The Most Successful Sales Teams Avoid These Time Management Mistakes

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As a salesperson, you have a say in how your day unfolds. But as you balance working in the office with prospecting and helping clients, are you really making the most of your time?

Below we’ve listed the most common time management mistakes that salespeople – and sales managers – make. If you want your sales team to run smoothly and effectively, avoid these mistakes and follow the steps listed for a more productive schedule.

The Biggest Time Management Mistakes That Sales Teams Make

Being busy doesn’t mean you’re effective. So look at how you spend your time and schedule your day to see if you’re maximizing your work hours.

Mistake #1: Spending Time on Software Updates and Data Entry

A salesperson’s day should be focused on talking to prospects. You have to work within the office hours of your potential clients. So spend your day making those connections. Other activities can be done other times. The CRM software can be updated anytime. It’s not bound to the 9-5 workday. So save it for a less valuable time of the day.

Mistake #2: Leaving the Schedule Open

Each night before you leave the office, figure out the best plan of action for the next day. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t accomplish as much. Make a schedule of when you’ll prospect and contact clients so you don’t spend your best hours figuring out what to do next.

Managers, help your team by setting clear goals for activity and creating a sample salesperson daily schedule. Then your salespeople have a model of how to structure their day to best use their time.

Follow These 3 Steps to Increase Your Sales Productivity

As you look to increase productivity every month, the key is knowing what works. So, after you set activity level goals for each individual and teach them to schedule their day, you need to check on what’s happening. It’s all about the plan, the reality, and looking for ways to improve.

1. Know the Plan

As a manager, I want to know how my salespeople schedule their day. I want to know who they plan to see and how they envision spending their time. For example, they’ll tell me, “These are the 10 people I’ll see today.”

2. Know What Actually Happened

Next, I need to know how the plan unfolds. What really happens? Do they see all 10 people? Maybe they only see 7 of 10 prospects on their list for the day. Now I can follow up.

3. Calculate the Difference and the Cost

What’s the difference between their plan and reality? In this case, they missed three of their planned contacts for the day. So I ask why. The salesperson says, “The expense report took up my time so I could only get to seven people.”

Now I know the expense report is costing us three visits. If we close 30% of our contacts, that expense report costs us $35K in potential earnings. If my salespeople have to do one expense report a month, it costs us $420K per year per salesperson. Sounds like I need to figure out how to eliminate the expense reports for my sales team. And with that amount of potential profit, I can afford to hire someone that handles expense reports for my team.

When you crunch the numbers and see the differentials, you’ll see what’s standing in the way of closing more sales. Don’t let the we’ve always done it this way mentality stand in your way. Instead, take an honest look at the numbers and eliminate the tasks that create unnecessary obstacles.

Time Management Tips for Sales Managers

Managers, with intentionality, you can teach each member of your team how to be a successful salesperson. Don’t leave it up for them to navigate on their own. Here’s how.

1. Figure Out What They Should and Shouldn’t Be Doing

What’s getting in their way of meeting prospects and closing sales? If you can eliminate unnecessary tasks, do it.

2. Find Solutions

Are expense reports getting in their way? Hire someone to handle those. Is CRM reporting taking up too much time? Find a CRM that automates activity reports. There are solutions out there for these time-consuming tasks — you just need to implement them.

3. Check Activity Levels

Work backwards with your numbers. How many average clients will they need to meet their sales goal? To close that many clients, how many people should they quote? In order to get that number of quotes, how many prospects should they see? How many prospects is that per day?

Then, if you can tell a salesperson exactly how many prospects they should see each day, you’ve taken out your guess work. With an automated CRM, you can hold them accountable to maintaining the activity level they need to meet their goals.

Time Management Tips for Salespeople

1. If It’s on Your Calendar, You HAVE to Do It

It’s easy to snooze a task for later. Don’t do it. Make your calendar sacred. If there’s a task on it, it’s not optional. If you get into a cycle of picking and choosing which tasks you’ll do, you’ll always avoid the most difficult (and maybe most lucrative) ones.

2. Focus on the Highest Payoff Activities

When you have the choice, pick the activities with the highest payoff. Sure, updating your data for the week is important, but what’s the payoff? Cold-calling prospects may be more taxing, but it holds the biggest potential return. So, when your list gets long, don’t start with the menial tasks that don’t make much difference. Instead, start with the ones that pay.

If you’re not using your flexible schedule to your advantage, it’s time to start. Choose activities that bring the most reward and delegate the tasks that don’t.

How to Implement A CRM With Your Sales Team

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Productive. In a word, that was my weekend. I cleaned out the car, re-organized the garage, and even fixed a few things around the house. But there was a problem. I never did the one task I needed to get done. Why? I was avoiding it. And, in an unconscious effort to delay getting to it, I kept finding “better things” to do.

