Time Management Tips for Sales Managers
The most frequent complaint of sales management is that there's never enough time to get everything done. Many sales managers work sixty or even seventy hours a week, yet their inboxes are always overflowing with urgent tasks. If this is your situation, you may need to take a look at how you use time management.
As a sales manager, the lion's share of your time should be spent managing your salespeople. This sounds obvious, yet sales managers often get caught up in other projects—whether it's an urgently needed report to the CEO, a series of meetings with company executives, or defining requirements for a new CRM platform. Most of these tasks are one-time events, but no sooner have you completed each project than the next project appears on your desk.
If you are drowning in a sea of paperwork, then your manager may be in need of a wake-up call. Most companies generate far more reports and other administrative documentation than they need. Working with your sales executives, you can probably identify several non-critical processes and remove them from your life. Just slashing your paperwork can make a huge difference in your available time at the office.
Meetings are another potential time-waster. If, like most sales managers, you have a weekly Monday team meeting, ask yourself whether you need to spend all those hours on a team meeting every month. Can you switch to a meeting every other week instead? If not, can you cut down on time spent during the meeting by delegating tasks to individuals instead of discussing them endlessly within the group? Other types of meetings may be avoided by sending a delegate who will report back to you or by requesting that your presence is omitted altogether if you feel your contribution isn't necessary.
Your manager may be costing you a great deal of your time by sending a series of 'time critical' projects your way. In this case, try explaining to her that your team is suffering from the time you spend working on these projects and ask if some of them can be handled by others or simply deferred. If she persists on sending you projects even after she's agreed to cut back, you may be able to push back by saying something like, “I had scheduled my afternoon to go with George and Linda for their presentation to close a big deal with Company X. Should I prioritize your project ahead of that?” Your boss may suddenly realize that her task isn't quite so urgent after all.
If you find that you still have more tasks than you have hours in the day, be ruthless about how you prioritize them. The three most crucial sales management tasks are sales planning, training and coaching your salespeople (which includes helping with stalled deals and other one-time sales problems). Activities related to any of these three areas should come first in your daily scheduling, even if that means that another task ends up being delayed an extra few days.
One way to help keep yourself on track is to schedule your core management functions well in advance and then treat those times as sacred. For example, you might decide that every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon from 2 PM to 3 PM you will sit down with one of your salespeople and go over their recent performance. In that case, nothing short of a major disaster should cause you to reschedule this time. It may be difficult at first, but watching your team's sales take off in response to your efforts will dull the pain quickly enough.