12 Time Management Principles for Your Salespeople

Are your salespeople using their available time intelligently? They will if they follow these 12 simple principles.

  1. Start each day early. Give yourself time to wake up.
  2. Assume everything takes longer than you think it will. You’ll be right.
  3. Assume everyone else will take longer than you think to get back to you. You’ll be right.
  4. Don’t skimp on reading and thinking time, but don’t pursue these activities during prime selling hours.
  5. Assign the right number of minutes to every task on your list. Know how much time you intend to invest in a given activity.
  6. Keep simplifying your filing system. Remember, if it doesn’t work as a “finding system,” it’s fatally flawed.
  7. Break all tasks down to smaller, actionable chores. Focus on first steps and very next steps. Track your progress on each item in a written log.
  8. Be your own boss. Know your own weaknesses and hold yourself accountable. Give yourself appropriate rewards for completing important tasks that may be difficult to motivate yourself to complete.
  9. It’s easy to be busy without being productive. Know the difference. For salespeople, productive means “moves me measurably closer to a commission.” Here are the only four scenarios that qualify as a productive day:
  10. I scheduled a first appointment with someone.
  11. I moved an existing prospect forward, as evidenced by that prospect’s willingness to either sign a contract or set aside a specific date and time to talk to me within the next two weeks.
  12. I touched a current or former client (by making a phone call, sending out a mailing, sending a personalized e-mail, etc.).
  13. I did any combination of a, b or c above.Anything else is not a productive day, but a busy day!
  14. Cluster similar activities together. Yes, you’ll be interrupted during the day. That doesn’t mean that your priorities for the day should change in a heartbeat. Try to gather similar activities into the same chunk of the day.
  15. Plan everything two weeks in advance. You should know, today, what your major priorities are going to be for each of the next ten business days.
  16. Budget and monitor your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly time commitments (in round numbers). Then take 10 minutes, once a week, and compare what actually happened to what you wanted to happen in a given activity area. For instance: You have approximately 2,000 working hours to invest in any given year. How many of those hours should go toward prospecting for new business? Settle on a number, then see how it breaks down when you divide it to correspond with daily, weekly, or monthly time investments. After a week of keeping track, do this 10-minute assessment once again. How does your reality compare to your projection? What should you be doing differently?
    Steve Bookbinder is president of franchising at DEI Management Group, a sales training firm based in New York.

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