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Wasting TimeGain up to 30 minutes extra productivity per day by eliminating these.

Show me a sales professional in the top 10% of their industry and I’ll show you a person who is in the top 10% at time management.

Unfortunately, as salespeople, we are hard wired to be poor at juggling priorities and tasks. Studies show that most salespeople fall into the high “Influence” category of personality (from the D.I.S.C. profiling system), meaning that we are very good at influencing, communicating and adapting to change. Time management isn’t one of our strong points however. I’m often asked what biggest mistakes salespeople make are and poor time management ranks in the top 3. As you might expect, when working with sales teams, I have found that while they want to learn new presentation or objection handling techniques, growing their goal and time management capabilities provides the biggest & quickest performance gains.
In my experience, here is where most of us lose massive amounts of selling capacity:

Time Waster Number One—No Plan
We start the month with no specifics on what we want to accomplish. “If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.” You should take the 30 minutes at the end of one month to review and plan for the next in all important areas. Similarly you will greatly benefit from planning your week before you set out. Sunday evening is a great time to take 20 minutes and map out your goals/priorities for the week. Time management is largely a result of good priority management.  Planning allows you to get the “big picture” and prioritize by comparing the urgency and importance of your goals for the week.  Monday morning is OK but is more risky in that you might get distracted and caught up in “doing” before you are finished your “planning”. It is almost impossible to plan and implement at the same time. Below is an example of what a weekly plan might look like:


B – do 50 prospecting calls Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30–11:00

B – make follow-up calls on all outstanding proposals from last month

A – prepare for proposal presentations with HugeCo and Willbuy Inc.

B – check in with production on delivery of orders

B – practice new voicemail technique and ask Bob for feedback

A – get monthly expenses report in


A – run 3x for 30 min each in the morning Mon, Wed, Fri.

B – do rough plan for new deck in backyard

A – get anniversary gift

B – get to bed earlier. By 10:30 at least 4 weeknights.

An “A” priority means that it’s “important and urgent” for the week while a “B” means that while important, it doesn’t necessarily have to be done this week.
Your days should start with a plan too of course, using the same A & B prioritization. Research shows that 10 minutes spent planning your day will give you approximately 60 minutes of increased productivity. That’s a 6:1 R.O.T.I. (return on time invested)!  With better time management, many graduates of our “Goal Aligned Time™” program report these results commonly.  Done for a week, that will give you the time to make about 25 more prospecting calls. Run that number through your sales funnel stats and you will be astonished by what this means in hard dollars.
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a frog first thing in the morning and everything else you have to do in the day will seem easy.”  Eat your “frog” – do your toughest things that require the most focus – first thing.

Time Waster Number Two—The Email Black Hole
Just like a black hole, the gravitational attraction of email can suck you in just like a planet and once you’re in, there’s no turning back! Email is a very powerful communication tool but overused and often used improperly too. Don’t start your day with email. Start with a plan instead. You don’t need to respond to emails when they come in. Let them stack up and return them in batches at certain intervals in the day. Your average time/message will drop significantly! Low urgency emails can be left to clear at the end of day or even a couple of times/week. Be ruthless with deletion. I often delete messages without looking at them based on the subject and sender. The average person can speak at 120 words/minute yet only type at 30 words/minute.

Time Waster Number Three—Busy But Not Productive
You have three main tasks. Prospect, present and close. If you’re not doing one of these, then you’re not growing your sales. Do a time log for one week, noting your actual use of time in 1 hour blocks. At the end of the week note what activities were directly related to sales, admin and nonsense. You will be amazed where your time is actually going and as a bonus, your productivity will jump as you gain an awareness of this.

Time Waster Number Four—Interruptions
Whether it’s someone walking in to discuss last night’s “American Idol” or your email ringing each time you get a message, you lose much more than the time to chat or listen to the bell. Studies show that the average person, when interrupted, takes 6 minutes to get back to the same level of concentration prior to the interruption. Do the math: If you get interrupted just 5 times in an hour, you are operating at 50% effectiveness. Think about that next time you grab your smart (a misnomer in many ways) phone to check your most recent tweet!

If you or your sales team would like to get better at time management, check out Northbound’s workshop, “Goal Aligned Time™.”  For more details or pricing, contact Michael Caron at [email protected] or 416.456.1440.