The most important resource your organization or you as a salesperson has is time, and time management should be the most important task you do (next to selling). Yet while your phone, computer, office assistant and car might all be key tools that you use while working, they really only make your time more effective by cutting out and streamlining processes that used to take hours when they can now only take minutes or seconds. Yet despite this, Sales Leaders and businesses are still wondering how salespeople should be spending their time.
Leveraging your time is the best way to achieve your goals. Today we will discuss seven key tactics modern salespeople use to do this – every single day.
Have you ever arrived to the office so excited for your day you can barely contain it? Feeling like you are ready to bite into the biggest stack of prospects you have, and sign every single one? You’re having a great hair day, you’ve got your favourite outfit on, fresh from the dry cleaners. You walk in the door with your latte, sit at your computer, and go to lift your telephone and make your first call.
It’s often right at this point that salespeople see an urgent email, knock on the door, or invitation to a can’t miss meeting, training seminar, or birthday celebration. They get roped in to some tedious service task for a client, or worse yet, a task for someone else in the office that is unrelated to selling. Once this first task is over, it often leads to another, and another, and another, and by the time you get to the work you actually want and need to do, you’re drained, decaffeinated, and deflated. Guess it will have to wait until after lunch, or worse, tomorrow.
By the time you get to the work you actually want and need to do, you’re drained, decaffeinated, and deflated.
Don’t let this happen to you. Put your best foot forward, and do the work that feeds you first and foremost, no matter what.
It seems ingrained in us as humans living in this day and age to wake up, and check check check. Check your social media, check your personal email, texts, voicemails. We are drowning in a sea of dings and pings and notifications. All of us bring this to work with us, believing we need to be “caught up” and “fully up to date” on the goings-on before we can start any task.
You Must Stop Doing This. Firstly, you should have had your inbox up-to-date when you left the office the previous day. If anything of world-ending importance happened over night, I’m sure you’ll receive a phone call about it. People who send you emails are sending you tasks to do for them. While these can be important, and often seem urgent, it’s crucial that you understand that they can wait an hour or two for a response. That’s why they sent it to you in an email.
If the thing that will feed your goals is calling ten new prospects each day, then make those calls when you get into the office before you even get a single email-task in your brain.
When we try to focus on completing too many things at the same time, our brain gets distracted and we lose loads of time to confusion, overthinking, and useless re-thinking.
Let’s say you’re focused on an email you just received about a service problem (but trying not to respond). At the same time, you’re also attempting to make your ten prospecting calls for today (but worried you’re wasting time researching clients). While this is happening on the work end, you’re also texting your partner about where you should go out for dinner this evening (and constantly checking back for their response).
If your brain has to deal with all three of these lines of thinking simultaneously, you will make little to no progress on any of them. Divide them up into distinct blocks of time, and work through them based on what is most important (in this case, sales, service, then social time.)
As a sales professional, we never want to hear the word NO. We spend countless hours and days and weeks crafting our emails and phone calls and proposals into a perfectly shaped opportunity for our prospect to say that one magical word – YES!
Despite this, sales is a numbers game at heart and the majority of our hopeful clients will give us a “no.” The thing about most clients is, they are incredibly kind and wonderful people who would rather string you along with a series of maybes and questions and even meetings with no real intention of ever saying yes.
While this feels nice, it gives you the illusion of progress when you are really just spinning your wheels. You must accept that NO is a great thing to hear, and that the faster you get to it, the sooner you can move on to a client who will actually say yes.
Modern Salespeople build real connections and close more business because of it. What doesn’t close business is cheesy scripts, blanket emails, and impersonal dialogue that turns clients off.
Despite this, and because sales is a numbers game, we must be as efficient as possible in everything we do on the clock. This is why you must use templates so you don’t waste time thinking of the perfect way to introduce yourself to a client, make an internal request, or open a call every single time you’re in one of these repetitive situations.
Create templates for everything you do and save them in your email signatures, as documents on your shared drive, or as easy scripting notes for calls so you don’t duplicate the bulk of your work. Always tweak and personalize every interaction and communique you put out, but please don’t ponder the minor details every single time.
Tracking your progress in anything is the only way to ensure you actually are making progress. Before I got into sales, I barely tracked anything. Now, I’m constantly breaking down everything I do, from my grocery bills to my vehicle MPG into percentages, fractions, and totals. How many dollars per meal am I averaging? What is the percentage increase in my gas usage compared to last week?
Don’t just track your progress towards your bonus. Track your progress consistently in all facets of your sales process, every step of the way. By doing this, you can see exactly where prospects might be falling out of your sales process and where you can improve. You can break down specifically where your team is losing clients and find a solution to fix it because you can now find where the problem is. Track everything.
The biggest thing getting in the way of your prime activities is doing other peoples jobs and being a part of someone else’s goal. When someone asks for your help with something they could do themselves, they are making you work for them. This takes away from valuable time where you could be selling to achieve your goals. Meetings and training sessions that are irrelevant are just barriers people are putting up between you and your true work to make you do something they need, such as filling a session or meeting their quota. Minutes you spend reading emails from people trying to sell to you or make you do things for them, are minutes that should be spent selling towards your own goals.
Now, don’t be a jerk and don’t be complacent. Do not neglect essential duties of your workplace that are unrelated to selling. But please, complete the activities that will make you achieve your goals first and foremost before you do so for someone else.
No matter what happens during your sales day, always remember to manage your time effectively because it is your most precious resource. Staunchly fight off those who seek to steal it, and guard it from your own bad habits wherever you can.
Be sure to stay educated and check out these great books on Time Management:
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less – Richard Koch
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – Brian Tracy