12 Time Management Strategies for Sales Reps in 2023

12 Time Management Strategies for Sales Reps in 2023

What amount of time each day do you expect your sales reps to actually be selling? Enter: The need for thoughtful sales time management strategies.

A study published in Forbes reports that the average salesperson spends just a third of their time selling. That leaves some 65% of their workday focusing on everything else they have to do and spending a lot of time on unproductive tasks.

At the top of your to-do list this year needs to be finding ways to stop sales teams from wasting time that could be used to sell.

Why? Because even modest increases can net big results. For example, if you can move the needle and get sales reps to spend 40% of their time selling rather than 35%, it would add more than 100 hours a year (or 13 full days) to their client-facing sales efforts.

Effective sales time management is crucial to growing revenue and developing consistent habits that lead to sustainable growth. In this article, we’ll look at the common time management mistakes sales leaders and sales reps make, how to avoid them, and ways to improve your sales efforts.

What is Sales Time Management?

Sales time management is the process of organizing and planning how to use the time you have for different sales activities. Effective time management helps you focus on the priority items within your workflow that are impactful and create more sales opportunities.

Time is finite. No matter how hard we try, we can’t expand the time we have. What you can do is use the time more efficiently.

Poor time management is one of the major reasons why sales teams fall short. When you consider that just 53% of salespeople are hitting their quotas, it’s clear something has to change. Effective time management provides:

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased focus on revenue-generating activities
  • Improved self-discipline
  • Prioritized sales pipelines

Using your valuable time more efficiently is crucial for success.

The Best Time Management Tips for Salespeople to Use Now

The sales process is a little different in every industry and organization, but time management hacks can help sales professionals no matter which company they work for. Managers will want to analyze workflow within their organization to see how their sales team is operating and look for areas that can be improved.

Time management is often a bit of trial-and-error, and requires constant feedback from internal teams to find the right balance. Here are some of the best time management strategies that sales managers and sales reps can use to improve sales performance.

1. Actively Remove Administrative Tasks

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “quiet quitting,” people that are putting in minimal effort at work. 2022 research from Gallup indicates that just 21% of employees are actively engaged in their workplace. If that ratio applies to your sales team, you’ll have serious trouble hitting your goals.

One of the best things you can do to improve time management and engagement is to review the administrative tasks salespeople have and eliminate them. These admin tasks take up time and can have a negative impact on team morale and performance.

While some admin tasks are necessary, sales reps can spend less time on them when you deploy the right sales stack of apps and tech tools. Automation is key to recovering wasted time.

As Allan Dib says in his book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan:

“Struggling business owners will spend time to save money. Successful business owners will spend money to save time.”

For example:

  • Consolidating your CRM with your phone dialer, email, texting, and video conferences can keep everything in sync
  • Automating background research on prospects
  • Using apps to track sales pipelines and manage leads
  • Deploying marketing automation for sales outreach and lead nurturing

There’s never enough time in the day to do everything, so the sales team must focus on the important tasks, prioritizing the jobs that lead to revenue.

2. Effective Pipeline Management

For most salespeople, 80% of the results they achieve come from 20% of the leads they’re working on. Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on the 20% of leads that generate 80% of the results?

I’ve never heard a rep answer no to this question. Yet, it’s rare that sales teams do this.

Your sales strategy should always focus on your highest-priority revenue-generating sales activities each day. You can improve your pipeline management dramatically by looking at your sales pipeline and setting your priorities each day. Look at your to-do list and ask yourself two simple questions:

  • What can I get done today that’ll have the biggest impact on my pipeline?
  • What can I get done today that’ll have the biggest impact on my targets?

Once you’ve done this, focus on those things first. Always begin your day with what truly matters, your most important tasks and biggest priorities.

Managing sales pipelines and deals is crucial to success. Sales managers can help keep teams focused by conducting sales pipeline review meetings and coaching reps on key actions to move deals forward.

3. Start Saying No

The workplace is full of distractions. Email, social media, industry news, conversations with coworkers, the latest TikTok challenge— the list is long and can be extremely time-consuming. It’s that text that comes in when you’re on a sales call that diverts your attention and causes you to lose focus and be less than fully engaged.

This makes it difficult to focus and prioritize your workday, but surprisingly, not because it’s hard to figure out the truly important things. The difficult part about prioritizing is that you have to say no to things that aren’t that important.

Saying no means that you’ll pass on opportunities and potentially miss out on a great deal or an easy win. All of this can trigger FOMO, and unchecked emotions can hijack good judgment. Your mind could begin conjuring up scenarios about how what you’re saying no to could turn out to be the next big thing. Then you might start to feel as if saying no to this is absolutely the wrong thing to do. What if you close the door on a great opportunity?

Doubt and wishful thinking are why managing your emotions are so crucial to success in sales. Constantly keep your eye on the ball. That’s what it takes to win.

4. Create Time Constraints

If you put time constraints on your tasks, you’re forced to get more work done in less time. RescueTime alternatives will help you to be more productive and successful.

For many sales reps, this can be as simple as blocking out times on your calendar to hyper-focus on specific tasks and allocating specific times to important items.

If you’re used to spending 60 minutes on sales calls, it will be difficult to handle the volume of calls you need to be successful. Planning your calls and approach or using sales scripts or talk tracks can help you focus these calls and reduce the time you take. Instead of 60 minutes, plan on 30-minute or even 15-minute calls that are more focused on the key items you need to discuss.

This can keep you on point and free up a lot of time for higher-priority tasks.

For managers who see their reps struggle with this, sales training on business development calls and role-playing with mock sales calls can help get your team focused and allow them to constantly be refining their approach.

