Does your sales team spend hours in meetings, on admin work, and prospecting aimlessly, yet somehow never quite has enough time for selling? Do mediocre results, frustrated reps, and high turnover plague your sales department? If so, it’s time to take control of your team’s calendar and transform those wasted hours into increased deals and revenue. This comprehensive guide reveals battle-tested sales time management techniques along with principles for leading high-performance sales teams. From prioritizing high-ROI activities, to leveraging sales technology, to coaching and motivating reps, unleash the untapped potential of your sales force now. Optimize efficiency, exceed targets, and build an unstoppable revenue machine with the strategies contained herein. The clock starts now!
Introduction to Sales Time Management
Time is money. Nowhere is this more true than in sales, where wasted hours and distractions can directly translate to deals lost and revenue left on the table. Unfortunately, time management is one of the biggest daily struggles for sales professionals. Between competing priorities, admin work, meetings, and constant interruptions, many reps feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle just to carve out enough quality selling time in their day.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore proven strategies and techniques to master sales time management. But first, let’s look at why it’s so critical in the first place.
The Never-Ending Time Crunch in Sales
Talk to practically any salesperson, and you’ll hear similar laments. There’s simply too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. On any given day, sales reps need time for crucial revenue-driving activities like:
- Prospecting and lead generation
- Conducting research on accounts and contacts
- Making outbound calls to connect with prospects
- Following up on outstanding leads via phone, email, and social media
- Scheduling and conducting demos or presentations
- Managing opportunities through the pipeline
- Creating proposals and quotes
- Consulting with marketing on enablement materials
- Entering data, contacts, and notes into CRM
- Attending sales meetings and trainings
- Responding to prospects’ questions and objections
- Closing deals at the end of the cycle
And that’s not even considering all the administrative work salespeople get saddled with – filing paperwork, submitting expenses, updating spreadsheets, attending company meetings, responding to emails, and other mundane tasks.
With such a tall order, it’s no wonder reps feel stretched thin. In fact, studies show sales professionals spend only around 35% of their time actually selling. The rest is eaten up by other duties.
Salespeople Are Overworked Yet Underproductive
With so little time spent on revenue-generating activities, it’s not surprising sales teams often fall short of targets. According to CSO Insights, 57% of sales reps missed quota in recent years. That’s over half the sales force!
While there are many factors that go into sales performance and attainment, insufficient selling time is certainly a contributor. It’s logical that reps who spend more hours prospecting, presenting, negotiating, and closing will outperform those who spend workdays mired in busywork.
Making matters worse, organizations can’t simply solve underperformance by working reps harder. The sales profession already suffers from grueling schedules, with long hours being the norm. Studies indicate:
- 63% of salespeople work more than 40 hours per week.
- Half work over 50 hours per week, including nights and weekends.
- 1 in 4 sales reps works over 60 hours weekly.
These extended hours take a toll in the form of burnout and turnover. The average annual turnover rate across sales teams hovers around an alarming 30-35%](https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/employee-turnover-rate). Some segments like tech sales exceed [40%.
Losing sales reps is hugely expensive for organizations. Between hiring, onboarding, and ramp time for replacements, the cost to replace a departed employee is estimated at 1.5 to 2x their annual salary.
The Revenue Impact of Ineffective Time Management
Taken together, these statistics paint a gloomy picture of overworked, underperforming sales teams falling short of goals while experiencing mass defections. Clearly, something needs to change.
While there are many facets to improving sales force effectiveness, better time management is a major piece of the puzzle. Consider that:
- Lost selling time directly equates to lost sales opportunities. Every hour wasted is potential revenue left on the table.
- Sales reps who spend more time selling will naturally be more productive and exceed quotas.
- Reducing burnout through efficiency will lower turnover rates.
- Activities like lead generation and follow-up need consistent time investment to gain momentum.
- Automating repetitive administrative tasks frees up selling capacity.
- Superior time management and scheduling means smoother-running sales operations.
