I admit that I have a freakish fascination with time. I’m always trying to figure out how to optimize tasks — especially recurring tasks.  Being sensitive to my own use of time has given me a deeper appreciation for other people’s time. It’s a respect thing. Time is valuable and to receive someone’s valuable time is worthy of gratitude. Yes, we can debate the quality of the interaction and whose time is more valuable, but that misses the point: everyone’s time is important.  

Don’t Waste My Time

From that perspective, when people (or companies) waste my time it drives me nuts.  Two examples from the last week:  

  1. I received an automated call from a travel provider because I just used their service and now they wanted to conduct a survey. They appreciate my business but don’t appreciate my time enough to have a real person call me. It annoyed me enough to make me wonder if I should use their service in the future.  
  2. I received a call from a call center screener for an inside sales rep. The rep wasn’t even calling me directly. There was a screening process. Usually I am pretty good at avoiding unsolicited calls entirely, but in this case they got me; they then lost me in a hurry when I figured out what they were doing. Honestly, I didn’t even try to figure out what the product or service did. I just hung up as soon as I understood what was happening. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my 2 minutes back.

Time is Currency

I think the solution to this problem for sellers is to think about time like currency. This mostly applies to phone calls and emails where you have the ability to ‘interrupt’ someone. If you are going to ask for someone’s time via a phone call or email, then you should be prepared to give them something in return. The more time you ask of them, the greater the debt. A phone call is more invasive than an email (because demands more mental and physical resources) and can carry a greater debt, but even email has a cost to the recipient. 

Pay Your Debt

So how do you best pay this debt? It depends on the situation, but in most cases payment starts with the same currency: time. You have to be willing to invest time before you ask for someone else’s. This means do your homework/research before a call or email and do your best to add value in the interaction.  

Good sellers are trained to ask questions so that they can try to build a profile, but there are new tools now available to reduce the investment required from the buyer. You can get a lot of that information online now from a LinkedIn profile and groups, and perhaps Twitter feed at a personal or company level. Do a Google search and look for any recent news items about the buyer’s company for more context.  

Before you pick up the phone, or lift a finger to write an email, know as much about your buyer’s situation as you can. Come armed with something that says I did my homework, I know something about your business worries, and this is how I or my company can help. You’ll most likely be a bit off in some of the details, but you’ll still stand out from the other sellers who didn’t do their homework. 

In short, look at things from your buyer’s point of view before engaging with them. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if someone wasted your time? Show your buyers that you value their time — and ultimately their business — by packing as much value into a 3-minute call as you can. 

About the Author

FConrad Bayer is the Chief Executive Officer of Tellwise a Sales Acceleration technology that empowers sellers and buyers to collaborate in real-time across any device and platform. Tellwise Smart Messages enable sellers to close business faster by revealing buyer behavior, improving communication workflow and delivering a simple real-time collaboration experience.

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