I've never met a sales person worth his weight who feels as though he has free time during the workday. Time is definitely a luxury for motivated sales professionals. After all, there are typically infinitely more prospects to call on than we have hours in the day. That's why the most successful in sales are masters of their schedule, rather than slaves to it.
The central time bandit for sales professionals is all of our technological devices. Email, social media, and text messaging serve as constant micro distractions all day long.
The New York Times reports "the average knowledge worker switches tasks every three minutes, and, once distracted, a worker takes nearly a half-hour to resume the original task," according to Gloria Mark, a leader in the new field of "interruption science."
More conservative estimates suggest it takes us at least five minutes to refocus on the task at hand post distraction. Count the number of times per day that you pause for a 'tech check.' Now add in the number of phone calls and office visits (internal or external) that you receive per day. Then multiply your total distraction count by five minutes to determine just how much time you're losing every day. Just five distractions per hour could be costing you more than three hours in lost time a day. Give a good sales rep three extra hours of productivity a day, and they could conquer the world!
So how do you limit distraction and manage time more effectively?
Limit the number of times you check email to just three per day -- morning, mid-day, and end of day. If you always respond instantly, you're training your customers to expect immediate response, making you a slave to email. Remember, you can only give your customers your best if you have the time to focus on uninterrupted productive work.
Tackle your most difficult sales task first each day. It makes it much easier to move through the rest of your tasks more efficiently without the stress of that challenging task hanging over you.
Take ten minutes before you leave each evening to schedule the next day, so you can hit the ground running each morning. Prioritize revenue producing activities during peak selling hours. The best salespeople handle non-sales activities during hours when it's tough to reach prospects -- before 9 am, after 5 pm or over lunch. Bottom line -- high sales performers spend more of the day actually selling.
We've all heard the adage "time is money." Salespeople who maintain control of their time will see the results in their closed sales and commissions.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).