Studies show that the average sales rep only spends 35.2% of their time selling. The rest of their day is spent on other activities.
Obviously, this isn’t an ideal scenario. But what’s the alternative? To propel your sales career forward, you need to improve your salesman time management skills.
Time management is an important topic for sales managers, too. Your reps won’t be able to meet quota if 65% of their time is spent on non revenue generating tasks. Furthermore, this kind of sales environment can lead to team frustration.
Frustrated employees don’t typically stick around, leading to high turnover rates. Since turnover can cost companies anywhere from 16% – 213% of the departing employee’s annual salary, it would behoove you to minimize it.
Whether you’re a sales rep looking to give your career a boost, or a sales manager wanting to lead your team to greater success, time management for salespeople is essential. Read on to learn 15 time management tips any field salesman can apply.
Automate administrative tasks
Admin tasks like logging visits and entering data into CRM software kill sales rep productivity. In fact, this is one of the biggest challenges that reps face. The good news is that you can automate a lot of these activities if you have the right tools.
For example, you can use SPOTIO to automatically capture check-ins and check-outs with geofencing, log every prospect interaction in real-time, and take timely notes and pass them to your CRM of choice with the click of a button.
Image: SPOTIO’s task automation feature automatically logs visits and other admin tasks.
SPOTIO also automates the communication process, allowing reps to schedule call reminders, emails, and texts to simplify prospect engagement.
Of course, there are other time management tools available as well. The key is finding specific solutions that fit your workflow. That way you or your reps can minimize tedious administration tasks and focus on selling.
Swallow the frog
“Swallow the frog” is a funny name for an important time management strategy. The term is actually based on a Mark Twain quote, which says, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Here’s what “Swallow the Frog means: we all have tasks we hate doing. For sales reps, it could be searching LinkedIn for prospects or writing follow-up emails or updating CRM data. As such, we have a tendency to procrastinate on these things.
But procrastination is never a solid time management strategy. So “swallow the frog” and get your dreaded tasks done first so that you can garner a sense of accomplishment, and then move onto the next valuable sales activity.
Prospect with precision
The best sales reps focus their energies on the best prospects, AKA the prospects who are most likely to make a purchase. Makes sense, right? Nobody wants to waste time talking to a lead that won’t end up buying.
To improve your salesman time management skills, use a tool like SPOTIO to uncover the most qualified prospects in your territory.
Image: Outside sales reps can use 200 different data points to filter out qualified prospects in a specific geographic area.
Our solution will allow you to filter potential customers by over 200 data points such as business type, revenue, and business type (for commercial prospects) and age, credit capacity, and home purchase date (for residential prospects.)
Plan efficient sales routes
Poor planning is the ultimate productivity killer—especially for outside sales reps. Why? Because a bad plan often results in extra windshield time.
Fortunately, this time management issue is easily fixed with SPOTIO’s route planning software. All sales reps have to do is decide which prospects they want to visit and SPOTIO will automatically find the most efficient route between them. Users can also set up meetings, update notes in real-time, and prospect new accounts in between meetings.
Image: Planning multi-stop sales routes inside SPOTIO.
Sellers should focus on selling, not how to get from one prospect to the next. SPOTIO helps sales reps focus on their most important tasks.
Here’s the truth: multitasking slows you down. Study after study proves that the human brain can’t do two things at once—at least not well.
So instead of calling prospects and scheduling follow-up emails simultaneously, do one after the other. Your productivity levels will skyrocket by as much as 40% and you’ll complete each task with more accuracy.
Multitasking can be a hard habit to break, but once you get used to doing only one thing at a time, you’ll become much better at managing your time.
Define sales territories
You know what’s not productive? Contacting a prospect that another rep in your department already talked to last week. This is called overlap and it doesn’t benefit anybody, including the potential customers you hope to serve.
This is why SPOTIO’s territory management feature is so valuable.
With this tool, sales managers can easily cut territories based on geographic boundaries like state, city, and zip code, or by simply drawing on a map. Territories can then be assigned to the most qualified sales rep, preventing overlap.
Image: View sales performance by territories inside SPOTIO
With SPOTIO, management also has the ability to view in-depth territory performance metrics, which will help them understand why some territories outperform others and how to adjust sales strategies to accommodate.
Batch sales activities
Earlier we said that multitasking is bad. Here’s the alternative: group like-minded sales activities together and complete them at the same time.
For example, block off time in your schedule to complete all of the day’s cold calls at once. Then block off another chunk of time to return calls you missed, or schedule follow-up emails, or update CRM information, etc.
