Today there are many priorities and client issues for a professional salesperson to balance. There are limits to how much work can be done in one day by one person. The important issue to understand here is that time waits for no one. In the selling profession, time use and time management are valuable resources to work with.
Forget about working long hours; focus on working effectively and directly in just 5 hours. Elevate the quality of business that you create and implement in this time.
If you are struggling with getting results in your market or your industry, it is likely to be the case that you are not using your time very well. Here are some tips to help with that:
- Time is valuable – In any 8 hour working day, only 5 of those hours will be very effective. That fact is largely due to competing people, clients, personal performance, and issues that arise that cannot be controlled. Expect to be interrupted but control your response. Make 5 hours of your day highly effective. Do the things that really matter in those 5 hours.
- Control your diary – Don’t let others book you in for appointments. If you are a professional salesperson, make your workload decisions and diary entries yourself based on priorities and people. If the issue or person is not important, then don’t put it in the diary; delegate unnecessary issues.
- Take notes – From every meeting and conversation take notes in a suitable book that can be referred to later when time is less intense. In that way you are not letting immediate things overtake your work priorities. Carry your notebook with you for this purpose. Change your notebook at the end of each month so you have a reliable reference system that you can look back on if important issues arise.
- Circadian Cycle – It is a known fact that the beginning of the day is far more effective for most people when it comes to getting things done. The observation is known as the ‘circadian cycle’. Manage your diary so that the most important things are done in the morning; they should be the things that can bring you the best results.
- Pareto Principle – Most people know that this is the 80/20 rule. It is an observation from the times of Vilfredo Pareto (an Italian Economist from the late 1800’s). He determined that 20% of actions will bring 80% of results. This then says that we should all take the time to focus on important issues for at least 20% of the day. In business and professional selling that is a good rule to have.
- Technology – With the advances of technology there are many tools to help us stay organised and communicate with others. Effectively these technology tools can save us a lot of time. The tools can also help us to remain in contact whilst out of the office. There is no real reason for a salesperson to sit in the office waiting for the telephone to ring; professional salespeople should be out of the office and in the market talking to clients and prospects.
Simple rules like these help us stay on track in professional sales today. Are you up to the challenge?
When you work in sales it is easy to be overwhelmed with daily events and tasks. The more clients and prospects that you know, the easier it is to be overloaded with issues and business matters every day. When you lose your focus you lose business. It is a simple fact that has a real impact on our profession.
In these days of smart phones and computers, the traditional written ‘to do list’ is still the most powerful way of tracking progress in sales and customer service. Whilst a computer based program can remind you to do something that seemed important a few days ago, it doesn’t help you get it done. That is the difference between a written ‘to do list’ and something that the computer gives you.
It is a known fact that the process of writing something out as a ‘list’ helps you deal with the order and priority of things. The brain functions in particular ways, and one of them is known as the ‘Reticular Activation Process’ or RAS as it is often referred to. The frontal cortex of the brain is thought to be the main area where RAS processes occur. It creates the order of things.
So let’s go back to the ‘sales profession’ where we are typically very busy most days. The main issue for most sales people is in being effective and getting results. The list writing process will help you. That doesn’t mean that you should do away with your smart phone or computer; it does mean that you can take the issues from your computer and write them into a day planner. From that point onwards you have a list to work with. It is remarkable just how effective you will feel as you tick off your items from your list every day.
In summary the great advantages in all of this are:
- Gives you focus
- Helps you take action
- Understand what really matters
- Allows you to compound your progress
Make tomorrow a great day in sales by starting a list of priority issues and targets. Win more business the right way. To your success in professional sales!
Have you ever seen a reactive salesperson? They are generally fairly well out of control most of the time, and doing lots of things at the beckon of clients and management. At the end of the day they go home on the dot of 5pm because they have ‘had enough’ of other people. Most of the things that they wanted to do in the day they would not have achieved.
So we all have choices as to how we structure a working day in ‘sales’ and who we respond to as part of ‘doing the business’. Perhaps we have to respond to clients and management, but we should have and retain some flexibility in doing so. To be a top salesperson, your career just has to be under control and each day at least 50% of the things that you do should be proactive towards growing your market or your income.
Here is an interesting exercise for you. On a piece of paper, write down the key things that will bring you new business or increase your market share. In most cases the list would look something like this:
- Researching new and current clients
- Touching base with customers
- Presentations and pitches
- Placing orders or contracts
Now that you have done the list, think about yesterday and the events of the day. How many things in your short list or priorities did you get done? If you are like most salespeople, you will have got to less than 50% of the items on your list.
Perhaps we make our days and working weeks overly complicated, but the fact of the matter is that we are really in control and from that point we can make our ‘sales day’ quite proactive and productive.
When a salesperson tells me that they are getting nothing done or are losing market share, I usually say to them that the solution ‘lies within’. They are the problem and the solution in one. They have the key to resolving the challenges.
Every month I recommend that every sales person in a business team takes a serious look at their successes over the last month and where they are headed. If they truly want to be ‘proactive’ they can plan their way forward for even greater results in income and customer connections. They just need to commit.
