How to Maximize Each Moment as a Sales Professional
February marked the 45th anniversary single release of “Time,” the fourth track off Pink Floyd’s seminal “The Dark Side of the Moon” album and the tune where we find the lyric: “You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today.” The rest of the song counters those suggestions, though, and reminds us never to take time for granted, no matter the context.
While the contemporary sales world lacks the classic song’s melodious delivery, it is nonetheless potent as a nudge to everyone to treat each moment as a way to foster a reputation, secure strong relationships with clients and maintain a level head as duties mount. Print+Promo connected with Cliff Quicksell, vice president of affiliate marketing for iPROMOTEu, Wayland, Mass.; and Brett Marz, co-founder of, and sales team member for, BAMKO, Los Angeles, to learn how they have succeeded in managing crunches and how their peers can likewise clock productive days on the job.
The Men of the Hours
No matter our lots in life, we all receive 168 hours each week to make the most of our aspirations. For sales professionals, the blocks that are devoted to their vocations can seem to dwarf the significance of their personal time because of their vital contributions to employers’ identities. Rather than panic and ponder how they can be all things to all people, they need to set realistic expectations once they have had their roles fully explained to them. Quicksell and Marz have found that their rampant curiosity and relentless introspection have helped them to gain such firm footing.
“I think all salespeople should have a nurturing vein that enables them to communicate by listening first,” Quicksell, also a well-known speaker, said. “There has to be active listening that makes plain how much you understand what a client is seeking. From there, it’s easy to apply my take on the law of reciprocity, which is that you need to give, give, give before you can get, get, get.”
Dubbing himself “a tinkerer of sorts,” Marz uses his eagerness to learn to understand a business, determine its challenges and think about how to solve said dilemmas. To take on those tasks, he follows an “incredibly regimented” schedule through which he accounts for every minute of the day.
“My time is my scarcest and most valuable resource,” the BAMKO executive stated. “It cannot be replicated. Once spent, it’s gone forever. Managing my time, specifically by planning in advance how I intend to spend that time, is my biggest competitive advantage.”
In vigorously executing his diligence, Marz has become a commendable sales representative, noting that last year’s efforts—in conjunction with his team—enabled him to pull in more than $18 million in sales for BAMKO, the No. 17 highest-grossing distributor in the 2018 Top Distributors issue of Promo Marketing, Print+Promo’s sister publication. Owing to that tally and his aforementioned allegiance to time management, many might surmise that similar accomplishments could be theirs if they develop practices akin to Marz’s, and while that might be correct to assume, he and Quicksell, also a prominent sales generator, noted that one cannot become obsessed with thinking each moment on the job has to produce a winning interaction.
“I believe in a hierarchy of needs,” the latter source, whose company occupied the No. 5 spot on Print+Promo’s 2018 Top Distributors list, offered. “That means that I must have my life in working order to be of great use to others. I have to take care of myself first so that everything flows from that. By that, I also mean that I’ve studied the field, patterns and expectations enough to know that I’m not going to get everything to go idyllically. Sometimes, no matter how much time you think a project deserves, you’ll have to realize that it’s not working, and that realization is going to give you more time to devote to someone who is more of a fit with your skill set and, certainly, their needs.”
In keeping with what Quicksell and Marz offered about understanding the delicate nature of clients’ requests and a distributor’s ability to meet them, we wondered how technology factors into their respective processes in evaluating business matches. While the two agree that technology can prove immensely helpful, with Quicksell fond of customer relationship management, Marz, in particular, advised against seeing it as the ultimate time-saver.
“Technology and the tools it provides can be helpful, but I think most people look at those tools as a crutch to avoid doing the fundamentals,” he opined. “I invest in relationships, find ways to solve problems for my clients in ways that massively benefit them and manage my time with militant precision. Each of those is a critical success strategy that transcends technology.
“There are all sorts of little tools that people focus on that can make an incremental difference,” Marz continued. “Those are fine and you should use them, but most people distract themselves with the tools that provide incremental benefits at the expense of a focus on the fundamental steps that deliver exponential returns.”
One could argue, then, that a salesperson’s greatest tool regarding the topic of time management is discernment, a conclusion with which Quicksell agreed.
“There was a time where, frankly, I sucked at time management,” the National Speakers Association member confessed. “I’ve come to be much better at it, and a big part of that is coming to realize where I can best use my talents in seeking, securing and assisting clients.”
While all salespeople find themselves tasked with tending to numerous customers—with Quicksell and Marz having dozens between them to keep content—these individuals cannot fall prey to thinking that every lead is going to produce a long-term relationship or even a fleeting union. Much like sports franchises cannot have every prospect become a superstar, companies will not earn commitments from everyone, and that can often prove an advantage, particularly if a sales hire possesses a strong sense of self-awareness.
“I want to see meaningful growth and associate with people who also know how to manage their time,” Quicksell revealed. “I want someone who is hungry, and you have to be like that, too. I’m certainly not saying that you should walk away right away, by no means. What’s vital, though, is trying to know the whole person. I’ll stand in the trenches with someone because people need encouragement. I put in my time as the coach, so to speak, and then I see how people will perform on the field.”
“I am attracted to creative thinkers, problem solvers and folks who do what they say they’re going to do,” Marz said. “My clients are people who see what we do not as a commodity, but as a critical business tool.”
To be such a boon to their business, the BAMKO figure asks ample questions to determine the level of compatibility, doing so, as he noted, not to qualify himself but to disqualify clients who would not be suitable matches.
“I’m not trying to avoid negative interactions,” he stated. “I’m trying to clearly and honestly explain who we are [and] what we do and tell stories about how we’ve helped others that are similarly situated. If the result of those conversations is anything other than unbridled enthusiasm, we move on.”
A Forever-year Itch
Quicksell and Marz pride themselves on having an extreme willingness to help, with that tool mattering more to them than the size of a contract and the potential financial rewards do. In facing what the former tabbed “the rat race that we live in right now,” salespeople must not misuse their time no matter at what point they find themselves in their careers. The failure to respect that stance will result in regret and jeopardized prospects going forward.
“Identify the activities that make maximal value of the use of your time,” Marz suggested, adding that said pursuits must become “absolute non-negotiables” in one’s daily schedule. “Identify the activities that both take a lot of time and are providing you minimal value. Do whatever is necessary to delegate those activities to someone else.”
He and Quicksell also hold that nobody is an island and that consulting colleagues will lead to an increased sense of purpose and accomplishment.
“Technology, creative, merchandising, project management, compliance, marketing—I lean heavily on a team of people that are experts in their field,” Marz said. “If you don’t have people like that on your team, you need to find a new team.”
“I would say that salespeople are in this line of work because they have a true desire to make a positive change,” Quicksell said. “There’s pressure to pull that off, sure, and it can come from internal and external sources. The key is to evaluate the difference between wanting something versus being committed to acquiring it. If you nail that, you’re going to have an easier time selling services.”