In any business, the sales team plays an important role. After all, the point of having a business is making sales and increasing sales. This means that the sales team bears a big portion of the pressures on a company to succeed.
This can often result in a sales team that is tired and burned-out. But keeping this team productive and efficient is essential to your company’s success.
This is why it’s important for managers and administrators to train everyone in time management. If you haven’t already incorporated these techniques into daily business practices, we can assure you that once you do so, your organization will be better for it.
1. Don’t rely on simple list making
What a lot of people get wrong with planning and time management is the concept of prioritization. The simple act of writing down all your tasks is not enough.
The thing is, not all your tasks carry the same level of importance. Or to put it a different way, is cleaning your shoes more important than feeding your dog?
Probably not, right? In that situation, your shoes cleanliness can be put off for a while. Meanwhile, you can’t let your beloved pet starve because you’ve decided your Nike’s needed a little freshening up.
It doesn’t have to be complex. Basically, it can look as simple as this:
- Submit Project A proposal (HIGH)
- Read through Project B brief (HIGH)
- Talk to supervisor about work schedule (LOW)
- Email partner organization about Project B (LOW, READ BRIEF FIRST)
This is a very basic way of starting and developing this habit. Once you’re a pro, you can start framing this according to your workflow.
Developing an understanding of the task at hand will help. With a little attention, you can make sure that whatever tasks you add to your list can be accomplished efficiently. That means being able to achieve what you need to achieve, when you need it.
2. Understand individual limits
Working as a team is one of the most efficient ways to complete requirements. But you’ll need to keep in mind that the advantages of teamwork can be curtailed, depending on each individual’s personal limits.
Go beyond any person’s limit and you might witness someone burning out. That’s not the goal here.
In the case of employees, understand your own limits first. Don’t take on more work than you can complete. The resulting unsatisfactory work product won’t be good for you, your team, and your company.
Of course, steps can be taken to maximize each person’s capacity. Training in essential Microsoft Office programs, Photo/Video-editing programs, and the like can help your team do more as well.
For managers, this means knowing how to delegate tasks. Any competent manager can successfully tackle each individual task themselves but that wouldn’t be the best use of their time.
Respect your team and their abilities. At this point, you’ll know if you need to hire or replace employees. But remember, with proper nurturing and training, anyone can improve.
3. Utilize time-blocking techniques
This is the most common first step for most people because it’s the easiest to attempt. Simply put, time-blocking is devoting a specific set of hours for a specific task.
Unfortunately, a lot of people still rely on flexible workflows. While that may work for some, the tendency for most people who won’t time-block will be to procrastinate and cram, multi-task, or just get lost in the process. Lackluster mediocrity in reports and submissions will be the most likely result. You just aren’t making the most of your time.
Time-blocking makes it easier to know what you should be doing at any given moment. The result is a more focused approach to workflow. Better focus translates to improved efficiency and that’s what we’re going for here.
Don’t let bad college habits affect your job. Structure your schedule and you’ll find instant improvements.
4. Time-tracking for time management
So, since we’re talking about making the most of our time, do you know how well you’re doing now? While you may be devoting two whole hours to reading a report, how much of that time do you actually use?
Time-tracking is one of the most underrated techniques that people use to understand how they spend their time. Sales team members can learn a lot by monitoring time spent on each task.
Having this data allows each team member to determine which tasks they’re putting too much or too little time in on.
The applications are further developed once you analyze your record. Are you devoting three hours for a task that you can finish in one? Instead of repeating a pattern that may be inefficient, you are readily able to adjust your work schedule.
That will be thanks to the simple act of keeping track of how you spend your time. Include any breaks you take. That too can be interesting to note!
5. Don’t underestimate the power of breaks
And since we’re talking about breaks, when was the last time you’ve had one? The sales department needs to be ready to convert leads at any time. This will be impossible if the entire team is exhausted and burned-out.
Now, we aren’t talking about hours and hours off with your feet up. As simple as a 10-20 minute break after every two hours will do wonders for your productivity.
That’s because of how our physical and mental energies naturally ebb and flow. No human being is capable of spending a full five hours intently completing tasks one after another. You might succeed in doing this once or twice but in the long run, you’ll tire and lose focus.
Do yourself, and your boss, a favor by setting a few minutes of time aside. As long as you’re aware of what needs to be finished (and when!) you’ll find that you are able to stay productive for a longer period.
At the end of the day, it’s about understanding yourself and how you work. There will be days where your productivity drops a bit and days where it’s all clicking for you. Keep a record of it. It will give you a range within which to work and plan.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be patient with yourself and the team. Adjusting to time management is never really as simple as we might think. Each day, take it all step-by-step.
You’ll find that the most important component to implementing these new ideas is just discipline. Keep at it, even if you skip the recording or planning one day. Developing the habit is the best way to consistent and efficient time management.
About the Author
Dan Martin has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. While he is not penning down the next great article, he is either enjoying photography or traveling.