In sales, timing is everything. Yet, a recent study found that 63% of salespeople work 40-hours or more per week and only spend approximately half of their time selling. Other workday activities mentioned include prospecting, qualifying leads, account management, marketing, administrative work, and more.
In this article, we share time management tools and tips geared toward sales professionals. We’ll cover:
- The importance of time management in sales (because you know, “time is money”)
- 5 types of time management tools available for salespeople
- 5 specific time management techniques to start using today
We’re here to help you make the most of your time so you can focus more on what matters: selling and closing deals. Let’s dive in.
Importance of time management in sales
For many of us, including sales professionals, it might feel like there’s never enough time in the day. And for salespeople, there’s an added layer of pressure surrounding effectively managing one’s time. Successful businesses rely on revenue, and sales professionals help bring revenue in. When salespeople waste time or don’t manage their workloads effectively, businesses potentially lose out on revenue opportunities.
On top of lost revenue, many sales representatives receive a commission on closed deals. This means it’s of utmost importance for salespeople to close more deals and get more done in less time to make more money.
The bottom line is that salespeople have an essential role and must be well-equipped to fulfill it. That’s why we pulled together some time management tools and tips to help sales representatives better spend their time. First, let’s take a look at different types of tools you can use as a salesperson as part of your overall time management strategy.
5 types of time management tools for sales experts
If you want to become better at managing your time as a salesperson, you need to understand what types of tools are available. Below are five types of time management tools for sales experts and some examples to explore.
Reaching out to potential customers is a significant task for salespeople. Sales prospecting tools allow you to connect with prospects and pull them into the sales funnel. These tools enable sellers to move faster, gather necessary information, and work more efficiently. Some examples of prospecting tools include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, FindThat Lead, and Overloop.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM tools allow you to store customer and prospect information, identify opportunities, and effectively manage customer relationships. They’re more advanced than spreadsheets and offer different features to help sales teams consolidate their data while staying customer-centric. Salesforce, monday.com, NetSuite, and HubSpot offer CRM software you can use to manage your customer information better.
To make the most of your time so you can close more deals and make more money, you’ll need tools to manage your calendar more effectively. To start, Clockwise can help you optimize your calendar, save uninterrupted blocks of time to help you focus, and build your schedule to align with your preferences (your lunch break is important). In addition to Clockwise, tools like Calendly are great for allowing prospects and customers to view your real-time availability and schedule meetings with you. No more back-and-forth hassle and coordination that wastes time.
Simplify your workflow with automation tools. These tools and integrations reduce the amount of time spent on administrative and repetitive tasks so you can spend time on higher priority tasks. Many apps seamlessly integrate thanks to automation tools that bridge the connection. Zapier, Integrately, and Automate.io can help you automate your workflows in no time.
The first step to better managing your time is understanding how you spend it and where you need to improve. If you don’t have a grasp on where the hours in your day go and need more insight, consider using a time-tracking tool. Once you start tracking your time, you’ll get a better view of the whole picture and what areas you need to work on. Harvest, Toggl Track, and TimeCamp are just a few of the time-tracking tools out there.
5 time management tips for sales professionals
Between juggling prospects, handling paperwork, setting up meetings, and more, it’s easy to feel like there’s never enough time in the day. In addition to utilizing time management tools like the ones mentioned above, these tips will help you work smarter so you can close more deals.
1. Use the 80/20 rule
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, is a phenomenon that suggests 80% of desired outcomes come from 20% of how you spend your time. What does that mean from a sales perspective? There are many different activities a salesperson needs to complete daily, and some days there won’t be enough time to do it all. Sales professionals should focus on the activities that will drive a maximum return on investment (ROI) and find ways to delegate or automate the remaining activities.
