168 hours per week… this is all the time you and I are allotted - but the reality is sales reps are only given 40+ hours a week to accomplish all of their tasks. What ends up drowning 80% of sales reps, is not their quota target, not difficult “sales patches”, but their own poor time management.
Time management is the struggle for most sales reps, creating inconsistent patterns of ebb & flow within their sales pipeline. Most sales reps enjoy the glory of successful demos, negotiating proposals and closing deals. The ‘ditch digging’ phase of business development - attracting new prospects is many times passed onto “I’ll do that next week”. If you can relate to this situation, you’re not alone as in 2011, an average of 60% of sales reps hit their annual quota.
If you’re interested in how true sales leaders have mastered time management, the above diagram is the inner-mind of a successful sales leader.
A Week in the Life of a Sales Leader
The sales leader starts her work week on Sunday night. After she has dinner with her family, she puts the kids to bed and goes to the home office to plan her work week. She begins to organize her weekly calendar, colour-coding various internal meetings, prospect meetings and client meetings, and she maps out her available time in the following order (working backwards on the diagram).
She reviews her scheduled discovery calls and demos, then schedules time slots for answers RFPs, negotiating proposals and contract closing. To optimize her time she’s compressing demos and discovery calls in specific time blocks, in 1-2 day of the week only. The rationale for compressing demos is simple – but let’s picture the day in the life of an un-organized sales rep.
As a typical sales rep, he’s easily distracted and loves to brag about sales success. He has organized demos for 10am and 2pm today, comes into the office for 9am, takes 15-30 min to socialize, get coffee and reads facebook. He then spends the next 30min “preparing” for his demo. His demo takes one hour, stands up from his desk and tells everyone on his team how amazing his demo went. He’s on too much of a high to be able to make cold calls right now. He then takes a power lunch at noon, strolls back in the office at 1:30 pm and needs to “prepare” for his 2pm demo… repeat cycle. So what has he really accomplished today - 2 great demos and 0 net new prospects added to the pipeline.
The organized sales leader realizes that hot opportunities need to be priority #1, but can’t detract from future pipeline development. She will map her calendar on Sunday night to reflect a tight package of opportunity closing times.
She then takes a large portion of her remaining week to begin planning her prospecting campaigns. She has a marketing matrix that she’s developed (either literally in Excel or mentally through experience) – similar to the Rubik Cube shown in the diagram. She knows that blindly calling prospects without a definitive plan will not accomplish her goals. A true sales leader thinks in multiple dimensions – prospects are categorized in blocks by size, verticals, relationship trees tied to past client success stories. Beyond the categorization, she evaluates each block of prospects with 3 elements.
1. long will it take me to close a prospect from this category?
2. What’s the % chance we have the capability to win a prospect from this category?
3. How much money will I make from prospects in this category? Any will it be worth my effort?
A sales leader will then add a further dimension to their evaluation – which sales tools should I use to maximize my ROI (tools within the Rubik Cube). That can include the phone, email, Linkedin, Twitter, Blogs, Infographics, Video etc.
A sales leader knows the importance of sales execution hours versus sales planning hours – and these planning hours cannot effect important executing hours. Suspect research and pre-call planning is the single largest time burglar for any average sales rep. These average reps are consistently spending too long call planning between prospects (not taking only 2 minutes to plan the 3x3 research), and are planning their attack during prime calling times.
She (the sales leader) has her suspect lists replenishing before they run dry – and they have these lists prepared before the day begins. She wants to begin her day ASAP, without hesitation. She also uses multiple sources to gather valuable intelligence to prepare Trigger Events for their future discussions.
The Visual Image of Successful Weekly Planning
Now review this diagram again and ask yourself – am I optimizing my time effectively to maximize my potential for success? If you aren’t preparing yourself every week in a similar manner, you could be missing great opportunities for growth.