Have you ever done this? There was some dreaded task looming over your head, so you worked at any (and every) thing else?

We all avoid things we don’t like. And if your sales team doesn’t like your CRM, it’ll likely fall to the bottom of their to-do list: the task to complete once all other possible tasks are finished.

Sure, sometimes, salespeople deliberately try to hide their lack of activity — so they don’t follow your sales implementation. But more often than not, they’re just avoiding it. We can always come up with something better than the task we don’t want to do, right?

But why is a CRM so dreaded to the salesperson? Because it’s not built for them.

Who’s the CRM Built For?

Most CRM systems are built for the people who buy them, not for the people who use them. When marketing and IT directors purchase CRMs, they look for the benefits of various data aggregations and spreadsheets. They’re not thinking, “How user-friendly is this for a salesperson?”

Instead, they’ll choose the CRM with features they find helpful, set it up, then require the team to use it. The team will do what they’ve always done. They’ll keep writing things down throughout the week, following their individual systems for managing clients and prospects, but now they have an added responsibility to keep the software updated. So they likely need to block off 4-5 hours every Friday to update their data — a job no one really wants to do.

To the marketing director, the CRM is great because it generates fantastic reports. Yet, to the salesperson, a CRM can be difficult to navigate and entering data becomes cumbersome. So what do they do? Mediocre salespeople make up their data to get by. They want the spreadsheet to say they’re doing a good job. Top performers don’t have time for that. They’re out doing their job, not messing with reports. So they constantly tell their managers that they just don’t have time to get to the data entry. Consequently, the sales manager ends up with skewed numbers that don’t accurately reflect activity.

How To Implement A CRM With Your Salespeople

If you want to get accurate data, you have to find a sales implementation strategy that works for everyone — directors, managers, and salespeople alike. So choose a CRM that fits into their workflow — not one that creates more work. An easy-to-use CRM should make their job easier. It should be a tool that enables them to organize their prospects, document their meetings, and keep track of clients so they can boost their sales. It shouldn’t require them to change their schedule or add another item to their to-do list. A CRM should be a tool that will benefit both of you.

Once you choose your solution, find a partner to help you adopt it. The CRM needs to work for your company and your strategies. Then make sure you have the support necessary to train your sales team so that using the CRM is no longer an obstacle.

We all put off things we don’t like. So, if you want your team to use a CRM, choose one they’re equipped to use, not something they want to avoid.

The Sales Manager’s Guide to Working With Millennials

sales manager guide working with millennials

Remember the “Fragile Egg” experiment? Back in Home-Ec class (before the days of automated baby-dolls), students babied an egg for a week. We prepared a shoe box, put tissue in it, and carried a raw egg around hoping no one would bump into us and break it.

Well, that’s what it often feels like to employ a millennial. Delicate. Stepping ever-so-carefully so you don’t “break” them.

Millennial salespeople aren’t always this fragile—everyone is different, of course—but certain issues seem to come up more with this age group. If you want to successfully hire and manage millennial salespeople, here’s your guide to millennials in the workplace.

Challenges to Working With Millennials

My generation grew up with our own struggles and our own challenges. It was the ‘80s. We worked at one job, we didn’t have the internet, and we had to figure out a lot of things on our own. Maybe that’s why millennials can seem hard to manage. We were raised in different worlds. But working together can work if we know how to bridge those differences.

Most of the challenges that come with millennials in the workplace center on the phone. Why? For one, phones bring distractions, and distractions keep people from selling. With incessant buzzing that delivers information, updates, and conversation, it’s difficult to focus on the job at hand.

Start by coaching salespeople who struggle with these distractions. Suggest they cut the problem off at the source by turning off notifications for anything not work-related during the work day. Then, rather than having to resist the temptation to check the chime, they can keep their mind on work.

Millennials also face the challenge of using the phone differently. Their phone use has little to do with talking, and much more with text and emojis. Back in the ‘80s, if you wanted to ask someone out, you called and navigated the nuances of conversation. Now, you swipe left. That being said, millennials may have great potential for phone conversations, but they lack experience. They need you to teach them how to make calls because it’s just not a skill they’ve had to develop.

Top Strategies for Everyday Management

With a predicted 3 out of 4 workers being millennials by 2025, you’ll be hiring one in the not-so-distant future if you haven’t already. And with an average cost of $24K to replace each millennial, you’ll want to make sure you hire the right ones.

Beyond coaching employees in phone use, these three strategies will equip you for navigating your sales manager responsibilities with millennials.

