Everyone is busy, there aren’t enough hours in the day, time is money, etc. etc. etc. We’ve all heard the sayings, but if you work in sales, they take on a whole new meaning when the excuses could be the difference between arranging a promising meeting and missing your target for that month.
You can’t add hours to the day, everyone will always be busy, and prioritising your workload is tricky, but there are a few behaviours you can adopt that’ll streamline your activity and give your productivity a boost. Who doesn’t want that?
1. Nail your admin
Yay, admin! Who doesn’t love paperwork? Well, if you’re on the road most of the time and are at your happiest when speaking to people, probably you.
According to a 2018 survey, sales reps spend nearly two thirds of their time (64.8%), on activities that don’t generate revenue, only leaving the last third to actually get down to some sales activity. For field reps the numbers improve slightly, with 3.1% more time being spent selling than their office-based colleagues, but it’s far from ideal.
Take a look and see if there are any daily tasks that you can automate. If there aren’t, use your calendar to great effect, setting repeat deadlines at the beginning, middle or end of the month so that you’ll remember each time. A few little admin tasks will save you a lot of time in the long run.
2. Templates, templates, templates
Creating email templates is a sure-fire way to save yourself time. It sounds simple but it can be one of those things that gets overlooked when working in a slightly ad hoc way.
Obviously, the message must always be tailored to whom you're addressing, but having templates set up that cover key activities like scheduling meetings and arranging calls that you then simply add the detail into will save you buckets of time.
3. Have your to-do list ready
There’s nothing wrong with making a to-do list in the morning, but if you take some time to do it the evening before, you’ll walk in to an organised set of instructions for a new day, instead of needing to go into your emails and remind yourself what Wednesday’s priorities were.
If your momentum has well and truly left you in the last half an hour before you finish, take this time to make a list and ensure you’re ready to crack on in the morning.
4. One task at a time
There’s been some debate among neuroscientists around whether multitasking actually works, and the general consensus seems to be a no. When it comes to working in pharma sales you need to be able to think differently, with your tasks for just one day swinging between presenting a product, to taking part in a pre-meeting call, or managing your pipeline.
Instead of jumping between tasks try to group similar ones into a chunk of time, where you work methodically and it’s not too much of a mental game of table tennis for your brain.
For example, instead of completing all tasks for one prospect in one go - call, leave a voicemail, send a follow-up email, document in CRM, move on - think about performing the same task for multiple prospects in chunks, such as sending follow-up emails to multiple prospects. That way you’re not switching between tasks and instead are moving systematically through them collectively. Try it: see if it helps.
5. Fit in with your prospect
Several studies tell us that the optimum times to make contact with a prospect are either early morning – 8-9am, or late afternoon – 4-5pm. It will ultimately depend on what their day looks like, but logic says to stay away from 10am to lunchtime when they day is in full swing, and when a call from you is not going to be met favourably if it gets in the way of that much-needed sandwich.
There isn’t a 'one size fits all' rule, but these timeframes are a good place to start if you want to avoid wasting your time and accruing a lot of unanswered calls.
6. Be prepared to adapt
Whether you’re office-based or out in the field it’s inevitable that clients will cancel meetings. Really organised reps manage their time and territory so that in the event they get stood up they can move seamlessly on to the next activity, such as calling in on another nearby prospect to arrange a meeting.
It works for office-based reps as well. If a potential customer cancels their first call with you, stay in that exploratory mindset and spend that unexpected extra time reminding yourself of any other first-time calls you have booked. Don’t waste time trying to contact cold leads who aren’t prepared to hear from you, and whom you’re not prepared to pitch to.
7. Keep on truckin’
Had an amazing meeting? Going to smash your targets this month? Well done! Does this mean you can sit back and coast for the next week? We’re going to say, no.
Use positive experiences to fuel your next calls and appointments. Sure, maybe have a glass of something that evening, but when it comes to riding that wave of success, the best thing is to invest it right back into your next activities. Keep the momentum, don’t rest on it.
These are just a few tips and tricks to help your day run smoothly as a sales rep, and give your productivity a boost. Manage your time effectively and maybe those survey averages will start to look a bit more positive.