We cannot manage time, it simply is. We cannot increase or decrease the supply of time. It is fixed for everybody. All we can do as professional sales people is to try and better manage ourselves with respect to time. What we can also do is adjust our activities according to the time we have at our disposal. Time management signifies managing of activities within the fixed time that we all are allocated in equal measure.
Time is very precious. Every fraction of a second counts – ask any sprinter that has competed in a race. Managing time well is the key to success in every field of endeavor. Achievers in any field would accord the highest importance to time management. Sales is no exception to this. In fact, sales is an area where time management is absolutely needed if one wishes to succeed. Just a few more seconds delay in a closing could let a sale slip away. Calling on the customer at the right time could lead to a deal.
So how do we manage time? The principles of time management are simple. We will not use any confusing management jargon here and discuss the easy techniques of time management in simple terms.
All tasks are not equally important in sales. Some are not even important at all. It requires plain common sense to judge which tasks are important and how much. For instance, you have two tasks at hand. 1- A scheduled meeting with a prospect for tomorrow. There is a new product brought out by your company and there is a strong likelihood of your prospect buying it. But you don’t know all the features of the product. 2- You have some cold calls to make. Either you read and consult your production engineer to learn about the product inside out or make the cold calls in the available time. What do you do?
Obviously, learn about the new product and prepare for the meeting with the prospect. You learn everything about the product and mentally rehearse the removal of product specific objections that the prospect may raise. Learning about the product is a priority here. After all, the prospect has been generated after many hours of prospecting and numerous calls. The other task of making cold calls can be postponed by a day or two.
Prioritization may not be as obvious as this given instance. Sometimes the tasks will appear to be equally ranked in the rungs of priority. You have to judge clearly which tasks to rank and work on them.
The habit of postponing sales activities acts like a slow poison and affects performance on other tasks. When important tasks are postponed, it feels like being weighed down by a heavy burden. Putting off an unimportant task is effective prioritization not procrastination. The problem is when sales professionals keep postponing doing important tasks. The reasons could be that:
- They are overwhelmed by the task and clueless as to where to start.
- Afraid of the outcome that could be failure and even success in some cases.
- Waiting for the right mood or the right time which never seems to arrive.
- It has to be done the perfect way or not done at all.
- Poor decision making skills or organizational skills.
The first step to tackle procrastination is recognizing that you are actually procrastinating on something. Then you need to take on the task head first. Do all the preparation required but fix a time to attend to the task and do it. Don’t worry about the result, just set about doing the task and give your best. The worst that can happen is that you may fail. What do you have to lose; you had failed anyway by not attending to it. The beauty of tackling a difficult or overwhelming task is that it gets easier and is not as stressful as you imagined it to be when you take it head on. The more you keep postponing a task the more difficult it becomes. Just do it at the earliest opportunity. NOW, is the right time. When you clear up difficult tasks first thing in the day the rest of your day passes like a cool breeze and you can attend to other tasks with a better frame of mind.
Work According to a Schedule
Prepare a daily schedule and make sure that you stick to that. Be flexible to accommodate time for other pressing needs or emergencies. But stick to the basic schedule. Exercise at a particular time in the morning or the evening. Plan your sales call for the next day in the evening and enter it into your schedule or to-do list. Prepare you schedule one or two months in advance.
Apportion the Right Amount of Time
With experience you would know how much time each sales call, meeting, presentation, and closing should take. Apportion the right amount of time for each task.
Cut the Time Wasters Away
Talking for too long with the other office staff, colleagues, and unproductive prospects should be cut away. There are many frivolous activities that may take away your precious time when you are on the job. Keep away distraction and stay focused on the job at hand.
These principles of time management should be applied with a heavy dose of common sense. Soon you will find that you are not rushing and pushing your way to sales appointments and are rarely pressed for time. You will be cruising with full control and will have a lot of time for everything.
About the Author:
Doug Dvorak helps companies and professionals achieve results through customized, creative and non-traditional sales training systems that are “one size fits one” and developed to the unique business needs and “sales pain points” of each client. He is available to speak on these topics.
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Copyright 2008 The Sales Coaching Institute, Inc.
Sales Skills Training Strategic Sales Coaching
Doug Dvorak, CEO of DMG International, is the Author of the forthcoming book “Build Your Own Brand” (Pelican, 2009)