An old French philosopher used to say: “Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” He said this in the 17th century, but it’s as equally true today as it was hundreds of years ago.
As a salesperson, you understand the value of structuring your day efficiently. The more appointments you can fit into your schedule, the more you'll be able to sell and the more productive you will be. Managing your time successfully is identical to prioritizing activities and accomplishing your tasks one at a time.
Of course, this isn’t that simple. Salespeople always have several tasks competing for their attention at the same time. Prioritizing your attention requires you to define the objectives you want to achieve in your day and building a plan around them.
If you don't practice dedicated time management you risk missing potential million dollar opportunities. Your entire schedule will fall apart if you don't treat each element as being important to the whole.
You may need to change some of your old habits, and this is never easy. But if you follow these simple tips, you’ll see immediate improvements in your sales performance that will make you wonder why you didn’t do something about it earlier.
Audit Your Time for 7 Days
Before you start changing your habits, you need to find out what activities you’re spending the most time on. Throughout an entire week, split your time into one hour blocks, and note down what you got done. How long did each activity take?
Apps like Toggl allow you to easily measure how much time you spend on each task. This will give you a rhythm for how you spend your day. You need to understand your habit patterns before you can alter them.
At the end of 7 days, take some time to analyze your results. How many things did you get done? Did you waste a lot of time? What were your most time-consuming tasks?
Use these as building blocks for your next day. You can measure out how many people you need to see in a day to hit quota, and then define your updated schedule around the optimal structure of your schedule.
Time-Sinks are tasks that eat up large amounts of your time. This is also called being a human. Everyone needs a break, but it's important you're directing your attention where it counts, on activities that will make your entire sales cycle better.
You can uncover the time-sinks in your life by asking yourself these questions:
Are you searching for the wrong types of leads?
Are you handling too many administrative tasks?
Do you depend on email to see the status of your deals?
Are you getting enough rest so that you're able to make accurate decisions?
You’ll probably find areas in your life where you're spending too much time on low ROI actions.
Effective schedule management starts by eliminating your dependence on tasks that make you overly dependent on them. Otherwise, they infect your schedule and dismantle your productivity.
Be Ready to Change your Schedule
A better schedule starts by being honest. Were you focusing on low priority activities instead of actions that create sales? This can derail the progress you've made in your territory so far. You need to maintain your base, but if you aren't growing fast enough your sales process can fall apart.
Customers buy less and less frequently as market sophistication grows. Competitors pop out of the woodwork and start promoting a low-cost alternative to your offer. Unless you optimize your schedule and your relationships, you'll let them win.
Your schedule needs a strong foundation and the adaptability to adjust to periods of time when you need to prospect or need to nurture relationships until they close.
Being able to pivot at any moment will save you a huge amount of time. There are many ways to do this, but it’s always a good idea to include some flexibility in your schedule so that you can handle your low-priority, but still ROI-significant, tasks in your free time.
Include some accounts into your sales route who may renew soon, or buy a more expensive product if you follow-up with the right information that are not a priority but that you haven’t visited in a while, or use sales tools to find new leads around you. There’s always something to pay attention to after a last-minute canceled appointment.
Acquire Good Habits
You might be tired of hearing this, but good habits are decisive for both personal and professional success.
Start by changing your morning routine. Are you one of those people who snoozes the alarm clock 15 times? It’s time you let that habit go. Start waking up at the same time every day so that your body develops a regular rhythm and synchronizes with your schedule.
Wake up at the first alarm so you have enough time to eat a nutritious breakfast, take a shower, and have a few minutes to look at your agenda. Turning into an early bird will increase your motivation and help you start the day full of energy.
Another ingredient of a good daily routine is exercise, never underestimate the importance of maintaining your body and mind. It's easy to develop negative habits on the road. Take some time everyday to utilize your athleticism. Walk as much as possible to burn those extra calories. Exercise improves your blood flow and makes you feel good about yourself, which gives you a huge motivation boost.
Finally, find some time everyday to do something that you really enjoy. It may be spending time with your family, playing video games, or learning about astrophysics—but it’s important that you save some time for yourself. Otherwise, you’ll end up distracted too much at work, which can be a sign of too little leisure time and burnout.
Handle Sales Planning Days in Advance
One of the worst time management mistakes you can make is to start your day without a clear idea of what needs to be done. This forces you to improvise without perspective into your sales performance.
Efficient salespeople plan their days in advance with clear goals and deadlines. You should define your process in advance so you aren't prospecting or scheduling meetings last minute.
Setting up meetings with your existing customers works in a different way. You should be aware of their schedules and the times that are more convenient for them, and try to schedule regular meetings to follow-up and nurture your relationship.
Therefore, you should plan your days taking into account these factors and focusing on your best opportunities and the right customers. A good idea is to have a set of goals for each week and a plan to achieve them every morning.
Accurate planning is your best friend when it comes to process management.
Make productivity a priority
Your time is increasingly valuable if you spend it correctly. Every hour you personally spend handling admin work or refining your schedule cuts into your ROI. This isn't a productive use of your time. You'll never dominate your quota if you spend all of your time on the work unrelated to it.
What can you prioritize to be more productive?
Audit your best customers regularly
Are they happy?
When will they renew?
What offer would be most likely to upsell them?
Leads you should visit
Prospects you need to close
Customers who need a follow-up
Use Sales Planning Platforms
Managing your time successfully as an outside salesperson requires you to plan by mapping and routing your sales data. Attempting to manage your sales territory without a plan will result in you losing the momentum you've built so far.
Your territory is an environment of accounts and decision makers, with routes linking them to your schedule. If you manage your process like a fully functional system you'll be able to generate the same winning results from your existing customer base in the rest of your sales territory.
Badger Maps allows you to manage your entire sales planning process at scale. You'll have access to all of the information you need to find and close your sales opportunities accurately.