5. Keep Sales Calls Short and to the Point

When you keep calls short and to the point, your clients will appreciate it too. This demonstrates that you respect their time. We call this selling like a boss because the people who rise to the top of an organization are typically the kind of people that are extremely mindful of the value of time.

Don’t spend 15 minutes trying to build rapport by talking about the weather and the prospect’s last vacation. Bring a game plan to each call. Before you pick up the phone, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Why am I calling?
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. How am I going to accomplish my goal?

These questions help develop your game plan. Staying focused on your agenda will also help keep your prospects on the phone.

6. Bucket and Group Your Tasks

Focus your energy by blocking out multiple hours per day dedicated to specific tasks and only concentrating on those. Bucket your tasks based on the activity and energy they require. This way, it’ll be easier to get more done.

When you jump on your first cold call of the day, you’re not going to be at your best immediately. But three, five, or perhaps eight calls later, you’re going to be warmed up. You’ll be in the zone at this point because you’ve managed the objections. By now you’ve closed a few deals and you’re killing it.

But if you make a couple of calls, then answer some emails, next do a little prospecting, or get distracted; you may never get in the zone.

The Best Time Management Tips for Salespeople to Use Now

7. Give Your Weekdays Different Themes

Another way to improve time management skills is to theme your days. For example, you might schedule all of your meetings for Mondays. Tuesday might be your prospecting day. You get the idea.

You may prefer to block out time periods instead. Maybe you’re at your best when you are fresh, so you want to block out three hours each morning for your cold calls. Or you might spend the first 15 minutes each day on email. While this may be different for each salesperson, the key is to focus energy on revenue-generating tasks. Scheduling high-priority items and sticking to the schedule makes sure you’re putting your best efforts into the most important items.

Bucket at least three to four hours for similar tasks, because the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

8. Stop Multitasking

We see salespeople writing an email to one prospect while they’re on the phone with another prospect or reviewing their pipeline during a meeting about improving their sales documentation. There’s always something.

The cost of switching from one thing to another accumulates into a lot of lost time. But more importantly, it’s the lost focus that causes the most damage. And that lack of focus leads to less productivity and ultimately lower quality work.

Everybody seems to think they're good at multitasking, but science says otherwise. In fact, researchers say there’s no such thing as multitasking. What you’re really doing is rapidly shifting between different tasks. This causes your brain to work harder and can exhaust your energy more quickly.

So, stop. Focus on one thing at a time.

You’re never going to reach peak performance if you keep switching between tasks throughout the day. Blocking out selling time and limiting distractions will improve sales productivity significantly.

9. Streamline Repeatable Tasks

Experienced salespeople often hate sales scripts and email templates, but there’s a reason to use them as a foundational element. It keeps you focused and stops wasting time. You don’t need to craft a brand-new way to approach potential customers every time you make a call or send an email. While you can—and should—personalize your approach to each prospect, using a template that’s refined over time generally leads to the best results.

Time is money. When you can save time on repeatable tasks, you recover lost time which can be focused on driving prospects through the sales pipeline and closing deals.

Sales automation and tech tools can help streamline processes, as can developing process documents and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

10. Outsource Scheduling

Scheduling consumes a lot of time for salespeople. That back and forth with prospects of trying to find a time that works for both of you is a total time-waster. Instead, consider outsourcing your scheduling for a more efficient way to get together with your prospects.

Here’s a full list of scheduling tools for salespeople.

Stop losing time working on your inbox and start closing deals instead. Searching in your calendar for dates to schedule meetings with prospects is not a good use of your valuable time.

11. Automate the Follow-Up

Sales follow-up is one of the most important elements of success in sales. Too many people don’t do this right or they don’t even do it at all.

Many salespeople still do this manually. They put a follow-up reminder in the calendar or stick it on a post-it note. This just means either more work or that things will fall through the cracks. All you’ll end up doing is wasting a lot of time because you didn’t have a good process in place and now you’ve lost the deal. Automating your follow-up emails is a simple way to keep things moving in your pipeline.

Whether you use our inside sales software or another tool to manage your follow-ups, you definitely don’t want to do it manually.

Pro Tip: Set up Sales Sequences in Close in just a few clicks—including phone, email, and SMS steps.

Sales Time Management With Sequences in Close

12. Use a CRM to Kill Manual Data Entry

Killing manual data entry is a mission of ours here at Close. Manually logging data in a CRM slows salespeople down and prevents them from performing at their best.

Doing the work and then documenting the work that you did is a very time-consuming task. When you use a tool like Close that automates as much as possible, you can do the actual work instead of spending time reporting on the work.

Whether it’s a call, an email, or a task, you want to use a tool that will automatically log everything for you.

Since Close acts as a hub of communication, all of your touchpoints with customers are logged automatically, and you can easily add custom notes when you need to. Close’s API can help you automate most of the tedious, repetitive processes involved in your sales process, and there’s an ever-growing library of out-of-the-box integrations through Zapier that you can use to connect Close with other apps in your software stack.

Lost Time is Never Found Again

We could easily turn this into 101 time management tips for salespeople because, frankly, there’s so much more you could be doing.

But here’s the bottom line: Start valuing your time more. Constantly ask yourself, “Is this thing that I’m currently doing the most valuable use of my time?”

Peter Drucker wrote the following for executives, but it applies just as much to sales reps:

"Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time."

Stop taking your time for granted and get more done in less time.

Get started by examining your workflow and your tech stack. An effective CRM and sales management tool such as Close will help to close the gap between admin-intensive tasks and improve team and sales efficiency. Watch a free, 10-minute demo or access your free trial of Close to start closing more deals today.