The biggest mistake you can make in life is to waste your time.
In a perfect world, spending time with your clients helps you improve relationships, build trust, increase loyalty and… sell. In reality, if you allow it, some clients will waste significant amounts of your time.
And since time is money, time you spend with these clients is like throwing money away.
For example, if you waste 20 minutes a day on small talk, it will accumulate to over 80 hours a year. Think about it, two full weeks of productivity gone. Multiply it by your hourly fee, and you’ll see how much money you’re throwing away…
Some of the most common time wasters are excessive small talk, discussions not fitting your offering, debating company purchase or shipping requirements, routine price shopping and unclear timelines.
Here are 10 ways to deal with time wasters (while still giving a friendly service):
1. Communicate Your Limitations of Time
Whenever a client engages in endless small talk, communicate a legitimate reason for needing to end the conversation quickly (“I have another appointment in five minutes.”) Stating your time limitation at the beginning of the meeting is another efficient way to prevent them from wasting time during the conversation.
2. Try Different Communication Tactics
Some clients become difficult and time-consuming simply because they do not understand what you are telling them. Their confusion or misunderstanding can lead to excessive follow-up phone calls and office time. Try communicating in a different way to resolve this issue.
3. Keep Them Focused
Many clients that take up a lot of your time might be too scattered or stressed to retain all of the information you discussed. Help those clients stay focused by setting goals (e.g. when a certain information needs to be delivered), provide visual reminders (charts or infographics could work wonders) or simply send meeting notes after each meeting.
4. Ease Their Worries
Sometimes a client might be taking up extra time because they are feeling anxious about the deal. One way to deal with their anxiety is to recognize it, address it and move on (“You’ve already chosen me to be your lawyer/accountant/consultant/therapist… which means you must trust me. Can we move forward now?”
5. Find Out the Urgency
Try asking something like, “Are you placing an order for this right now? Or is it something you’re thinking about and want some estimated prices?” This allows you to set the right priority AND it may accelerate the client’s desire for your product.
6. Arrange for a Follow-up Conversation
When it seems like it’s going to take too long to help them, ask for a convenient time to have a follow-up conversation. In the meantime – let them do some “homework” to keep them engaged and shorten the duration of the follow-up meeting.
7. Give Them a Way Out
Many time wasters waste your time because they cannot say no or do not want to hurt your feelings. Give them a way out and let them feel comfortable in saying no (“This is totally fine if it’s too early for you to buy this…”)
8. Know When to Stop Selling
If you feel you’re not going to get what you want from a prospect – let them know you are ready to move forward when they are ready. Let them know how to reach you when they made that decision, then move on to the next client.
9. Post Your Rates and Process on Your Website
This lets people know exactly what to expect in terms of timeline and investment. Send everyone who inquires about your products or services to this page, before getting into a 20-question game. If a prospect is serious about your work, then you’ll hear back from them.
10. Create a New Client “Application”
If someone wants your service, let them first fill out a survey/questionnaire. It gives you an idea of what the prospect is looking for, their budget, and their timeline. This way you have a pretty good idea if you’re going to be a good fit before you go on a discovery call or waste time emailing back and forth.
Now It’s YOUR Turn
For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… how would YOU deal with time wasters?
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
Top Commenters – last 30 Days
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE THAT CAN FOCUS IF YOU CAN'T
It is hard for me to focus and be creative at the same time.
Especially if I have to THINK, I like to work with people that keep me in line in the most friendly way.
Nisandeh and Vered for example. They help me focus during a 1-1 or other meeting if I struggle with it.
2. START WITH YOURSELF FIRST
The more focussed you are, the better the conversation goes
3. MAKE A LIST BEFORE STARTING THE MEETING. OR MAKE ONE FOR YOUR CLIENT
- 3 questions
- desired outcome
- what you want from the other person, especially a coach/ mentor. Meaning: How would you like that person to help you?
4. ZOOM AND RECORD THE MEETINGS
That way you or the other person can scroll back in their own time as much as possible
5. ALWAYS MAKE APPOINTMENTS PER APP. NEVER VERBALY
6. ASK HIGH PRICES FOR MEETINGS WITH GOVERNMENT RELATED COMPANIES.
A school wanted to go over my way of teaching and another wanted me to join a multiple discipline meeting with other professionals.
They are hardly ever effective. And take for hours.
7. USE LOOM
I used to go verbely over my plan with parents.
Now I use LOOM. They can set up a free meeting if there are questions.
They NEVER have questions
8. TIME IS MORE VALUABLE THAN MONEY
I have people that offer things to do for free. Or very cheap. How ever, they make you wait for them for ever.
I rather spend more money on good products or suppliers than little money for bad products or people that let you wait for ever.
9. MAKE SURE YOUR SUPPLIERS VALUE YOUR TIME
I hate it when I have to wait for people
10. MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR TIME AND NOT YOUR CLIENTS
Propose to them to do a reasearch to see if they can find another price, service, company.
For me it does not count as waste of time to have a smalltalk conversation with new contacts. It is an opportunity to know eachother better, understand which problem they run into and invite them for a free introduction in what I could do for them. No waste of time here. Also in the given example it feels not as a bad thing to loose a few weeks. I cannot be productive all weeks in a year anyway.