In summary, mastering sales time management promotes productivity, achievement of targets, and retention of top talent – ultimately leading to sustained revenue growth and a healthier bottom line. It should be a top priority for sales leaders and reps alike.
Now that we’ve established the enormous potential impact of improving time management, let’s explore some proven techniques and strategies.
Sales Time Management Tips and Techniques
Now that we’ve outlined the importance of mastering sales time management, let’s explore some proven strategies top reps use to maximize their selling time and achieve sales excellence.
Prioritize High-ROI Activities
With only so many hours in the day, salespeople must ruthlessly prioritize the activities that will yield the greatest return on their time investment. ROI thinking also aligns with the 80/20 principle, which states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of activities.
For sales roles, calls and emails directly to qualified prospects, presenting demos, negotiating deals, and closing new business rank among the highest ROI activities. Lead generation, research, CRM data entry, and other administrative work carry lower, but still necessary, ROI potential.
To optimize their time, sales reps should devote the bulk of their efforts to high-value activities, limiting lower-ROI tasks to the minimum needed. This requires establishing solid workflows and processes to handle necessary admin work efficiently. We’ll cover some ways to accomplish that shortly.
Group Similar Tasks Via Time Batching
Batching similar activities to work on collectively can boost efficiency compared to constantly context switching between different tasks and mindsets.
For example, a sales rep could batch all their prospecting calls together in the morning while in an outbound dialing mindset, then switch to catching up on emails in the afternoon. Friday afternoons might be reserved for updating CRM records to end the week.
Whatever works best, grouping related tasks cuts down on distractions, allows salespeople to get into a flow, and avoids productivity lag from constantly ramping up/down.
Here are some common sales activities that lend themselves well to time batching:
- Prospecting calls
- Email outreach and follow-up
- CRM data entry and updating records
- Researching accounts and contacts
- Conducting demos and presentations
- Preparing proposals and quotes
- Analyzing reports and performance data
Get in the habit of batching similar tasks together in blocks on your calendar. You’ll maximize focus and efficiency.
Limit Multitasking and Context Switching
While batching groups related tasks together, sales reps also need to minimize jumping between different activities and systems concurrently. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking and context switching severely hinder productivity rather than enhancing it.
Studies show multitasking reduces productivity by 40% as the brain struggles to refocus with each switch. Just glancing at emails or taking a call while writing a client proposal causes costly distractions.
Likewise, context switching from an analytical task like data reporting to a creative endeavor like crafting a sales pitch hampers performance on both fronts.
To maximize focus and efficiency, sales reps should strive to limit multitasking by:
- Silencing notifications and closing unneeded browser tabs and programs while working to reduce interruptions.
- When possible, completing one task fully before moving to the next task.
- Declining impromptu meeting invites when focused on a project with a deadline.
- Blocking time on the calendar to tackle important tasks without distraction.
- Removing mobile devices during strategic thinking activities.
- Planning adequate time for different mindsets – analytical, creative, detail-oriented.
While today’s sales world requires some task switching and parallel efforts, consciously minimizing it goes a long way.
Automate Administrative Tasks
Sales roles still involve plenty of repetitive administrative work – data entry, updating CRMs, filling out forms, compiling reports, etc. These tasks are necessary, but eat into selling time. Where possible, sales reps should investigate ways to automate these activities.
Many sales tools now offer automation capabilities using workflows, triggers, and templates. For instance:
- CRMs can automatically log emails, calls, and meetings with prospects then attach them to contact records.
- Meeting scheduler apps send customized calendar invites and confirmations without manual effort.
- Email tools like Mixmax and HubSpot enable templated outreach at scale.
- Custom reporting and dashboards output performance data on schedule.
Explore what automation options are available through your existing sales stack and look to expand if needed. The right workflow automation relieves sales reps of hours of repetitive tasks each week, freeing them up to have more human conversations that drive revenue.
