Time Management, Offers, and Client Meetings

May 19, 2010

Editor’s note: Gary Stauble’s “2 Minute Coaching” gives you quick, easy-to-implement ideas on various subjects. Here he offers advice on using an egg timer for personal productivity, orchestrating a “yes” within 24 hours, and how to streamline client meetings.

Topic #1: The Power of the Egg Timer

Some of the best ideas are also the most simple, low-tech, and easy-to-implement. With all the advice out there on personal productivity and time-management, it’s easy to overlook this simple tool: the egg timer.

One of the best ways I know to boost my productivity on workdays is to use a countdown timer during golden hours.

I define “golden hours” as my most important personal productivity time when I want to work without interruptions. It is that sacred time that gives me the freedom to focus on the critical activities that generate revenue and demand my intense focus.

A prime-time segment for me is 50 minutes in duration. I turn off my phone, shut down my email, and lock my office door to prevent all disruptions. I set my countdown timer to 50 minutes and then I get busy.

It’s important that the timer counts down (not up) so that there is a set deadline. This creates an intensity to the activity that you cannot get without the artificial deadline. Also, it is a “self-management” technique that high performers who want leverage on their own habits can use.

Here are some activities to focus on if you decide to set aside prime-time hours:

  • Marketing calls
  • Article writing
  • Recruiting calls
  • Planning
  • Critical thinking
  • Sourcing and name gathering
  • Mind mapping and strategizing

Topic #2: How to get a “Yes” within 24 hours of the offer

It is critical that you pre-close how much time a candidate has to decide on an offer long before it is extended.

The time to do this is during your initial interview with the candidate. It is your job to orchestrate the offer and acceptance for both parties and to set expectations well in advance.

You might say something like this to your candidates:

“At the time that the offer is generated by the company, which is usually after several weeks of conversations, I’m going to ask you to make a decision on that offer within 24 hours. What I’m asking you to do here is to start your decision making at the very beginning of the process, rather than at the very end. It’s my job to make sure you have all of the information you need and all of your questions answered prior to receiving the offer. However, once you get it, I’m going to ask you to be decisive. Is this workable for you?”

Topic #3: Three Ideas for Starting a Client Meeting

1. Rehearse your presentation.

Rehearse a verbal and mental presentation of your meeting. Get to the point where you have memorized the key points that you want to cover. Nothing will add to your self-confidence like preparation and rehearsal.

2. Set the framework for the meeting.

Say something like this to your client:

“I’d like to ask you some specific questions to see if we can be of service, then I can answer any questions you have about us. We’re probably looking at about 30 minutes, does this work for you?”

3. Use intense listening.

The great thing about client meetings is that what the client really wants is simply to be heard and understood. You must be an intense listener, so follow this simple guideline: they talk 80% of the time.

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