by Bill Hellkamp

One of the biggest challenges I hear from sales professionals is how busy they are and how difficult it is to get everything done. With three to five appointments each day, prospecting and follow-up calls, letters, proposals, customer service and a hundred other items, it is no wonder that they are concerned. How can they fit it all in and not neglect a key item, issue or customer? In my experience as a sales manager and sales coach, I understand their frustration but I have also found that there are some ways that even the best salesperson can become more efficient with their daily routine. Here are my top five suggestions:

1.Have Solid Goals – When the Cheshire Cat asked Alice where she was going, Alice said that she didn’t know. Wisely the cat replied, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” If you are in sales and you haven’t closely defined your goals (monthly, yearly, 5 years), then you won’t know which way to go either. Well set goals are not only a road map to show you where to go, but more importantly a blueprint against which you can make decisions. Should I pursue A or B? How does it compare to your goals? Which choice will get you there sooner and better? Should I say “No” or “Yes”? Look at your goals and they will help you make that decision.

2. Use a Prioritized Task List – Productive years are made up of productive months, weeks and days. To build productive days you need to know what to get done and which of those things will lead to your solid goals. Most importantly those items that are “not urgent” but are “important” seem to get left to the side. These are tasks such as strategy and planning, project work or networking. Most importantly, a daily prioritized task list will keep you moving forward during those times when you don’t know what to do next.

3. Start Early & Sprint to the Finish – The most successful salespeople I’ve worked with are early risers who are anxious to start their selling day. They pack in their appointments and fill the day with productive activities. Life is too short to be tired and your day is too full to dawdle from issue to issue. Get moving and stay moving until your day is done, usually an hour later than those other salespeople.

4. Control Your Calendar – Everybody runs their calendar in a different way, but productive sales professionals have developed a process where they stay in control. Here are three suggestions that I’ve found helpful:

— Block out time to work on larger projects.

— Book your appointments by area (state or city) so you minimize windshield time.

— Do the after appointment work (CRM, notes, thank you’s) right after the appointment.

5. Evaluate Your Productivity Weekly – Find a time each week, such as Friday afternoon or Sunday evening, to look back at your week and evaluate how well you did. Where was your calendar out of control? Did you consistently get your tasks done and why or why not? What can I do better in the upcoming week? What do I have coming up this week and how can I take better control now?

We welcome your comments if you have some other productivity ideas that can make a salesperson more effective.

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