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Sales Managers Critical Success Factor: Managing Your Time

May 1, 2019

Fill in the blanks. I could really increase sales if management would just let me do ……………….., and if they would stop asking me to do ……………. In the end, we could generate …………….and develop ……………

Well, I hear this regularly in my mentoring and coaching. You are not alone. One has to take control of your own destiny.
One of the most challenging things in business is to prioritize your activities to be as efficient as possible. Sales management gets requests from almost every department in an organization. Do any of these issues sound familiar?

• Salespeople want to know why their requests haven’t been answered.
• Upper-level management want to know if sales goals are being met.
• Production wants to understand why everything is a rush
• The technology department complains that they have not been given enough details to complete a task
• Accounting wants to know why we are selling this deadbeat customer and at such a low-profit-margin..

Where does one prioritize what to do? It’s almost like feeling you are being attacked by the company. How do you prioritize and manage your time under these conditions? Even worse, if you can’t manage and prioritize your time, how can you expect your salespeople?

Let’s step back. Daily, what do you think are the most essential activities of your job?

By far the most crucial task as a Sales Manager is to help, lead, manage and coach the Salespeople. Yet every week what percentage of time is devoted to those most important tasks? You are in a position that requires a lot of interaction with C-Level people, who want accurate reporting from you on all activities associated with sales and marketing. Moreover, the 24/7 mentality of being in contact with the world leads to so many distractions that it is challenging to stay focused and make sure that time is well managed.
In reality, “multi-tasking” is a myth. It can be the biggest killer of time imaginable by not focusing on one task at a time. Research has shown that every time one changes activities it takes approximately 20 minutes to get back to the original job. There are four ways to improve time management.

1. First, recognize where you are spending your time and how important is that activity.
2. Start making APPOINTMENTS with yourself. That is, learning to devote uninterrupted scheduled time where you do nothing else but focus on what is most important to you.
3. PRIORITIZE on revenue and profit generating activities, because that is most probably where 95% of Sales Managers are being judged.
4. Learn to delegate those tasks which are NOT revenue and profit generators.
5. Make sure you are not being held accountable for activities that DO NOT generate revenue and profit.

To help you better identify where you are at, review and rate the following list, and decide what needs to change to be more productive. You may have other areas which consume your time, which has not been listed. Add them, consider them, and above all take the necessary action to improve your time allocation. Remember prioritizing on what is most essential and MAKE APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF.

IDENTIFYING YOUR TIME ALLOCATION and Its IMPORTANCE:

Following is a general list of activities which take up your time.  Identify how much of your weekly time on each activity.  Note which ones are most important in generating revenue and profit, and commit to prioritizing and devoting the most time to them.

  • E-mail and texting
  • Phone
    Meetings with Management
  • Meetings with Sales people
  • Communication to Management
    Communication to Internal Staff
    Communication to Sales Staff
    Planning and Developing Sales Strategies
    Customer Service and Quality Issues
    Managing and Improving the Sales Process
    Contract Negotiations and RFP’s
    Coaching Sales People and Visiting Prospects and Customers

Now that you have identified how your time is allocated versus its importance, what actions need to be taken. This is not easy, because frequently the CEO or upper-level management may have different ideas. However, my feelings are that your primary function should be to develop your people and thereby increase revenue and profits. Here is my belief on what the top activities of a Sales Manager are:
• Interaction and Coaching Sales People
• Planning and Developing Strategy
• Improving Sales Processes
• Keeping Management and Internal Staff Informed

My ideal situation would be to be spending 60% of the time interacting and Coaching Sales People. Then 25% planning and developing strategies with Marketing and Management, 10% Improving the processes, and 15% keeping Management and Internal Staff Informed.

As mentioned previously learn to delegate appropriately and NOT abrogate. Delegate in a constructive way, which explains to people why you are delegating. However, make sure you have a double check system to see that it gets done correctly. Be persistent about delegating. Don’t give up and wind up in a trap of working more on projects that take you away from your core responsibilities.

Of course, there are always those “Emergency Situations” in every business. Even then NOT everything is Urgent, but everything needs to be answered. Make it a general rule that everything must be responded to within 24 hours. Even if it is “I got your message, it will take me X time to get a right answer to your question. You do not have to respond to everything within the hour. This makes everything reactive as opposed to pro-active.
I hope this helps. Add your comments below or if you would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    July 15, 2019 2:59 pm

    You have outlined some great tips. Responding to messages in a timely fashion even to communicate you may need more time to gather information is important. Communication is critical to the success of a business and setting time aside to email, text or call can help manage priorities.

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