Don’t count time, make time count

I often receive time management questions from sales reps. This week I thought I would provide you some of the best time management tips I have used to help stay focused and make more sales
Losing control of your time is the worst mistake a sales professional can make. You must jealously guard your time in order to stay productive.

Here are 8 ideas to keep you focused:

  • Set a monthly sales target, and calculate how many prospects you need to talk to each month in order to generate enough business to hit that target. Once you have those numbers set, your priority becomes making the calls. Put that number on a piece of paper in front of your phone so you are looking at it everyday. Close your door and don’t get up from your desk until those calls are made.
  • Block time off in your calendar everyday to make calls and prospect. Don’t just make a mental note – actually block the time off physically so you and everyone else can see it clearly. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ so you can’t be bothered and shut off your email during this time to avoid any distractions.
  • In a place you can easily see everyday post your revenue goal in big, bright numbers. Staring at this number everyday will remind you what you need to do first thing every day. As you accomplish sales, cross off the revenue number to reflect what you still have left to sell. This countdown will keep you motivated to make one more call each day!
  • Stay away from the Life Suckers in your office. They are not customers, and they will not buy from you. Your customers are on the outside (or the other end of the phone). Life Suckers will only waste your time complaining. They provide no motivation to get your work done.
  • Close your doors, hide, or work from a different office! If you work in a cubicle find an empty office space or meeting room to make your calls from. Turn off your cell phone!
  • Be on time. Show respect for other people’s time and they will eventually show respect for yours. It’s reciprocity at work.
  • Use a CRM and Sales force automation tool to stay organized. If you are not organized you will waste tremendous amounts of time finding leads, looking for files and trying to remember what you talked about last time. All your notes, follow ups and client information should be in one place, ideally in an automated follow up system found in a CRM database of sales force automation. I don’t care what you use – although some, such as Maximiser and are better than others (in my opinion anyway!). Pick one that suits your business and your budget.
  • Know the value of your time, and outsource anything that can be done for less than you are worth. If you don’t know what your average hourly rate is, then I suggest you figure it out using the following simple formula:
  • Add up your total earnings for the year. This includes salary plus commissions and bonuses, as well as any benefits you receive, such as health insurance or retirement savings plan contributions. For most people, benefits are generally equal to about 1/3 of their annual base salary. For example, total earnings for someone with a $60,000 base salary plus $40,000 in commissions and bonuses would be about $120,000 ($60,000 salary + 1/3 + $40,000 in commissions and bonuses).
  • Divide this amount by the number of working hours in the year. For most of us, this would translate into 210 days x 8 hours a day = 1,680 working hours. This includes 2 weeks’ vacation, or 10 days. For your own calculation, use the number of vacation days you would normally take.
  • Divide your total annual earnings by the number of working hours in the year. In the example above, this would result in an average hourly wage of $71.43.
  • Now that you know your hourly wage, your goal is to increase it, every month. There are two ways to do this: increase the amount of sales you make to increase your total commissions, or reduce the number of days you work. The choice is yours.

To get you started, begin by taking note of how you’re spending your days today. For help doing this, download a free copy of our Time Allocation Worksheet.

After two weeks of tracking your time, determine what percentage of your week is spent exclusively on prospecting, presenting and closing. Then, set a goal to increase that percentage by a specific amount over a specified period of time, and write that goal down in the present tense to show the world (and yourself!) you mean business. For example:

“By December 31st, I will be spending 60% of my time on prospecting, presenting and closing.”

Next, spend 30 minutes writing down everything you could be doing to increase your selling time, and reach that goal, such as:

  • Hire a bookkeeper at $15.00 per hour to complete and submit your expense reimbursements.
  • Make 5 more cold calls per day.
  • Ask for 1 more referral every day.
  • Attend 2 networking events per week rather than 1.
  • Get your manager involved on deals that are over $XX to help close them faster.
  • Tell your manager your goal to enlist his or her support.
  • Outsource support calls to the support department rather than taking them yourself.
  • Try to get at least 20 activities down on paper, and then spend time every day implementing at least one of them. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself focusing your time on your paying customers, rather than on those tasks that bring in no additional revenue.

If you are waiting to get motivated before you make calls remember this: Motivation comes from action not the other way around. Most sales people wait to get motivated before they take action. You must do the opposite. Take action now! Regardless of how you feel. Simply pick up the phone and start making calls. Your activity will motivate and focus you to keep going. You will always feel better after you accomplished something profitable.

Colleen Francis has been a successful sales leader for over 20 years. She is the author of Nonstop Sales Boom, and is recognized as a top tier sales consultant. She understands the challenges of selling in today’s market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago. In this blog series she will share her experiences and predictions as she looks towards the evolving sales landscape. 

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