6 Highly-Effective Time Management Hacks for Sales People

Most sales reps probably feel like they’re selling all of the time, but a closer look at how they actually spend their days reveals otherwise.

In fact, the average salesperson spends only 37% of his or her time focused on selling, and the other 63% on non-revenue generating activities (though not necessarily by choice), according to a survey by InsideSales.com.

The Time Management for Sales study also found that only 28% of sales reps follow a structured time management system. According to Brian Tracy, a well-known productivity expert, salespeople can potentially double their sales by sticking with a time management system.

If you manage your time and develop the habit of goal setting as the top salespeople do, so that you are spending more time with customers, your sales will increase immediately,” Tracy writes on his blog.

Goal setting is an excellent strategy for maximizing your day. Here are six more actionable ways to boost your sales productivity:

1. Track Your Time

People who are horrible with money usually don’t have a good grasp on where it’s all going every month. It’s the same with time. If you don’t track your time, how are you supposed to know if you’re spending it wisely? How will you ever improve your productivity? And now, understanding your time doesn’t have to be difficult. Timeboost does it automatically for you.

Timeboost gives you a clear picture of how you’re spending your days. By linking to your calendar, our visual tool shows you how much time you’re putting into specific tasks like sales (hopefully more than 37%) or administrative drudgery, which accounts are getting their fair share of your time, and which contacts are the biggest time-sucks, and how much progress you’re making against your intended goals.

2. Prioritize Your Biggest Opportunities

As a salesperson, you know that not every account or opportunity is created equal. That big whale of a client is worth way more of your time than the small fry.

But the reality is that the smallest opportunities sometimes end up taking up a big chunk of your time. And you might not even realize this is happening unless you can see your time visually.

Timeboost gives you visibility into how much time you’re devoting on each account. It even works with your Salesforce.com account so time spent on each account is automatically tracked.

3. Make Better Meetings

We all know meetings can be a huge time suck. Protect your time by avoiding bad meetings and investing in good ones. What’s a bad meeting? Any meeting that won’t help you sell more, either in the short term or in the long run.

If a meeting doesn’t have a preset agenda, that’s a red flag. If there are too many attendees in one meeting, be prepared for a lot of chatter and not much else getting done. If an important contact declines to attend, you might also want to cancel. But if your boss will be in the room, you’ll want to be prepared so you can shine.

Luckily, Timeboost alerts you to meetings without agendas, ones with too many or too few attendees, and ones with senior executives in attendance.

4. Schedule Meetings Faster

Think about how much time you spend just trying to set up a single meeting with a prospect. The back-and-forth of playing e-mail or phone tag can be a huge drag.

There’s a better way. Timeboost’s FreeTime Finder lets you send available time slots via email to prospects. Your prospects just click on the best time for them. Easy for you, easy for your customers.

5. Tick Off Your Tasks in Batches

Spending your day “pecking” at your inbox whenever you have a free moment or trying to cram administrative tasks in between sales calls isn’t very efficient. Moving from one unrelated task to another can be hugely distracting and ultimately slows you down.

Optimize your mental acuity and efficiency by batching similar tasks together. Instead of dipping into your inbox every few minutes, check your email and respond to your messages in 30-minute slots, three times a day. Block out a chunk of time to do all of your administrative duties like updating your CRM or filling out expense reports at the same time, every day.

6. Block Out Your Day

Your sales improve and your feel better when you are in control of your calendar. A chaotic, random daily schedule can easily hijack your productivity and your mood.

Time blocking can be transformational for sales teams. Guard your schedule by allocating blocks of time with specific goals in mind. For example, you might devote time in the morning to making calls on your biggest accounts or opportunities when you have the most energy. Maybe have a few hours in the mid-day for meetings.

And schedule time later in the day for administrative tasks. Or you could employ a day-parting schedule by making East Coast calls in the morning and West Coast calls in the afternoon, and meetings and emails in the middle of the day. Whatever you decide, don’t have a to-do item, have a calendar entry.

The point is to set your schedule so your to-do list isn’t disconnected from your time. It will help you get what’s most important to you, done.

Learning effective time management is one of the best things you can do to improve your sales process. It doesn’t cost any money and you will see an immediate difference in your productivity and, ultimately, your commissions.

Try Timeboost for free today, and close more deals faster. www.timeboostapp.com

Can You Spend Too Much Time on Your Goals?

An abundance of research points to the value of goal setting. That’s why there’s also an abundance of advice on how to go about setting your goals, including:

        Honing your list down to a manageable few
        Choosing them wisely (AKA playing it “SMART”)
        Committing to them in writing (digital or otherwise)

But what happens after you’ve set your goals? What’s the best way to position yourself for success? How much time should you spend on that goal? Every day, every week? The answer may be different and less in terms of time than you might think.