“Eat the Frog” – Tackle Unpleasant Tasks First
Sales roles, like any job, involve activities that individuals find tedious, difficult, or otherwise unpleasant. For sales reps, this may be tasks like cold calling, filling out lengthy proposal forms, analyzing complex reports, or updating old-school CRM software.
Since humans inherently procrastinate on unfavorable tasks, salespeople often delay and avoid their “frog” activities altogether, which only breeds stress and hurts productivity.
To break this habit, embrace the “eat the frog first” strategy – tackle your least appealing task at the very start of your day or week before you lose motivation or get distracted. This shifts your mindset from dread to accomplishment early on, and ensures you don’t end up neglecting the important “frog” indefinitely.
Plan out your frog and get it out of the way so you can move on to more favorable and rewarding tasks. Rid yourself of that nagging dread.
Prepare for Cancellations and Pivots
Despite carefully planned schedules and calendars, sales reps inevitably experience events getting canceled or rescheduled at the last minute – a demo derailed due to a sick client, a meeting postponed because requirements changed, a call cut short by a fire drill.
While unavoidable, these disruptions totally Sidetrack sales reps who fail to prepare for possible cancellations and redirects. Savvy salespeople proactively anticipate potential pivots in their daily agenda and have contingency options ready, so they don’t miss a beat.
Some wise preparation tips include:
- Maintaining a running list of outstanding tasks that can easily fill cancellations.
- Keeping sales collateral, enablement materials, or reports handy that you can review or catch up on if time frees up.
- Rescheduling another appointment in the cancellation’s time slot if feasible.
- Batching smaller related tasks together earlier in the day in case higher-priority items fall through.
- Having an alternate computer accessible if you need to work remotely due to office issues.
With the right mindset, sales reps can adapt smoothly to changing circumstances instead of wasting hours of their suddenly free time.
Reduce Distractions and Focus on One Task
Modern technology provides sales reps an unending stream of disruptive distractions – messaging apps, email notifications, calls, meeting pings – threatening to derail focus and fragment time. To maximize their effectiveness, sales professionals must minimize distractions.
Common techniques to reduce distractions include:
- Setting devices and notifications to “do not disturb” for stretches of heads-down work.
- Closing out all apps and browser tabs beyond those needed for the current task.
- Using website blockers like Freedom or website blacklist tools to restrict access to distracting sites during work blocks.
- Scheduling Focus Time or Do Not Disturb blocks of 1-2 hours for high-priority strategic work.
- Identifying your most common distractions and consciously monitoring them – act don’t react.
- Working from locations with fewer disruptions – the library, conference rooms.
- Batching deep work before meetings and appointments consume your afternoon.
- For teams – instituting “quiet hours” when unnecessary pings and calls halt.
With practice, sales reps can train themselves to focus for longer periods of time and avoid reflexively switching between tasks and notifications. The result is greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Create Repeatable Sales Processes and Leverage Templates
Consistent, repeatable processes for conducting sales enable reps to master and streamline various activities, reducing the time they require. Well-defined processes also make it easier to onboard new sales team members.
Ideally, salespeople should develop repeatable workflows for critical tasks like:
- Lead generation and prospect research
- Crafting email outreach templates for different stages
- Conducting discovery calls and demos
- Managing opportunities through the pipeline
- Creating quotes and proposals
- Following up and nurturing leads
- Entering contacts and data into CRM
The right templates and checklists provide structure for various processes:
- Email templates personalized for prospects
- Standardized demo outlines that can be tailored
- Discovery call scripts with common questions
- Proposal and contract templates with key sections complete
- Client analysis frameworks and worksheets
The more selling situations sales reps can codify into a defined process or workflow, the less time they’ll need to reinvent the wheel or recreate basic materials.
Enforce Time Constraints
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time available.” Said another way, tasks have a tendency to consume however much time you allocate to them.
Salespeople can leverage this phenomenon to increase efficiency by setting tight time constraints for various activities through time blocking. The reality of a looming deadline focuses energy on working smarter within the allotted window.
For instance, limiting prospect research to 30 minutes instead of leaving it open-ended incentivizes reps to zero in on absolutely vital info rather than falling down rabbit holes.
