There are two phases where salespeople are so bogged down in paperwork and other tasks, they have very little time for active selling. The first is when they are starting out, and the second is when they become very successful.
In the first phase, many green salespeople would rather do paperwork and organize things instead of facing prospects, because they usually just don’t know what to do. Sales training takes care of this, as long as they have an aptitude for sales.
The second phase occurs when they have so much business that day-to-day tasks, such as keeping up with CRM data entry or dealing with customer support issues, overwhelm them. In the latter case, customized sales coaching on time management and a more efficient workflow is the key.
Here are some proven winners when it comes to creating more selling time each day.
1. Practice mobile discipline
The average person spends somewhere between three to four hours a day on their mobile phone, depending on which source you listen to. That translates to 15 to 20 hours per week, not including weekends! And while most of us rely on phones for bona fide work tasks, in truth we also waste a lot of time. Customized sales coaching can engender smarter use of devices.
An article on CNBC provides some useful tips for handling phone addiction, and I will share the best ones here:
- Turn off your push notifications – especially from social media accounts. You could also turn off your email notifications and force yourself to check only when necessary.
- Remove all but the most important apps from your home screen. If you have to swipe or click into another screen to launch apps, you will tend to use them less.
- Stay accountable with an app that tracks smartphone use, such as QualityTime or Moment.
2. Do it NOW.
How many times do you open an email or pick up a piece of paper, only to set it aside to handle later? Chances are, most of these things could be handled right then and there. You create double work by reading, procrastinating, and then re-reading later on.
A better practice is to simply handle as many things in the moment as you can, rather than put them off. Failing to do so stacks up your action items and makes them harder to address when more pressing matters arise.
There is an oft-cited rule called the “Two Minute Rule,” which helps execute this tactic. Basically, if something takes two minutes or less, DO IT NOW. Not only does this create more time for important functions, like selling, but it will also make you feel good because you are finishing tasks.
3. Use Pomodoro Technique
Customized sales coaching on time management should address the subject of FOCUS. Our attentions are spread very thin these days, so anything which helps salespeople stay focused is an asset.
One such tool is the Pomodoro Technique, an extremely simple yet highly effective method for getting more done each day. It is named after a kitchen tomato timer, since pomodoro is Italian for “tomato.”
Here is how it works:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work strictly on the task at hand for those 25 minutes.
- When the timer rings, immediately STOP working and take a mandatory 5 minute break. Leave your desk, walk around, have a cup of water – whatever. This completes one “Pomodoro.”
- Repeat this process. After the fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break (15 minutes).
Completing 4 Pomodoros within a two-hour period gives you 100 minutes of dedicated, focused work. Most people express an amazing level of productivity using this method.
4. Time compartmentation
Somewhat related to the previous tip is simple time compartmentation. Use your Outlook or Google Calendar (or whatever else you use to schedule appointments) and block out time each day for specific tasks, or groups of related tasks, and stick to it.
Some further tips:
- Tackle your most important, money-making activities FIRST each day.
- Shift your schedule to go to bed one hour sooner and wake one hour earlier. Many top businesspeople attest to the advantages of rising earlier, as it provides a “head start” before anyone else arrives to the office. Also this allows them time to squeeze in some exercise.
- Add short breaks between major blocks of time so you don’t burn out.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if an activity runs long and you go off schedule. Just get back on track asap.
5. Before EOD, write down the 3 to 5 most important things to accomplish the next day
Before leaving your desk (or before going to bed), mull over and list out the 3 to 5 most important things to do the next day.
Ideally, these will be money-making, selling activities rather than administrative tasks. Think about what you can realistically accomplish which will move you closer to your career and monetary goals, and prioritize these above all else. Customized sales coaching by a competent practitioner can help you stay on track, so run your ideas by your coach for a second opinion.
If you have been tracking with these tips, then you probably realize that these activities should be time compartmented for first thing in the day and even “Pomodoro’d” for good measure!
6. Hire a virtual assistant
Of all the tips, this is the only one which costs money – and the investment could be well worth it. There are many tasks that could be delegated to a virtual assistant or freelancer instead of taking up valuable selling time. This includes such actions as data entry into a CRM, social media posting, prospect research, and even basic customer support.
Rates vary depending on the site you use and the location of the workers, but freelancers are going to be much more affordable than employees or most temp workers, and they are available on-demand for only as long as you need their services.
In sales, nothing beats person-to-person interaction. This is where top salespeople excel and really earn their pay. Logically, the more time working with buyers and less time on admin, the more money you make, so it pays to use customized sales coaching on time management to free up as many selling hours as possible each week.