Tick tock, tick tock… sales management is all about time management!
The sales process isn’t easy—it involves a ton of organization, planning, and administrative tasks—and as you’ve probably discovered, time is at the crux of it all.
Whether you are a salesperson or a sales manager (or a CEO for that matter), you have likely found a variety of time sucks in your life: be it conversations that run too long or activities that take longer than expected. Because the nature of sales is so cyclical and dependent on movement, avoiding time sucks is critical.
So what is the best way to keep the pipeline full, the deals flowing, and still stay sane?
What is a Time Block?
If you aren’t familiar with a time block, I’m here to tell you that time blocking is an activity that can completely transform your performance when implemented in a disciplined way.
A time block is more than just a note in your calendar.
A time block is a system—one that requires that you actually follow it!
How to Time Block
If you’ve ever wondered how to fit prospecting, selling, follow up, networking, meetings, social media check-ins, and everything else on your to-do list into a neat little day, week, or month—here’s how:
- Plan it
Start small. Begin with a blank calendar, with each day divided into 30-minute time blocks (see the sample below). Next, make a list of all the activities and tasks that occur continuously—things like checking email and LinkedIn/social media, going to the gym, lunch, and other tasks that happen on a daily basis.
- Fill It Out
Start your time block by filling out the re-occurring tasks and activities first (use the list you created above to get going).
- Do you get allergy shots every Tuesday at 9am? Time block it!
- Do you check your email every day when you get to work at 8am? Time block it!
- Does your sales team have a standing meeting every Monday at 10am? Time block it!
Once you have the basics out of the way, fill in other areas that don’t happen on a daily basis but need to be blocked out. If you are a sales manager, this is a great place to block time for planning, reviewing KPIs and sales team goals, updating your Sales PlayBook, and time to work on new implementations and processes.
- Follow It
Be warned: creating a time block is half the battle.
Following your new, shiny time block is a whole other animal. It requires discipline to stick to the plan and during your first month following a time blocking system, it’s important to focus on staying on track.
- Share It
Let your co-workers and team members know that you are working on a time block and that following your schedule is a priority. If you block off time to work on a task that is thought-intensive and you do not want to be disturbed, let the team know—put a note on the door, an away message on your phone and email—whatever it takes to get the work done without distraction.
- Audit It
This is arguably the most important step after creating your initial time block. A time block will only work if you keep yourself accountable and stick to the plan. Unfortunately we can't always control everything in life—sometimes meetings pop up unexpectedly. As sales professionals, flexibility is necessary.
For this very reason I recommend running an audit on your time block every 2-4 weeks. Print a copy of your time block and check tasks off the block as you complete them each day, notating the time it took to complete that task.
Did you block off 30 minutes to check and reply to emails each morning but it took an hour instead? Did you block off an hour for your team meeting but it only took 30 minutes? It’s time to re-work the block and make it work for you.
Sales management takes significant discipline. If time seems to be slipping through your fingers each day—try time blocking! You will be pleasantly surprised to see your productivity and success grow as you stay organized.
Interested in learning more about time management? Want the time blocking template provided in this article? Download our free resource on Time Management and you'll be on your way to a well-managed business and personal life!