Let’s face it; most of us aren’t good at effectively managing our time, especially sales people. What makes us good at sales, often works against us as well. For instance, most good sales people exhibit high energy and like to continuously take on new challenges (such as finding and closing new prospects). But the flip side of these characteristics often times is that we can be unfocused.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry. I do time management training regularly and when asked, less than 5% of attendees consider themselves effective time managers. And even though I teach a class on time management, I certainly don’t fall into that 5% category either. However, I early on identified that time management was a weakness of mine and have incorporated many tactics and tools into my routine that I believe makes me more effective than most.
The very first step is recognizing the need to schedule your week. The more effectively you can schedule your time, the better your results (translate: you’ll make more sales). So here are 5 ways you can more effectively schedule your week.
1. Work back from 40 hours. Yes I know, you work more than 40 hours a week. But for the purposes of scheduling our time, let’s start with the standard workweek. This is a critical step, because we need to realize that we have a finite number of hours to get things done. When we mentally prepare ourselves that we don’t have unlimited time, it creates additional sense of urgency.
2. Put everything on your calendar. For some people this is a no-brainer, but most people don’t put everything on their calendar. Many don’t put personal appointments on their work calendar, and some don’t use a calendar at all. If you really want to maximize your time, schedule everything that is going to take up time, including appointments, meetings, meals, breaks, time off, and even travel time.
3. Schedule important, but not urgent items. The most important tasks are oftentimes not the most urgent (such as sales activity like prospecting calls). Conversely, the most urgent tasks (like answering the phone) are not the most important. If you don’t schedule blocks of time to complete these tasks, they will usually not get done. I recommend that you block out time on your calendar every day for prospecting, at least once a week for research, and time on Friday to plan for the following week.
4. Block your appointments. Appointments can be extremely time-consuming when you add in prep and travel time. Spreading out these appointments often creates additional unproductive blocks of time. So instead, try to block appointments as closely together as possible, still giving yourself a cushion in case one runs long. An effective way to accomplish this is once you have the first appointment scheduled, focus on your prospects that are in close proximity. This cuts down on wasted time traveling and gives you larger blocks of time to focus on those important, not urgent tasks.
5. Plan your week. Speaking of planning for the following week, this is a critical component of making the most of your time. Each Friday, block off 15 to 20 minutes where you reflect on the 5 or 6 most important tasks you needed to accomplish. Did you accomplish them? If not, why not? Then identify the 5 or 6 most important tasks you need to accomplish next week. Think about what you need to do to move specific deals through your pipeline, add new prospects, build your name, etc. And be specific. Rather than say “identify new prospects”, instead say “identify 5 new prospects through LinkedIn and information-gathering phone calls”.
Just by taking these steps and incorporating them into how you work, you can easily increase your productivity by 20% or more.
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