Time management for busy sales managers

The pressure on sales managers

As a manager, you’re responsible for the success of your whole team and there’s a pretty long list of important things you can’t afford not to do to achieve that. So it’s more important than ever to manage your time.

Why should you be intentional about it

It’s up there on the “things I know I should do list” with drinking more water, going to bed early and putting money in your savings account. But by putting effort into managing how you spend your time as a sales manager you’ll get a return on your investment that’s reflected directly in your results, because:

  • you’ll prevent the important things being deprioritised,
  • you’ll prevent that feeling of overwhelm you get when the admin piles up
  • you’ll be able to use your schedule to your own advantage – like planning high energy activities when you’re not already wiped out from staring at numbers.

OK but how?

Give yourself the best chance of success by following a few steps that take your current workload into account and having a plan for how to get back on track if (or when) things go a bit sideways.

Step 1: Audit what you currently do

  • Note how often you do it
  • Note how long it takes – realistically
  • Note the priority – meaning, the impact that it has on your success.

Step 2: Review your list

If you haven’t included them already, add:

  • Admin activities like goal setting and metrics tracking
  • Team management activities like hiring, onboarding, coaching and training, 1:1s and day to day support to help your reps on their deals
  • Interaction with other teams, like marketing or product
  • Reporting to leadership (and the preparation it involves)

Step 3: Play calendar Tetris

Starting with the highest priority activities that you identified earlier, start blocking out time in your schedule. Pay attention to the type of work so you can match it to your energy levels and avoid intensive brain activities when you’re likely to be exhausted.

Next, start slotting the rest of your work around those, taking into account when something is time sensitive like a fixed company meeting or an interaction across timezones with limited overlap.

Make sure you leave some breathing room for those inevitable things that will crop up and spill over. The other side of that is to look at the low priority things and do what you can to delegate, automate or see if you can drop it entirely (no harm in checking if the recipient of that report really values it).

TIP: Highlight your time sinks – those things that feel important, but don’t really have much impact or those things you know you enjoy and get sucked into the details so you lose track of time (you know, like creating pivot tables). You’re going to be extra mindful of where they creep in and derail your schedule.

As a very general example, consider something like this as a start:

  • Report generation and review in the morning (fresh brain)
  • Coaching sessions with your reps before lunch so ideas shared are fresh for the afternoon
  • Admin catch up / meetings afternoon
  • Email responses at the end of the day

Step 4: Put your schedule into action and be ready to refine it

It’s time to road test your plan.

Track and refine

If you’ve totally nailed it and everything works out from the start, congratulate yourself and keep going!

If you find that things don’t quite go to plan though, don’t panic.

Stop and review what happened so you can refine and improve. First, identify the cause of the distraction. Is it one particular thing that keeps taking more time than expected? Or did you underestimate how long everything would take? Then, you might need to revisit the schedule being realistic about how much time you spend on something. But just as important, if you miss one thing, do you consider the rest of the day a write off? Have a plan for how to jump back into your routine with minimal guilt. Decide to let the thing you missed go, or based on priority use a different time slot to catch up. If you’ve set things up so you have regular time in your day for specific activities you can get back on track easier after being sidetracked by an impromptu call/meeting/conversation.

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