You may have heard the expression:
Time is money.
This adage is very apt in the life of a professional salesperson.
There are many tasks required of a professional, but there are only 24 hours in a day to accomplish them. That is why time management should be foremost in every salesperson's agenda.
An effective use of the available time will allow you to budget enough time to consistently work toward your goal. An added bonus will be a positive impact to your social life from an increase of leisure time because of assignments completed ahead of time.
There are five parts to managing time effectively for a salesperson:
prospecting, selling, service, personal and study.
I can hear the groans already. Prospecting may not be the most enjoyable activity for most salespeople: "I can sell. I just don't like the prospecting part of it," say some salespeople.
The undeniable fact is if you don't prospect, you won't have any people to sell to. You should make it a habit to set aside time in every day's activities for prospecting. Set a goal for yourself of how many cold calls you make in a day.
I was in life insurance when I started selling. I set a goal of 40 cold calls a day. I can tell you personally that my hands shook every time I dialed those numbers. The sweetest sound was a busy signal. I would even call home to hear the sound of a friendly voice.
But the difference is a sales professional will do the things necessary even though they may be things he/she dislikes doing.
Be aware of the "Golden Hours" of selling. These are the times in your work day you are most successful at contacting and meeting with prospects.
In real estate, this time may be on weekends and evenings. In business-to-business, your best times probably will be during regular business hours.
Always budget plenty of time for direct contact to get your product or service sold. Never use your "golden hours" for less productive activities such as paperwork. Do it when it is not possible to meet with prospects.
In order to more properly identify when it is most effective for your sales calls, write down on a piece of paper three questions: How much of my day is spent selling? When are my most productive hours to sell each day? What changes can I make in my daily activities that will allow me to spend more time each day selling?
The golden rule in selling is if you keep your customers happy, they will recommend their friends and keep coming back time after time. If you don't forget your customers, they won't forget you.
Always look at the long term. Do not treat sales as one-time deals. Even if you spend 10 minutes in a day on service, you will see surprising and satisfying results.
It takes only a few minutes to call up a recent customer, find out how the product or service is doing, if any changes have occurred, and maybe ask if there are any additional services you can provide. If the customer is happy with the sale, it will be an opportune time to ask for referrals, too.
A fair number of salespeople forget this small but very important step. A good strategy is to immediately schedule this step as soon as you make the sale. Remind yourself of the details of the sale while the event is still fresh in your mind.
It is also a good idea to schedule additional service calls at appropriate intervals depending on your particular product or service. These appointments of regular contacts assure the customer of your continued interest in his or her satisfaction. It increases rapport, and every contact may reveal new problems and needs the customer is facing. You may have the answer to his or her new problems in the form of additional products or service your company sells.
Happy customers are the best advertisement you can possibly have. Happy customers provide referrals, which make your prospecting job easier. It's a true win-win situation.
The personal side of selling is finding the time for yourself and your loved ones. You need to find time off from work to relax and recharge your batteries.
Some salespeople find it difficult to relax when they know how much has to be done and the limited time to accomplish it all. They feel guilty to be away from the job, and personal interests and friends only play second fiddle.
If personal activities are sacrificed to business pursuits for too long, the result can be burnout, fatigue or both. Keep in mind the actual meaning of the word "recreation." It literally means to recreate -- creating anew our vitality, enthusiasm and interest in life.
Managing time effectively will allow you to schedule personal time in your life. Plan them in advance and take advantage of the time to truly enjoy the activities that make you happy. You will emerge refreshed and a more effective individual.
In our rapidly changing world, school is never out for the professional. You have to keep up to date with trends and facts that affect your business.
It would be prudent to set aside 15 minutes every day to read trade journals and specialized books. By keeping up with current events, you can be a well-informed professional who can converse intelligently about the industry with your clients.
It is also a good way to find out what products your competition may be offering and how yours compare. It is also a good idea to continue your education and obtain advanced degrees that further your professional skills.
You may also take this time to plan your sales presentation instead of trying to cram all the information a few moments before the appointment.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.