You may have heard the expression “Time is Money.” This adage is very appropriate for the life of a professional salesperson. There are many tasks that are required of a professional but there are only 24 hours in a day. 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 towards your goal.
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. But the undeniable fact is that 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 that a sales professional will do the things necessary even though they may be things he/she dislike doing.
Be aware of the “Golden Hours” of selling. These are the times that you are most successful at contacting and meeting with prospects. In real estate this time may be on weekends and evenings. If it is business-to-business, your best times will probably 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.
The golden rule in selling is that 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 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 ask if there are any additional services that you can provide. If the customer is happy with the sale it will be an opportune time to ask for referrals.
“Is there another branch that may find the product or service of use?” 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. You may have the answer to his or her new problems in the form of additional products or service your company sells. Happy customers provide referrals, which make your prospecting job easier. 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 to the job. 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 re-create – creating anew our vitality, enthusiasm and interest in life. Managing time effectively will allow you to schedule personal time in your life. You will emerge refreshed and a more effective individual.
In our rapidly changing world school’s 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.
Chitwood is an author and consultant on sales and customer service. He is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle, 800/488-4629, www.maxsacks.com. To subscribe to the free e-mail newsletter, Track Selling Times, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.