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Time Management for Sales People

This is a great article by Colleen Francis in the latest CPSA (Canadian Professional Sales Association) ezine. So lessons from Kevin (1) Join CPSA ... its great value; (2) Visit Colleen's blog, attend her webinars and maybe bring her in to help your sales teams.

Lesson from Colleen ... Salespeople need to use their time effectively in order to maximize their potential! Read on ...

Focus on your most important investment - your time
By Colleen Francis

No matter how wealthy, talented or successful we become, time is the one thing we can never get enough of. The top 10 per cent of performers are acutely aware of the value of their time. In fact, all successful salespeople practice disciplined time management. As a result, they spend the most time doing those activities that make them the most money, and little time doing those tasks that earn them little or nothing.

When it comes to sales, this boils down to focusing your time on the three Holy Grails: Prospecting, Presenting and Closing. Notice that all three of these activities involve prospects or customers. That's because you sell more when you spend more time in front of your customers, whether prospecting for new business, presenting solutions to problems or closing business.

Despite knowing this intuitively most sales reps I meet complain regularly that they can't find the discipline to practice it regularly. What this says to me is they won't get organized to manage their time effectively.

If you hear yourself saying, "I can't focus on making calls yet, I'm too disorganized!" or "I need to get motivated before I can make calls!" consider implementing the following time and organizational techniques every day:

1. Set a monthly sales target, and calculate how many prospects you need to talk to each month in order to generate enough business to hit that target. Once you have those numbers set, your priority becomes making the calls. Your second priority becomes working those leads that are already in the sales funnel, and moving them closer to a sale.

2. Calculate the value of your time. What is every productive hour worth?

3. Block time off in your calendar everyday to make calls and prospect. Don't just make a mental note -- actual block the time off physically so you and everyone else can see it clearly.

4. In a place you can easily see, post your revenue goal in big, bright numbers. Staring at your goal everyday will help you stay focused. I recommend posting it both at home and in the office to achieve maximum effect. My goal is posted on the bathroom mirror so I see it first thing in the morning.

5. Remember that, in sales, there are only two times of the day: pay time, and non-pay time. Simply put, there are only so many hours in a day that you can talk to customers, so use that time wisely. Any activity that is not directly related to meeting people, building relationships and closing business should be done before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m.-- unless of course you're selling to different time zones!

6. Stay away from the Life Suckers in your office. They are not customers, and they will not buy from you. Your customers are on the outside (or the other end of the phone). Life Suckers will waste exactly as much of your time as you permit. In the end your profits will be reduced by them, and you will only have yourself to blame.

7. Close your door, hide, and work from a different office! As Dan Kennedy says: "If they can't find you, they can't interrupt you." I put my phone on do not disturb for at least two hours per week while I am making prospecting calls. I answer all messages at 11:30 a.m. that day. I suggest leaving a very specific outbound message alerting callers. "Hi this is Colleen, I will be on the phone with clients from 9-11 today. Please leave a message and I will return your call at 11:30".

8. Be on time. I find that the more often I am on time for meetings, calls or appointments the more often people treat my time with respect. This is not a coincidence. Its reciprocity at work. Simply put, show respect for other people's time and they will eventually show respect for yours.

9. Make and use a hot list or task sheet everyday in your CRM. Every CRM on the market allows you to create scheduled appointments, unscheduled tasks and a to do list. At Engage we use because it easily can be accessed in real-time on the road and can be synched up to my Blackberry. Act, Maximiser, SugarCRM, and Outlook, are all also great tools.

10. If you are waiting to get motivated before you make calls remember this, motivation comes from action not the other way around. Most salespeople wait to get motivated before they take action. You must do the opposite. Take action now! Regardless of how you feel. Simply pick up the phone and start making calls. Your activity will motivate you to keep going. You will always feel better after you accomplished something profitable.

11. Minimize office meetings, especially during prime selling time. I expect the sales teams I coach to have their weekly meetings starting at 8 a.m. or after 4 p.m. To maximize profits you must maximize client meetings when your clients are at work. Remember -- you cannot sell to your fellow sales professionals.

Losing control of your time is the worst mistake a sales professional can make. You must jealously guard your time in order to stay productive. If you are productive you are in control. If you are concerned about your productivity -- or are not hitting your goals -- take an honest look at who is controlling your time most often. You, or someone else? If you can honestly say it's someone else, then implement a change immediately. Take at least one of the 10 techniques above and implement it in your business immediately. Taking action will always yield you a better, more profitable result.

Colleen Francis is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions ( Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.