Sales managers – tips to fix the time sieve

Sales managers and the time sieve

Sales managers and the time sieve

Sales managers universally tell us that time is their most valuable asset – and they also tell us they are continuously “running out of time.”

So let’s look at some of ingredients that make up the modern-day sales manager time sieve:

  • Those things you’re doing that you know you should not be doing but you have to – okay fair enough.
  • Those activities that need to be done but you could probably get some other people to do if you were skillful about it.
  • Those items that you need to do but you could probably do them more efficiently if you invested some time thinking about that.
  • Those things that you can just ignore if you do it gracefully.

It is the age-old time management puzzle that sales managers have all the pieces for but never seem to put together.

Two places sales managers spend a lot of time and are examples of the “you can probably do it more efficiently category” are communicating with your sales teams and conducting meetings.  Let’s take a look at some first steps for addressing these two – starting with communicating with your team.

  • Discuss with your sales team the preferred way to communicate – While there isn’t a universal answer, a few simple guidelines can help.  For example, texts and emails may be preferred way to get answers to specific questions quickly. Phone calls and voice mails are better solutions to information requiring discussions.  On the other hand, texts and emails do not lend themselves to sales coaching – but phone calls (particularly for strategy coaching) and face-to-face sessions do.

With that said, sales managers must also be sensitive to how their sales team prefers to communicate.  Preferences will vary and you will even find generational differences – with younger salespeople used to getting information quickly and often texts. This means a one-size-fits-all approach might not work if your sales team spans generations and experiences.

  • Do an informal communication audit – Put in place some simple metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your communication and periodically solicit feedback from your team on how things are going on the communication front.

Now to sales meetings.  Much has been written about improving meetings – including sales meetings. Here are four ideas: 

  • All sales meetings should have an agenda – Whether face-to-face, over the phone or video, meetings ramble when there’s no agenda. So, before a meeting starts ensure there is an agenda – whether it’s a meeting you schedule or a salesperson schedules with you.
  • Only invite relevant people to sales meetings – While sales meetings are usually only attended by the sales team, others may ask to attend – typically people from other departments.  While being a good corporate citizen is important, figuring out which invitations you accept and whether you choose to invite someone needs to be carefully assessed so time isn’t spent on extraneous topics that can be shared in other ways – like via email – or perhaps handled by you for your sales team – or sometimes even ignored.
  • Everyone at the meeting should be prepared to participate – Sales meetings aren’t one-way events. Everyone participating should be expected to contribute and should prepare in advance. This includes sales managers soliciting ideas and topics to include in the meeting from their sales team in advance.  It also means sales reps need to prepare, too.
  • Meeting management – Don’t let anyone hog the conversation. You can make sure everyone gets heard by ensuring that there is airtime for everyone and even asking salespeople who are quiet if there’s something missing or if anything should be added?

Here is a starter list. Please add additional tips you’d like to share.

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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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