Sales time management involves learning how to allocate your time to be as productive as possible. Sales professionals have a daily schedule packed with negotiating deals, fostering new leads, and pitching demos, making time management a necessity. We’ve generated 13 time management tips to help you improve sales productivity and close more deals.
Most sales teams use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to help them manage their time effectively. Freshsales helps sales reps organize their sales pipelines and identify bottlenecks in the sales process with their visual pipeline, schedule reminders, and collaborate with team members all in one place. Visit its website to sign up for a 21-day free trial today.
We will dive into 13 tips for improving your time management skills and increasing productivity.
1. Have a Plan
Set yourself up for success with a plan of what you want to accomplish during the day, workweek, and month. Knowing what you want to get done and planning them out on your calendar helps keep you focused and on task.
There are plenty of tools you can use to plan your work schedule. Utilize Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar so that you know where you plan to spend your time. You can also use a task management tool such as Asana or Trello to help you manage your work plan.
2. Know Your Top Priorities
Be intentional about where you spend your time, and proactive about when you make time for customers and communicate about when you can meet. It’s also a great idea to establish boundaries regarding what you’re going to work on. It’s easy to get caught up in a side project like learning about new software, but it can derail you from more important work like following up on sales deals. So, make sure your most important tasks get the most attention.
3. Track Your Time
You can use a time tracking tool like Toggl to help you determine where you may be wasting time or need to cut back. For example, you might find that you spent two hours researching your competitors’ products and services, which is just as much time as you spent making follow-up calls to prospects, and you aren’t calling as many as you need to.
You can use this information to readjust your schedule. Find out where you are spending most of your time during the workday, making sure to have clear insight on where you are currently spending your time can give you ample understanding of how you should plan your day.
“My best time management tip is to time-block everything. If you need to make 50 cold calls, and you can expect that to take 2 hours, block 2 hours off on your daily plan and don’t do anything else during that time. On this plan, ensure you schedule the most important activities first thing in the morning. Knock them out while you have energy and time on your side.”
—David Pere, CEO, From Military to Millionaire
4. Use Time Blocking on Your Calendar
Planning time on your calendar can help keep you accountable to your priorities throughout the day, rather than just having a list of things to do. One effective method is carving out chunks of time on your calendar because it discourages multitasking, improves focus, and helps you establish a routine.
For example, you might group your sales calls by location, product, or pipeline stage and schedule 3 hours to focus on those visits. You could also schedule an hour to write thank you notes to prospects, and another hour to focus on generating business proposals.
5. Limit Distractions
Set periods of the day where you silence your phone and turn off notifications from your phone by putting it into “Do Not Disturb” mode. So many things are vying for our attention in our digital society to distract us from important sales activities. Cellphone notifications, text messages from customers or co-workers, emails, social media, and client calls distract us constantly.
Close your email inbox and only check it two to three times per day. If you find you get distracted by co-workers often during the day, make a “Do Not Disturb-Deep Work” sign and put it where people can see it for a couple of hours each day.
“My number one sales time management tip is a simple one—eliminate distractions. We all have to multitask in this fast-paced world, but there are times you need to focus solely on one project. Luckily, there are apps and settings where you can turn off your phone, text messages, and even emails. It’s only human nature to possibly get sidetracked if an email comes in, so most of us can benefit from eliminating distractions.”
—Matt Schmidt, CEO, Diabetes 365
You can also use a web browser extension such as Freedom for Mac or Windows that will block websites you find particularly distracting automatically or only allow you to visit specific websites for a certain amount of time per day, like social media sites. If you work in a noisy environment, try noise-canceling headphones to drown out distracting office noise.
6. Manage Your To-do List
Developing a to-do list with due dates can be powerful for saving time, but it’s easier said than done. Write down your to-do list so you can see your list in its entirety to make sure nothing is overlooked or forgotten. For example, you can group your sales to-do lists by making a list for follow-ups, new business outreach, and deals that need to be finalized.
At the end of the workday, figure out what your top priorities are for the next day, such as making follow-up calls or sending project estimates, so you know exactly where to dive at the beginning of the next day. You can also use task management software, such as Basecamp, to collaborate with team members so that work doesn’t get duplicated and ensure everyone is on the same page.
7. Automate Your Tasks
Automating otherwise manual processes can save a ton of time for sales reps. For example, you can eliminate the back and forth of meeting scheduling with a tool such as Calendly that connects to your calendar and lets people choose meeting times based on your availability.
Create sales proposals right within your CRM with beautiful templates with software like PandaDoc. You can repurpose a sales quote or proposal for each sales deal, without having to make a new one from scratch each time.
“Sales reps should track their time and identify which activities are killing their productivity and are taking too much time. Such activities should be eliminated. They should also look into ways of automating or outsourcing administrative tasks. Furthermore, they need to concentrate on the tasks that provide them with maximum ROI.”
