Scheduling the Ideal Sales Day: 5 Ideas for Structuring Your Time

Focus on sales tasks that can help you close more deals.

Time to read: 3 minutes

Laura Stack
President & CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.

Salespeople know how to work hard. They know how to make lists and check things off. They know they need to prioritize, delegate, eliminate distractions, and maintain an organized time management system. Since a decent sales rep can’t function without doing most of these things, let’s assume you’ve implemented some or all of the above to a certain extent.

Still, when you look at a typical day, how much of your time do you spend actually selling? As I’ve learned during my seminars, many salespeople spend as little as 20% of their time actually selling. Imagine how effective you could be if you doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled that percentage

Here are five ideas to help you get that number up:

1. Choose a rhythm.

In my experience, productive scheduling manifests as something you develop on your own, then slowly evolve toward perfection. I think it’s easier, for example, to pack all my conference calls into a couple days and leave Fridays open for office work (unless I’m speaking at a sales conference).

Rather than schedule the ideal day, many salespeople prefer to schedule by the week, with specific tasks assigned to specific days: cold calling on Mondays, warm prospecting on Tuesdays, demos on Wednesdays, networking on Thursdays, and meeting with or calling clients on Fridays. Keep experimenting with your rhythm until you find something that works.

2. Calendar everything.

All non-negotiables should go on your calendar. Whether you’re using Outlook, Salesforce, a paper planner, or an app on your device, you will need a calendar to keep you apprised of when you’re doing what — or you will eventually forget something important. Put all your commitments on your calendar, breaking your time down by 30-minute blocks.

If your cold calls take two hours daily, be self-disciplined about sticking to the schedule you’ve laid out for yourself. Yes, unexpected things always arise, so continue to adjust as necessary without letting your schedule completely implode. If you need to prepare for a demo tomorrow, schedule it. This applies for exercise and family time as well — always include enough life in your work-life balance to make your work worthwhile.

3. Block time.

Several factors are essential to making sales: prospecting, preparation, and the actual pitch. Block time for all three during your day. For example, you may want to make cold calls early in the day (in-person and/or by phone) while you’re fresh. Then spend midday fulfilling requests from your calls, handling current customer needs, and preparing for tomorrow’s sales calls. Then spend the afternoon prospecting for the following day, so you can get a jump on it in the morning.

While it’s exciting to chase new business, always schedule time for nurturing. You must check in with existing clients on a regular basis and maintain your relationships with them. The real profit doesn’t come from the first sale — it’s in all the sales that come afterward — from the clients who already know and respect you. Show them you care about them, and they’ll take care of you.

4. Manage email.

Respond to email and voicemail during your non-prospecting times. Empty your inboxes each time you check your email using my 6-D Information Management System™: discard, delegate, do, date, drawer, or deter.

For example, each time you click on an email, you’ll do one of the following:

  • Delete it.
  • Forward it or send as a “Task Request.”
  • Reply if you can answer the question or provide the information in less than three minutes.
  • If there’s an action in the email you can’t handle right now or isn’t due yet, use the “Move to Task” command to convert the email into a task (or the “Move to Calendar” command if it’s a meeting). Pick the “Start Date” based on when you need to handle it, and click “Save and Close” to automatically move the email out of your inbox for a future task.
  • Use the “Save As” command to file the email on your hard drive like any other Office document (or use personal folders, though I don’t prefer that method).
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted lists or add the sender to your Junk Senders list.

5. Get selling.

Product, geographical, and corporate differences will ensure that the ideal sales day varies from person to person. One size never fits all. You’ll come closer to the ideal, though, if you remember the majority of your day should be comprised of selling activities (research, prospecting, making sales calls, asking current clients for referrals, reviewing your pipeline, creating proposals, emailing clients for follow-up, and so on).

Several factors are essential to making sales: prospecting, preparation, and the actual pitch. Block time for all three during your day.”

Laura Stack | President & CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.

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