern high-tech time waster? Get the heck off it!
First, do not automatically access the internet. If you feel you need to research to identify candidates or clients, clump that time together and do it all after 4:00 -- while you’re planning....including emails! Barring a real anticipated necessity, open your emails twice a day -- morning and right before planning.
Here’s a test. Keep track of the emails you receive tomorrow and then ask yourself this question. “If I didn’t read these until the end of the day, how much business would I lose?” The answer? Probably none. But the cost of interruptions? Substantial!
What do you think would happen without non-essential internet time during prime working hours .. including emails, barring a real anticipated necessity? With all that extra time and reduced distraction on your hands, you’d pick up the phone and increase your productive contacts...and your billings.
Maximizing Your Commute
If you commute to work, you already know that it is not the most exciting time of the day.
Rather than listen to talk radio or top-40 music, take this opportunity to start the day with the right attitude or to improve your skills. Good-quality CDs or audio downloads will accomplish both.
Here’s a suggestion. My new CD or digital download series Real Recruiting! The Audio Series is 42 lively engaging 15-minute modules of advanced-level material. A single module per day will get ANY recruiter, no matter how experienced, on a faster learning and production curve.
A 30-minute morning commute amounts to a solid ten hours a month of time spent driving to work. A 15-minute commute equals 5 hours a month. The time before you sit down at your desk sets up your attitude for the entire business day. Listening to a single 15-minute segment each morning will allow you to significantly increase the results you achieve from the time spent in the office!
“Well begun,” as the old saying goes, “is half done.” Moreover, multiple sales surveys have shown that the majority of business sales are made before noon. This applies to us as well.
If you’re in the habit of arriving a few minutes late in the morning, reviewing and adding to your Daily Planner (which wasn’t quite completed the night before), organizing your desk, greeting your co-workers with comments to each, having several cups of coffee and then picking up the phone, you’re missing out of the best selling time of the day. You just can’t afford to do so.
Look around your office at the formal starting times, and see who is at their desk and on the phone -- and who is still wandering around. Which one are you?
If you’re not on the phone early, you’d better make some changes. A single 15-minute audio module every morning will allow you to “hit the ground running” from the moment you walk into your office!
For Poor Planners
If you’re a poor planner, here’s a suggestion.
Set an alarm to go off for half an hour before you expect to leave the office. If you’re not a planner, you’ll subconsciously try to avoid it by doing other things, and then rush off claiming you’ll “do it in the morning.” You won’t, or at least not well. When the alarm goes off ... start to plan!
In a surprisingly short amount of time, you’ll train yourself to “beat the clock.” As the time approaches, you’ll find yourself turning off the alarm .. and starting to plan.
There are several great benefits to reading books on a specific subject. The first, of course, is that you will actually learn hard information and techniques. In our business, these will directly translate into increased production. The second benefit, however, is that simply by reading a serious book, you will concentrate on the subject. To get results, you must reinforce by underlining or highlighting relevant points and then putting signs on the phone or computer to remind yourself to implement. By doing so, you will automatically pay more attention to the key topics addressed.
There are two books on time management that will expand your knowledge and focus on this subject. They are How to Get Control of Your Time and Life by Alan Lakein and Working Smart by Michael LeBoeuf. See Amazon.
“Reading is to the mind,” Joseph Addison wrote, “as exercise is to the body.” Nobody ever said it better.
The Two-Front War
It is no exaggeration to view improving production as a war. And if you are to prevail, this war must be fought on two fronts.
First, of course, is changing and improving skills, techniques, methodology. To do so, however, is only half the job.
The other half is to work equally hard at improving your focus, your concentration, your work ethic, maximizing both your time on the phone and the time before you sit down at your desk in the morning by means of a single 15-minute advanced-level audio segment. The reality is that to prosper today, you must push yourself beyond the boundaries of what is comfortable for you. While there will be no injuries in this war, there will very definitely be a fight. And the fight will be to win with your own motivation and discipline.
By establishing the needed practice patterns and eliminating the bad habits addressed here, you will greatly enhance your results. And your increased call volume will allow you to make the most of your increased skills.
This two-pronged approach of skill improvement plus increased focus on effective time management will guarantee you conspicuous success and allow you to meet any market challenge.
Copyright protected worldwide by author Steven M. Finkel 2018 All rights reserved.