10 time management tips for B2B sales reps

by Steli Efti

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It’s 5:40 p.m. You’re almost done for the day.

Question is, what did you actually get done?

Time management is a tough skill to master for anyone, but especially for salespeople. We have so many tasks competing for our attention at the same time. Often, we end up wasting time on B.S. instead of focusing on high-impact activity.

Let’s get rid of those bad habits.

Here are 10 practical tips to help you get more done in less time.

1. Embrace the power of right the fuck now

Ever seen Craig David’s watch? He knows that the power of right the fuck now is magical.

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Be more like Craig David.

Using three commons sales scenarios, here’s what you can do to stop postponing tasks and take action right now.

Scenario 1: Schedule your next call

You’re on a sales call and your prospect has agreed to another meeting. You need to schedule your next call, but instead you hang up the phone and email them with suggested times.

Congrats, you’ve just created another task for yourself. Going back and forth over email could end up wasting a week.

Ask them to pull up their calendar while they’re still on the call with you. Find a time that works for both of you. Instead of having to add “schedule next call” as another task to your to-do list, you just got another task done.

Scenario 2: Send a contract

You’re on the phone with your prospect and the next step is to send them a contract. Again, send it while you’re on the phone.

This way, you can go through the contract with your prospect and answer any questions they might have. You just saved yourself potentially a week’s worth of back and forths.

Scenario 3: Discuss leads in your team meetings

You’re telling your sales manager about a challenge with a current prospect. Together, you figure out what the next step should be. Perhaps you need to call them or send a follow-up email. Why wait? Do it right then and there.

Don’t postpone it. Doing it right now might take five minutes. Doing it later requires the same five minutes … and then more time and mindspace to schedule it, think of it, recollect all the information around it and so on.

Whenever you think of something that needs to get done—take action immediately.

2. Prioritize your sales pipeline

For most salespeople, 80% of the results they achieve come from 20% of the leads they’re working on. Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on the 20% of leads that generate 80% of the results?

I’ve never heard a rep answer no to this question. Yet, I barely see a rep that actually does this.

Start your day by looking at your pipeline and set your priorities for the day. Look at your to-do list and ask yourself:

  • What can I get done today that’ll have the biggest impact on my pipeline?
  • What can I get done today that’ll have the biggest impact on my targets?

Once you’ve done this, focus on those things first.

Always begin your day with what truly matters, your most important tasks and biggest priorities.

Start saying no

It’s difficult to prioritize. But not because it’s hard to figure out what the truly important things are. The difficult part about prioritizing is that you have to say no to things that aren’t that important.

Saying no means that you’ll pass on opportunities and potentially miss out on a great deal or an easy win. All of this triggers FOMO, and emotions start to hijack your sense of good judgment.

Your mind will begin conjuring up scenarios about how that thing you’re saying no to could turn out to be the next big thing that would have made a dramatic difference. You’ll start to feel as if saying no to this is the absolutely wrong thing to do. Why close the door on such a great opportunity?

Doubt and wishful thinking are why managing your emotions is so crucial to success in sales. You have to constantly keep your eyes on the ball. That’s what it takes to win.

3. Create time constraints

If you put time constraints on your tasks, you’re forced to get more work done in less time.

For me, this means spending less time on the phone. I used to do 60 minute calls. But as the volume increased, I had to cut that time in half. Once I had done that, I realized I could accomplish the same results in 30 minutes as I did in 60.

Once I discovered this, I took it even further. I decided to cut the time in half again. Now I do 15 minute calls and I still accomplish the same amount of work I used to in 60 minutes. This means I free up a lot of my time for high-priority tasks.

Cut out all the bullshit and get straight to the point.

Keep sales calls short and get to the point

Be respectful of your own time as well as the prospect’s time. Give yourself and others less time to accomplish the same work. I call this selling like a boss, because the people who rise to the top of an organization are typically the kind of people that are extremely mindful of the value of time.

Don’t spend 15 minutes trying to build rapport by talking about the weather and the prospect’s last vacation in Minnesota. Bring a game plan to each call and end each call with clear next action steps.

4. Bucket and theme your days

You’re never going to reach peak performance if you keep switching between tasks throughout the day. Everything’s going to be kind of shitty because you’ll never be in the zone.

Block out multiple hours per day, dedicate those to specific tasks and only focus on those. Bucket your tasks based on the activity and energy they require. This way, it’ll be easier to get more done.

Give your weekdays different themes

When you jump on your first cold call of the day, you’re not going to be at your best immediately. But three, five or perhaps eight calls later, you’re going to be warmed up.

You’ll be in the zone at this point because you’ve managed the objections, you’ve closed a few deals and at this point you’re killing it.

Monday might be meeting day, Tuesday might be prospecting day, etc

Perhaps you just want to theme your mornings in a certain way and then, in the mornings, you always do that. Maybe you want to take it to the next level and theme your entire week or month?

Bucket at least three to four hours for similar tasks, because the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

Spinning off of that, here’s tip number five.

