Eliminate time-wasters and finish your to-do list!

Time management is an essential part of everyone’s lives. It’s particularly important for salespeople as if you’re not careful you will only spend 10% of your time selling. SO what really happens to the remaining 90%? Here’s a breakdown:

Since a whopping 90% of your time is spent outside of direct touch selling – effective time management is not just helpful; it’s Vital (with a capital V)!

Although we always talk of time management and getting organised – it’s hard to actually get started, especially when we have a million things buzzing through our minds and tasks continually piling, and piling and piling on our schedules and to-do lists. Selling isn’t called ‘life in the fast lane’ for nothing and that’s never going to change. It will never be quiet enough to make tidy detailed lists of EVERYTHING that needs doing.

What you need is an easy strategy to help you work out which 2-3 things you will make sure get done each day and how to priorities the rest to get most of it done.

So, firstly, just stop everything, take a deep breath, slow down and implement the following tips that you will read in this article.

Key Tip to Successful Time Management for Salespeople –


Be clear on what your primary role is and your top 3 sales objectives.

If you have any doubt re-read your sales plan and the commission rules or if you are working for yourself you may have a business plan. If you don’t have a plan consider this; if there were only 3 financial targets you could achieve in 12 months what would they be?


Write a list of the activities that contribute most directly to your top 3 objectives above. If you are an account manager define your highest yield customers. If you’re a BDM or new business sales person define your target prospects for these objectives.

Schedule only these activities into the time of day when you are most effective. For some people this will be a personal choice based on your own productivity issues, like energy levels. For others your schedule is defined by some characteristic of your clients’ business or by the availability of an important resource.

Do not book more than half of the available time for these primary activities as no-one can maintain that level of concentration every day. This gives you the rest of the day to respond to immediate tasks that you could not plan for. As other activities arise during the day ask; ‘does this help me achieve one of my objectives?’ Or my favourite questions ‘will this help me close a sale?’

Then consider the most productive environment for your primary activities and if there any ways to boost your output. Perhaps you need to work away from your desk somewhere quieter to help with concentration; or just hide in a meeting room (café or car or someone else’s office) for a few hours to prevent interruptions. Perhaps you need to be away from your PC and all the electronic traffic. Saying you will only answer email or browse the internet for a specific time rarely works for most of us.


Be realistic. No-one ever has time to complete all the tasks they would like to do or that are asked of them. To decide which ones you WILL NOT DO ask yourself a different question; ‘will not doing this get me fired/result in bankruptcy/land me in jail/lead to divorce?’ There will be some consequence in the tasks left not done so choose to complete the ones that contribute directly to your objectives and avoid the ones that will not create a disaster. For those second level jobs – they are neither a selling priority nor prevent disaster – fill your day to a reasonable level and sleep well at night knowing that you squeezed every productive movement out of your day and that no more was possible.

Take care of yourself.

Your body and your concentration are as much your tools of the trade as a phone or PC. Create some time each day to do something simple to recharge your batteries. On a sunny day take yourself for a walk for at least 10-15 minutes. Walk briskly or stroll and ponder but move your muscles, breath deeply, enjoy the sun and let the pressures of the day go for a moment. If you cannot walk, perhaps a drive or even some simple stretches away from your desk while you wait for the kettle to boil i.e. ‘move your muscles, breath deeply  and let the pressures of the day go for a moment.’

Take an interest in nutrition and have real food available throughout your day. Don’t rely on having to drive out to buy everything each day as you may easily find your time too is tight and you’re having lunch from the vending machine and surviving on coffee and complimentary biscuits.

Learn a few stress relief techniques which you can do at your desk or in your car and finally sleep. Sleep, along with letting your muscles relax, is your brains why of tidying up and preparing for the next day. If you toss and turn when you go to bed, your brain hasn’t finished for the day. If it’s rehearsing for an important event then stay in bed so your muscles can continue to rest and let your mind rehearse. If your brain is full of activities not completed, get up; reach for your diary and start at the top of these tips by defining what is most important, which ones can feasibly be done, scheduling when to get it done and where you will be most productive; then return to bed.

More tips to help you prioritise (we recommend you print this off and keep it somewhere visible)

  • Set a monthly goal – calculate number of prospects/clients needed to hit that goal
  • Calculate the value of your time per hour by dividing your annual one target earnings by 1920 working hours per year
  • Designate priority time to make calls and prospect
  • Post your revenue goals somewhere completely visible and mark off as you progress
  • During work hours stay away from people who waste your time or make you feel low.

Reach those 2013 Goals without goal setting

Happy New Year! It’s always great to launch into another year; put the last behind and start afresh – of course, remembering what worked last year and learning from what didn’t – kicking off the New Year with renewed ambition and a whole new set of targets. It will be great to pull the team together and lay out the grand battle plan; 2012 was good but now let’s set the bar higher and get everyone working towards bigger goals – it’s an exciting time!

Now for the bad news – goal setting just doesn’t work.

Let me qualify that. Of course every good sales manager sets goals and of course these goals need to be communicated to the whole team concerned with achieving them. However these goals or sales targets in themselves have very little potential to generate the behaviour required to achieve the goals. If I can talk a little about the psychology of selling – after all that’s my main game! – sales targets have very weak motivational power for sales representatives who are experienced and capable; these representatives are in a comfortable space (relatively speaking,) and simply setting a larger sales target for them will not influence their work methodology greatly.

After all, what generates more leads and sales? Prospecting; and prospecting is seriously hard work. As a task in itself prospecting isn’t a huge amount of fun; it requires effort, discipline and resilience to stick with it until results start to flow from it. When a representative starts out fear of failure is a massive motivation to keep on prospecting hard. The situation of having no leads, no sales, no network of referrals or existing clients is extremely fear provoking and exerts a powerful pushing force upon the representative. Once a representative becomes more established, builds networks and has momentum from previous work generating ongoing sales then they find themselves in a safer place. They have moved some distance from the source of their fear which is no longer a powerful motivator. Motivations are now primarily about maintenance of this happy state.

How to encourage a representative in the “happy” zone to achieve more? Goal setting only provides a weak pulling force on the representative’s behaviour – not a pushing one. Anyone with a mechanical bent will know that it is much easier to push things than pull them.

In my sales training program Emotions in Selling I explain the Action Continuum to describe the process of motivation as it applies to understanding how prospects move to a decision to purchase. The psychology of this process also applies equally well to understanding how sales representatives make a decision to change their existing practice and perceive their own goals or “wants.”

Just as I train representatives to understand how and why prospects do or don’t make decisions to buy or in effect move from the position they are in I also like to help sales managers understand what motivates – and also demotivates – representatives from moving from the selling space they are in.

Those who have taken my Emotions in Selling course will readily understand why it can be difficult to motivate individuals to take a course of action which will actually benefit them – you are in effect asking the individual to cross a barrier; possibly even two barriers. And as is the case with prospects, even experienced sales professionals are subject to these same emotions and barriers.

Understanding why goal setting doesn’t work (or perhaps more fairly, why goal setting is a weak change driver,) is the first step. Knowing how to transform those goals into powerful change mechanisms is, of course, the answer to the $64- question; that’s a story for another blog ….