Successful sales reps must be masters of productivity. Regardless of how many articles you read online related to mastering it, however, “hacking” productivity is difficult because it’s so personal.
While every sales rep should be engaging in certain activities, not every sales rep is created equally: tasks that come easily to one rep may be a complete time suck for another.
With this challenge in mind, what are some helpful ways to increase productivity? To start, you must find out where all your time is going before you can know where you can improve. Before making any changes to how you work throughout the week, it’s important to understand your baseline.
Did you know that most lawyers bill their clients in six-minute increments? This means that lawyers must become masters of time tracking. In order to understand your individual time-management baseline, start by tracking your time like a lawyer.
For one week, track your time in six-minute intervals, and do it without changing anything about how you might normally spend your day. A recurring six-minute timer or alarm on your phone should work to remind you to log your time and activities. Every time your alarm goes off, jot down three words (maximum) that describe what you were doing for that six-minute interval.
At the end of one day, your log might look something like this:
9:06 - Power on; logins; open email
9:12 - unread email
9:18 - unread email
9:24 - unread email
9:30 - outbound cold calls
9:36 - outbound cold calls, email reply
9:42 - outbound cold calls, email reply
9:48 - outbound cold calls
9:54 - cold call convo;
10:00 - cold call convo; set meeting
10:06 - social media break
10:12 - social media break
10:18 - coffee, email replies
A word of caution: This exercise will be extremely annoying and may feel time-consuming to start; in addition, this activity requires radical honesty with yourself about how you’re spending your time. Finally, your coworkers will likely notice, particularly during meetings or team activities. Be sure to do your best to keep your phone on vibrate, and don’t let the inconvenience of this activity keep you from your larger goal: self-awareness, self-improvement, and ultimately, higher productivity!
After one week, logging your time in six-minute intervals will become second-nature. One week of data will also allow you to see trends and habits more clearly than if you only logged your time for one day.
Once you’ve compiled your time data, take a hard look at what you see. You’ll start to notice trends about how you like to spend your time, versus how you should be spending your time. Add up your minutes in certain activities, and think of these trends in the context of what helps you get closer to your goals.
Here are some trends you may notice from your tracking, and suggestions to increase your productivity.
Do you have a hard time focusing on the task at hand? If so, your time tracking will likely reveal that you work on 3 to 5 activities for the majority of your six-minute intervals, or that you skip from activity to activity frequently over the course of multiple intervals.
While there is a time and a place for multi-tasking, it’s not always the most productive way to spend your time. Try chunking your time into longer blocks and focus on one activity for that time - say, 30 minutes of cold pure cold calling or warm calling.
By looking at your week, you should be able to quickly identify your time wasters, which will vary from person to person. If you’re spending 48 minutes on research for 15 minutes of calling, your priorities are misaligned.
Similarly, if you spend 12 minutes of follow up for every meeting you book, try to find a way to cut that in half through automation or templates. Finally, if it takes you 48 minutes to update your CRM over the course of the day, try blocking out that time during a time that won’t take away from prime calling hours.
Work With Management
Once you’ve taken a look at your time habits, you should begin to see where you excel and where you get slowed down. Talk to your sales manager to discuss ways that he or she can support you in your efforts to improve and use your time more effectively, whether that be through training, tools, or practice. You’ll be a productivity guru in no time!
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