ProductivitySales

6 Effective Time Management Techniques for Success in Sales

By July 29, 2014 8 Comments

We are constantly asked to do more in less time. We are asked to increase prospecting activity, increase the number of appointments we run and increase sales. Sometimes it may feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, when the hours in your workweek are always the same! These are some simple changes you can make to your daily routine to dramatically benefit your productivity.

6 Effective Time Management Techniques for Success in Sales

Effective time management is an essential part of success in sales. Here’s how you can make it happen:

Schedule Your Prospecting

This may seem fundamental, but prospecting needs to become habit. Creating a habit begins with a conscious effort to perform a behavior. In our extremely busy days, weeks and months, that conscious effort usually needs to be scheduled. This means creating preplanned time to attack your prospective client base. In the same way you would schedule meetings, a time to go jogging or even your lunch hour, scheduling prospecting ensures you hit the necessary number of calls to be successful.

Because cold calls, in person calls and emails to new prospects are not the most enjoyable responsibilities we have as salespeople, they have a tendency to get pushed by the wayside. This planning will sustain your sales pipeline and prevent droughts. Schedule time to prospect and read Sales Engine’s tips on ways to prospect like a sales pro.

Schedule Administrative Time

Our least favorite part of being in sales is performing non-revenue generating activities such as: handling customer issues, processing sales paperwork, etc. Scheduling a specific time each day to handle these issues will save you time and relieve some stress.

Handling time consuming issues that pop up during the day is not always optimal.  If a customer needs your help with a complicated request, don’t drop what you’re doing to address it.  We all want to take great care of our customers. However, wasting too much time and energy trying to switch back and forth from task to task will leave you drained.  Scheduling one hour per day, say from 4pm-5pm, to handle any issues that accumulate throughout the day can work wonders.  Whether it’s turning in sales paperwork or responding to in depth customer concerns, simply wait until that hour to process it.  That way you are able to truly focus on cold calling or running appointments with no opportunity for distraction.

Zone Your Calendar

If you are in outside sales, zoning your calendar is by far the most effective thing you can do to be more productive during the workday. Each zone is a different geographical location you can prospect in. As a sales rep, you should only work in one zone per day. Using the “4 day work week” method to divide your territory into 4 zones can be a great starting point. By having 4 zones and 5 days in a work week it allows you to hit every zone on different days each week. Here is an example calendar with 4 zones.

 ZoneYourCalendar

The primary reason for zoning your calendar is to minimize your time in-between each meeting and each cold call.  By breaking your territory up into geographical zones, and only working in one zone per day, you should have hardly any wasted time driving long distances.

Now in order for this to work properly you must be assertive when scheduling appointments with customers.  Too often we as sales reps jump at the opportunity to meet with a prospect.  We tend to schedule the appointment at the most convenient time for them but don’t consider whether or not it is convenient for us.  You MUST learn to only schedule appointments with prospects on days that you will be in their geographical zone. If you can reach 5 prospects in 30 minutes, and by using this strategy you free up an hour and a half per day, you are allowing yourself to make 15 extra cold calls per day.  Your time is valuable and your sales success depends on using your time wisely.

Keep Email in Check

No this does not mean check your email every time your phone vibrates! Checking email only a few key times per day has numerous benefits. Find several select times to process email, whether it’s first thing in the morning, once again during lunch, or during scheduled administrative time.  This allows you to remain focused on the task at hand. Many sales professionals also recommend avoiding email in the morning and, instead, dedicate their time each morning to working on larger projects or initiatives. Whenever this email interval is, be sure to protect it and do what works for you.

If it takes less than 2 minutes, just do it!

Credit to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, for this concept. Getting quick and easy tasks out of the way immediately can benefit your productivity enormously. Throughout the day we have small brief to-do’s that can be handled as they come up. This helps to unlock full creativity and productivity, rather than weighing yourself down with tons of minutia. Don’t be confused, anything requiring more than 2 minutes of attention should wait until schedule administrative blocks.

Quick tasks can include returning a phone call to briefly clarify information for someone, providing a quick answer to a question by email, or coordinating with a colleague to delegate a larger action item. These small tasks can pile up and create mental “noise” preventing us from unlocking our productivity and creative potential.

