Do your sales reps have a daily schedule that they use as a guide each and every day? If not… it’s time to start enforcing this practice. Sales people, particularly at the expansion stage, are always juggling hundreds of balls at once — trying to generate new business, give demos, create contracts, negotiate, maintain current customers (particularly with a SaaS product/service where renewals are key)… and the list goes on. To stay on track, and I don’t care how senior the rep is, there needs to be some structure to be applied to the work day.
The salesday ritualistic approach is needed now more than ever…
Why? There are so many different distractions during the day, particularly for your reps. Sales people are naturally social creatures so its hard for them to resist the temptation of logging into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Gchat, etc to engaged with others.
Here is a sample schedule to share with your team, or to spark some ideas as to how you think your reps’ days should be organized. This will differ depending on your timezone and how advanced your team is, structured/divided in terms of responsibilities:
8:30-9:30 am – Check up on Email, follow-ups
9:30-11:30 am – Outbound prospecting (cold calling)
11:30-12:00pm – Follow up on emails to those you left a VM for
1:00pm – 2:00pm – Demos with new prospects
2:00pm – 4:00pm – Follow up hot prospects to push to close
4:00pm – 5:00pm – Touch base with current accounts
5:00pm – ??? – Plan next day and follow up on emails from the day
In my opinion, stressing to your reps that emails should not be responded to throughout the day (unless it is an urgent matter) is a necessity. Lets face it — we could all spend ALL day reading emails and responding to emails. One of the biggest distractions that professionals have now a days is constant noise coming at your from all directions — professionally and personally. Keep then non-urgent emailing to certain times during the day. It’s okay for your rep to NOT check his/her email for the hour that he/she is focusing on outbound prospecting.
One of the sales best practices processes that I have adhered to is planning my day in the evening before I leave my desk. Empower your reps by having them create their own schedules. If they prove that they are not managing their time appropriately, then it might be time to jump in and make suggestions. Make sure to address the schedule in your weekly retrospective.
Here is a video from motivational speaker and co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, Jack Canfield, on planning your work day in advance…
On a final note — practice what you preach. As an executive on your company’s management team, you clearly have developed best practices that have enabled you to be successful. However, if your team observes you following a schedule, they are sure to follow in your footsteps. Who knows — you might even find that getting into a more defined structure increases your productivity.