Moving Target (Issue 468)

In which we are reminded to clear time-wasters from our client lists and project lists in order to create capacity to grow.

Consistent readers of this column will recall that Clarity has moved headquarters to a new location, closer to civilization and dangerous moving objects like trains that did not appear in the previous location. While the physical move happened several weeks ago, the “moving process” is still active.

I have a love-hate relationship with moving. The part I hate most about moving is that I have to make forced choices about keeping things…or not keeping them. You’d think I’d never met a book, project file, or magazine I thought I shouldn’t keep. This is because I’ve strayed from a basic life rule.

For the first ten years in my business life, I moved frequently — every 12 – 18 months. I learned a very powerful life rule: “Never own anything you can’t carry.” I considered every purchase in terms of portability. Not a bad rule for the first ten years.

I’m now approaching my last ten years of work using a corollary to the “can’t carry” guideline: “If you haven’t used it for five years, toss it.”

So, I’m getting rid of stuff. Lots of stuff. And, it’s painful. All those carefully saved back issues of Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and Sales & Marketing Management? Gone. The books I bought to read one day? Gone. Prized “one of a kind” issues of Forbes? Gone (mostly…I kept a few). Project files I created ten and twenty years ago? Gone, creating massive amounts of newly available shelf space.

All the while, the voice in my head is protesting, ” Some client will want this exact same thing, you’ll need it to write a case study, you’ll want this for some speech you’ll write.”

Some of us salespeople hate forced choices, too We’re the ones who have never met a prospect unworthy of continued attention or who have never developed a customer relationship that wasn’t worth keeping. [What? You want me to give up names or accounts? Are you kidding? That number is WAY too small. You’re killing me. You’re just killing me.] Never mind that we haven’t called on the prospect or customer for three years or that we don’t know the key decision-makers any more.

I’m not saying the voice in my head is getting quieter as I work through my weeding out process. Au contraire. I’m just learning to throw out the dusty books, magazines, and account names while the voice jabbers away.

CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We are half-way through the sales year. Look at your client list and prospect list. Which clients or prospects could you drop in order to create sales time you could apply more productively elsewhere?

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