Create an Inbox

For the tasks that take longer than 2 minutes, create an inbox to draw from during your scheduled administrative time. Review each task and understand what can be delegated, what can be deferred until a later time, and what needs to be done. Delegate those tasks, schedule the deferred ones, and do the essentials. Lingering stress is frequently caused by our inability to manage incoming tasks this way.  This system will help prevent your responsibilities from weighing down your productivity from day to day.

All of these simple changes when used in combination can increase sales, improve work life balance, and minimize unnecessary stress. We highly recommend adopting the ideas that fit your role and responsibilities.

What time management tips do you have for relatively inexperienced salespeople? How has your ability to effectively manage your time changed throughout your career? 

Please let us know in the comments below! 

Related Posts:

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Stop Confusing ‘Busyness’ with Productivity 

The 3 Factors That Limit Sales Productivity

Personal Productivity and Two Four-Letter Words

About the Authors

BeginnerSales

Jordan Softli and Sam Hopkins are account executives at Fortune 500 tech firms, and founders of www.BeginnerSales.com. Their work in sales has inspired them to help anyone starting a sales career find success early and sustain that success long term.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • angel says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Totally agree if it takes less than 2 mins, just do it! I got used to checking the email once I arrived at office. And I found time went so fast when checking these emails, and I don’t how could I spent so much time on it. I tried to search some articles about this problem and among them, I got that it’s not very proper to check the email when the day just started, cos you will be easy to stopped by others’ thoughts. I tried to put off this step and it really helped me a lot. So my suggestion on checking email can start at lunch, then once again before you leave the office.
    I’d love to make a to do lists that I need do during the whole day. Assign the work hours for such as 9-10am for preparing the material of the contacts. And do not forget to set the importance of all of them, first things first do principle always the key point. Cross the completed one from your lists to avoid missing some. If you always forget the time, you might try reminder to alert you.

  • Good post guys. A huge thing that I’m working with sales leaders on right now is switching CRM’s. If it takes a long time to interact with it’s wasting tons of time. Recent research shows that almost 50% of a sales rep time is spent on non-selling activities. That’s ridiculous, and companies could increase sales by 30% just by simply reducing that time waste to 20% of the reps schedule. This one hit a hot button. More on CRM’s and sales productivity http://levenax.com/sales-insights/

  • Reyes Williams says:

    Definitely great post and good read. There are various time management techniques that help into easy time tracking and managing project and employee time. At the same time, there are so many time management tools available which help in easy time management.

    Personally, I used few apps such as Basecamp for project management along with Google calendar but again due to much necessity for some good time management software, I switched to Replicon product suite.

    Replicon time management software solution is the best time management solution for all our time management solution.

  • Hanna says:

    thanks for the great post. If you want to make more more sales from your product, you have to spend more time selling,
    right? Yes, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and who wants to spend
    them all working? The key is to work smarter–not harder.

  • Geetha Singhee says:

    One other time management technique that I would say is to automate your Lead Generation Process. It can be done through LeadGrabber tool, which builds targeted leads from social records, gets you email and phone number to contact.
    This helps you to spend more time on cold calling and closing big deals than worrying about getting leads and their information.
    You can find the trial version of the tool – bit.ly/ldgtriallink

  • Kevin Peter says:

    Scheduling helps any sales person manage his activities. CRM does actually help him to do it. Researching about leads is the right way to prepare, and yeah we use a marketing automation tool that gives real good insights about the lead – what page is traversed through, what content he downloaded, ectectra and based on the lead score allocated the sales guys easily can capture the prospect on the call.

  • chichi209 says:

    thanks for sharing!

    -butitsfree

  • James Yoder says:

    Good information! Some of these tips I see as being very useful and also help relieve stress.
    I would say one of the best things that has worked for me is a notepad where I write down my to-do list for the day, daily goals, and my action plan. At the end of the day I review what’s on my notepad and see what I completed, accomplished or didn’t and that’s how I measure my productivity and stay focused.
    60,20,60,20 helps too. Spend 60 minutes committed to getting things done, then take 20 minutes to mentally/physically rest, let your mind re-organize it’s thoughts, and handle any small personal matters. Do that back to back. That way instead of being effective 50% of the day, you’re effective 80%. 60,20,60,20…

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