Time Management for Sales Leaders

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What does a sales leader at a 1000 person company selling enterprise solutions to the Fortune 500 have in common with a startup sales leader trying to build a sales process from scratch? 24 hours.

Time is the greatest equalizer; everyone has exactly 24 hours everyday. It's how effectively we use those 24 hours that separates us. The most successful people, both sales leaders and otherwise, structure those 24 hours in a way that allows them to make the most of each hour and have the biggest impact every single day.  

When you're a sales leader juggling multiple responsibilities from coaching your team to analyzing metrics and planning for the next quarter, it can seem like there is never enough time in the day.  Here's a quick primer on how to manage your time for maximum impact.


1. Build Your Day Around Your Top Priorities

What is the most important activity that you are going to accomplish today that makes all others on your to-do list irrelevant? If you can only do one thing today, what will have the most impact? The Pareto principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Your goal should be to find which of your tasks fit into that 20% and ensure that they are completed first. 

2. Structure Your Management Responsibilities

As a sales leader, your responsibilities can fall into a few distinct buckets.

  • Coaching - The 1 on 1s you have with sales reps, your team standup meetings, and the training sessions you do are key to creating high performance sales teams
  • Administrative Tasks -  The tasks you have to do to keep your sales machine running smoothly. This can include hiring, pulling insights from data, working on compensation plans, making sure your CRM is set up correctly, and more. 
  • Urgent Tasks - These are the things that come up unexpectedly that you need to deal with, especially as you start to scale your sales team. 

3. Control The Chaos

No matter how well you plan, there will be times where things get chaotic and you need to put out fires. A large deal is taking too long to close, so you need to get on the phone with the decision maker. Data isn't being logged to your CRM correctly, so you need to diagnose the problem and fix it. Whatever the problem is, you need to control the chaos by scheduling time in your calendar to handle it and eliminating distractions until the issue is solved by:

  • Batching email replies during scheduled times two or three times a day. Urgency increases productivity and minimizes the time you spend on email.
  • Schedule times when you are on team chat tools like Slack. These tools are great for fostering a collaborative environment but can be very distracting because they are real-time.And because these tools make it easy to communicate,  it’s very easy for people to steal your time and distract you from your key priorities
  • Train your team on proper escalation procedures. It's very easy to get overextended by the problems your team brings to you. That's why it's important to train them on the problems they can solve themselves and the problems they need to consult you on. 

4. Schedule Your Days

Having a to-do list is definitely a necessity, but it doesn't tell you when you will complete these tasks or how long they will take. A better approach is actually blocking time on your calendar for specific tasks. How much time per day do you want to spend on coaching, email, or administrative tasks? Block time on your calendar with a recurring event for each of these. 

5.  Maximize The Impact Of Coaching

Coaching is one area where you can't afford to cut corners, so you need to ensure that the time you spend coaching is as effective as possible. 

Mix up the coaching and training activities you do instead of relying on one type. From role playing to call coaching and pipeline reviews, you have an arsenal of coaching tactics to use. Doing the same type of coaching gets repetitive and diminishes the value of each coaching session.

Identify the biggest opportunity to improve with each of your reps and then choose the appropriate type of coaching. Determine the most important thing that your rep needs to improve on that will have the most impact on their performance.  Focus on that one thing until their performance improves. If a rep has problems turning calls into meetings, focus on reviewing their calls and identifying weak spots.