Effective time management benefits everyone in an organization. More specifically, sales professionals that manage their time effectively benefit from less stress, better quality work, improved productivity, and more quickly achieved goals.
For B2B sales professionals, better productivity translates to more sales, and one way to increase productivity is through effective time management. Here are six time management tips you can put to use today:
1. Start with a Daily Plan
Make a daily to-do list. This may seem like an obvious strategy, but many people don’t do it. Every morning, or the evening before, plan your day and stick to it as closely as possible. Schedule tasks that you will focus on throughout the day based on importance and urgency. When possible, carve out time slots for each task so you can focus without interruption for the necessary amount of time.
2. Set Priorities
Identify the top priorities for the day and don’t allow yourself to get distracted with smaller, less important tasks until the top priorities are under control. Write down the tasks that must get done and the ones you would like to get done. Start at the top and work your way through the most urgent tasks first. For B2B sales, this includes account planning strategy, focusing on decision makers, and prioritizing the leads that are most likely to convert.
3. Take Frequent Breaks
One study found that the top performing 10 percent of employees had a tendency to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. While this specific schedule might not work for you, it illustrates the importance of taking breaks. Schedule breaks into your day at a frequency that makes sense for you and protect that time. Pause between tasks to refresh your brain and get ready for the next item on your list. This often means stepping away from your desk so you don’t get drawn back into working before you’re ready to start again.
4. Work Smarter, Not Longer
According to a Stanford University study, productivity drops off sharply after a 50-hour workweek and is essentially nonexistent after 55 hours. Continued long hours are also correlated to absenteeism and turnover. If you can’t complete your necessary work in less than 50 hours, it may be time to consider more strict time management, training to improve, or a discussion with your leader to figure out the root cause of the problem and strategize how to make your workweek more manageable and productive. Use the sales tools at your disposal (CRM, reporting software, and so on) and don’t assume that you can remember it all. The tools are there for a reason, and the more you utilize them, the more productive you will be.
5. Set Boundaries
Social interactions in the workplace can have a positive impact, but not when they become distractions. Urgent requests can also take time away from important ones. Set boundaries that define when it’s okay to be interrupted and when you need to focus. If you have an office, it could be as simple as closing your door for certain periods during the day. In an open office, use indicators like headphones or a sign that says you don’t want to be interrupted and set office hours for the times in which you welcome employee interaction. If you are interrupted and the issue is not actually urgent, schedule a time to discuss it and return to the task at hand. Coworkers will eventually tailor their behaviors around your cues.
6. Focus on Your Weaknesses
When trying to get better at time management, identify the areas where you feel the weakest and focus on improving them one at a time. For example, if you know you’re bad at taking breaks, set a timer. If you like to socialize at work, do it only during breaks or schedule coffee with a coworker rather than having an impromptu chat. By improving your weaknesses, you will become a more well-rounded sales professional who is able to manage priorities, achieve (and exceed) client needs, and work productively to achieve the results you need.
Developing new habits for managing your time takes some initial effort, but when they become second nature you will find yourself less stressed, more productive, and ultimately, with better sales numbers.