In carrying out the work of an external sales person there is always an amount of travelling time that can be used to enhance our prospects of success. For many salespeople this is often considered as dead time; getting from A to B, travelling to get into a territory or company, to get home or to that night’s hotel, etc…
Few use the time to gain new or improved skills, improve their product, market or competition knowledge. Instead, too many listen to the radio, downloaded music or audio books that don’t necessarily benefit the listener other than to entertain and fill time. And I’m often curious why this is so.
Over the years I have spoken with many salespeople about their careers; in interviews for promotions or new challenges. When I ask them about the training/education they have undertaken, too often they tell me about the company driven training/knowledge initiatives they’ve participated in. When I ask them about their own investment in themselves, their careers and their success, too many look at me as if I’ve gone insane! “I don’t have the time for that,” they’ll say, “I’m too busy!”
Busy doing what though? The vast majority do nothing to improve themselves without prompting from management and yet there has never been such a tremendous opportunity to learn, such an abundance of information and so many sources available to us to gain that knowledge from. Whether it be; books, eBooks, podcasts, videos on platforms like YouTube, white papers, industry analysis, social media chat rooms, etc … there is a vast amount of information available if you are interested.
It is said that a person becomes an expert when they have spent 10,000 hours working on something. And whilst that number may sound huge, if you spend 2 hours per day travelling (to and from work plus between calls) and you invest half of that (1 hour per day) in developing yourself that’s approximately 250 hours per year; and you’re well on your way to becoming an expert. In reality, with so few of your competitors’ salespeople investing this time in themselves you’re already putting yourself a long way ahead and giving yourself a considerable advantage against your rivals.
By all means continue to listen to music, podcasts and the radio to indulge your hobbies and interests in the rest of the time. As the saying says, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I’m not suggesting you do nothing else apart from keeping on developing your know how; there can be a balance though. And with the improved results you’ll get from your increased knowledge and skills you’ll have more income to spend on the things you’re interested in, so it’s a win:win.
The time exists, you just need to exert the will and discipline to do it and make the otherwise dead time work for you. I wish you every success.