Managing the Game Clock–A Very Timely Sales Best Practice

CEO and Founder at Tramazing, former President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and former Executive Vice President of Sandler Corporate Training, Michael Norton has helped companies accelerate their growth by elevating their talent through learning and development programs. Michael has had the pleasure of working with world-class companies such as Siemens Healthcare, WebMD, 7-Up, Cardinal Health, Cemex, Boral, HPE, Indeed, Lonza, KONE, Evonik, Quest Software, Dell, Anixter, and many more. for 30+ years he has developed, written, delivered, reinforced, and sold sales and sales management training programs that deliver real ROI while fitting into a company's culture, processes, daily sales workflow, and budget.

managing the game clock

Salespeople who understand how to manage the game clock for maximum effectiveness will outsell their competition every time. I had two fantastic experiences this week with sales professionals who displayed excellent management of the game clock, or for our purposes, the sales clock. 

Most weeks I have one or two virtual meetings with a salesperson who has a solution that I believe might be of benefit to our company, our partners, or our clients. I love to meet with salespeople, first to see if there is a product or service that can be of benefit, but also to see how people are selling these days.

Things I look for: 

  • Did they do their homework? 
  • Are they rushed, moving from one call to the next? 
  • Are they following a specific sales process or methodology? 
  • Have they taken the time to dress for success even when working from home? 
  • Are they in ‘tell’ mode or ‘sell’ mode?
  • How are they managing the game clock?  

The last one is so very important, at least for me. As someone who is also back-to-back with calls, virtual meetings, writing, and client projects, managing my time is always of critical importance. So, when someone respects my time, they earn my respect in return. 

This week I had two virtual sales calls with potential technology providers for our business. Both displayed excellent clock management skills, knowing exactly where we were and when it was time to move the conversation along. They did it with finesse and ease. Not only were they professional in the entire discussion, but both also gave me back 5 minutes in my day.  

Although the extra 10 minutes is always helpful, they both did something else that I picked up on. Keep in mind these were two different salespeople representing two different companies. They did give me back 5 minutes, but they had a reason for doing it that wasn’t just a gift for me. They used that 5 minutes to send me the follow up email we had agreed on, which of course included a thank you, as well as the information I had requested.  

Yes, managing the sales game clock is something top performers have learned to do a long time ago. However, when I realized that two salespeople in separate conversations executed this move flawlessly, my curiosity was piqued enough for me to call them both back to see if I could confirm my suspicions. And I am happy to report that these two sales professionals were well trained and had developed this sales best practice over time.  

They used the five minutes after our call and before their next call to send a follow up email, complete with the information I requested, and they updated their notes and the opportunity in their CRM. Much of this was automated through enabling technologies and the way that their CRM was configured, but they wanted to capture any of the notes and important details about the call and make sure it was accurate. Can we imagine the impact if all of our salespeople diligently followed this best practice?  

Final Thoughts: There are many aspects and nuances of managing a sales game clock, just as there are in sports. And like most sports, in addition to the game clock, there is often a play clock that has to be taken into consideration. It is no different in selling. If we allow ourselves to get drawn into irrelevant conversations and rabbit holes, before we know it, we are penalized for delay of game, or the game clock expires with the score in the prospect’s favor. Whether it is a 15-minute introductory call, a sales call scheduled for only 30 minutes, or a longer 60-90 minute call, top-performing salespeople know exactly how to manage each one for maximum productivity for both themselves and their prospects.

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