At Timeboost, our analytics tell us that successful people actually spend much less time on their goals than you might think. It turns out, being effective doesn’t really take that much time, it just takes some time and persistence.

And to drive this point home even more, here’s a closer look at how much time highly effective people spend on their goals. It’s also an insightful look at why achieving your own goals may depend on spending less time on them.

The Buffet Way

Warren Buffett spends about 80 percent of his time not doing but thinking. That equates to less than 20 percent of time actively working on goals. For many, this may seem like shockingly little. After all, most of us feel like we can’t get enough done, even while pulling way more than 40-hour work weeks.

But as any productivity guru will tell you, the duration of time you spend “working” isn’t necessarily representative of your actual productivity. In fact, the opposite can often be the case. As Buffett’s long-time business partner Charlie Munger explained, “That's what created [one of the] world's most successful business records in history. He has a lot of time to think.”

Buffett is not alone in devotion to the thinking process. In a guest post for Inc. magazine, Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, shared Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Scudamore’s takeaway?  “Most people see leadership as a sport where success is determined by hard work. Instead, I like to think of business as being more like surgery. My father was one of the top surgeons in Canada, so when I was young I saw how surgeons aim to have maximum impact with minimum intervention. Like Lincoln chopping down a tree, accomplishing this is about careful planning. The actual surgery the physical work is only a small part of the process.”

Focus on Deep Work

The mandate is clear (if surprising): If you’re spending upwards of 50 percent of your time on your goals, that’s a strong indication that you may be lacking focus. Consider what you’re actually doing when you think you’re working on your goals.

Cal Newport’s framework for thinking about work is useful here. Answering emails and taking meetings qualify as “shallow work,” meaning they have little to do with your goals. It’s not “deep work,” which is cognitively challenging and requires a lot of concentration and focus. The more time you can spend on deep work, the better your results will be, and the faster you’ll achieve your goals. The problem is that many of us equate shallow work with deep work. They’re not the same.

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to your morning and why you didn’t get more done, it may be because you’ve conflated deep work and shallow work. When this happens, you’re setting yourself up for diminishing returns and may be undermining other work and life outside of your goals.

So the lesson here is simple. Have goals, but don’t feel like they require tons of time. Plan on a little time each week, month, day - or whatever interval is appropriate. If you are consistent - even if the durations are short - you’ll get more of what you want done.

Start By Tracking Your Time Better — Much Better

Want to get more from your day even while you get more done? Use the Timeboost Goals feature.

If you use the Goals feature in Timeboost to link your time to your goals, you’ll probably see that even when you feel like you are really on top of things, you’re not actually spending a huge percentage of your time on your goals. More likely, you’re focusing regularly on your goals and spending the appropriate time on them consistently.

Timeboost makes it simple you to create goals and automatically track how much time you spend on them. You can also tie scheduled events in your day, such as meetings, to specific goals to understand if your calendar is optimized to meet your agenda.

As you start to visually see the time you’re spending on goals, you may realize (like countless other Timeboosters) that your goals don’t need that much time - just small amounts consistently. While you’re looking at the insights, take a look at the events and people that take up your time. Are they really helping you make progress on what’s most important to you? And remember that small, recurring periods of goal focus is the way to get those outcomes.

None of these insights would be possible if you didn’t take the time to track your time. Start today.

17 Productivity Gurus to Follow Right Now

At Timeboost, we want to make your time as efficient as possible. So, we’ve done the work of pulling together an excellent list of the most influential thought leaders in productivity and time management today, as well as their top tips. Follow these visionaries and learn from the best in the business. Your Twitter feed will thank you.

Let us know in the comments if we’re missing your favorite productivity master!

1. David Allen - “Stop focusing on your goals and get shit done”
The founder of Getting Things Done, Allen is revered in productivity circles for his famous methodology. GTD has passionate followers all around the world, especially in the worlds of tech and business. His foundational, five-step system will teach you how to get more done in less time with less stress. Allen’s famous Two-Minute Rule is also a great tip for Timeboosters: If you can take care of something in two minutes, get it off your plate right away.

2. Tim Ferris - “Start your day by writing down your intentions”

Ferris may be the most famous productivity guru in the world. The author of “The 4-Hour Workweek,” he has inspired millions of people to do more with their day and their lives. He’s a big believer in focusing on doing the right things first — not necessarily on doing things more efficiently. He recommends waking up an hour before you need to sit in front of a computer screen, and asking yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” His latest book, “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers,” is a must-read for Timeboosters.

3. Cal Newport - “Focus is the new IQ”
A professor at Georgetown University, Newport writes about how technology affects the world we live in. He’s best known for his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, in which he argues that the ability to focus on a “cognitively demanding” task without distraction has become one of the most valuable skills to master in the information age. Newport intentionally doesn’t tweet and, in fact, suggests that you quit social media in order to be more productive.

