Time management in Sales
Updated: May 9, 2019
Trim the fat. That's it. That's my secret. I've sold a lot more than everyone on just about every sales team team that I have ever been on and worked much fewer hours. Is it because I'm an amazing salesperson? Not really. My sales methodology is really strong, my network is always really strong but those of you who have spoken with me on the phone know I am not this smooth talking powerful guy with a commanding voice who is incredibly persuasive.
But I don't spend a bunch of time on a lot of stuff that I see almost all salespeople waste a lot of time on.
Imagine working an 8 hour day and cutting half of what you do out of that day to focus on stuff that makes you money.
Let's dive right into it. Here are some of the ways that you can potentially trim the fat:
MEETINGS WITH EMPTY SUITS -
I avoid taking meetings with people who talk for 30 minutes and ultimately say nothing and have no productive action item as a result. People like this do nothing for a living. Look at their Outlook calendars. It's all boxes for 8 hours a day of shit meetings. We don't all have the luxury of telling some high level executives that we can't make their meetings but I highly recommend that you do everything you can to avoid these meetings. Try not to piss anyone off in the process though. I used to call people out on these shit meetings and got in a bit of trouble over it. Be diplomatic. Always excuse yourself because of a "customer meeting" until they give up on inviting you.
CUSTOMER SELECTION -
I trained a majority of the inside sales team at my company and I sat with them as they went through the thousands of existing customers in our database to follow up with them and introduce themselves/establish a relationship/sell something. It never failed, they would get to Joe's Autobody who bought one headset from us and I would have to tell them to hang up the phone and ask them why they would call these guys.
Some companies are not so cut and dry. Omega Systems Consultants. By their name they could be huge or could be some guy who is trying to repair computers working out of his mom's basement. So you have to look them up. They happen to be about a 25-50 employee company. Determine whether they are worth your time then move on. If it's borderline, call them. It should take seconds to determine their size (LinkedIn then Data.com). I have been doing this for a long time. I had a real strong feeling about how big they were by the name of their company and I was right but I would still have spent the 15 seconds to look.
Some companies that I have worked for send a million emails a day for every little thing under the sun. Even worse, I have worked for companies where many coworkers will send me really long winded emails to ask me a simple question. DO NOT ENCOURAGE THEM. Don't reply with long answers. If they ask you something that they should know just because they want to jibber jabber, remind them that this information is widely available to them. Encourage the long winded to call you. This is a huge time saver over having to decipher what someone means in an email when they ramble on. Manage others on how the most efficient way to communicate with you is but say it from the standpoint of the best way for them to get the information they want from such a busy person. I find people conform really well to this and thank me as if I am the one helping them out. I'm it goes without saying but don't be a jerk about it. You don't want to ever have a bad relationship with anyone you work with ever if you can avoid it. Just kindly set their expectations and appeal to their empathy of the fact that you get so bogged down with 300 emails a day.
I would also add that I am a fan of templates. I have about 100 of them on my desktop. I will warn you though that the longer that you use a template, the more you edit it and the less conversational is becomes. So I highly recommend that you evaluate your templates regularly to keep them from looking and feeling like a template or an advertisement.
DAY STRUCTURE -
I have mixed feelings about this. What it means is to basically set aside certain times of the day to perform certain tasks. For example, every day from 8 am to 10 PM you will cold call. Some people find that if they don't force themselves to do this, they will never do it. I have a vendor who micromanages every hour of every day of their inside sales team. The average inside salesperson there burns out in 6 months and their sales are terrible. So I recommend that you don't take this too far. Some people need more structure in their lives than others. I'm a little more chaos than order but not too chaotic. I do like to make my calls at certain times.
PERPETUAL FOLLOW UP -
I'm guilty of this too. Most salespeople will hammer on a contact day after day, sending them emails, leaving them voicemails, asking the receptionist where they are, over and over. Usually this is because you spoke to them before, they showed some level (maybe a lot) of interest and you just don't want to let it go. The old saying is that 80% of all sales is made after 12 contacts or something like that. That doesn't mean 100. But it doesn't mean give up either and that's a completely different conversation about email, voicemail, finding pain points, speaking with the right person, trying alternate contacts, etc. I will say that a very large percentage of salespeople who don't make their number waste their time following up on dead opportunities over and over. Trim the fat on this one folks. This is the hardest one to determine where the line should be drawn but it can be your biggest productivity killer.
WORK EARLY -
This works differently for different people and is only possible for some, but I like to come into the office a couple of hours before my phone and email start blowing up and do non-prospecting activities that tend to get in my way during the day. At 10 am you're doing something for a customer and someone in accounting asks you for that damn TPA report and needs it immediately. You stop what you're doing, do the report and go back to the customer related task trying to figure out where you left off and it might not seem like much but it is incredibly inefficient. But that can happen to me for a dozen emails that needed to be replied to and all kinds of customer service stuff that doesn't require customer interaction. Coming in early, I got that stupid report done, replied to all of those emails, did all that customer service stuff and by the time I'm done it's time for me to prospect all day, uninterrupted.