Popular time constraint methods like the Pomodoro Technique leverage 25 or 50-minute work sprints separated by short breaks to maintain maximum focus. This intervals system forces salespeople to make the most of each timed work block.
Whatever durations make sense, allocating defined time windows for tasks ignites sales reps’ productivity and sense of urgency. And over time, those efficiencies compound.
With the right systems, mindsets, and technologies in place, sales teams can overcome time management challenges and maximize their selling capacity. Small individual gains in efficiency, when multiplied across reps, add up to huge increases in revenue and customer engagement.
Mastering productivity isn’t easy given the demands modern sales professionals face. But implementing even a few of the above tips can spur major improvements over the old status quo. Use these strategies to claim back hours lost to distractions and inefficiency.
The key is to think critically about how you allocate every hour and ensure activities align to priorities. Get your sales time management house in order, and your team will be primed for sales success.
Keys for Managing a High-Performance Sales Team
Beyond personal time management, sales leaders also face the monumental task of managing entire teams to execute sales strategies and exceed revenue goals. What does it take to build and lead a sales team that consistently fires on all cylinders?
Though each organization is unique, certain foundational elements underpin all elite sales departments. Let’s explore some of the key ingredients for sales management success.
Hire Top Talent Aligned with Company Values
They say people are every company’s greatest asset. That maxim especially holds true in sales, where rep performance directly drives revenue. As sales manager, your hiring decisions single-handedly shape the team’s capability and culture.
Some best practices when recruiting new sales reps include:
- Seek candidates whose values and workstyles align with the company’s vision and principles. Chemistry matters.
- Emphasize competencies like coachability, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence over credentials alone.
- Beyond sales aptitude, evaluate candidates’ collaboration and teamwork abilities.
- Avoid clones by hiring diverse personalities to build rapport with different prospects.
- When possible, include reps from other departments in the interview process.
- Ask candidates to walk through how they would handle certain sales scenarios.
While it takes longer upfront, being highly selective and strategic with sales hires pays off exponentially. One “bad apple” can poison team morale and performance.
Set Clear SMART Goals and Quotas
To lead a sales team effectively, managers must set clear expectations by defining SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals tied directly to company growth objectives.
Well-constructed goals provide direction and motivate reps to push themselves. Managers should collaborate with reps to set targets just beyond their comfort zone.
Examples of effective sales goals:
- Increase average deal size by 15% in Q3 and Q4.
- Grow new customer acquisition by 30% year-over-year.
- Achieve 85% individual quota attainment by December 31.
- Upskill all reps on value messaging frameworks by end of Q2.
- Complete 900 cold calls per week as a team by year-end.
Specifying measurable targets and deadlines gives teams clarity on expectations. Just be sure goals stretch but don’t overwhelm reps.
Define Sales Model: Island vs. Assembly Line Structure
Sales departments organize their people and activities in two primary structures:
Island Model – Reps function as solo islands, independently managing the entire sales process themselves from initial prospecting to closed deal.
Assembly Line Model – Specialized sales roles focus on specific pipeline stages in a sequential flow – SDR prospecting → AE nurturing → Account Manager onboarding → CSM adoption.
The optimal model depends on several factors:
- Company size – Islands allow small teams to be full service while assembly lines promote scale.
- Product complexity – Islands have end-to-end knowledge while assembly lines develop functional depth.
- Sales cycle – Short, transactional sales favor islands while long enterprise sales benefit from assembly lines.
- Resources – Islands require generalist skills while assembly lines allow specialized expertise.
There is no universally superior model. As sales leader, analyze your situation to select the approach that aligns best.
Establish Sales Methodology and Processes
Every sales team needs an established process and methodology for moving prospects through the pipeline effectively to closed deals. Documenting best practices around:
- Lead generation activities
- Discovery questions and qualification
- Presentation frameworks
- Quote creation
- Negotiations and closing
- Customer onboarding
…provides institutional knowledge and ensures consistency across reps. Codifying this methodology also eases training new hires.
