7 time management tips for sales reps

Posted in Sales team management.

Does it always seem like you don’t have enough time in the day to reach your sales goals? Then perhaps you need to overhaul your time management skills to make sure you get the most out of every day and increase your sales productivity.

Take stock

There is a difference between how much time you think you spend on daily tasks, and how much time you actually spend on them. This discrepancy can only be investigated properly if you keep track of what you do each day.

Get a blank schedule, diary or notebook. For a whole week (or 5 work days) write down exactly what you do and how much time each activity takes. Remember to include travel time, lunch breaks, phone calls, random conversations, meetings, and so forth. Everything that takes up your time needs to be recorded. The more accurate you are, the better you will be able to tell where time is being wasted.

Determine your purpose

What is your job description? When you remind yourself what your job is meant to entail and what your purpose as a sales rep is, it becomes easier to discover where your priorities need to lie. Every activity you participate in and every task you take on needs to contribute towards fulfilling your job’s purpose. If something doesn’t contribute, it needs to be eliminated or cut down on.

Plan to plan

Block off 30 minutes (or however long you need) each morning just for planning your day. This time needs to be used for planning only, and is also a means of assessing your progress from previous days. Do not accommodate distractions from colleagues or clients – see it as scheduling a meeting with yourself.

During your planning session write everything down. This makes it feel more real, and gives you a plan that you can arm yourself with for the rest of the day. When someone or something wants to take time away from the important tasks you have scheduled, you can visibly show that your time has already been booked. Then you can schedule another time for the new request, and continue with your tasks as planned.

Forget multitasking

Juggling multiple clients and tasks at the same time seem to be a skill that sales reps are hell-bent on wanting to master. However, multitasking is simply a way of messing up two things at the same time. Previously it was assumed that people who multitask are more productive, but it has since been proven that this is not the case.

Working on two tasks at the same time doesn’t mean that you’re focusing on both, but merely switching between the two. This switching between two activities makes it difficult to tune out distractions, and you actually lose time during that switch. Multitasking means that you’re never really giving your undivided attention to a task.

Instead of juggling many tasks at once, give your undivided attention to one task at a particular time. If this is not possible, take on tasks that require you to remain in a particular mindset. This can include making successive phone calls within a time frame or answering a bunch of emails at once. These require the same type of attention so moving on to the next task at hand won’t be a distraction.

Assign a goal to each task

Before you start tackling any task, such as scheduling or planning client meetings, take some time to determine what the purpose of the task is meant to be. What is the desired result and what steps do you need to take in order to achieve this result? If at the end of the task you have not achieved what you set out to, re-evaluate and determine how things can be done differently next time for a more productive outcome.

Prioritize

This seems like an obvious step – but we often waste time on things that have no importance or could be left until another day. Take into consideration which tasks or activities will contribute to achieving your sales goals and are important to your purpose as a sales rep. Also look at deadlines: those that are looming the closest need your attention first, otherwise things will always be left to the last minute.

If need be, block out a time frame (say 30 minutes or an hour) to focus just on a specific project. Make sure that no distractions are allowed at this time (notify people that you are busy) – and that you only work on that project (remember, multitasking doesn’t work).

Get that paperwork out of the way

Admin: a word that can strike fear and loathing into many a sales rep’s heart. Doing administrative tasks can seem like a time suck – but they can be even more of an annoyance if you leave them to the last minute. To prevent admin from interfering with more important tasks, schedule a time for it. Often the best time for it is near the end of the day, which is also usually when phone calls and emails start to slow down.