Time. Precious Time

Time truly is the most valuable resource that anyone can have.

When you sell something, almost anything, you are probably selling Time.

Time lives our lives with us
Walk side by side with us
Time is so far from us
But time is among us
Time is ahead of us
Above and below us
Standing beside us
And looking down on us

Steve Jobs said that "the most precious resource we all have is time", but he is definitely not the only one to have pointed to that truth.

In our first post about triangular thinking, we covered the concept of Time from a business perspective. And we also covered Time from a personal perspective. So, now, let's look at Time from a customer-first perspective.

We All Sell Time

If you are selling a service, you are selling more Time: "Let me rather do that work on your behalf, my dear customer, so that you can use more of your valuable time doing something much better." So, yes, even if you, for example, sell your expertise (such as lawyers, doctors or investment advisors do) you are removing the need from people to spend their time gaining that expertise.

If you are selling a product, you are selling better Time: "Let me create this product for you so that, when you use it, your experience (i.e. the time when you then use that product) will be enhanced through the convenience, need, enjoyment, indulgence, utility, or general value that the product provides."

60-minutes of Time

When you are, for example, a business doing 60-minute delivery, you must not do 'omni-channel' on top of your physical stores. No! Please no! Omni-channel is just too much of a retailer-first view of the world (cloaked in a customer-first guise).

Rather, you are selling your customers more time. You are taking away their need to get into a vehicle, drive to a store, find parking, walk to the store, find their way through the store to the products, wait in a queue, pay for the goods, and to then do these actions in the reverse order again. You are even saving them time by helping them re-fuel their vehicles less often.

And, if you can do the above by promising exactly when the goods will arrive (as opposed to sending the customer an it-will-arrive-sometime-today message a few weeks after the order), you are then selling them even more time; the time of not having to hang around all day waiting for your delivery vehicle.

If you can then keep that promise (and only fail doing so for a minuscule percentage of people - when life happens, e.g. driver-accidents, robberies, etc.) you will sell people an even better time too; a time free of wait-anxiety.

And if you can provide all of the products that were ordered (and, again, only fail to do so for a minuscule percentage of people) you are then selling people an even better-better anxiety-free time.

This example covered 60-minute delivery - and how one should think about 60-minute delivery. But, as said above, these statements are true when you sell almost anything; that is anything that is not (for example) legally required, or (for example, too) goods that people have become addicted to such as drugs. I.e., we are referring to goods or services that people willingly purchase.

More Time. Better time. Just Time.

Once this notion that 'selling-anything-is-selling-time' is well understood, it will make a lot more sense to look at every type of transaction from a we-are-selling-time-to-customers perspective.

The really smart people will then have a time-first perspective when looking at 'anything'. There may, for example, be times (pun intended) in our lives when we find ourselves in a position to be able to sell some of our time (for huge amounts of money) to someone who has a much greater need for that time.

A great example of doing what is described in the previous paragraph is the case of prof. Tina Seeling and her 2009 Stanford business school class. She divided her class into teams, provided them with $5 seed funding and asked them to create and execute a strategy to maximise that money in two hours. The team that won generated $650 - a more than 12000% ROI. How? They sold their end-of-assignment 3-minute report-back-presentation-slot to a local company that was hoping to recruit students.

Time truly is the most valuable resource that anyone can have.

Think Time.
Create Time.
Identify Time.
Sell Time.

(Thank you to a one-level-removed person on LinkedIn for reminding me again about the Tina Seeling story - and apologies for not being able to find that LinkedIn post now - to credit you by name.)