Time management is the act of organizing the sequence you execute various daily tasks. It's not sexy but 100% necessary in the modern sales environment.
If you are like most sales reps your day is filled with prospecting activities, email followup, meetings with internal stakeholders on various deals your working, and various external meetings from intro calls to contract reviews. It can be exhausting.
Remember the good old days? When you could close a deal on the first call? Ahhhh.... how good we had it.
The modern-day sales rep has become an octopus, each arm required to do a different task.
If that wasn't bad enough, we also have to remember when SOMEONE ELSE drops the ball.
- "Shoot, the CEO of ABC Company never replied to my email about the next steps, its been two weeks!"
- "Gosh, how I am just now remembering that our legal team hasn't gotten back to me about that NDA?!"
- "I don't think I ever got that case study I asked for last week..."
It doesn't matter if you’re an account executive working multiple deals or an SDR trying to prospect into multiple accounts, EVERYONE needs to manage their time effectively.
Finally, a big reason why I think time management is important for sales reps is that it's in your control. Sales is a world filled with variables that you have no control over, but they impact you. A hurricane can cause one of your closing calls to be delayed, a family emergency can cause a meeting to be canceled, and COVID-19 can shut down the entire US economy. The biggest levers you can pull to impact your own success are the variables you can control.
Your commitment to excellence in all areas you can control maximizes your chances of being successful month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year.
At this point, you are probably wondering what perfect time management looks like... that's a fair question.
Here is a picture of a perfectly blocked off the calendar.
The truth is, days never go as planned. Ever.
Fortunately, I have a few easy things sales reps can start doing today to be better at managing their time.
Use “prioritize and execute” to get through your day efficiently.
Prioritize and execute is probably my favorite words of wisdom from Jocko Willink (book: Extreme Ownership - highly recommended).
It's a simple heuristic that really boils down to deciding what activities are the most critical, completing those first, followed by the rest. What I would like to add to this concept is timing, WHEN you decided to complete a task.
Let's say your task list on Friday looks like this…
- Send follow up emails
- Prospecting cold calls
- Prepare for a sales presentation that's on Monday morning
- Give your sales manager your weekly update
You should prioritize them not only by the level of importance but also by how time-sensitive the task is. For example, I consider prospecting cold calls to be time-sensitive because they must be done at optimal times (your prospect may be out of the office at 6 pm).
By contrast, follow up emails can be scheduled to be delivered the next morning. Doesn't it make sense to write your follow up emails the evening of the day before they need to be sent? I think so.
There are two more things that you can do TODAY to improve your time management and be more efficient... and you know these ones.
I used to go through spurts of doing these before finally committing to it EVERY DAY... mandatory, no way out of it.
The morning “kick start” sets your day off on the right foot.
It is easy to delay the start of your day because, let's be honest, sleep is a wonderful thing. The morning kick start is so important because it gives your day consistency.
The key is to have the same routine every morning after you finish getting ready for the day. Take 20-30 minutes in the morning to do what you feel sets you off on the right foot. Here are some examples:
- Review your schedule for the day
- Read some industry articles
- Improve sales skill-set
- Organize messaging for outreach
- Read reply’s from prospects
Evening prep is the glue that holds your work life together.
Nothing kills work momentum like... life. Work-life balance is only balanced if you have a smooth transition from one to the other. That’s what evening prep achieves.
At the end of each day make sure you take 15-20 minutes to simply prepare for the next day. Prioritize the tasks you have for the next day so you can wake up, morning kick start, and execute.
There will always be excuses.
It's so easy to get tired at the end of the day or sleep in too late and not "have time" to invest in these two activities. This is a huge mistake, here's why.
- Planning your next day lets you go into that day with a clear focus - no excuse not to execute.
- Morning prep allows you to transition from your sleepy self to your BEASTLY SELF - cheesy much?
- You won't feel behind, even when your day gets taken off track. You will recover because all you have to do is adjust your plan, not create one.
If you would like an outline of my morning kick start and evening prep put your email in the form below and I’ll send it over. I hope it helps!