The three great time wasters: administrative work, traveling, and waiting can eat into productive time. Although these activities are unavoidable, you can employ strategies to maximize your effectiveness and concentrate your time where it will do the most good.
Maintain Excellent Records
Get organized. Lack of organization is a big time waster. A jumble of papers in your briefcase isn’t a system. Complete records and a regular routine of logging important information will save time by allowing you to input information once but access it many times and in many ways. One concise entry into a contact management program can be used to organize selling strategies, schedule visits, and compile reports.
Learn How to Write Well
Salespeople are often called upon to create their own e-mails and write their own letters. The more comfortable you are with the written word, the more easily you will be able to perform these tasks quickly and well.
The days are long gone when a department secretary would take a scribbled idea and make it into a professional presentation. Struggling for 15 minutes to write a difficult paragraph is a poor use of your time, and the results of your effort will probably be disappointing. Poor writing appears unprofessional and reflects on your entire organization. Seminars and night classes are available that target business writing and offer accelerated methods for learning grammar and usage. You may even be able to arrange for a trainer to visit your business to conduct onsite training.
With better writing skills, some of the tasks that you dread will become less of a chore and you will be able to complete them more quickly and successfully.
Always Schedule Sales Calls Ahead of Time
Scheduling ahead cuts down on waiting time and allows you to group visits to a number of locations into one trip to save on energy costs. Preplanning visits can also give you an opportunity to strategize and prepare materials in advance.
Cut Back on Unnecessary On-Site Visits
Reduce premises visits if you can. Don’t plan a visit to conduct business that you can complete over the phone or via e-mail unless you have a good reason for doing so. If a sales call is necessary, plan your route with trip software in order to find the fastest and most economical way to travel.
Be Prepared and Take Time Where You Find It
When traveling, keep tools on hand that will help you keep up on administrative tasks. Waiting to get back to the office to catch-up can be hard to do without dropping the ball somewhere.
The more current you are with your repetitive tasks, the more latitude you will have in planning the most efficient use of your time. Airplanes, waiting rooms, and hotel rooms are all places that can burn up idle time. With the appropriate tools, many chores can be accomplished during time that would otherwise be wasted.
Put Your Time Where It’s Needed
Existing customers generate the greatest sales volume. Review your customer list to determine the best timeline for dealing with them. If you are in different time zones, consider modifying your schedule to adjust for the time change. Taking the extra initiative to make yourself available on their schedule will make you stand out and give you extra “effective” hours.
An effective salesman plans his time. The key to producing maximum return on time invested is to plan with the goal of incorporating efficiency into the mix. Careful planning can reduce the time spent on non-selling tasks and focus selling activities where they will be the most productive: on making the sale.