Again, resist over-engineering a complex process. Focus on milestones and guidelines flexible enough to adapt based on deal specifics.
Create Effective Onboarding and Training Programs
Thoroughly training sales reps at the start and constantly throughout their tenure is table stakes for sales excellence. But shockingly, less than 20% of companies have formal sales onboarding programs.
This oversight cripples new reps, wasting months before they can operate effectively. Sales leaders must prioritize ongoing education via:
- Structured onboarding – 4-8 week bootcamps covering sales methodology, tools, and culture.
- Mentorship and shadowing – Partnering new reps with veteran mentors for hands-on learning.
- Constant training – Sales-specific skills development, latest product enhancements, evolutions to the process.
- External conferences/events – Relevant industry events to expand thinking and skills.
- Workshops and guest speakers – Curated sessions on specialized sales topics.
- Micro-learning/e-learning – Bite-sized daily lessons and refreshers.
- Assessments – Quantify progress and competency development through regular knowledge checks.
Great sales teams constantly sharpen their sword. Training cannot end after onboarding.
Implement Sales CRM and Relevant Technology
Sales tools and technology enable consistency, scalability, and transparency within growing sales teams. Leaders must evaluate and provide reps the systems needed to excel, rather than expecting success using disjointed spreadsheets, notes, and tribal knowledge.
- CRM platform – Centralize prospect/customer data, pipeline tracking, and forecasting.
- Dialers – Enable efficient high-volume calls.
- Email outreach – Automate and personalize outbound email campaigns.
- Conversation intelligence – Transcribe and analyze sales calls to surface coaching opportunities.
- Lead/list generation – Identify qualified prospects fitting ideal customer profiles.
- Proposal automation – Streamline creation of quotes and proposals.
As with processes, focus on core sales enablement without overwhelming reps with a complex tech stack. Monitor usage data and seek feedback to ensure tools are truly supporting team productivity.
Incentivize and Motivate Reps
Sales compensation via commission provides strong extrinsic motivation, but sales leaders should layer on public recognition, contests, leaderboards, and other programs to spark the team’s competitive fire.
Effective motivation incentives:
- Peer recognition – Call out top performers publicly in meetings and emails.
- Contests/spiffs – Offer prizes or bonuses for standout results over defined periods.
- Leaderboards – Display real-time performance and recognition.
- Presidents Club – All-expenses trip to reward annual club of top sellers.
- Sales conferences – Send top reps to high-profile events.
- Internal promotions – Elevate exceptional reps to sales leadership roles.
Programs like these boost performance while fostering aspirations to join upper echelon.
Provide Frequent Coaching and Actionable Feedback
The 2017 Corporate Executive Board reported that sales reps receiving quality coaching exceeded quotas by 38% on average. Yet shockingly, less than 3% of sales leaders spend significant time coaching reps.
This represents a massive missed opportunity. Frequent coaching allows managers to provide highly targeted guidance based on rep strengths/weaknesses.
- Effective coaching focuses on incremental improvement, not major overhauls.
- Listen to call recordings and analyze rep language patterns.
- Review CRM data to detect activity inconsistencies.
- Role play scenarios for discovery, presentations, closing.
- Share observations to reinforce positive behaviors, not just criticize.
Just be sure to balance inspection and guidance so reps feel supported, not criticized.
Create Transparency with Sales Leaderboards
Some sales leaders wrongly avoid internal transparency, fearing poor performers will disengage if results highlight shortfalls. In fact, transparency promotes collaboration and healthy competition – provided team culture is strong.
Shared sales reports, dashboards, and leaderboards give reps insight to calibrate their own performance. And nothing drives overachievement like seeing colleagues just ahead on rankings.
Balance recognition of top performers with empathy for strugglers. Transparency should motivate, not discourage.
Celebrate Team and Individual Successes
Speaking of recognition, sales teams thrive when victories both big and small are acknowledged and celebrated consistently:
- Start meetings with shoutouts of standout performances.