—Joe Bailey, Business Development Consultant, MyTrading Skills
8. Avoid Procrastinating
Every sales rep has those tasks they just don’t like doing, and it’s so tempting to put them off. Whether it’s sending follow-up emails, working up business proposals, or sending thank you notes, if you wait until the last minute, you will rush through it and won’t do a good job.
Focus on completing one of the tasks you enjoy least at the beginning of the day. You will feel an awesome sense of accomplishment, having put something behind you that you didn’t feel like doing. It sets the tone for a productive day by getting those tasks out of the way and on to more enjoyable activities.
“We all have parts of our job that we would avoid if we could. Putting it off can lead to wasted time. If you have something on your schedule that you know you dislike, get it done first so that you don’t spend any more time worrying about it.”
—Sam Olmsted, Consultant, Superior Honda
9. Stop Multitasking
The idea that multitasking helps you get more done in less time is a myth. According to CoSchedule, multitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40 percent. If you stop working on a task to address something else only makes finishing it longer. For example, if you’re working on follow-up calls and stop for 20 minutes to check your email, it will take you at least 60 to 90 (often more) seconds to refocus on getting back into your follow-up calls.
You can limit multitasking by closing unnecessary tabs on your computer browser so that they don’t distract you. You can also use a timer to set a goal for how long you want to work on something before you move to another task.
10. Plan Your Day Around Prospects
Depending on who your audience is, there’s an ideal time for when to reach them. When I was sales reaching out to K-12 school superintendents, I always found the best time to reach them was early in the morning before the first bell rang, or after school once students had left, and they were doing administrative work. If I tried calling at 8 a.m., or 3 p.m., there was no chance I’d get them on the phone as they’d be busy dealing with students and staff.
However, let’s say you’re prospecting restaurant owners. You won’t want to call on them at 11 a.m. because they will be busy with the lunch crew or 5 p.m. when the dinner service is getting into full swing. You’d want to plan for calling or visiting around 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. when things are slower, and they’re prepping rather than focusing on customers.
11. Create & Use Document Templates
As a sales rep, you’re bound to send similar emails to prospects in each stage of the sales pipeline. There’s no need to write them repeatedly. Many CRMs, such as Freshsales, give you the ability to create and store email templates so that you can save time by putting in a template and customizing it for that customer.
For example, you might have an email template you send to follow up right after a demo. You might also have one that you send along with a proposal, one for cold outreach, or one for a referral prospect. Read more about sales email template examples that you download and use with your prospects and customers.
12. Take Breaks
Get out of the office and go on a short walk. Mediate with an app like Headspace or Calm or work out on your lunch break. It’s helpful to use the Pomodoro Technique to work for planned amounts of time, then take planned breaks to keep you on track and manage your time.
There’s much to be said for hustling, especially for small business owners, but it’s important to take a break and clear your head. Sometimes, your best ideas originate when you step away from your desk and take a break to reset.
“Don’t forget to take breaks during the day. Go for a walk or find something funny to laugh about. Fatigue and stress can decrease your performance seriously, so make sure to take breaks at times when you notice your focus is at its lowest.”
—Darko Jacimovic, Co-founder, whattobecome.com
13. Know Your Bandwidth
We all know that person that says yes to everything someone asks them to do. It might be you. But it doesn’t do anyone any favors. You need to know your bandwidth, and when it’s the right time to say, “No, sorry, I can’t right now.”
If you have seven sales demos on a particular day and your co-worker comes to you asking you to help them develop new follow-up email templates that afternoon, it’s OK to say no. Explain that you have a full schedule that day and offer to help at a different time or help them find another team member that has the capacity. If you always say yes, you risk letting things fall through the cracks and burning out.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is time management important in sales?
Time management is important in sales because sales reps have a constant flow of leads, prospects, and customers to interact with to generate new business and retain customers. Managing your time allows you to be as productive as possible and produce the most revenue.
How is time management different for salespeople than other roles?
Sales reps often have to be on the road visiting clients and prospects or conduct several online demos per day. For example, a software developer typically doesn’t have to talk with others. They usually work alone. Sales reps need to be able to adjust to situations out of their control while maintaining a structured schedule.
What are the best tools and apps for time management?
There is a broad range of tools available to help sales reps manage their time. CRM software helps sales professionals manage deals, a Pomodoro Timer can help you manage work time vs break time, and a calendar scheduling tool such as FreeBusy can help you schedule meetings without emailing back and forth to find a mutually convenient time.
The Bottom Line: Time Management for Sales Reps
Time management is a crucial part of a sales rep’s daily work life. Automating tasks, creating a daily schedule, and avoiding multitasking and procrastination are key to optimizing sales productivity, closing more deals, and generating the most revenue possible.
Using a great CRM is an integral part of time management for sales reps. Freshsales is a CRM that helps teams save time with email templates, workflow automation, and a robust mobile app when you’re on the go. Visit its website to sign up for a 21-day free trial.