Filling out a survey is a great idea to select clients to start a discussion with.
In my personal life it feels like a waste of time to spend hours with a girlfriend that only costs energy.
When I follow a coaching academy that changes in the meantime I become frustrated and this is really a waste of time.
I agree with you that small talk is important.
I had a golf session. He said:"Ah the karate lady!" We spoke a little bit and the lesson was spot on. He used the info about my private live indirectly without me knowing it.
Unfortunately, a coaching acadamey that changes in the meantime is part of your learning process. I learned that the hard way.
For you a very good lesson to find out wheter you should continu or stop and take your loss.
Hold the lead or get the lead in the conversation. (this to avoid a waterfall of words that bring you nowhere) A lot of you already named ways to do that.
'interrupt' and say: I like to help you and I can be more of help it you tell me what your question is.
Very good Maria
The past months I have been working with someone who is very strict with her time. When we make an appointment to work 2 hours, it will be 2 hours. Not longer. A very important lesson.
1. Tell your clients you have until .... to talk to them. Be clear about this.
2. When talking with your client be clear what you need to know to be able to help them.
3. Be punctual and ask the same of your client. This applies to start time and end time.
4. When your client elaborate too much on a subject politely tell them to come to the point.
I have certain times blocked in my calendar... for different appointments, I have different links. People can choose their time themselves, and they know it's from 11.00-11.45 for example...
Or when I see a patient and they have a list of complaints, I ask what the most important thing is for today (since I only have 10 minutes).
Fun. This is a topic I like- there is so much time wasted in meetings!
1. First all I’d like to state that small talk is definitely not always wasted time. But make it personal: not about the weather, but get to know the other person. I love to give people an assignment such as “find something in common” or something related to the topic of the meeting to find out more about each other. When people have to work together, getting to know each other is a way to quickly make lines shorter!
2. Start. On. Time. If you have a meeting with more people and you wait for those who are late, you punish the people who are on time! And you let the late comers take over your meeting. Always stay in control.
3. I have a standard message that is polite but decisive on my Instagram for those who contact me. It’s very clear in there that I would love to help them but for anything else they can book an appointment.
4. When someone asks you to have a cup of coffee to get to know each other for possible working together, first ask yourself if you are looking for someone to work together with. If you are, first ask them what they could offer you that might be interesting for you. If they fail to answer, don’t waste your time on it. Sounds harsh but especially when you’re getting a bit more successful people will want to all the time get to know you just to be in your presence. It’s a time waster…
5. PREPARE. i send people something to prepare. If they didn’t do it, they don’t take it seriously and I don’t feel bad to immediately cancel the meeting. This goes for one on one but definitely for bigger meetings. I’ll tell them upfront also. I will not spend time to let people read the prep IN the meeting.
6. Give people a time frame to talk. If I give you 2 minutes to state your point, I will force you to get to the point. I will let someone prepare first btw- give them time to write down what they think. It creates safety and sooo much effect.
I’m helping people to do their (online) meetings better and this is a big part of it:)
about #3, how do you do that? Do you send them to a certain page where they can book and pay for an appointment?
#5 is a good one, I will add that to my automation when people book a (free) appointment
Yes- I used to send them to my website that had a plugin where you can book an appointment on the spot.
Ah, I didn't realize clients who take a lot of your time can be a serious time drain and cost a lot of money. It's an eye opener!
1. Make a plan before you meet your client - It's important to make yourself clear what your goals are and how you are going to achieve them.
2. Train yourself in saying NO
3. Make a short summary of the conversation when you want to move on - By doing that, you're letting your client know in a friendly and professional way you're ending the meeting.
4. Saying 'thank you, ....' also is a way to let your conversation partner know you're rounding up.
5. Let the client know how you follow up - this is a variation on #3
6. Push yourself to make your email communication short but clear - You can do this by making templates. I waste a lot of time on email communication. Big challenge for me.
great tips @Ine, just a question:
How do you combine #3 and #5 in a conversation?
#6: let me know if you'd want to check my email-templates ok? I have many of them and would love to share them with you.
This is an excellent topic and so important. I loved going into the brainstorming for this one. here is what I came up with:
1. Don't be afraid to cut them short (in a polite way) and ask "What is the purpose of your communication?". I found out that 8/10 times this focuses the other person and makes them get to the point.
2. Communication is your best strategy - so if the other person is not focused and you lost them totally - ask them "What would you like to get out of this conversation?". In many cases that helps them to say what they want and then you can either end the conversation by giving them what they want... or... informing them that you need to think about it/look into it and that you return back to them within xxx days with an answer
3. When it's a meeting with several people - start it by stating that you have xx amount of time for it
4. Best way to stop wasting time in meetings is by making sure the participants are prepared for the meeting and ask them to prepare their answers to 2-3 questions which are the main issue of that meeting, when stating what is YOUR purpose and goal for that meeting.
Cool your #2 Bina!
I love all of your idea's @bina, especially the last one! This way every one is already engaged and I can see by their results the amount of dedication and commitment they have for the meeting. Thanks for sharing!