Good time management for salespeople has been an obsession of mine for more than 30 years. In the last decade, I've been involved in helping tens of thousands of salespeople improve their results through the more effective use of their time. Over the years, I've seen some regularly occurring patterns develop - tendencies on the part of salespeople to do things that detract from their effective use of time. Here are the four most common time-wasters I've observed. See if any apply to you or your salespeople.
The allure of the urgent/trivial. Salespeople love to be busy and active. We have visions of ourselves as people who can get things done. No idol dreamers, we're out there making things happen! A big portion of our sense of worth and our personal identity is dependent on being busy. At some level in our self-image of our selves, being busy means that we really are important.
One of the worst things that can happen to us is to have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nothing going on. So, we latch onto every task that comes our way, regardless of the importance. For example, one of our customers calls with a back order problem. "Oh good!" we think, "Something to do! We are needed! We can fix it!" So, we drop everything and spend two hours expediting the backorder. In retrospect, couldn't some someone purchasing or customer service has done that? And couldn't they have done it better than you? And didn't you just allow something that was a little urgent but trivial prevent you from making some sales calls? And wouldn't those potential sales calls be a whole lot better use of your time? Or, one of our customers hands us a very involved "Request for Quote." "Better schedule a half-day at the office," we think. "Need to look up specifications, calculate prices, compile literature, etc."
We become immediately involved with this task, working on this project for our customer. In retrospect, couldn't we have given the project to an inside salesperson or customer service rep to do the leg work? Couldn't we have just communicated the guidelines to some one and then reviewed the finished proposal? Once again, we succumbed to the lure of the present task. That prevented us from making sales calls and siphoned our energy away from the important to the seemingly urgent. I could go on for pages with examples, but you have the idea. We are so enamored with being busy and feeling needed that we often grab at any task that comes our way, regardless of how unimportant. And each time we do that, we compromise our ability to invest our sales times more effectively.
Great insight we have here. What I think would be the biggest time wasters for salespeople is over-engaging a potential client. People have this assumption that if you engage or pursue a lead for too long you'll eventually manage a sale. While this is often true but we should not always assume that it will work for us in the end. We should save time by implementing a good sales strategy that does not waste time on leads that will not be fruitful.