10 Time Management Tips For Sales Professionals
1. Start with your goals:
Your goals aren't just some arbitrary target that you want to hit - they're the blueprints to achieving your dreams. So, when you start to build your calendar for the day or week, be sure you leave enough time to do the things you promised yourself you'd finish. Remember, your goal isn't something you achieve all at once; it's the result of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of days' worth of consistent effort.
2. Do important things first:
If there's something that you know you absolutely have to get done, either because it's important or urgent, then do it first. Having it finished will take a huge psychological burden off your shoulders, and you're less likely to rush through the most critical project of the day.
3. Concentration is critical:
What one study after another has found, is that humans have one-track minds. We do our best stuff when we're concentrating on what's right in front of us. I'm not telling you to completely shut yourself off from multitasking, which is pretty impractical advice for most of us, but to focus as much as possible. You'll actually do a lot more, in much shorter time, than you would if you tried to tackle everything at once.
4. Know when you're good:
Every one of use has an internal clock that differs. Some of us are morning people, and do our best work when the sun is coming up. Others are night owls, and like burning the midnight oil. You should try, within reason, to do your most creative and energetic tasks (like giving in-person presentations or making sales calls) during those times when you feel most energetic. Save other jobs, like paperwork, for the parts of the day when you aren't as sharp.
5. Don't work for minimum wage:
As a professional salesperson, you get paid to generate new business, and this activity is, by far, the most profitable thing you can do. So why do so many salespeople waste so many hours cleaning, typing, filing, and doing other minimum wage jobs? There are literally dozens of places to hire help for those tasks, and at very reasonable rates, so put your time and energy into finding new business. The extra income it brings you will offset the expense dozens of times over.
6. Be productive, not busy:
The best part of sales is that no one but you can decide what you're going to earn this year. The worst part of sales is that it's usually completely up to you to make it happen. Even the best sales manager in the world can't keep that close an eye on their team, so if you decide to give less than your full effort, there's probably no one to stop you. I think that's why so many salespeople waste hours and days organizing their desks or fine-tuning sales presentations beyond what they need - those actions make them look and feel busy, even if they're not getting much done. You're only going to get so many hours, days, and weeks in a year; use them to reach your goals, not doing busywork.
7. Get repetitive:
In your company and industry, there are probably dozens of requests, questions, or issues that come up again and again. Rather than eat up your productive hours dealing with the same thing over and over, why not create a single file or response that tackles it? As an example, if you find that customers e-mail you frequently to ask about the pricing of a particular model or add-on, and you always give the same answer, then why not create one e-mail for that purpose? Any time that request comes in, you can simply take a moment to personalize it and hit 'send,' rather than dealing with each one personally. Of course, there are probably dozens of other ways you could apply this, but the point is to look for repetitive parts of your job and make them automatic, so you can free up your time for other things.
8. Guard your time:
You may have coworkers or friends who aren't as concerned about their productivity as you are about yours. The key to dealing with them isn't to be cold or dismissive - you should have an active personal life, and even if you don't, maintaining good relationships is always a part of sales. Instead, if a conversation, visit, or lunch is going on a bit too long, simply explain that you have work to do, or an appointment to get to, and offer to meet or follow up later. The idea is to be working when you're working, so you can be free when you aren't.
9. Weed out your in-box:
A good gardener keeps weeds away by removing them at the first sign. What I recommend is that you treat your in-box the same way. Looking at a huge backlog of messages isn't just discouraging and fatiguing; it makes it hard to find what you're looking for. So, something new comes to your desk - whether it's on a letter, scribbled in a note, or flashing on your screen - either file it, deal with it, or get rid of it right away.
10. Set aside time:
You know that you'll have to devote a certain number of minutes or hours each day to dealing with mail, e-mail, and phone calls, so why not schedule for those things? By giving yourself time to follow up on these tasks, you'll be less tempted to bother with them when you should be doing something else. As an added benefit, you'll probably waste less time on each because you're concentrating.
Carl Henry is a sales and customer service coach, keynote speaker, and webinar presenter. He is the author of several books on sales, customer service, sales management, presentation skills and hiring top talent.
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