Question: Has your Sales Organisation formally defined its expectations of the time usage of your sales executives – and is each sales executive’s diary time usage actively monitored by their sales manager on a weekly basis?
According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 42.9% of Sales Organisations have formally documented their expectations for how their sales executives should plan their week.
In addition, 32.6% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding that their sales managers are disciplined and consistent in monitoring and interrogating the diary time usage of their sales executives on a weekly basis.
The ‘time usage’ problem
There are only 8 hours in a standard work day. Any hour spent on non-revenue generating activities hits the bottom line, resulting in missed opportunities.
Most sales executives have not received formal training on optimal time management in a sales environment – more worryingly, though, neither have the majority of sales managers.
Productive B2B sales executives devote the majority of their time to revenue-generating activities, such as prospecting and active selling.
The problem is that most sales executives spend the majority of their time on non-revenue generating activities, like administration, internal meetings, emails, travel, problem-solving and interruptions.
Take quick stock of your sales team. How many individuals would you classify as stars? How many fall into your ‘core’ category – reliable, but not at the same level as your stars? If each of your core performers are spending most of their ‘money making’ hours on non-revenue generating activities, how many deals are being missed?
One missed opportunity can be overlooked. An entire sales force missing countless opportunities could be doing real damage to your organisation – and yet there’s a relatively simple fix.
Why you should care
Create the ideal sales week
Creating the ideal sales week is a team effort that the entire Sales Organisation must buy into. Task your sales managers to create ‘Ideal Sales Week’ templates with their teams, as well as themselves, and ensure they monitor sales activities closely based on these templates.
Here are four elements that will assist your sales managers to build effective sales weeks:
- Understand the difference between urgent and important. Urgent issues get our attention (and therefore time) – clients who require information, problems that require solving, requests for senior management, internal meetings, personal calls, etc. So, the important activities – such as prospecting, cold calling to build future pipelines, nurturing prospects to grow accounts, keeping commitments to close sales – take a back seat to the ‘urgent’. A balanced approach to time management sets time aside to address both.
- Daily Planning. Lists help us reduce stress, because they relieve us of having to remember everything. They also help us to prioritise. As a sales leader, don’t assume your sales executives know how to prioritise their to-do lists – provide training, assistance and conduct regular monitoring.
- Prioritise revenue-generating activities: These are the hours when your team should be talking to prospects and customers – they’re the hours dedicated to revenue-generating activities. Within the money hours should be dedicated prospecting times. Adopt team-wide colour-coding of sales executive diaries to easily distinguish between important revenue-generating activities such as prospecting, cold calling and new business meetings.
- Use time-blocking: Yes, sales professionals need to be accessible to customers, but they also need uninterrupted chunks of time for planning and strategic tasks. Determine a time when customers are unlikely to contact your sales executives and implement ‘focus’ times, where everyone turns off email notifications and gets started on high-priority tasks.
Sales leader’s toolkit
Time blocking can be integrated as follows. Allocate a block of time daily for prospecting, for example:
- One-hour block to call prospects to conduct research
- One-hour block to call prospects to secure a meeting appointment
Set aside time to update CRM in time outside of prime selling hours
Also allow for 30 to 60 minutes each day to deal with unscheduled urgent issues that arise.
Use these three pointers to help your sales teams stay on track with their ‘money hours’:
- Use ‘admin’ hours wisely: Plan specific times to check emails and voice mails, and update CRM – preferably in times when prospects are typically not available
- Make time for professional development: Schedule some non-money hours for sales skills development and improving industry and product knowledge. Listening to podcasts and audio books while driving is an excellent use of time.
- The discipline to monitor: Sales managers need to monitor time management weekly, checking for consistency across the Sales Organisation.
Assess the health of your sales organisation
The planning and monitoring of sales executives’ time usage are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.
How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales AssessmentTM.
This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:
- Competitive Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Sales Talent
- Sales Management
- Sales Enablement
Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales AssessmentTM.