A crisis is an event that is urgent and important. Crises require immediate response. Events that qualify for crisis management include September 11, 2001, the stock market crashes of 1929 and 1987, a child in the hospital, death and serious illness, the loss of your job. You get the idea. We cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.

Self management requires that we adopt specific attitudes and behaviors.  We must take responsibility for managing ourselves, knowing that if we run out of time, it is because we didn’t plan or control our activities adequately.

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey offers us a valuable Activities Time Management Matrix which categorizes events into four quadrants as follows:

Quadrant 1 is Urgent and Important. Activities include:
Pressing problems
Deadline-driven projects

Quadrant 2 is Not Urgent but Important. Activities include:
Prevention, capability improvement
Relationship building
Recognizing new opportunities
Planning, recreation

Quadrant 3 is Urgent but Not Important. Activities include:
Interruptions, some callers
Some mail, some reports
Some meetings
Popular activities

Quadrant 4 is Not urgent and Not Important. Activities include:
Trivia, busy work
Some mail
Some phone calls
Time wasters
Pleasant activities

Dealing With A Real Crisis

The problem that most sales people and sales managers have isn’t so much in dealing with a real crisis. It is a problem of treating everything as though it were a crisis. Let’s say a client sends an email regarding a service issue that needs to be addressed. For most of us this would not qualify as a Quadrant 1- Urgent and Important activity.

However, what do we do when this email lands in our Inbox? Typically, we respond immediately. Perhaps we think if we take care of this now, we won’t have to do it later. Or maybe we are trying to manage the number of emails in our Inbox. Regardless, this is a perfect example of treating a Quadrant 3- Urgent but Not Important activity as though it were a Quadrant 1- Urgent and Important activity.

Ask these questions to define Quadrant 1 activities:
If I don’t take care of the item right now; will someone become gravely ill or die?  Will I lose my job?  Will I lose the account?

If the answer to any one of these three questions is no, we do not have an urgent and important item that resides in Quadrant #1.  If the activity is something that requires reaction in a short period of time, then clearly it is a Quadrant #3 event.  If we could go 24 hours without addressing then it may actually be a Quadrant #4 event.

        • So where are you lacking self management?
        • What are you doing that eats up your time?
        • Answering the phone each time it rings?
        • Tending to emails as they come in?
        • Meeting with anyone who shows up at your office door?
        • Taking non urgent calls your assistant passes through?

Instead of tending to these items the moment they happen, set aside 30 minutes every few hours to address them. Return phone calls, answer emails and consult with staff during these regularly scheduled intervals.  We must learn to distinguish the crises from the non-crises and respond appropriately in order to be successful in selling. And here is why-

In our world of sales and sales management, Quadrant # 2 activities are the most important.

The life blood of our business requires that we:

a. Prospect
b. See people
c. Get people to decide

Don’t Miss An Opportunity That Will Cost You In Real Dollars

If you are struggling today with “time management” issues, you have to ask yourself how much this problem is costing you in real dollars.  Do the math. If you regularly spend your prospecting time fielding emails or responding to non urgent messages, you aren’t making the calls. If you aren’t making the calls, you are not seeing prospects and you are jeopardizing the mainstay of your business.

Imagine if you missed out on only one opportunity a week due to poor self management. Over the course of a year, you have lost nearly fifty opportunities. What could this mean in real dollars to you?
It is important to put a dollar figure to this problem because if you don’t, you will have no pain to change. You will continue to do what you’ve done and you will continue to have the results you have always had.

Commit to changing your attitudes and behaviors. Learn to distinguish activities and appropriate response times. Communicate these new parameters to your staff so that they can support you appropriately. Learn to self manage for sales success.

About the author

Tony Cole

Tony has a lifelong focus on helping people and organizations achieve their personal best.As…

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