Work Smart: Time Management Tips for Sales Professionals
Time has always been in short supply, and that especially counts in our fast-paced business environment. Many sales professionals struggle to allocate time for critical sales-related tasks.
If it were possible to add a few hours to one’s day, salespeople would often take advantage of this chance. Every sales professional will readily confirm that they will do exceptionally better if they had more time.
The problem, however, is not solely about the limited work hours per day. The challenge also extends to yourability to manage your time as well.
A Forbes study reveals that most sales professionals spend most of their efforts on not bringing revenue.
A growing pile of evidence points toward the fact that masters in the art of time management are not only great at work but in life too.
Let’s quickly define the term.
The concept of time management
In our work environment, we need some task organization to accomplish what we set forth as goals. Some of us do it well, and others are struggling.
Since salespeople spend around a third of their time in actual selling, they are naturally among the professionals who struggle to manage the remainder of their hours. With the preparation phase as important—if not more— than the actual selling process, they are the ones who need adequate time management, more than most of us in the workforce. While many people get paid by the hour, most salespeople’s pay-out heavily depends upon good results and performance.
Therefore, when you see successful sales professionals, they most likely also master time managers. To get to their level, let us examine how they optimize their effort and output.
Many people seek to attain the highest skills, proficiency, and excellence in everything they do. Experts refer to people who exhibit such traits as perfectionists.
As a sales professional, although striving for perfection can help you excel, it can also affect your time management and productivity.
For example, a perfectionist sales professional will not want to delegate tasks to others for fear that they may not do it well. The practice of not involving others in the sales process leads to a waste of limited time.
Sales professionals need to continually develop ideas on resolving complaints, generating leads, and satisfying existing customers.
But some sales professionals hinder their ability to be creative when they refuse to try out ideas that do not seem perfect.
When sales professionals spend too much time on a particular task, they neglect other activities needed to close deals.
Use Structured Procrastination
According to the famous author Charles Dickens, “Procrastination is the thief of time….”
Most of us are guilty of procrastination now and then—the tendency to put off carrying out a task until the last minute is a universal trait. In business, sales professionals are guilty of procrastination. Many salespeople put off starting or completing tasks until the last minute.
Although there are negative consequences associated with procrastination, it can help manage time when done in a structured manner.
Structured procrastination is when you arrange your to-do lists to carry out simple tasks before the more difficult ones.
Experts have described structured procrastination as working in favour of procrastinators. According to them, structured procrastination helps people be more productive.
The beauty of structured procrastination is that it helps you tackle a less arduous task instead of deprioritizing a more difficult one.
Research shows that when you plan and structure procrastination, it does help you save time and improve your productivity.
Get Enough Sleep
This one is too obvious and resides on the same layer of essential things like eating and breathing, and hence, it is frequently overlooked. Many professionals are getting less and less recommended sleep, hoping to broaden their busy time.
Unless you have Napoleon’s sleeping habits, this approach will backfire and affects your production in the long run. Many studies have shown that the body needs about seven to eight hours of sleep to function optimally. There are very few exceptions to the rule, and you should seriously consider if you qualify.
If there is a list of people that need quality sleep to function effectively, sales professionals should be at the top.
Sales work is a high-stress job, and sales professionals are under a lot of pressure to generate leads, convert prospects, and meet other targets. They need to be mentally alert to deal with the stress and expectations within a limited time frame.
One condition that prevents proper time management is fatigue and burnout. Research has revealed a strong link between inadequate sleep and burnout.
A sales professional who is suffering from burnout will experience the following symptoms:
- Feelings of alienation from your job
- Reduced professional efficiency
- Energy depletion
- Cynicism and negative emotions
During sleep, your brain prepares the rest of your body for the challenges of the next day. Depriving your body of this needed rest leaves you vulnerable to forgetting vital tasks and missing deadlines.
The bottom line for sales professionals is to realize that more time awake does not result in more productivity. If you want to be more productive within the limited time available, get enough sleep
Delegate your tasks when necessary
Most of the tasks that sales agents face daily are time-consuming tasks. While some tasks appear urgent, they might not be necessary – it’s essential to be able to spot the difference.
