How many times have you missed your target by just one sale? One more quick signature and things could have turned out differently. A larger check, more respect from your boss and peers and you’d enjoy that warm, fuzzy, satisfied feeling of finishing the month on a strong note.
The key to avoiding the opposite and painful close-call failure is decent time management. The good news is, just one short blog post worth of useful tips can significantly increase your productivity over the course of the month and make sure you come out on top.
1. Find the time for prospecting
Effectively managing your time prospecting smooths out your entire schedule and makes time management easier. Firstly, you need to figure out how much time per day you need to allocate for this task. Once that’s done, commit to this amount of time meticulously to ensure a constant flow of leads and more reliable schedule.
2. Become a ‘morning person’
I’ve never in my life met a successful business person who wasn’t a morning person. If you struggle to get out of bed, drudge into work feeling the burn of what was probably a late night for one reason or another, consider shifting your outlook and your schedule. Early to bed; early to rise.
3. Mornings for prospecting and afternoons for meetings
Always save the mornings for your allotted prospecting time and set the meetings in the afternoon. Time spent on the phone in the morning should be booking appointments for the next day in a quiet space. If someone wants to see on the same day, just remember they’re unlikely to sign up on the same day. Put them in the following day and carry on prospecting and making appointments for tomorrow afternoon.
4. Plan each day in advance
Never sign off for the day before you’ve sat down and organized tomorrow. Putting things in place with at least a rough schedule will see you progressing easily from task to task without procrastinated or confusion.
5. Schedule time for follow-ups
When you’re scheduling the following day, a timeslot for follow-ups should be on the list. Every day you speak with prospects, you’re usually making promises. You’ve told them you’ll send them an email, business card, a brochure or perhaps call them at a certain time. These promises must be met. It’s your credibility on the line so making sure you do what you said you will is essential if you want the sales process to go smoothly in the right direction.
6. Make the most out of your follow-up emails
You’re spending time making those follow-up emails, why not get more juice from them?
When you’ve spoken to someone, it’s likely they weren’t in the mood to discuss payroll services (for example) at that time.
Following up will let them know you’re there for them, that you’d love their business in the future (if it’s not possible now). A virtual business card and LinkedIn invitation will prompt them to get back in touch and given the means to do so.
7. Who can you squeeze in before lunch?
Each morning, you should try to have your schedule clear by 11 am. This leaves you an opportunity to get ahead for the rest of the day by seeing somebody before you break up for a lunch. Take a few moments to assess your sales funnel, gauge where you are and fit someone in. Take lunch afterward (ideally with another prospect if possible) and then continue with the rest of your day, one more step ahead.
8. Turn off email (and other) notifications while at the computer
It’s tempting. Too tempting. The email notification sound chimes and before you know it, your synapses are firing in a pattern practically identical to the average Las Vegas slot machine addict. Maybe the three lucky 7s have aligned to bring you a new sale?! More likely, it’s a disappointment awaiting you around the corner.
30 minutes later and you’ve been distracted and disappointed by a further four e-mails and you’ve wasted half an hour reorganizing your junk mail. Turn off the notifications and ignore them until you’ve finished with your morning activities.
9. Use distraction blocking apps such as these…
Blocking out distractions is such an effective method of time management that several apps have been created to do the job for you. You can set customized time periods to make sure you don’t get sucked into anything too social between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm and generally get help to achieve the zone of a comfortable and effective work pace.
Head over to your smartphone application market and search for the apps:
- Cold Turkey
- Training Wheels
- Big Brother
10. Schedule time for social media
That’s right; I’m not going to suggest that you cut out social media activities entirely, so you can breathe easy. Rather than forcing yourself to do something completely unrealistic, schedule short time periods in your day to catch up with your friends and colleagues in the digital social world.
This way, you get to alleviate your social media addictions whilst avoiding situations of arguing political debates with your buddies while simultaneously attempting to make marketing calls.
11. Consider using the Pomodoro technique
A great way to deal with workloads and take short breaks is the Pomodoro technique. The basic idea is that you work for 25 minute time periods and have a five-minute rest after each one.
Every time a set of four Pomodoros is complete, you can take a longer break to reward yourself appropriately for your short bursts of hard work and relax a little. This is a great way to deal with the modern distractions and is adopted by many great minds including the eminent productivity author, Daniel Pink. It’s for emergencies only, but it can work wonders if you’re really stuck trying to work consistently throughout the day.