- Send teamwide praise emails highlighting major wins and milestones.
- Gather monthly for happy hours or lunches to celebrate successes.
- Award plaques, certificates, or other symbols of achievement.
- Get creative – have execs dress in costumes on Halloween if team hits Q3 goals.
Recognizing excellence boosts team pride. And positive reinforcement of desired activities helps them continue. Reinforce wins.
Sales Manager Responsibilities
Now that we’ve covered core management principles, let’s detail key responsibilities sales leaders own to maximize team effectiveness.
Oversee Hiring and Onboarding
Our first two sections emphasized the immense impact of strategic hiring and thorough onboarding. Sales leaders play an integral role shaping processes to continuously influx high-potential new reps and train them for success.
Set Goals and Quotas
Sales leaders must translate company objectives into clear expectations and targets for both the department and each rep. Goals provide direction while inspiring peak effort.
Assign Territories and Accounts
For field sales teams, managers must deploy reps across geographic regions in a strategic fashion that balances opportunity, experience, and other factors.
Enterprise sales leaders allocate named accounts to optimize relationships.
Monitor Pipeline and Activity Metrics
Leaders must have real-time visibility into sales pipeline health and reps’ lead generation activities. Is deal volume growing? What activities most directly convert to wins? Where are bottlenecks? Analytics inform coaching.
Identify Bottlenecks Impacting Velocity
Beyond monitoring metrics, leaders must diagnose root causes of pipeline issues slowing velocity – poor hand-offs between roles, inadequate lead volume, missing collateral, etc. Identify obstacles for removal.
Coach Reps and Provide Feedback
We’ve stressed the immense performance gains realized through consistent coaching focused on incremental improvement. Leaders coach across selling skills, product knowledge, CRM usage, and other competencies.
Motivate Team and Boost Morale
Leaders rally the team during challenging times, spotlight achievements, facilitate collaboration, inject fun, and show employees their contributions matter. Savvy sales leaders inspire.
Analyze Performance Data
Data-driven analysis of activity metrics, deal forecasting, win/loss post-mortems, and pipeline trends informs coaching, process refinement, and strategic shifts to keep the organization headed in the optimal direction.
Report Forecast and Results to Executives
While directors manage the sales team itself, sales leaders serve as the functional experts that guide executives. Informed by data, leaders propose and justify strategic initiatives to executives and report on forecasted results.
Sales Team Structure Considerations
We’ve touched on team structure options like islands versus assembly lines. Now let’s explore additional structural considerations sales leaders contend with:
Islands vs. Assembly Lines
Islands have more ownership over relationships but assembly lines allow specialization and scale. Assess carefully when designing team structure.
From SDRs nurturing inbound leads to CSMs ensuring renewals, specialized roles in the assembly line model maximize expertise in each pipeline phase.
Centralized vs. Distributed
Centralized teams work at one location while distributed teams work across geographies. Both models present tradeoffs sales leaders must reconcile.
Generalist vs. Niche/Vertical Focus
Some teams take a generalist approach selling across markets while others organize by industry vertical, product line, or buyer persona. Again, pros and cons exist depending on products and sales complexity.
Row vs. Pod/Cell Organizational Structures
Beyond central versus distributed teams, additional frameworks like account pods divide teams into mini groups that collaborate deeply on shared accounts as one unit.
Assess each structural consideration carefully based on what will maximize success in your scenario.
Performance Management Principles
Managing team performance represents a nuanced balancing act for sales leaders. Adhere to these principles:
Track Quantitative Sales Metrics
Routinely tracking activity metrics for calls made, pipeline created, and deals closed provides objective visibility into team and individual effectiveness.
Review Qualitative Factors
Beyond the numbers, appraise softer skills like work ethic, motivation, product knowledge that impact long-term success.
Provide Consistent Feedback and Coaching
Continuous feedback focused on incremental progress provides the guidance reps need to reach their potential.
