It’s about time! Time Management for your Sales Team, that is.
At Structured Sales, our client engagements always start with an assessment of how your sales team is currently spending its time.
Why? Because it may not seem like it sometimes, but your sales team is selling their time to your business – and they only have service to sell to you.
Your Team’s ability to provide a quality service is determined by three primary factors:
- their qualifications and skills (including the ability to close an agreement);
- their networks and the ability to grow them; and
- The ability to manage their time effectively to achieve the organisation’s targets.
Most Sales Teams are only able to ever achieve a combination of these factors and the one most likely to lag behind in modern sales team improvement is time management.
Time Management analysis is a critical element towards understanding the quality of service currently being provided by your Sales Team. The ability of Sales Team Members to manage their time is directly related to productivity and efficiency, and ultimately revenue stability and growth. It’s also critical when you adapt to changing markets and enter new ones, to ensure your Team is unambiguously focussed on the growth or stabilisation strategies and direction issued by Management.
There are several key target outcomes to our Time Management programs:
- Key categorisations, priorities and transparency – your team needs to understand how they are spending their time – is it new business development, existing account management, admin, travel, issue management? This is key to understanding the status quo and how it needs to change to achieve your organisational sales goals.
- Planning in advance – your team should be planning external and virtual appointments at least one week out, with Outlook invites deployed to the client with key data about the purpose for the meeting. Don’t plan on the fly and NEVER ‘wing’ an appointment – the client knows it and your team is wasting the customer’s time or worse, irritating them.
- Use of technology – there are many tools available that can help Sales Teams manage their time more effectively, both inside and outside of CRM systems. This is about information at fingertips and streamlining – and it looks great when you get it right in front of your customers.
- Time-blocking – Your team needs to block specific time periods to ensure key tasks are performed and that the tasks get executed properly. There are ways to double the output of your team by getting this simple discipline right.
- Time Management Analytics – track your team’s use of their time and provide feedback. This will lift output, improve collaboration and give you confidence that your team is pointed in the right direction.
It’s also important as part of this process to reduce any time wastage, and to identify potential blocks of recurring time where the Team can be re-tasked to align with the strategy of the business. For example, where there may be a ‘slow time’ on Monday afternoons, some of the team can be re-tasked into targeted new business tasks (in line with point 4, above) while the rest of the team handles their calls. This simple exercise can be game-changing in relation to team focus and lifting performance.
“I’m too busy to focus on managing my Calendar”
Most of the Sales Staff we work with end up with time to spare in their week after following our programs. That’s because when you start looking at your day in blocks of time rather than the list of tasks your need to get through, your day is simplified and optimised based on the time taken to achieve each individual goal, not the sum of the tasks which can be daunting.
It’s easily achievable and rewarding in bite-sized chunks and importantly, it is hugely impactful to the performance of your Team and the success of the wider business. These skill sets are also transferrable outside of your Sales Team – and the benefits to your organisation can be exponential.
In conjunction with our pipeline management and revenue metrics packages, our pro-active time management systems enable to you objectively see a change in organisational effort in relation to a strategic change.
Your Team will break without breaks.
Throughout the pandemic, many of the managers we work with expected that their Sales Teams would knock off at 2pm, crack a bevvie and watch the kids watching their iPads.
The opposite was true. Because so many had not experienced a work from home scenario at length before, staff were burning out because they needed to prove to their manager that they were pulling their weight in between pushing the dog out of the Zoom frame or grabbing a couple of Smith’s Salt and Vinegars for lunch.
On a daily basis, time management is critical to protect the integrity of breaks throughout the day. Your team will be fresher and more focussed, and your business outcomes will be better.
Sales Team Members are the most likely of any departmental group to continue working through breaks because the demands of the client do not stop during this time. The phone doesn’t stop ringing. The operational implications of a failure to the client don’t stop happening. The client always feels comfortable calling after hours. If your Sales Person is a high performer, this demand is to be expected.
For a long time, the perception of Sales Team Member behaviour was long lunches and flexible working arrangements. But if the goals and the metrics are set correctly, Sales Staff have one of the toughest jobs in the business.
For example they:
- Are often measured every day to a single budget metric;
- Are often working in isolation;
- Are often the ‘whipping person’ where things may not have gone to plan
- Have uncertainty on incentive income due to factors beyond their control.
Your Sales Team needs breaks from this, and if a team member has more than two weeks of annual leave liability going into each new year, it means they are not taking enough time away from their work environment.
Businesses need to make sure that their Sales Team Members take leave, and that there are time management systems and processes in place to ensure that portfolio performance is protected and that new business growth is not left ignored.
Flexible working – it’s a conversation that’s going to happen.
In a post pandemic world, the shape of the workplace has changed. Not only are Sales Teams hungry for significantly increased flexibility, but they will additionally want to legitimately switch off when we aren’t working. So in this new world of hybrid working, how can there be a demarcation between work and non-work time, and how do we foster positive engagement and drive the right outcomes for the business whilst facilitating the new ways of our working world?
Trust – without this, nothing will work. Flexible working is about placing our team members in their best environment (and sometimes at their best time) to do their best work. If they don’t feel trusted, all the good work on promoting and implementing flexible work is a waste of time and therefore money. If you don’t feel there is trust, ask yourself why. If you’re really brave, ask your team why (and be prepared to genuinely consider the responses).
- Clarity – clear job descriptions, clear KPIs and clear agendas for every discussion are absolutely vital to the success of a flexible working arrangement. Start clear and regularly revisit and check in on the agreed key indicators – this will more than halve the hard conversations that come from people not knowing what is expected of them, and being held to those expectations.
- Connection – we know that being a part of a team can be a fantastic experience, can increase our enjoyment of our job, and is often where the real magic can shine through (when it comes to great minds, 1 + 1 +1 generally equals a whole lot more than 3). So how do we maintain connection when in our new world of flexibility, we are often (at best) passing ships with our team and our leaders? It’s about intentionally creating time and spaces, physical or virtual, where the magic conversation can happen. Some ideas include daily/weekly huddles (online or in person), dedicated social connection opportunities, and regular check ins that aren’t necessarily about the work, but more about the person and how they are travelling. Our best advice is to ask your team for their ideas as to how you can all maintain connection – and make sure you act on their feedback to get their buy in.
- Tools of the trade – it should now be easy to work from anywhere. That means good equipment, a fast connection and access to all the systems required to do the job, as if we are sitting right there in the office.
- Participation – we all have a responsibility to actively and honestly take part in the discussions and activities to make all of the above happen. If we aren’t participating (honestly) in the solution, then we are part of the problem.
Has this been a good use of your time?
That’s up to you, but if you don’t know how your Sales Team is spending its time, and you’d like to know more on how to harness your Team’s hours towards revenue growth, contact us at Structured Sales on (08) 9438 2469.