For salespeople, time management is one of the most challenging disciplines to master. Reps typically have several important tasks competing for their attention all at once. In my time with sales reps, I’ve noticed that one of the differences between good salespeople and great salespeople starts with how they use their time. Great salespeople are constantly in tune and fine-tuning their schedules: never allowing a day to end without knowing how they're going to use the next day effectively.
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How can sales reps prioritize and maximize their time? Here are a few time management strategies that will help boost your productivity.
Know your "Best" Audience
When it comes time to developing business, it's important to make the best use of your time. Time is money, and your time is valuable. Keep that mentality! Allotting time to one prospect over another could be the difference between closing a million-dollar deal and having the door closed on you. One way to make this happen is to know your audience.
Understanding where to best spend your time will ultimately result in peak performance and greater success. Start by understanding the best type(s) of organizations you should be reaching out to through your ideal buyer profile and the individuals or titles you should be contacting.
Only Focus on Selling
A sales rep’s day can be riddled with a variety of distractions. From putting together a proposal during selling hours to engaging in a long-winded discussion at the water cooler, diversions are everywhere and can quickly erode our selling time.
Also, look for administrative tasks you can automate, such as email campaigns, through sequencing. Saving a few minutes here and there will quickly add up -- and as an added benefit, you can direct more energy toward activities that are sales-centric. Lastly, be willing to say "No." While it's important to be a team player, make sure you don't get taken advantage of.
Stop Selling to "Buyers"
Typically, the decision maker is making the financial decision and has the ultimate decision to approve or deny. The buyer typically has the pain points and is an influencer. While the buyer is an important cog in the sales wheel, get after the decision maker first and have them authorize or introduce you to the other team members that are influencers and users.
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your prospect’s commitment to buy before realizing they’re not the decision maker. So, don't be afraid to both ask for and validate that you are indeed talking to and meeting with the decision maker. By finding the person that has the power to say "yes," you will save time and frustration.
Good sales reps save time by automating their various administrative tasks.
Focus on Large Sales
I may get some grief for this one, but I firmly believe that by focusing your efforts on your largest opportunities, you will be in a better position to maximize your time and get a greater ROI on your time investment.
If you happen to come across smaller opportunities, refer them to someone either inside your organization or to an outside partner.
Ask Everyone for Introductions
Introductions can be gold! They are and should be one of the most crucial components of your sales strategy. In fact, there’s no more reliable way to grow any business than through sourcing introductions -- but only if it's done in a systematic, smart way.
However, most salespeople use outdated, hit-or-miss methods to get introduced to prospective clients. It’s no wonder that referrals inspire dread -- and procrastination -- for so many.
Done correctly, the right introductions can transform your sales for the better. Set a daily goal for yourself of asking for one introduction from both your clients and networking partners. While this may seem like a lofty goal, if you plan, prepare and execute correctly, you will be amazed with the results.
Plan, Prepare, Execute
Tom Osborne, former head football coach at Nebraska, has been quoted with saying; “What I can tell you is that a successful football team operates on a principle of ‘plan, prepare, execute.'” He said that only through thorough planning, then preparation of the team, can they play the game (execute) successfully. “If we didn’t do all the planning and preparation, we won’t know what to do when the unexpected happens.” This certainly applies to sales and life.
- Plan: Identify your goals and desired outcomes
- Prepare: Gather what you need to facilitate those goals or objectives
- Execute: Do what you said you were going to do during the time you said you were going to do it. Planning and preparation are a waste of time without execution.
The key to all of this is relentless determination to making this process habitual and refining as you progress.
Tip: Maximize the use of your calendar as a driver for success by scheduling all your sales activities including recurring prospecting blocks for phone calls, emails and sales prep work. And, that sales prep I mentioned, should be done before 8 and after 5.