Possibly the loss would not be serious if he should actually sit down at eleven o'clock and do the plan ning, but usually he does not. He generally decides that it is too late that night to make out his report and that he will get up an hour earlier in the morning and do it. He does not do this, however, and conse quently he starts a day that is likely to be unproduc tive. Breakfast is eaten hurriedly and with a nervous sense of something extra to do that morning—a con dition that is sure to prevent proper digestion. Then the salesman hastily selects the names of three or four prospects and hurries out half-prepared.
6. Percentage of efficiency.—Mention has been made of the wasting of valuable time and energy that should go into presentations, in covering long dis tances between interviews. The salesman might well make it a practice during the period of retrospection following the day's work, to set down the number of hours spent in the field and divide it into the number of hours spent actually interviewing prospects. He would find the percentage of efficiency startlingly low, possibly not higher than thirty or forty per cent. That would mean that sixty or seventy per cent of the entire time spent in the field was spent in travel ing from one prospect to another, or in waiting in outer offices. Careful planning and careful watching on the part of the salesman will do much to improve this percentage. One hundred per cent is, of course, impossible of attainment, but conscientious, energetic salesmen should be able to reach an efficiency of sixty to seventy-five per cent.
7. Getting in a full day's work.—The salesman cannot afford to spend his time cataloging the hours when it may be inconvenient for buyers to see him. If he happens to know the prospect's habits, it will, of course, be advantageous for him to call at the time that is convenient for the prospect. In other cases he must take his chance, and if be does not obtain an interview, Ile should lose no time in passing on to the next prospect. This phase of the subject is well dis cussed in a little message from a sales manager to his men on the road: There are four begging little devils,that haunt our sales men. Their food is prospect-seeing time.
One hungry little devil is about o' mornings. He mounts the shoulder of the Peerless One and whispers : "No use try ing to see your first man before nine-thirty—got to give him time to open his mail." And if you so much as waver for an
instant, he straightway devours the front-end of vour precious morning.
The next little begging devil's idea of a dainty morsel is a, toothsome mid-day. "It is DOW a quarter to twelve," he adroitly starts. "If you see a man now he is likely to go to lunch any minute and he'll hustle you thru to get rid of you and get out." If you agree to this proposition, he waits until he gets you comfortably seated at luncheon, or in a hotel lobby, and then suggests: "You can't see him before two o'clock now—they won't be back from lunch." And be fore your very eyes he gnaws two and one quarter perfectly good hours right out of the middle of your priceless day. And maybe, too, he nibbles off the half-hour between two and two-thirty, by way of dessert, before be leaves.
At the first suspicion of a shadow that crosses the after noon light of these autumn days, a third little devil, lean and ravenous, accosts you. "It is getting dark," he mournfully chants, "you can't start a new talk now. It's getting dark. Your man won't be in a mood to listen." And before you know it, he has gobbled the entire end off' your afternoon.
Before these three little begging devils are satisfied, your working hours are from twelve to one, with an hour for lunch, or rather, from twelve to two, with two hours for lunch ! The fourth little devil feeds only after long intervals, after the manner of a snake ; and then, like a snake, he gorges himself. His food is Saturdays. "You can't do anything on Saturdays," he says. "It's a short day and they're too_ busy to listen." And so, without even allowing you to start out, he swallows your Saturday whole.
And the terrible part of it is that they're such plausible little devils.
If you don't watch out you'll find yourself accepting their say-so as the gospel truth. And they can find for you every single hour of the day a seemingly good reason why you should not work just then.
But they're liars—every one.
If you want to prove it, just sally forth some bright morn ing and find out how many men get down to their offices at eight or eight-thirty. Progressive business men cannot transact their business in a few fag ends of hours in a day, any more than you can. And if a man is at his office at eight or eight-thirty in the morning, it's the best indication in the world that he's a good prospect for you. He's a hustler. He's a "get there" man.