Being a remote sales person can be tricky, and during a pandemic, no less! You want to get to know your prospects and be sensitive to their needs, but you also don't want to take up too much of their time (especially if they are difficult to pin down).
Sales time wasters could be the kink in your selling process.
Below are 5 common sales time wasters that we often hear about at CFS. In dissecting why people experience them, you may be able to set better time management expectations moving forward.
5 Common Sales Time Wasters:
1. Inability to say “no”
The inability to say “no” is when you are unable or feel powerless to refuse any request. It might be that you want to keep people happy, but in turn you bite off more than you can chew.
- You have many interests and want to be involved.
- You confuse or fail to set priorities.
- Do not want to hurt others' feelings, or find yourself over-promising by saying “yes” to too many things.
- Do not want to refuse a superior's request.
- Do not feel comfortable giving “real” reason and don't want to lie.
- Evaluate how much time is available, and be realistic. (If you lie to yourself, you'll be lying to others.)
- Understand limitations and what can be done well. People can appreciate a pragmatic perspective.
- Set daily and long-term priorities. Taking time to organize and prioritize your tasks can help when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- If time management is particularly difficult for you, look at how others you admire prioritize their needs.
- Learn to say “no” to people and tasks that do not support daily and long-term priorities.
Being honest with yourself and communicative with others will help your sales process. Colleagues will trust you if you say what you mean. Plus, it may even help you stand out as a salesperson!
2. Open door policy
An open door policy in this context refers to giving unlimited and unmonitored access to anyone who wishes to contact you. But in time, you end up prioritizing other people and their needs rather than your own.
- You want to be seen as supportive and available.
- You want the social interaction of people dropping in or calling whenever they feel like it. (Totally understandable in this isolating time!)
- You have trouble setting a boundary or saying “no” (see above).
- You find yourself using the interruptions as a way of procrastinating or justifying missed deadlines.
- Block off time to “close your door” (or be offline) and work on projects. Mark it on shared calendars and be upfront about your availability and time limits.
- Set aside time to call or video conference with co-workers weekly and stick to it. People like a reliable meeting schedule.
- Use alarms or timers to stay on track with activities, projects, and so on.
- Take a break from screens when you can. It can feel like we are on our devices all day. A break can help you recharge for the times when you need to be present.
Being productive is different from keeping busy. If you can set a strict standard of when you are available and when you are not to be reached, people will likely respect your boundaries.
3. Cluttered work space
Working from home has created a lot of challenges. A cluttered work space used to refer to a messy office, and now it could mean your makeshift work area in your living room or bedroom. This is particularly hard for parents of young kids who seem to have no trouble making a mess. But if you are able to spend even just 5 minutes decluttering your work area, you may feel more clear-headed.
- You see organizing and filing activities as a waste of time.
- You want everything in front of you, at your fingertips.
- Do not conceptualize a system for grouping information and materials.
- You feel too tired or burnt out to bother putting effort into your space.
- Set up (or have someone else set up) a functional work area. Maybe purchase a small paper sorter or lap trays so you can maximize the space in your home.
- Spend a few minutes before and after work cleaning up your space.
- Establish a time limit for certain projects and then only have the current project material out in front of you.
A cluttered area is uniquely unfortunate in this year of remote work, but if you can get creative in optimizing your space, you will feel better. Less mess, less stress.
4. Poor filing system
In transitioning to remote work, lots of businesses had to reevaluate how they store information. A poor filing system is one that has no predetermined method for subject matter grouping, one that you may understand but is not usable by others who need to retrieve information from your files. Thankfully, there are many online tools available to help with this problem.
- You have not determined or prioritized subject matter groupings.
- You categorize things using arbitrary ideas that seem random to others.
- You are overwhelmed at the thought of organizing (or even digitizing) such large amounts of data.
- Work with others to set up a cataloguing system so everyone is on the same page. Use cross-referencing indexes.
- Utilize tools that can help you keep organized and on schedule.
Procrastination is the process of delaying action, or the inability to begin action. It is the most common time management problem.
- Your priorities have not been set, or you do not not see projects or tasks clearly.
- You feel overwhelmed with commitments.
- You have a fear of failure, or hope that time will solve or eliminate the problem.
- Set goals and then check in with others so you are held accountable.
- Break large projects into small steps and work bit by bit.
- Remind yourself of the consequences if something doesn't get done, and offer yourself a small reward when something does get done. You can avoid the stress of putting something off until the last minute and feel good about yourself for accomplishing your goals (no matter how small).
Time management takes practice. Don't be discouraged if you aren't where you want to be on your first try. Start where you are.
What are other sales time wasters and solutions you've experienced? Let us know in the comments!