4 Hours a Week in Sales: Part 2

Part 2 of 2

Businessmen shaking hands
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

In Part One of if the 4 Hour Work Week in Sales, we detailed what activities make up a typical sales professional's work week. Now it's time to see if we can feasibly reduce a typical 40 hour work week down to the magical 4 hour work week.

What to Eliminate?

Assuming that you want to reduce the number of hours you work and that you want to increase or at least maintain your earned income, which activities can be cut or eliminated?

Note that while some tasks can be pushed off to off hours or weekends, time spent working, no matter when it is spent still qualifies as work time.

  1. Training - Unless you sell a static, non-changing product or service, you will need to keep up to date with product changes, your competitor's offerings, while keeping your sales skills sharp. A big mistake that many make in sales is to stop improving and learning. This may save some time but doesn't lead to anything good. Sorry, but if you're not investing at least 2 hours per week with training, you may not have to worry about cutting your work hours down. Your employer may take care of that for you. The hard way!
  2. Meetings - There is no doubt that many hours are wasted by sitting in sales meetings, but there is also little doubt that some sales meetings are a wonderful time investment. Honestly, determine which meetings are critical for your career and success and ask to be excused from all others. If you are in charge of running meetings, do your best to keep the meetings on task. Challenge yourself to cut the meetings times in half then in half again. It is realistic to cut your weekly meeting time down to 30 minutes per week.
  1. Prospecting - Cutting the time spent prospecting for new or expanded business is a dangerous thing to consider. However, there are several methods of near effortless prospecting that you may be able to employ. These include but are certainly not limited to;
    • Social Media
    • Online Advertising
    • Direct Mail Campaigns

    All of these "prospecting methods" can and have worked for many in sales, but all also require the sales professional to either outsource these marketing tasks or to spend time setting up, testing,   monitoring, improving and following up on campaigns and results. To be aggressive, assume that you could spend, on average, 1 hour per week prospecting this way.

    Customer Meetings

    The fourth task that most sales professionals spend their time doing, and the one that deserves its very own article section is time spent with customers. This includes face to face time, time on the phone and messaging. In part 1 of this article, we estimated that 20 hours per week are (or should be) spent working directly with customers. 

    Over my career, I have had some customers that consistently send me sales without me having to actively work on advancing sales cycles with them. All I needed to do was to occasionally meet with them, take them to lunch and let them know that their business is appreciated. 

    But unless you have enough customers on auto pilot or unless you have customers who purchase enough from you to sustain your income, you will have to either spend time with your customers to keep them as customers, to grow your influence with them and to continue starting and advancing sales cycles with them.

    You can be more efficient and effective with the time you spend meeting with customers, but eliminating this time for most sales people would be a very bad career choice.

    Final Thoughts

    Can a sales professional realistically cut working hours down to 4 per week? Without question, the answer is "yes." But 99% of those who do won't be in their position very long. Almost every sales professional who is focused on reducing the number of hours they work can reduce the number of hours they put in by becoming more focused, productive, efficient and effective during their work hours.

    You need to be selfish with who and what claims your time and have the courage to say "no" to any and all time requests that pull you off purpose. You also need a powerful enough draw coming from outside of your work to keep you motivated and committed to spending less time working and more time doing whatever draws you from work.

    In the end, if you are considered an employee, how much you work is largely up to your employer and, if you have one, your sales manager. Getting down to 4 hours per week is probably not realistic for you. It is, however realistic to reduce the number of hours you spend doing non-essential tasks.

    If you are one of the brave ones who is considered to be an Independent Sales Professional or an Entrepreneur, then I have a question for you? If you are doing something for your career that you enjoy and are passionate about, why do you want only to do it 4 hours a week?

    Perhaps, if you find yourself desiring to work at your job as little as is possible while being able to maintain your income level, you should begin asking yourself if what you are doing in your job is something that you want to be doing.