5. Stop multitasking

I see salespeople writing an email to one prospect while they’re on the phone with another prospect or reviewing their pipeline in the midst of a meeting about improving their sales documentation. There’s always something. You know how it goes—now stop it.

The cost of switching from one thing to another accumulates into a lot of lost time. But more importantly, it’s the lost focus that causes more damage. And that lack of focus leads to less productivity and ultimately lower quality work.

Give people your undivided attention

Instead, give people your full and undivided attention. This is a rare thing today, and if you do it you will stand out. And once you start paying more attention, you’ll start seeing more opportunities and be less likely to zone out. Commit to being fully present during a conversation. Do one thing at a time and put all your energy into it.

6. Take intentional breaks

Schedule enough breaks during your day so that you stay focused and effective. The worst thing you can do is to spend half your day kinda working, but in a really relaxed way … scrolling your Facebook feed in-between, watching a funny two minute YouTube clip, reading your favorite blog…

When you’re working, stay 100% focused on the task at hand. And then take a break where you’re fully disengaged from work. The purpose of the break is to reset, to give your mind and body what they need.

Point being: When you work, work. When you take a break, take a break. Don’t half ass either.

Getting lost in prospect research

Many sales reps look up a prospect before getting on a call. They want to have some context around that person before they actually speak with them—which is great. It’s 2016, you need to be relevant to the prospect so that they give you their time.

But many salespeople go from researching a prospect to looking up their social media profile, to reading the blog post that they shared on twitter, to reading that other blog post that that blog post linked to, to watching that interesting 45 interview with Jeff Bezos … and it almost feels like work, because you know, “I’m just gathering some intel for my next sales call.”

If you’re researching prospects before you get on a call with them, set time constraints.

7. Outsource scheduling

Scheduling consumes a lot of time for salespeople. When you don’t have the opportunity to use the power of right the fuck now to schedule your next meeting, outsource it.

Here’s a full list of scheduling tools for salespeople.

Stop losing time to your inbox and start closing deals instead. Like Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” And searching your calendar for times to schedule meetings with prospects is not the kind of thing anyone should count as a good use of time.

8. Prevent no-shows

No-shows happen all the time. You’re going to have a bunch of meetings that are not going to happen because people cancel or simply decide not to show up.

Sell the value of the meeting

Avoid no-shows by making sure to sell the value of the meeting and make them understand why the meeting is important.

Work with a short timeframe

Schedule calls within a short timeframe to make sure your last meeting is fresh in mind. If you do this, it’s less likely that your prospect will cancel. Set up the next call a few days from now, not in a few weeks.

Send automated meeting reminders via SMS and email.

Plan for no-shows

Instead of getting frustrated when you get a no-show—prepare for it. Plan out how you’ll fill up the free time with something useful. Be strategic and deliberate with this time.

Look at your calendar and make a judgement based on what’s happened historically. Let’s say you’re likely to have a total of four no-shows, which will free up two hours of your time.

Now use this time wisely. Here’s what you can do:

  • Read. Pick up that book that you never have time for.
  • Write. Produce that blog post marketing has been bugging you about.
  • Prospecting. Add more leads to your pipeline to hit your targets.
  • Network. Reach out and talk to people and share advice.

Decide on one thing that you’re going to do with that free time.

9. Automate the follow-up

The follow-up is one of the most important elements of success in sales.

Too many people don’t do this right or they don’t even do it at all.

Many salespeople still do this manually. They put a follow-up reminder in the calendar or stick it on a Post-it. This just means either more work or that things will fall through the cracks.

All you’ll end up doing is wasting a lot of time because you didn’t have a good process in place and now you’ve lost the deal. Whether you use our inside sales software or another tool to manage your follow-ups, you definitely don’t want to do it manually.

10. Kill manual data entry

Killing manual data entry is a mission of ours here at Close.io. Manually logging data in a CRM slows salespeople down and prevents them from performing at their best.

Doing the work and then documenting the work that you did is a very time consuming task. This is when you want to use a tool like Close.io that automates as much as possible so that you can do the actual work instead of spending time reporting on the work.

Whether it’s a call, email or task, you want to use a tool that will automatically log everything for you.

There are a lot of things you can do to kill manual data entry. Have someone on your team do sales opps and look for opportunities to automate the process so that you can focus on closing deals.

Close.io’s API can help you automate most of the tedious, repetitive processes involved in your sales process, and there’s an ever growing library of out-of-the-box integrations through Zapier that you can use to connect Close.io with other apps in your software stack.

Lost time is never found again

I could easily turn this into 101 time management tips for salespeople, because frankly, there’s so much more you could be doing.

But here’s what you should be doing: start valuing your time more. Constantly ask yourself: “Is this thing that I’m currently doing the most valuable use of my time?” Find ways to make better use of your time.

Peter Drucker wrote the following for executives, but it applies just as much for sales reps:

Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Stop taking your time for granted and get more done in less time.

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