1. Find Their Motivation

Good salespeople want, even need, to prove themselves. When you hire anyone, figure out why they want to work there. Do they want to earn money? If you’re in a performance-driven workplace, that’s who you want to hire. Do they want to be the best? When they see sales stats posted, you want the person who does whatever it takes to be number one.

If you find someone who just wants the flexibility of a sales position, they’re probably not the right fit. 89% of millennials prefer to choose when and where they work rather than working a 9-to-5 job. Make sure the self-directed schedule isn’t the only reason they’ve applied.

2. Encourage a Friendly Culture

Millennials thrive in a relational workplace. They crave the real-world community and a place to belong. So foster a culture of friendship during the workday and after hours. Form a team in a kickball league, or do something else that gets everyone outdoors and active.

In regular operations, change up the sales teams and leaders so people get to know each other. Some companies have Friday lunch together. They all eat together at a certain place and time, and some even cater lunch for the whole office once a month.

Your goal is to facilitate conversations people wouldn’t naturally have. When people (of any generation) feel like they belong to their organization, the benefits abound. They take less time off, they find more motivation, and they stay there longer. It’s really a win for everyone.

3. Balance Criticism With Compliments

Most people don’t enjoy conflict, but it’s particularly avoided by millennials. You’ll inevitably have critiques for your younger employees, so phrase it intentionally and put the criticism in context.  

When I have a new hire, I let them know, “You’ll make lots of mistakes and that’s okay. It’s my job to give you feedback, so you can be the absolute best salesperson.”

Then, when I have criticism, I balance it with compliments. In fact, make the positives outweigh negatives. For every one critique, give seven compliments. This works to soften the blow criticism delivers. It’s not just constructive criticism you want, it’s contextual criticism.

When you hire the right people, shape your office climate, and critique carefully, you’ll help your millennial salespeople find success. Millennials are the most educated generation in American history. And with the right management, they can be a great addition to your sales team.

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The 4 Biggest Mistakes A Sales Manager Can Make

Callproof 4 Biggest Sales Manager Mistakes

There are mistakes a sales manager can make, and then there are the biggest mistakes a sales manager can make. Check out these four costly, and sometimes irreparable, mistakes and then do your best to avoid them.

Mistake #1: The Cell Phone

If you think having a salesperson use their own cell phone to cut costs is a savvy move, think again.

Here’s what really happens: Rather than giving your salesperson a cell phone, you have him use his own. The salesperson then puts his own cell number on his business cards. He proceeds to hand out many of these business advertisements, which is great for your company — as long as he’s working for you.

Long after he leaves the company, people will still be holding on to the business cards. And who do these prospects call once they’re ready to talk — or buy? The sales guy whose number is listed on the card!

What happens if the sales guy has already left your company? You’re out a potential sale. You can’t direct his calls to a new number, so the contact becomes a lost prospect.

Mistake #2: The Email

Let’s say this same sales person has left your company, so you quickly call IT to shut down his email.

Big mistake. You’ve effectively shut off communication entirely with his prospects and leads.

Don’t think that creating an off-the-cuff standard reply saying “the salesperson is no longer with the company” will work either.

Both of these actions lead to abandoned inquiries. The prospect will assume that no one is available to help them with their problem, and they’ll simply move onto another company who has a warm body that will reply to email requests.

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Mistake #3: The Autoreply

It seems so innocent, doesn’t it? And so handy at the same time.

Set up the email’s autoreply just like you would for an absence due to vacation or meeting, let prospects know that the sales guy is no longer with the company, and prospect will take action to reach the right person, right? Wrong.

Here’s what you should do instead:

Make sure the salesperson’s email address is redirected to you, the sales manager. Then, you can personally take care of every lead that comes in from that address.

Make it a priority to respond to email inquiries — especially those directed to a salesperson who’s no longer at the company.

Mistake #4: The CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a terrific tool. But they’re not foolproof.

In fact, they’re notorious for having incorrect data. So don’t assume the data they spit out is always true. This is especially important when you’re dealing with prospect status. A lot of times, the information is not in real time.

Here’s an example:

You suspect a salesperson is slacking off, even though your CRM shows lots of activity. When you’re in the neighborhood, you stop by a client’s place of business for a face-to-face.

The client is happy to see you, but mostly because he hasn’t seen anyone from your company in months—contrary to the activity the salesperson had been recording in the CRM.

As a sales manager, it’s up to you to spot-check your salespeople, especially if your gut is telling you something is off.

Now that you know some of the biggest mistakes sales managers can make, go out of your way to implement these best sales-manager practices. Provide a company-owned cell phone, optimize email communications, and keep up with CRM data in real time.

What other sales mistakes would you add to the list?