Are your salespeople using their available time intelligently? They will if they follow these 12 simple principles.
- Start each day early. Give yourself time to wake up.
- Assume everything takes longer than you think it will. You’ll be right.
- Assume everyone else will take longer than you think to get back to you. You’ll be right.
- Don’t skimp on reading and thinking time, but don’t pursue these activities during prime selling hours.
- Assign the right number of minutes to every task on your list. Know how much time you intend to invest in a given activity.
- Keep simplifying your filing system. Remember, if it doesn’t work as a “finding system,” it’s fatally flawed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- I scheduled a first appointment with someone.
- 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.
- I touched a current or former client (by making a phone call, sending out a mailing, sending a personalized e-mail, etc.).
- I did any combination of a, b or c above.Anything else is not a productive day, but a busy day!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.