Address Underperformance Promptly
When metrics reveal chronic underperformance, leaders must confront issues quickly and directly to correct trajectories.
Reward Top Performers
Acknowledge and incentivize consistent excellence among team members through compensation, recognition, and growth opportunities.
Seek Input on Challenges
Solicit honest input from reps on any hurdles impeding their productivity or morale. Great leaders listen.
Sales Metrics to Track
- Calls made, meetings booked, demos scheduled
- Sales cycle length
- Win rate by rep, team, product, deal size
- Average deal size
- Activity metrics like emails sent, touches made
Qualitative Factors to Assess
- Product knowledge
- Rapport with prospects
- Handling objections
- Closing skills
- Collaboration with team members
- Adherence to processes
Building and leading high-performance sales teams requires immense attention across hiring, onboarding, ongoing training, technology implementation, compensation, and constant performance analysis.
But organizations that invest in developing elite sales departments reap the rewards many times over in the form of delighted customers, recurring revenue, and reduced turnover.
While certainly not easy, implementing the approaches above positions any sales leader for management success. Master these fundamentals, and executing even the most challenging sales strategies becomes much simpler.
Creating an Environment for Sales Excellence
Beyond strategies and skills, sales leaders must foster a motivational environment where reps feel inspired to exceed goals and take ownership of collective success.
Culture and morale can be nebulous concepts, but when harnessed effectively, they empower teams to achieve more together than individually. Let’s examine ways leaders can nurture culture for sales excellence.
Foster Culture of Healthy Competition
Sales roles are inherently results-driven positions where hunger for success is a job requirement. Savvy sales leaders recognize this drive and actively promote healthy team competitiveness through:
- Leaderboards – Displaying real-time rankings recognizing top performers.
- Contests – Focus competition around specific metrics or campaigns.
- Visible performance data – Share reports highlighting rep and team productivity.
- Recognition – Praise top performers publicly.
The key is cultivating an environment where competition pushes colleagues to maximize collective success, not undermine each other. Frame competition as “team versus market” rather than internal.
Celebrate Team Wins
Speaking of recognition, consistent acknowledgement of group accomplishments, both big and small, makes successes feel like shared wins.
- Start meetings with shoutouts of milestones achieved.
- Send team-wide praise emails when quotas are exceeded.
- Gather monthly to casually celebrate major deals closed.
- Award plaques, certificates, trophies to commemorate surpassing goals.
- Get creative – hire a marching band to surprise team after a huge quarter.
Marking wins, no matter how incremental, reinforces desired behaviors.
Encourage Collaboration and Cross-Training
While healthy internal competition has benefits, an overly siloed “lone wolf” atmosphere can also emerge where reps have little visibility into each other’s efforts. Savvy leaders foster collaboration through:
- Account hand-offs – Ensure smooth transitions between roles.
- Social events – Host outings/happy hours to connect socially.
- Cross-training – Allow reps to exchange tips and techniques.
- Team goal setting – Facilitate collaborative sessions to define shared objectives.
This spirit of camaraderie enhances information sharing, problem-solving, and best practice propagation across the team.
On the flip side, leaders must also actively eliminate divisive silos between sales and fellow departments that impede communication and alignment.
Marketing may blame sales for inferior leads. Customer success may grumble about sales overpromising. But when departments actually understand each other’s realities through cross-functional meetings and training, relationships improve.
Solicit Rep Feedback
Sales leaders should frequently collect candid input directly from frontline reps on pains impeding their productivity or job satisfaction. But salespeople are often reluctant to volunteer such feedback unprompted. Leaders must actively survey and probe.
Create conduits like anonymous surveys, open office hours policies, and informal lunches where reps feel safe surfacing blockers. Acting on this feedback enhances culture tremendously.
Provide Needed Tools and Resources
We’ve stressed the sales productivity tools leaders must supply like CRM, dialers, and conversation intelligence. But managers must also equip reps with the critical enablement resources they need to succeed with prospects:
- Messaging and positioning guidance
- Competitor intelligence reports
- Battlecards addressing common objections
- Presentation templates
- Proposal and contract templates
- Segment-specific collateral
Leverage marketing ops, product marketing, and other partners to ensure your team has resources to win. No excuses.