4. Laura Vanderkam - “Schedule a ‘power hour’ first thing in the morning”
One of the most noted productivity gurus out there, Vanderkam has authored books such as 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. She believes that the first step toward using your time more wisely is to actually track exactly how you’re spending it. (The Timeboost app can help with that.) Vanderkam says mornings tend to have an outsized effect on your productivity for the rest of the day. So focus on making the most of your mornings.

5. Shawn Blanc - “Use a productivity journal along the way”
The founder of Tools Toys and The Sweet Setup, Blanc is a productivity blogger with a rabid following. One of his top time-management strategies is to take five minutes after breakfast and schedule out his entire day. He schedules everything. That includes when he watches Netflix, when he takes a nap, and when he plays trains with his kids. “When I’ve got that plan for how I’m going to spend my time, and what I’m going to do when, I get more done during the day, and my day is significantly less stressful,” he writes.

6. Chris Bailey - “Time to take a break from your smartphone for the real world”
A passionate explorer of productivity since he was a teenager, Bailey is a speaker, author and consultant specializing in productivity. The author of the Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, he has performed countless experiments on himself to learn how to become the “most productive man you’d ever hope to meet,” as the TED Talks blog once described him.

7. Craig Jarrow - “Keep your to-do list sorted by priority”
Jarrow runs a popular and influential blog called Time Management Ninja, where he helps Timeboosters “win the battle against wasted time, disorganization, and all other things evil.” His blog posts have collected in a book, Crush Your Procrastination: The Best of Time Management Ninja.


8. Kayla Matthews - “There are benefits to being an early bird”
A tech journalist and blogger, Matthews writes frequently about the intersection of technology and productivity. She edits and manages the blog, Productivity Bytes, which covers tech news, tech-focused productivity tips, new apps, and gadgets.

9. Mike Vardy - “Always put YOU first”
One of the web’s leading productivity experts, Vardy is the former editor-in-chief of productivity site, Lifehack.org, and the creator of the Productivityist Podcast. His recent book, The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want, applies the game of golf to productivity and goal setting.

10. Leo Babauta - “Declutter for 15 minutes every day”
Author of a widely read blog, ZenHabits, Babauta has transformed his life by “focusing on one habit at a time.” He’s known as a minimalist and has helped others in this journey of mindfulness and simplicity with his Sea Change program. His teachings are also available in his book, Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly.

11. Annie Mueller - “Less creativity can make you more creative”
A widely published writer, Mueller delivers witty insights about productivity and work-life balance, often with funny stick-figure drawings. Her main motivation is to teach you how to take action. “Organization doesn’t matter as much as action,” she writes. You can get more tips in her book, The Freakishly Productive Guide to Taking Action.

12. Steve Pavlina - “Accept that many results require hard work”
A motivational speaker and writer, Pavlina runs one of the most popular personal development blogs on the web at StevePavlina.com. His central theme is conscious growth  “How we can deliberately invite, process, and integrate new growth experiences?” According to Pavlina, the biggest driver of growth is intelligence. Grab his free Kindle book here: Productivity: How to Triple Your Productivity Within a Month, and Do a Full’s Day Work in 90 Minutes.

13. Shane Parish - “Instead of thinking of ways to optimize your time, start thinking about ways you’re wasting your time”
Parish is the founder of Farnam Street, which teaches people how to be more effective readers to get more out of what they’re reading. His time management tips include working in 90-minute chunks, leaving 2-4 hours per day that are unplanned so you have time to think deeply, and stop reading books after 50 pages if you’re not getting enough out of them.

14. Erin Falconer - “Work smart, not just hard”
Falconer is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of productivity blog Pick the Brain, and the co-owner of LeafTV, a lifestyle destination for women. According to Falconer, “working smart is one of the biggest factors separating those who succeed and those who fail.” She says it’s critical to have a clear plan for each day and specific goals for what you want to achieve that day.

15. Elizabeth Saunders - “Invest your time like your money”
The founder of Real Life E, Elizabeth is a time management coach who helps entrepreneurs and other clients make smarter decisions with their schedules. She is the author of “The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: Achieve More Success with Less Stress.” One of her top tips is to say “no” as often as possible and just focus on what really matters to move forward with your goals.

16. Daniel Gold - “Always evaluate your effectiveness at the end”
An attorney and legal educator, Gold is best known for being an expert at using and optimizing Evernote, which he calls a “life management tool.” He uses the note-taking tool for everything, for his work, his blog, and his family life. Gold is also a fan of the Getting Things Done methodology. You can find all of his tips in his e-book, “Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done.”

17. Brian Tracy - “Success comes when you do what you love to do, and commit to being the best in your field”
A coach, consultant and speaker, Brian Tracy has developed many ways to make life more productive and rewarding. He’s an author of 70 different books, including Eat That Frog!: Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.