“Don’t work off a to-do list, work off a calendar,” Mark said.
Whether that looks like phone calls, emails, social media messages and even old-school cards and letters to the folks you want to connect with, being top-of-mind to the people who can buy from you requires planning before reaching out.
That means we have to schedule outreach on our calendars and find time to make calls, customize email templates, type up social media messaging and hand-write cards and letters. This type of omni-channel outreach can quickly take up most of a day. Successful salespeople have discovered ways to manage their time to make these tasks more efficient.
The challenge for many salespeople is that when simply work from a to-do list, we’re switching between different types of tasks. That very rarely achieves the best results. Instead of looking at all the outreach tasks we have in a given day (our to-do list), we can instead change the way we see (and execute) on those tasks on our calendars.
As always, we’re using the TRIM system in order to trim hope from our sales strategy and better manage our time across all the sales tasks we have in front of us:
T – Trigger: When planning your week, based on your goals. Recommended Sunday night or first thing Monday morning.
R – Repeatable: This means the system lives outside your head. We break our time management planning into 3 steps:
Step 1: Define Types Of Tasks
First, batch by ‘types’ of outreach tasks. These include (but are not limited to) call research, making calls, customizing/sending email templates, sending social media messages, filling out and sending cards/letters, and administrative tasks for account maintenance. Once we understand what the types of tasks we’ll be dealing with are, we can then ‘batch’ by executing all of the tasks by ‘type’ rather than how they appear in our CRM or inbox that day.
Step 2: Do Goal-Oriented Tasks First
Instead of waiting until the end of the day to engage in the most emotionally draining outreach activities, we front-load those into our day. For most people, the most emotionally draining activity in sales are phone calls, because we have to engage both our minds, voices and bodies to do it well. If you’re not sure what the hardest type of task you have in front of you in a given day, it is most likely the one you tend to procrastinate the most. Barring that, choose the task that has the strongest chance of getting you the result you want in the shortest amount of time. In the world of sales, all emails, social media messages, cards and letters are designed to get someone in a conversation on the phone or into an in-person meeting. If everything drives forward to an eventual phone call, make the calls first and you might save yourself a bunch of outreach work in the future!
To immediately batch calls, pull up the account of each person you want to call that day in your CRM and prepare needed material on each account so you can easily pick up where you left off with the last conversation – you never know when a decision maker could pick up the phone and boom – you’re in a sales call!
Step 3: Execute
Once you have completed all of the hardest type of outreach task you have for the day, you can then open up all the emails you have on your schedule to send today and work through them one by one. Then, go through social message tasks until they’re done. Then cards/letters. Then … anything else.
I – Improvable: Any static system is only good for when it is created. To ensure our time management is improved, Mark advises we take time each week to look each week at how we can improve.
“I look each week at how I can improve by one percent,” Mark shared with us. “Everything I do today is different than it was a few years ago.”
M – Measurable: Mark is very clear that just because something can be measured, doesn’t mean it should be. Salespeople will often measure Facebook or LinkedIn connections, and should be measuring the things that generate results. In our world, that means the new leads we add into our pipelines each week and the conversations we have.
As it applies to time management in sales, it’s how many prospects we actually interact with and add value to – not how many items on our to-do list we knock out.
By managing your tasks instead of letting them manage you, you’ll free up more emotional and mental energy for your prospects that will make all your calls and sales outreach more effective.