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I spend a lot of time with salespeople. From time to time, I’ll ask them, in so many words, about what’s holding them back. What is standing in the way of more sales? What’s the one thing that, if you could change it, would make all the difference? The most common answer isn’t more leads, or a better product, as many would suspect. It’s some version of, “If I just had more time.”

I also spend a good bit of time with sales managers, business owners, company presidents, and CEOs. When I ask them, if they had a magic wand, what they’d change about their sales department, the common refrain is remarkably consistent - get more meetings. Knock on more doors. Do a better job at prospecting.

In some ways, I think they are saying the same thing. Sales reps find themselves busy with tasks - and many of the tasks are directed towards more sales. Not because they don’t want to sell more. It’s just easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Prepping for calls, driving to appointments, answering emails, updating the CRM. They feel busy because, well, they are busy. But often, it’s a busyness that is not focused on the job of filling the pipeline, qualifying and disqualifying current opportunities, and servicing the clients they are responsible for. It’s all that other stuff. There is just not enough time in the day....

Time is an interesting concept. We all have the same amount of it. 24 hours in a day. It’s not changing any time soon! When I hear others (and myself!) say, “I just don’t have enough time,” I’m skeptical. It’s as if we aren’t getting the same amount as others. “Why does Aaron get more time than me!! It’s not fair!” When I say I don’t have enough money, that makes sense. Some have more than me, and I’d like to have more. But time?

Here’s the rub: it’s not a time problem. It’s a GOAL problem. We always have time for what we value the most. If I value exercise, I will exercise. If learning is something that is important to me, I will read, listen, and ask questions of others. If it’s truly important to me, I will find the time. Always.

When we say we don’t have time to prospect, for example, we implicitly saying that prospecting is not as important as the things that crowd it out. We value other things more. It’s not a time problem. It’s a goal problem.

In my observation, we avoid behaviors that we don’t feel comfortable with and often, “I don’t have time” is an acceptable reason. Could it be that the lack of goals around prospecting (or whatever else you don’t have time for) is the real culprit? If we spend time each month developing our behavioral goals, going so far as writing them down and tracking them weekly, we’re more apt to work towards them. Even better, enlist a manager, coach, or accountability partner to keep you focused on the commitments you have made.

The next time you say, “I don’t have time,” I’d like for you stop and consider: Is that true? Do you have a time problem or a goal problem?

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