By doing all of one task at the same time, you’ll eliminate the few seconds it takes to switch between activities. These seconds really add up over the course of an entire day. You’ll also perform each task better because you’ll be able to focus.
Get to “No” faster
It doesn’t matter how good of a salesperson you are, some of your prospects will decide not to buy from you. It’s just a part of the game.
Don’t let these kinds of prospects drag you down. As soon as you determine that you can’t close a lead, cut them loose and move on to the next one. Your time management skills will take a giant leap forward if you do this.
Map customer data
Data is essential to success in sales—if you know how to use it, that is. Unfortunately, data is often difficult to understand and use in practical ways.
SPOTIO helps turn data into actionable tactics by allowing users to visualize information. For example, you can distinguish leads from current customers by color coding pins on a digital map so that you never miss something important.
Make your data work for you rather than against you with SPOTIO.
Create repeatable sales plays
Here’s a top salesman time management tip for you: repeatable sales processes are awesome! Look to create as many of them as you possibly can.
Think how much more efficient you (or the reps you manage) will be when you don’t have to wonder, “what comes next?” Imagine how nice it will feel to know that Step 1 is always followed by Step 2 and Step 3. This is the power of process.
But it gets better. Once you’ve created a repeatable sales process, kick your productivity into overdrive and automate it with Autoplays by SPOTIO.
Image: SPOTIO’s Autoplays feature helps prevent quality leads from falling through the cracks.
An Autoplay is a sequence of sales activities that can be created for each individual prospect in your pipeline. It might look something like this:
- Day 1: Call Prospect
- Day 2 Send Email
- Day 3: Visit Prospect
- Day 4: Call Prospect
- Day 5: Send Text
Once your Autoplay is set, SPOTIO will automate the process by reminding you to call and/or visit prospects, or by automatically sending emails and texts at the appointed times. That way nothing ever slips through the cracks again.
Enforce time constraints
Parkinson’s Law: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
In other words, if you give yourself two hours to complete a task, it will probably take you two hours. If you give yourself an hour, it will only take an hour. By enforcing time constraints, you force yourself to become more productive.
Obviously, Parkinson’s Law has limits. You probably can’t reduce a two hour project to 15 minutes (but feel free to try! Who knows what will happen?) But the general concept is solid. Give yourself less time per task, complete more tasks per day.
Want to know the real reason why you’re terrible at sales time management? You’re way too distracted. Text notifications and social media are giant time sucks. You’ll get more done on a daily basis if you hide your phone while you work.
Another way to combat distractions is to plan your days out ahead of time. Tell yourself what you’re going to do from 9am – 11am, and 11am – Noon, and Noon to 3pm, etc. That way you know exactly what to do and can focus on the task at hand.
Organize your collateral
How much time do you spend combing through old email chains for information? Or searching department databases for sales enablement materials? Or diving into company drive folders for a specific type of contract? Probably more than you like…
A cloud-based file management system is the answer. That way you always have access to your files, exactly when you need them.
SPOTIO includes a document management feature that will allow you to store a variety of file types, from PDFs and Word docs to MP4s and GIFs.
Follow the 2-minute rule
If you can finish a task in two minutes, do it immediately.
This is known as the 2-minute rule and helps prevent to-do lists from getting too long and overwhelming. Because when that happens, procrastination sets in.
There is one caveat to the 2-minute rule: don’t spend all of your time completing easy tasks and push off the really important work you need to complete. You need to find a balance between a short to-do list and deep work.
Track your time
Finally, to give your salesman time management skills a boost, track your time. It seems simple—and it is—but it’s incredibly important.
When you meticulously track your time, you’ll learn how you spend each minute of your day. You can then use this information to pinpoint inefficiencies, productivity-crushing habits, and outdated workflows.
The easiest way to track time is with a tool like Toggl or RescueTime. Sign up for a free account right now (you should be able to do it in two minutes or less, so don’t put it off!) and analyze the data it produces for you to improve your productivity.
Stop Wasting Time
Time is your greatest resource. You need to protect it if you want to propel your sales career forward, or help your sales reps fulfil their potential.
Fortunately, time management for sales professionals isn’t rocket science.
We’re not claiming it’s easy. But if you implement the 15 tips listed in this article, you will get more done every day and be able to spend more of your hours doing what you love to do: sell awesome products to the customers who need them.
See how SPOTIO can help your team better manage time, and boost productivity. Request a free demo.