Time management skills: a key to greater productivity in sales

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Every salesperson knows the true meaning of saying ‘time is money’. This is because salespeople do not get paid in terms of the numbers of hours they put in. They are paid to produce results. And this means that every minute salespeople spend not engaging in high-gain selling activities represents lost opportunities and, what follows, lost revenue.

Success in sales involves juggling many different tasks. Many of them are tedious and time-consuming, which may give salespeople the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day to deal with all of them. The problem, however, is not actually a lack of time, but how it is used. Learning how to manage time properly may yield more desirable sales results.

Tracking the time

The first step in managing time well is to understand where it is allocated. Most people are unaware of the habits that kill their productivity. Take social media, for example. Using social media in the sales process is increasingly common, yet it is easy to forget how tricky it can be -15 minutes dedicated for checking updates and newsfeeds can easily turn into an hour wasted by browsing funny videos. Thus, for those who are suffering from too much to do and not enough time to do it, the best way to get it under control is to acknowledge and understand one’s own habits, for example by tracking the time. It may be a good idea to start asking oneself the following questions:

  • Which tasks take the most of my time?
  • Can I do them more effectively?
  • Are there any distractions that divert my attention from my goals?

After a week, some patterns should start emerging. Analyzing them can help you figure out where it is possible to be more productive and adjust activities accordingly.

Getting organized

Planning a day in advance may contribute a great deal to greater productivity. This refers both to planning a sales route effectively and scheduling tasks according to top sales priorities.

Effective route planning involves thinking about everyone that one might possibly meet in a particular area. Prior planning will allow both meeting with prospects and catching up with current customers all within the same area, which may increase the sales potential and, eventually, bring better results.

As regards prioritizing tasks, the 80/20 Rule will help. This says that 20% of time produces 80% of results. Rather than focusing on tasks that have little impact on success, it is better to concentrate on the ones with maximum return on investment (ROI). The low-ROI activities should be either outsourced or batched in this case.

The same holds true for customers: 80% of sales will come from 20% of customers. Most salespeople can categorize their customers into those that hardly ever buy anything and those that are high-value, long-term customers. Why not use this knowledge and focus on the 20% high-value customers that deserve more attention?

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