Everyone says that time is money. But this statement is especially true for sales reps. Commission-based jobs know no time restraints. Hustling is good. But there’s also a point of diminishing returns. Another 80 hour week doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crushing it. It probably means you’re taking meetings you shouldn’t. You’re doing too many repetitive admin tasks.
You’re searching for 2x optimizations when you should be searching for 10x overhauls. Here are the top seven time management hacks for sales reps to cut their hours while increasing their bonuses month after month, year after year.
1. Automate administrative tasks
Data entry should be a thing of the past in 2018. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of administrative stuff that falls into your lap, like docs that need signing before payments can be processed. Fortunately, you can largely automate this stuff today, if you know where to look.
PandaDoc integrates with CRMs like HubSpot, so you can pull in customer data and send out personalized, error-free proposals with just a few clicks. You can also use PandaDoc as a central catalog for all of your products, tabulating sales totals, discounts, and taxes into your proposals, as well.
OpMentors recently found a 90% decrease in proposal creation time by using PandaDoc. But it doesn’t stop at the time to sign. What about all that driving to and from each meeting?
WorkWave Route Manager
WorkWave Route Manager can help you find the most efficient route based on your GPS.
You can also cut down on the endless back-and-forth meeting request email chains with an app like HubSpot Meetings. The tool lets buyers book meetings with you during your open spots instantly.
All of these random tasks that pop up throughout the day can then be synced back to your calendar and task list with Todoist. It uses AI to schedule your tasks for you, based on past productivity. It learns your habits over time to choose optimal times for you to complete every item on your list.
The point is that you can literally shave five minutes here, another ten there, at almost every juncture of your day. And before you know it, that equals a few extra revenue-producing meetings over the course of a week.
2. Create email templates and reach out at the right time
Each interaction you have with someone is unique, sure. But the big steps are highly repetitive. So once again, you can save a ton of time by creating go-to templates that have proven to be effective in past engagements. Then, you can use tools to help you scale everything from outreach, following up, recapping calls, and more.
LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator inbox
You should also optimize timing to know exactly when you’re bound to get the best responses. For example, you can use the LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator inbox to monitor key accounts. You can get daily digests to keep up with everyone’s activity. Or you can set real-time notifications to take action when it matters most.
3. Say “No” more
You always want to hear “yes.” “Yes” to your meeting request, “yes” to your proposal. But conversely, you want to say “no” more often. Ideally, you’re after impact, not activity. The best way to maximize results is to be brutally honest about the activities that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line. Or, more accurately, the deals.
Disqualification can keep you from wasting time on poor leads that only drive up your lost opportunity cost. Skipping out on a few bad leads to double-down on nailing the good ones is almost always worth it at the end of the day. Just be sure you can differentiate between the two by looking at your past results.
4. Repeat what works and track your time
Sales success is simple, but not easy. It’s simple because it’s largely straightforward. You should do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. The hard part is distinguishing between those and then reacting accordingly. Start by getting an accurate time assessment with something like RescueTime, which runs automatically in the background of your computer.
The goal is to answer the elusive question: Was that prospecting activity worth my time? If you work better in increments of hard work followed by a short break, Pomodoro timers might come in handy.
Break down each activity into one Pomodoro over the course of a week. Analyze your time log to find out where you’re losing precious productivity time and adjust your habits accordingly.
5. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking is a myth you should avoid like the plague. Here’s why:
Research shows that people can’t do two things at one time; they can just switch between several tasks very quickly. Switching between activities takes time for your brain to adjust. Giving demos takes a different kind of mindset than pipeline management. Or outreach emails. Or a hundred other things on the never-ending to-do list. Switching gears continuously throughout the day ends up being counterproductive. It turns out that the ‘error percentages’ when not switching between tasks are much lower than the error percentages when you do switch.
That’s why sales reps should group similar activities in batches. If you’re prospecting, for example, get as much done in whatever small time you’ve allowed. Say you’ve got a few hours to prospect. Try to figure out how many people you could call in those few hours if all you did were leave voicemails. No follow-ups. No data entry. No emails.
Then, research that amount of prospects and make a list of them before your scheduled time. When it’s time to call, pull up your list. Call each prospect and leave them customized voicemails that match up with your research. Log each call in your CRM and move down the list. Then, later in the day, you can revisit the prospects you called and send them follow-up emails. Log your call, like this in Zoho, and keep moving.
You can see which calls you need to schedule (and which ones you’ve completed) all in one place at the very end. You’ll yield a higher volume of calls just by grouping activities because you won’t be distracted or unable to take a call during your scheduled prospecting time.
And when planning outside of prospecting time, you should always plan around your customers.
6. Plan around your customers
There isn’t one perfect time to reach out to your customers. It depends on each person’s daily routine. There are some general ‘best’ times to call to keep in mind, though. Between the hours of 8 and 9 AM and 4 to 5 PM are often the best times to call to qualify a lead.
The point of this step and every other one on this list is to identify the 20% that leads to 80% of the results. Here’s why.
7. Focus on the 20%
Every step on this list has a single goal in mind: Identify the 80/20. The Pareto Principle has been used to explain the distribution of everything from pea pods to income inequality.
Unsurprisingly, it applies to sales, too.
20% of your prospects will yield 80% of the results. The same rate applies to individual prospecting channels, closing techniques, locations, or meetings.
The trick is to figure out which ones work best, spend the majority of your time, attention, and energy behind them, and then cut everything else.
Disqualify, delete, or outsource the unprofitable work distracting you from getting more out of the 20% remaining.
Sales reps can easily end up with a large to-do list and a small amount of time to complete it. Luckily, there are several time management hacks that can help you stay on the ball.
- For starters, you should automate administrative tasks like proposals that aren’t worth hours of your time.
- Create email templates so that you don’t have to write each email from scratch, and reach out to your prospects at the right time.
- Say no when you have to and remember to disqualify leads that aren’t moving in the right direction.
- Repeat the actions that work and track your time with a tool like Toggl.
- Multitasking might sound effective, but it will leave you more distracted, which leads to time wasted. Instead, group similar activities around one another.
- Don’t forget to plan around your customers. Work within their time, not yours. Finally, spend most of your time and attention on the 20%.
- This portion of customers (and actions) will yield the majority of your results, so try not to sweat the small stuff.
What time management tips help you spend more time selling?