A Successful Sales Representative Must Manage Time
A successful architectural sales representative, must be an efficient manager of time, whether he is a direct hire or an independent manufacturers’ representative. Time is a sales representative’s major asset, so he must optimize his time to be a sales leader. Efficient time management requires planning.
An efficient time management system begins with an Annual Marketing Plan that includes broad objectives that are in-tune and coordinated with a corporate plan. Using this broad plan, the time management system then incorporates prioritized daily, weekly, and monthly planning lists. Each list has a similar format with the daily list having the most detail and the weekly and monthly lists having broader action items.
One excellent time planning system is based on a variation of what is referred to as the “Eisenhower Box,” developed by Dwight Eisenhower to help evaluate urgency and importance. The items on any of the planning lists with the highest priority are categorized as “Important and Urgent” and are given precedence over all other actions. They are sometimes referred to as “A” items in a planning “to-do” list. To place even more emphasis on the “A” actions, refer to them as the “Focus Actions.”
At the end of the list are the “Not Important, Not Urgent” activities, sometimes referred to as “C” items. Many times these “C”s eventually get deleted from a list because they are simply not worth doing. “B” items are normally “Important but Not Urgent.” Here’s a sample of typical activities that might be included in each box:
|Important||Close a large sale||Visit a key customer|
|Not Important||Answer a minor service request||Complete an unsolicited questionnaire|
An example of a partial daily planning list is below:
Sales Representative Planning List – Monday July 20, 2015
A – Focus Actions
Close large order with “X” (a major customer )
Resolve urgent service problem
Quote “Y” (another major customer)
Complete and file weekly expense report
Handle minor service problem
Complete call summaries for trip just completed
Talk to customer service about being slow to respond to customer complaints
Follow-up on the shipping status of a relatively small order
Often, Focus Actions require much more time and thought to complete than the “B” and “C” items. There is a human tendency to complete at least some of the “B” and “C” items before a “Focus “Action,” because they are easy to “cross off the list.” This gives a sales rep satisfaction that considerable actions are being completed. In reality, time is being wasted and not focused on growing sales and providing outstanding customer service. Although “Focus Actions” cannot always be fully accomplished in one planning period, remain committed to complete them.
If a sales rep does not clearly understand how his time is being spent, there is no way to devise a program to optimize time. A good place to start developing an efficient time management system is to determine how time is currently spent each day. For a week or two, list all actions on an hourly (or even a 15 minute) calendar. Determine what percent of time is spent in selling, administration, answering manufacturer and customer requests for information or quotes, and other tasks. Determine which of these tasks are classified “Focus Actions” or type “B,” or “C”. If in the analysis a large percentage of effort is being spent on completing “B” and “C” items, time is not being used efficiently. Modify daily activity to complete “Focus Actions” first.
Once a rep knows and analyzes how time has been spent, it is possible to begin—or recommit to—becoming an efficient time manager and a star sales producer.