I just moderated a dream panel at NYC Entrepreneur Week(more on this over the next week or so). In response to my question "what should companies be doing differently in this economy", serial entrepreneur Robert Levitan told the following story. He was at iVillage in 1995 and they were getting ready to launch and he had to start selling advertising. He interviewed a bunch of media salespeople and no one wanted the job because no one thought that selling online advertising was going to work. Remember this is before even consumer products companies had websites. So he decided to do it himself and he had two months to sell the advertising before iVillage's launch. When he met with potential advertisers, and keep in mind this included some of the largest consumer products companies in the world like P&G, he started out by telling them, "don't waste my time."
So here he is selling an unproven product to the biggest prospects and he tells them not to waste his time. Why? Simple. He had two months to accomplish this crucial goal. He wanted a "yes" or "no". Anything else was going to interfere with him accomplishing his goal. (By the way, he made the sale).
Lesson? Now more than ever, you have to be disciplined to achieve your most important goals. Don't let anyone waste your time: suppliers, employees and even customers.