While I struggle to find anyone who actually enjoys the admin in their life, it is a critical to master if you are wondering how to be a successful sales manager. I often refer to these tasks as “time bombs”. Yes, you need to stay on top of your admin, however, doing so can suck your time away from your pipeline…that simply translates to “time is money”.
While Dr. Knapp identified that 15% of your time is spent on admin, I feel he is actually being a little forgiving with that estimate. We fight it and end up doing tasks begrudgingly (and slowly) due to the fact there is no motivation or reward for completion.
As a busy entrepreneur with my own business, I’ve had to adopt new ways of working to give myself the necessary time to prepare, pitch and deliver on my pipeline. I can tell you now that my time management has drastically improved through some of the simple practices outlined below.
The more time you spend on your administration and managing your information, the less time you have to sell. Get this right or risk achieving your target.
Getting your priorities right is key in managing your time. We have all been guilty of “priority inverting” to give us an immediate sense of accomplishment and keeping those massive priorities at bay for the time being. Simply put, this is one of the most dangerous practices when trying to manage your time. By putting off the inevitable, your priorities are jeopardized and your time is wasted. A few pointers to help you avoid this dangerous trap:
- Salami slice: When you are facing a large task or project, tackle small bite size chunks at a time. By doing this, you will gain momentum and satisfaction at your progress toward completion. That being said, when you commit to the small chunk, COMMIT. Turn off all distractions and concentrate on that one task for the time you allotted. Do not allow yourself to be derailed or you will lose the fight. You owe this to your task and to you to keep on top of your commitments.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: When you concentrate your efforts on small trivial tasks, you may get an immediate sense of fulfillment but you are actually putting off the priority that needs to be handled now. As Brian Tracy so aptly named his book, “Eat That Frog”, he uses this metaphor to show that you have to do the most pressing thing first in your day. If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be a cakewalk.
- OHIO: Only Handle It Once. When you sit down to do a task, don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked. It is so easy to have your attention diverted by today’s technology. The pop up that you have received an email, the blink of a light telling you that there is a message on your phone can easily distract you and take you away from what you are meant to be doing. TURN IT OFF. If you commit to a task, don’t allow the technology of today stop you from seeing tomorrow.
These are three little changes you can make today that will help you to get control of your time and live a more productive life. We can spend all our time trying to figure out how to get our time back but if we step out of our lives and look in, sometimes the solutions are actually very simple and require little effort. It takes the ability to admit to your time wasting and doing something about it.
DIRECT CUSTOMER INTERACTION
I could write volumes on email management. I won’t…I don’t want to waste your time. Look at your inbox and take thte following action:
The 4 Ds of email management:
Do it: No need to elaborate here
Defer it: If you choose this option, make good and sure the recipient is fully aware of your actions. Did you let them know you are holding off? How long are you holding off? What actions will you take when you do get back to them? If you mess this up, your inbox gets angry
Delegate it: Make sure the person you are delegating to knows the story. Otherwise, you are going to create a situation where time is being taken from everyone.
Delete it: If you are cc’d or there are no actions required, get rid of it. Declutter that inbox!
Finally, preparation is key when interacting with your client. Before the call, do your research. Think about it. If someone were to call you who is interested in partnering with you, do you want to spend an inordinate amount of time answering questions that are unnecessary? Unless you are adding value in their eyes, you will get nothing but avoidance and delay. Do you add value to the customer everytime you interact?
MANAGING SALES REPS
When giving notice a few years back to my rather mediocre sales manager, she shared her thoughts on managing a sales team. She said
“You know Ed, sales teams are like onions. They have many layers and the layers peel away”
I fought back the urge to bust out laughing and politely nodded my head and handed in my resignation.
What she didn’t realize is that she never spent time properly managing her team and therefore the attrition was twice that of the industry average. Her management style was to hit a number at the end of the week/month/quarter, no matter what it took. There was no coaching, managing, mentoring or proper reporting to guide her in her decision making process.
Managing your team is the most important part of your role. If you get this right, the benefits are far too numerous to list.
As you expect your team to be diligent in their reporting, it is your responsibility to pull the right reports to tell you the whole story. The reporting along with solid conversation build strong sellers. They are motivated and empowered to become the best they can be. Keep your meetings focused and structured so as to utilize the time you both have. While it is easy to get derailed, don’t hesitate to “park” issues or problems that aren’t directly related to enabling your seller to achieve their utmost potential.
Don’t scrimp on technology. Relying on a substandard CRM or reporting system is poison to you, your team and your success. Invest in your team and the performance should meet or exceed expectations!