So the message here is ‘don’t work harder, work smarter’.
As a professional salesperson today, you have the opportunity to be proactive or reactive when it comes to your marketplace and the tasks of the day. The choices that you make will have a major impact in the levels of business that you create.
Top salespeople in any industry are highly proactive and like to retain control of the things that matter in their business. Normally those things will include:
- Selective prospecting
- Client contact systems
- Contracts or orders
- Referral business
All of these things are important when it comes to growing market share and strengthening the personal profile you require as a top salesperson. If any of these five things are neglected, the results that you achieve are likely to be lessened.
So the key issue here is for you to be proactive in all the things that you do. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Use your time well and control it through an effective diary system. Don’t let other people make appointments for you. Their priorities will be different than yours.
- Understand the three or four things that are critical to the success of your business day. Ensure that those issues are merged into your diary activities every day. Get those things done before you attempt anything else. Remember the proactive approach will bring you better results.
- Place some priorities in contacting key clients on a regular basis. Those key clients or key accounts will be responsible for 80% of your business income. Strengthen the relationships of every possible opportunity.
- Understand the seasons of prospecting and sales. In your industry there will be times of the year where sales or more frequent and customers are more receptive to placing orders and signing contracts. Optimise your prospecting activities for those times of the year.
- Your existing high quality clients will be opportunities for future new business and referral leads. Ask the right questions at the right time.
- Help your clients succeed within their business and with their business requirements. In that way you will be bringing a level of value to your clients that will be hard to refuse.
- Always be networking when any spare time is available.
It is not hard to be successful in any industry when you understand that true success is built from proactive and not reactive base of control.
Working in a professional sales position, you will find many pressures occurring on a daily basis. Sometimes it is tempting to take the ‘easy’ way out when it comes to issues and tasks. It is not unusual for most sales people to take the ‘road of less difficulty’. Unfortunately this does not always bring in the best results in new business and income.
When you look at your career, your industry, and the competition, it will be very obvious what needs to be done if you are to rise to the top of your market. Are you doing all of those things now? Could you do more of them? What would happen if you started working on those difficult things that you have been putting off for so long?
Here is a list of the common ‘matters of avoidance’ for most salespeople:
- Contacting clients in an ongoing way
- Paperwork and reports
- Key performance indicators
- Database entries
- Following up on business and transactions
Just about all of these things will have a big impact on the business activities of the average salesperson. Some of these things will be more important than others.
The rules here are quite simple:
- Look at the list and decide what you could improve on.
- Get the knowledge that you need to build your skills that may require more work.
- Start practicing your skills.
- Take action to a plan.
It is not easy being a salesperson in any industry. You must rise to the market and the pressures of the day with a great attitude and a momentum to take your business and market share forward. Developing a plan for the process is a good thing, however the start of any day should feature the things that are hard and that you have been putting off. Get the ‘hard stuff’ done first and the business will start to move ahead.
When you work as a professional salesperson, your time is your most valuable resource. How you spend your time will impact on your income.
It is a fact that the the greater your success in sales, the greater the pressure will be on your daily activities. For this reason you do need a plan of control.
Here are some tips to help you with managing your business activity and your sales opportunity.
- Each weekend, review the activities of the last week to identify the current opportunities moving forward. They will need to be carried into the next week with the correct amount of focus and commitment.
- Plan the week ahead so that at least 1/3 of each working day is under some form of personal control. In that time frame, you can do the things that are most important and that will have impact on your growth of market share and client connection. When you believe you are under some control, you make better decisions and take the action. That is why at least 1/3 of the working day is so important to your momentum.
- From the previous point, the other 2/3 rds of the working day can be set aside for those reactive issues and pressures that arise each day. Clients, fellow staff members, and managers will impose on your time so move them into the remaining 2/3 rds of the working day.
- Spend 15 minutes at the beginning of the day planning the activities that you need to get to. Write them into a written diary as a process of organisation. Prioritise the main and important issues that must be done on that day. This has been proven to be highly effective as an organisational tool in business. The success of the process has a lot to do with how the human brain deals with pressures and time.
- Allow for some slack time in the day where you can relax and regroup. The best time to do this is around the middle of the day as part of your lunch break.
- The circadian cycle is part of the biological clock of human performance. It shows that you have two peaks of effectiveness during the day. The first peak is between the hours of 7.00 AM and 11 am. The second peak is usually between 2.00 PM and 6.00 PM. Use these windows of time to do the most important things in your business day.
- When you get involved in a complex and time consuming issue, it takes about 20 minutes to get deeply into the task and committed to the process. Keep people away from you so that this 20 minute momentum is not broken and reset. After the initial 20 minutes, you are good for the next 2 hours of focus and dedication to the task.
- As you achieve things during the day, cross them off the list in your diary. This single process gives you the feeling of momentum and completion. At the end of the day you will have a number of things that have been crossed off the list. This is a success process and valuable to the mind as you struggle with work pressures.
Don’t equate being busy with being efficient. They are totally different things. In professional selling, efficiency is far more important than anything else. Don’t attempt to do more than you are capable of in the time frames available. Recognise the time has to be used wisely.