Intelligent sales professionals know how to delegate work and broaden their own playtime. If there is one mistake sales professionals should avoid is doing everything themselves. The smart delegation will make room for other, more essential tasks.
So, if you are one of those people who do all the heavy lifting, try unloading some to others.
Delegating tasks can help you avoid stress from being overwhelmed by too many distractions. Be sure to trust the proper job for the right people. Otherwise, you risk achieving the opposite effect – you delegated a few tasks but now are obsessing about micromanaging their progress.
Schedule your work
When you schedule your work, it means you have a plan in motion. Sales professionals benefit incredibly from routine work. A schedule helps them fine-tune their task completeness and adjust their pace accordingly.
Other benefits of scheduling include:
- Prioritize your tasks
- Prevent procrastination
- Saves time
- Saves money
- Increases efficiency
Scheduling your tasks keeps you focused on what you need to do to accomplish all your set goals.
Why Avoid Multitasking
If we feel we can accomplish two things simultaneously, we go for it. Unfortunately, the outcomes are with variable success. Even experienced juggles will crumble when another item is added to their show. We can only manage so much, and each of us has its own limits.
Different research works show that multitasking is not a gateway to productivity, especially for sales professionals. Only a tiny percentage of the world population can manage such stress. The rest of us ordinary people are better off sticking to standard practices that make our life better.
Since your brain most likely can focus on a single task at a time, multitasking means you hop between one job to another, not accomplishing any of them properly. This strenuous process eventually slows you down and possibly smolders your enthusiasm when you face unsatisfactory results.
Distractions can be destructive
We swim in an abundance of workplace distractions. We delve into social media, digital devices, blinkers, beepers, emails, and another array of different versions of noisemakers. Having the guts and the right approach towards avoiding them is a good part of time management.
Our personal devices are an excellent source for connectivity, but they are also super distractions. Most people fall into the trap of becoming addicted to what they provide and lose an increadible chunk of their quality time doing meaningless things.
As a sales professional, any professional really, you must have the discipline and the will to resist digital distractions and keep them away from your workshop. Turn off that phone while you’re working – it will only slow you down if you let mundane notifications break your concentration.
If you happen to be a master procrastinator at browsing aimlessly, some applications help you stay focused by blocking websites that may pull you away from your working mode.
Automate your work
Automating your recurring tasks that are part of a straightforward routine can save you a lot of time and effort. Technology – being also the root source for the distractions we try to avoid - is coincidentally also the source tools that help us help accomplish more. By automating our business process, we can reach unseen levels of productivity.
You can easily automate the rudimentary tasks and thus make space for what really matters. If your SMS and email action is intense, some tools can put an order to such chaos.
Prospecting takes a major chunk of salespeople’s time, but the process is too complex to be fully automated. Remember that automation is best used when tasks are numerous but easy to complete.
Being the busy professionals that salespeople are, their work environment frequently reflects their thorough process and approach to work. A cluttered environment can be a massive break in productivity. Try finding that document in the pile of sheets, especially when you need it now and not after someone has put everything in order.
Time-Tracking Your Workflow
When we do something that takes our attention deeply, we could easily lose track of time; one day quickly crawls into the next? Although time is running at the same speed always, our cluttered mind can temporarily lose perception of it. Long hours might pass without any productivity value in them. Organizing your work processes right, while tracking progress of it - can become pretty addicting.
The best way to prevent such time gaps is to keep tabs on the period you spend on tasks. First, it is best to identify what sucks your time needlessly. Be careful; such processes can be hard to spot if they are already part of a long-term routine. It would help if you were vigilant when evaluating your own work ethics.
Mastering time management strategies help sales professionals accomplish much more in the course of their daily work. We only have so much time between the many tasks that seek our attention every day. With the task turnaround intensity that sales experts experience, having a strict time management strategy is excellent for us and an absolute necessity for them.
We hope this guide inspired everyone to adopt the time management strategy that successful salespeople have and incorporate it into their daily work. Once you break down your process into prioritizable pieces, your productivity levels will surge, and so will your satisfaction from all the effort you put into it.