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Time Management Best Practices for Sales People

By Kathy Yeager

 Today’s Workforce Development sales person is complaining more and more about not having enough time to prospect and sell.  Why talk about time management for sales people?  The truth is, because most sales people spend only 10% of their available time selling.  And, there is a serious disconnect between how sales people think they are spending their time and what is actually happening.  Here is what a typical week might look like:

  • Active selling – 10%
  • Prospecting – 10%
  • Problem Solving – 14%
  • Downtime (personal phone calls and e-mails) – 17%
  • Travel Time – 18%
  • Administration – 31%

Because time is money, the sales person should assess how they are investing their time.  Sales people state they are buried in management reporting, internal meetings, administrative activities, responding to department requests and even more reports!

The key to successful time management for sales people includes:

  • Spending time with the best potential customers
  • Spend more time with qualified leads and prospects they know
  • Spending more time identifying customer needs and creating solutions
  • Spend less time on administrative duties
  • Spend less time on non-revenue producing activities

A best practice is to plan for the next day with all the areas that need to be accomplished.  Assign A, B, C, D (delegate), and E (eliminate) to each task.  Work on tasks that will give key results only.  Key results for sales include prospecting, building rapport and trust, identifying needs, asking probing questions, presenting persuasively, answering objections, closing the sale, and getting referrals.

Determine your priorities from the following criteria:

  • College Strategic Plan
  • Workforce Development Strategic Plan from 3-year business plan
  • Specific sales goals from the department goals
  • Sales person’s weekly sales goals subdivided from the entire sales team.  If a sales person has a $1M a year sales goal, then the goal is $83,333/Month or $20,000/Week, or $4,000/Day or $500/hour or $8.33/min! 

 Workforce Development/Contract Training sales people are a separate breed from most of the other college employees.  True, many are paid hourly and no bonus.  However, they are still expected to perform.  Whether a bonus is paid or not, the sales person still needs to work at full capacity to sell the required quota for the department and the college.  The only way this works is to manage time during the day.

What’s important to accomplish in a day?  Prospecting for accounts and face-to-face meetings are the most critical parts of a salesperson’s day.  Doing administrative duties during prime sales hours is not only wrong, but counterproductive.

Sales by the numbers:

  • 3-4 hours/day – time spent in front of the customer
  • 4-6 – number of face-to-face new sales calls per week
  • 4-8 – number of outbound proactive prospecting calls per day
  • 5 – number of new large (whales) target accounts in development
  • 10, 2 & 4 – The time of day you call in for your voicemail or check messages
  • 5 minutes – the time it takes for the customer to form an opinion of you.
  • 1 hour – the longest length of time you have to return a customer’s inbound call.
  • 2 – number of hours spent in creative thinking per week.  Done at home, at a remote site or with the office door closed.
  • Note:  these numbers may vary depending on the sales goal target and work load.

Never confuse activity with results.  Distraction is the thief of sales growth.  Employees lose 40% of their time to distractions. Some sales people attend unproductive meetings, have constant interruptions, no sanctuary to make outbound prospecting calls, little or no tools to be more productive and work for unnamed goals and results.

Technology can be a blessing and a curse.  To stay calm and focused, detach from phone and e-mail.  Take back your time and release yourself from e-mail prison.  Did you know that 80% of e-mails you receive have no value?  And, 20% of the 20% or 4% actually require immediate response.  The other 16% could be ignored.  Why then do we invest so much time looking at, sorting through, and responding to e-mails?

Here are some best practices for excellent time management:

  • Set a monthly sales target, and calculate how many prospects you need to call to hit that target
  • Calculate the value of your time per hour.
  • Block off time on your calendar to make calls and prospect.
  • Post your revenue goals in clear view to be seen every day
  • Talk to customer when business hours are open.  Do administrative work during non-business hours.
  • Stay away from people who waste your time.
  • Close your door and make prospecting calls
  • Be on time for calls and meetings.  Others will respect your time as well.
  • Use a task list for every day to stay on track with your A1, A2, etc. 
  • Motivate yourself and take action.  Don’t wait to get motivated to get started.
  • Minimize office meetings
  • The 80/20 rule always applied.  Determine the 20% of customers who will give you 80% of your business and work only with them.
  • Think geographically.  Don’t drive all over the city.  Cluster appointments together to save time and gas.
  • Confirm your appointments.  Make sure the customer is expecting your visit.

Do we really need to find 25 hours in a 24-hour day?  Actually, we just need to manage the time we have.  Time is money.  We all have all the time there is…….invest your time where it matters most!

Want to bring this workshop to your college or state meeting?  Contact…..
Kathy Yeager
Contract Training Edge

To Contact CT Edge:

Contract Training Edge, LLC
(216) 509-6398 (telephone)