Another way for salespeople to use the 80/20 rule to manage their time effectively is to consider that 80% of sales will come from 20% of prospects or current customers. Not all opportunities will convert, so it’s crucial to find and focus on high-volume prospects with the potential of becoming long-term customers. Or in the case of current customers, a sales rep might prioritize selling more products and services to increase revenue generation. The point is to become a master at knowing who to spend your time with and which leads or prospects aren’t going to make a purchase so you can build the right relationships.
2. Utilize time batching
A traditional job description for a sales representative includes responsibilities like:
- Present and promote products and services to existing and prospective customers
- Generate new leads
- Negotiate with prospective clients
- Prepare proposals, reports, and other documentation
- Establish and maintain customer relationships
- Achieve agreed upon sales targets to meet company revenue goals within schedule
Sales professionals complete various tasks every day, and it can be challenging to manage context switching. As much as possible, group similar tasks together to boost your productivity and efficiency. Time batching is a time management technique you can use to get more done.
Let’s dive into a quick sales-specific example:
- First, you’ll list out all of the things you need to accomplish today or this week. That might include activities like cold calling, updating the pipeline in your CRM tool, conducting product demos, and reaching out to a handful of current customers.
- Then, you’ll need to prioritize your task list and estimate how much time you’ll need for each task. For larger tasks, you can break them down into smaller micro-tasks rather than doing one long session.
- Last, with your task list ready, batch your tasks in terms of similar items. So we might batch cold calling with customer reach outs since those both require being on the phone. Product demos may get their own day since those will take many hours and require staying in presentation mode. Maybe you designate Friday as a no-call day to allow for pipeline updates and other administrative tasks requiring undivided attention.
3. Own your email inbox
Your inbox can become your best friend or your worst enemy as a salesperson. Many conversations take place via email, so it’s beneficial to control your inbox to reduce overwhelm and unnecessary hassle.
You can take better control of your inbox in a few ways:
- First, set up email templates for conversations you have on a repeated basis. With the bulk of your email ready to send, you’ll save typing time and won’t have to spend time thinking about the perfect response.
- Next, create a folder filing system to organize your inbox quickly. Consider creating folders for emails that need a response by the end of the day and week.
- Last, set aside time each day to respond to emails rather than reacting as you receive them. Unless an email is urgent and requires your immediate attention, give yourself an allotted amount of time to focus solely on your inbox and prepare it for the next day.
4. Eliminate or delegate unnecessary tasks
You can’t do it all, and that’s okay; that’s where elimination and delegation can help. While some administrative tasks may be necessary, it’s essential to ensure you aren’t feeling bogged down by administrative tasks or allowing them to take up too much of your time. For starters, see if it makes sense to redistribute some administrative tasks to other team members. For example, maybe a sales representative in training at a junior level who isn’t directly engaging in the sales process yet can help.
When delegation isn’t an option, it might be time to consolidate and streamline your processes. Cut unnecessary steps, automate tasks where possible, and find quicker ways to get your work done so you can spend more time focusing on higher-impact activities.
5. Avoid taking breaks after a win
Picture this: You’ve been heads down trying to close the largest deal this year to date. You’ve gone back and forth with the prospect all week, and just when you thought they were going to choose your competitor, you close the deal! Now it’s time for a break, even though you still have a few more tasks to complete before you close out your week, right?
Not so fast. The fact that you closed the deal is great. But instead of rewarding yourself with a break and leaving unfinished to-dos on your list, use your win to move into your final tasks. Take advantage of the energy and excitement while you have it to keep churning through your to-dos. Instead of waiting for a win to reward yourself with a break, build regular breaks into your schedule. Building in your breaks rather than taking them sporadically after a win will help you stay on track and avoid distractions.
Effective time management skills are crucial for sales professionals because every minute matters when money is on the table. There are different types of tools, including prospecting, CRM software, calendar management, automation, and time-tracking, available for salespeople to use. The 80/20 rule, Time batching, email organization, eliminating unnecessary tasks, and pre-scheduling breaks are strategies that sales professionals should leverage to make the most of their workdays. One quick tip to implement right away is downloading Clockwise for free and optimizing your calendar.