There I was sitting on a hot, stuffy, cramped tube train under London, heading to a meeting I didn’t really want and shouldn’t have been going to. Another morning disappearing from my diary, that I couldn’t afford. Business development meetings can loom large on our time wasters list. Are you allowing business development time wasters creep into your diary, and how could you reduce them?

Hot stuffy tube trains - big time wasters!

Business development time wasters?

You’ve been there too, right? You’re running your firm, your ‘to-do’ list overflowing, clients demands backing up and you’re going to a business development meeting and wondering why?

This article is about business development time wasters and three 3 ways of saving yourself time (no, time management doesn’t exist, did you read that one?).

Filtering potential leads

A clear definition of your target client saves your from wasting time. Then a sales process where you only commit to doing more for the prospect as they make more commitment to you (read more in sales process).

If you’re thinking that sounds restrictive and that it comes from your sales prevention officer, you’re wrong. If you view the process of getting to know a potential client as a series of exchanges of commitment, where you define the commitments, you will save time and increase your conversion rate.

A commitment could be as simple as you need to have a good phone conversation (where they reveal information about their company) before you commit to meeting them. Download our guide to creating your buying process, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

Exceeding targets is not good

The trouble with business development it’s easy to get carried away and keep getting more clients. You want to ensure you feed the family tomorrow, as well as today, it’s natural.

How real is that? Chasing more clients reduces your ability to market effectively to your “sweet spot” and to serve your existing clients. Worse, it adds stress, and stops you from developing your team.

Stopping business development time wasters means knowing how much business you really want. You might consider under which circumstances you would attempt to get more. If you are targeting a GRF of £350k for this year, and you already have £375k committed, do you need to stress your system further?

Only you can answer that, but chase the extra business consciously not because it presented itself. I know many small practices that are stressed, struggling and over trading because they exceeded their goals and don’t stop hunting for more. It could sound like a lovely place to be, and can allow you to be more targeted about people you really like working with.

Good, or bad? Firms that struggle after exceeding their goals & keep hunting for more. http://growingyourfirm.co.uk/time-wasters/ via @divingjon - Click here to tweet this

Going with your gut feeling

All the processes in the world can only ever inform you. They can help you challenge your inner-self, but the gut feeling normally will win. Be aware of that gut feeling and how you will politely decline potential work if it doesn’t feel right.

The train eventually dealt with the signalling failure and took me on to my destination, when I realised my gut feeling didn’t like this prospect. I was only going because of other team members. If I don’t like the prospect , how likely am I to do a good job selling myself and allowing her to sell herself to me?

Your team – your processes

Why was I going to the meeting? I overrode my gut instinct because others in the team had spoken to her (didn’t want to let them down) and one had jumped protocol and booked the meeting without the normal phone call first. Let me rephrase that, I hadn’t communicated things clearly. Do you?

Some firms have been targeting one niche (in the owners mind), while the team were advertising for other clients. Getting your team involved with your processes and strategy is criticalHow good are you at managing your team?

What do you do to protect yourself from time wasters?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Photo used under creative commons licence. For more information, click here.