Time Management can be tricky for busy salespeople, but these tips and tricks will help you work smarter, not harder.
“Time is money.” It’s a familiar phrase that sales development representatives, business development representatives, and other sales professionals are intimately familiar with.
But, as a salesperson, your time really is money. Most salespeople are not paid for the hours they put in. Typically, they’re paid based on their results; the more they sell, the more money they make.
It’s easy to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Between prospecting leads, crafting messages, and tracking conversations, there are multiple demands on your time and attention.
But the problem may not actually be a lack of time, but how efficient you are with your time. Effective time management is critical to sales success, but it is also one of the biggest challenges.
To help you use your time wisely, here are some key techniques from top-performing sales professionals.
1. Track Your Time
When it comes to managing your time, the first step is to figure out where it goes.
Most people are unaware of the habits that kill their productivity. If you’re suffering from too much to do, and not enough time to do it, the best way to get it under control is to acknowledge and understand your habits. You can do this by tracking your time.
Try tracking specific tasks using an app like Toggl. If you think time is getting away from you online, consider using RescueTime to nudge you back towards productivity. If sprinting and resting suit your workflow, Pomodoro timers can help.
After a week, you should see some patterns emerging. Analyze your log to figure out where you can be more productive, and adjust your activities accordingly.
2. Start With the End in Mind
People who set goals and monitor their progress are 42% likely to succeed. Having goals increases motivation and achievement. However, not just any goal will do. The more specific the goal, the greater the likelihood of success. A goal without a number and a timeframe is a wish.
Setting goals is only half the equation. You need feedback, too. Monitoring your progress will show you how much you have accomplished as well as what corrections need to be made.
3. Focus on the 20%
Most people are familiar with the 80/20 rule: 20% of your time produces 80% of your results. Rather than focusing on tasks that have little impact on your success, concentrate on the ones with maximum ROI (return on investment). Then, look for ways either to outsource or batch those low-ROI activities.
Another way to think about the 80/20 rule is this: 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers.
While this holds true for businesses, many reps will have names on their list that will never make a purchase, and others that will become high-value, long-term customers.
The sooner you can qualify leads, the better it is for you. So if you’re doing your own qualifying, do it hard and fast, batch it, and remember: if there’s an unqualified lead on the phone, you’re not actually selling. You’re either qualifying, or you’re just talking.
4. Batch Appointments
When you have a meeting outside the office, think about who else you could meet in the area.
It seems obvious, but how often have you found yourself wasting time driving out of your way due to ineffective scheduling?
Grid your territory, and meet with prospects and catch up with current customers all within the same area. When you manage your travel effectively between appointments, you can meet with more prospective buyers, increasing your sales potential.
5. Stop Multitasking
You may think you’re being more productive, but studies have shown that multitasking actually slows you down.
Your brain can’t do two things at once. When you think you’re multitasking, your brain is actually darting from one task to another in rapid succession.
As a result, you lose 40% productivity because the brain is constantly shifting gears and trying to focus. Not only does multitasking kill your efficiency and performance, it’s actually harmful. Prioritize your sales activities and focus on one thing at a time to maximize your success.
6. Batch Tasks
Grouping similar tasks together leads to greater productivity and efficiency.
Block off a specific amount of time to make cold calls each day. Return calls at the same time each day rather than continually checking your voicemail. Designate an hour or two in the afternoon for prospecting for the following day. Once the time is up, move on to another task.
Scheduling activities this way improves your workflow, because when you concentrate on one activity at a time, you become faster, better, and more accurate.
7. Get to the “No” Faster
Chasing the wrong prospects costs valuable time you could have spent nurturing a viable lead. Most likely, you have a system for disqualifying leads, but it can be hard to let go of a potential sale, even one that appears to have little chance. That’s a mistake.
Disqualifying leads as quickly as possible allows you to move on to ones that are more likely to become customers. So view a hard “no” as a good thing — it lets you know to stop chasing a dud lead.
8. Plan Your Day Around Your Customers
You’ve blocked out time on your calendar to call on prospects, but does that time suit your schedule, or theirs? If you’re not calling potential customers when it’s convenient for them, you’re not managing your day effectively.
While research can tell you the best days and times to reach prospects, it comes down to knowing your target buyers’ behaviors and routines.
For instance, a noon phone call to a restaurant that is typically packed at lunchtime isn’t going to prove successful. Statistics are just a starting point; track your results and get to know your customers’ schedules so you can reach them at their best times.
9. The 2-Minute Rule
Here’s a principle to live by — if something will take less than two minutes, just do it.
There is a downside in theory, however: we’re all subject to something called completion bias, meaning we like the feeling of ticking things off a list. So if we make our whole day about lists, it’s easy to tick off the easy stuff, feel a sense of accomplishment, and then look back on a whole day wasted on busy work.
But – and it’s a big but – many small, simple tasks just don’t deserve the energy that’s expended on them.
These tiny tasks are magnified exponentially once we start treating them like projects. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, is a big proponent of this approach. If something comes up in the day and it just takes a couple of minutes, don’t schedule it, just do it.
10. Avoid Distractions
Distractions abound in the office, diverting your attention from your goals. While a minute or two of lost productivity doesn’t seem like a big deal, it adds up over the course of the day.
One way to combat distractions is to plan your day in advance. Whether you do it last thing in the evening or first thing in the morning, set your priorities for the day and focus on them.
Of course, some distractions are sneakier than others. Although social media is an increasingly important component of the sales process, spending 15 minutes checking updates and newsfeeds can easily turn into an hour wasted on browsing funny videos. Use distraction-blocking apps to prevent you from surfing the web and scrolling through social media.
11. Take a Break
The simple act of taking a break improves your focus and increases your productivity. Tearing yourself away from the computer for as little as 10 minutes will help clear your mind and improve your concentration. When you return to your desk, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle your next task.
Want to Save Even More Time? Upgrade Your Workflow
Ultimately, the key to time management for any busy salesperson is to work smarter, not harder. Get rid of distractions, prioritize, and focus on your most important task: selling.
That said, your workflow also plays an important role in your productivity. By upgrading to better tools, you might find you can spend more time on connecting with customers and less time on manual tasks.
Take prospecting, as an example. Instead of spending hours searching for information about a potential lead, you can use Datanyze to automate the process in seconds.
Our Chrome extension finds accurate contact details and company information for any prospect via LinkedIn or a company website. There are 120 million people in our database, and all the info is sourced in accordance with GDPR and CCPA.
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