Salesman selling the impossible

The Fifth Essential Competency Every Sales Wolf Must Master

by Chris Young

Time and Priority Management.

Time and Priority Management is the fifth essential competency every Sales Wolf must master.Salesman selling the impossible

After grad school and a stint as a commodity trader, I worked in economic development for the State of North Dakota (1998-2000). It was a beautiful sales grind. 

Imagine selling the impossible.

Immediately after being hired, I set out to accomplish two things.

  • I minimized attending nonsense meetings.
  • I put into place a strategy to essentially multiple my sales efforts. I identified the best site selection consultants and flew out to meet and develop relationships with them.

I was maximizing my time.

I was in a good groove until my colleagues and I were required to engage in a several month survey of businesses across North Dakota.

It was nails on the proverbial chalkboard for me.

I went from 95 percent multiplied sales activity to perhaps 5 percent.

The survey gathering had NOTHING to do with my job as salesperson for the citizens of North Dakota. While important, this survey should have been handled by others who were not in sales. Others who were more patient than I in completing this tedious work and perhaps more excited / engaged in the endeavor. 

My sales results and sanity suffered accordingly. It was not long until I realized working in business development for state government was not for me.

I did what you would have done. I got the hell out of there.

Guess what I discovered? The private sector is no different. Like economic development, many salespeople spend the majority of their (company) time engaged in activities that are not sales-related.

Ken Krogue, Founder of and a prolific writer on all things sales shared some research his company completed via a survey of 721 salespeople. Check it out and then get back here... Why Sales Reps Spend So Little Time Selling.

Krogue shares the following frightening statistics with regard to how sales reps spend their (company) time:

  • 32.5 percent of their time is spent on selling. 64.8 percent of their time is spent on everything else.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it... the best salespeople master time management

  • One third of the time selling.
  • Two thirds of the time not selling.

It gets even more frightening.

  • 61.3 percent of sales reps reported having some type of time management system while 23 percent actually followed it.

What is your sales team doing with their (company) time?

Unfortunately, Krogue's numbers jive with my experience. In fact, his numbers may even be a bit stronger on the selling activity side.

The problem is there is a lack of accountability for this nonsense because an accounting convention for the opportunity cost of sales does not exist. If such an accounting convention existed, I promise you, heads would roll and practices would change.

Let's be real with regard to the real sources of the Sales Time Management Problem. The root of a sales organization's "Sales Time Management Culture" is shaped / condoned / encouraged / incentivized by sales management, self self-inflicted or a combination.

Following are three Sales Time and Priority Management issues that accelerate or destroy sales performance:

  • Sales Talent - Selection, hiring, onboarding and coaching of true Sales Wolves.
  • Sales Culture - Accountability for sales activity.
  • Skills - Development of Time and Priority Management skills.

It seems every sales organization has some combination of Talent, Culture and Skills that could be enhanced / optimized.

Selection, hiring, onboarding and coaching of true Sales Wolves.

Do you know what a true Sales Wolf hates more than anything?

True Sales Wolves loathe wasting their time. This is especially the case for Sales Wolves whose compensation is almost completely or wholly variable.

True Sales Wolves are fast feedback loopers. They look for what contributes to and what diminishes sales. They double or triple down on what works and stop doing what does not.

For non-Sales Wolves, however, wasting time is an art form. It makes intuitive sense. What two activities are usually kryptonite to non Sales Wolves?

  • Prospecting.
  • Activity Tracking.

How many non Sales Wolves do you have seeking to be paid like a Sales Wolf while not doing the work?

Accountability for sales activity.

Do NOT blame your salespeople for wasting company time doing non sales-related activities. Salespeople waste time because they are allowed to waste time and / or they are forced to do so.

Who allows or forces salespeople to engage in non sales-related activities? That is right... Sales management and CEOs.

All problems start at the head.

Show me sales management / CEO who allows / forces salespeople to waste valuable sales time that could be fulfilled by a non-salesperson and I will show you sales management / CEO who, themselves are not Sales Wolves.

True Wolf-Class Sales Managers are zealots when it comes to protecting and managing their sales team's time.

Are you, your sales management / CEO allowing your sales team to spend their valuable (company) time as they please?

Are your salespeople held accountable for how they spend their (company) time?

Development of Time and Priority Management skills.

A true Sales Wolf possesses the Behaviors, Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies do consistently perform in the top 20th percentile. They also possess the requisite experience, education and experience to perform in a given sales role. 

Time and Priority Management are essential for successful salespeople

A true Sales Wolf with strong Time and Priority Management Skills can literally outsell by a factor of 2-5x that of other Sales Wolves.

The good news is the Time and Priority Management Competency can not only be objectively-measured, it can be developed very effectively.

How are your sales team's Time Management skills?


There is opportunity to improve in EVERY sales team.

I do not care who or how sophisticated you believe you and your sales team to be.

There are always, always, always ways to improve sales productivity. We just have to allow our egos to be open to new possibilities...

One recent example... In engaging a Prospect who was proud of the sales activity level of their salespeople and appropriately, so, there was room for improvement.

When I probed around the edges a bit to understand adoption of common best practices, I came to learn that standardized proposal development and follow-up by pipeline stage were not adopted across the sales organization. In English, salespeople were Frankensteining their proposals and follow-up. Not only is this not efficient, but odds are there are some best practices that could be adopted that would lift the "sales conversion tide" of the entire sales organization.

"There is always a better way." - Thomas Edison

The distinction between salesperson and company time.

When you select, hire, onboard and coach only Sales Wolves, they are one-in-the-same. 

True Sales Wolves are absolutely fastidious about how they spend their time. 

Non Sales Wolves are not fastidious about how they spend their time. 

The other four essential sales competencies.

The following four essential sales competencies will make a lot of sense to you:

Salespeople with these four essential competencies coupled with the requisite Behaviors, Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies drive superior sales.

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