Empower Reps with Data Insights
Data often flows to sales leaders and customer success, but fails to reach frontline reps trying to improve performance. Savvy managers empower reps by:
- Sharing activity data like calls made, emails sent, pipeline created.
- Analyzing trends in sales stages, proposal approvals, deal lengths.
- Providing account insights like buyer personas, lifetime value.
- Reviewing rankings vs. team peers.
Data visibility motivates improvement while decreasing conjecture on performance issues.
Maintain Transparent Compensation Structure
Nothing demotivates a sales team faster than opaque compensation practices reps perceive as unfair or inconsistent. Leaders must:
- Establish clear formulas and policies for base, commission, bonuses.
- Communicate updates and modifications well in advance.
- Explain new hire package discrepancies respectfully.
- Ensure payout accuracy.
While compensation discrepancies are unavoidable, transparency relieves tensions.
Sales Team Motivation Tactics
Beyond compensation and culture, sales leaders employ a variety of tactics to keep their team consistently motivated and performing at peak levels:
Public Recognition and Rewards Programs
Visibility into performance against peers combined with acknowledgment of standout reps keeps motivation high. Monetary rewards provide additional incentive.
Individual and Team Competitions
Friendly competitions, big and small, within the team ignite the natural sales instinct to compete and win. Design contests around desired activities and behaviors.
Inspire with Stretch Goals
Set team goals slightly beyond existing capabilities. The push to rise collectively and achieve something extraordinary drives remarkable efforts.
Enable Professional Development
Invest in reps’ growth through skills training, workshops, certificates, and events. People are motivated when they feel their careers have momentum.
Demonstrate that top performers will progress quickly through defined career advancement paths within the organization.
Foster Culture of Excellence
Embedding concepts of excellence, performance, and peer accountability into the team’s identity inspires individuals to uphold team standards.
Avoiding High Turnover
With turnover rates averaging 30-35% annually across sales teams, leaders must purposefully foster an environment where top talent wants to remain for the long-haul.
Hire for Culture Fit
Skills can be developed, but ethics and values are far harder to mold. Lead with culture.
Set new reps up for success with structured multi-week onboarding plans. Early wins create momentum.
Set Clear Expectations and Provide Coaching
Remove blindspots on how reps will be judged and manage them with consistent coaching focused on growth.
Learning cannot end after onboarding. Expand reps’ capabilities throughout their tenure.
Autonomy with Support
Micromanagement stifles rockstars. Give proven performers space to excel while supporting development.
Mentorship and Growth Opportunities
Let ambitious reps stretch via internal promotions, lateral moves, special projects, and leadership opportunities.
Maintain Competitive Compensation
Underpaying leverages short timers. Align earnings to value delivered.
Promote Work-Life Balance
Burnout has massive downstream costs. Enable work flexibility and reasonable hours when possible.
Sales management requires equal parts strategy, metrics, and “soft skills” around culture, morale, and motivation. Skilled leaders adeptly blend these elements to spur teams to remarkable shared success.
While certainly challenging, know that through authenticity, transparency, empowerment, recognition, development, and care for their people, leaders can build sales teams that accomplish amazing things together. By implementing the approaches detailed here, you’re well on your way.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
We’ve covered an extensive range of strategies and principles for sales time management and team leadership. Let’s recap the major takeaways:
Summary of Time and Team Management Best Practices
- Prioritize high-ROI activities – Focus efforts on initiatives directly tied to revenue generation.
- Leverage sales technology – CRM, automation, analytics, and other tools optimize efficiency.
- Implement consistent sales processes – Documented best practices ensure repeatability.
- Batch similar tasks – Group related activities to minimize task switching.
- Limit multitasking – Handle one task at a time for maximum focus.
- Conquer “frogs” – Tackle unpleasant but important tasks first.
- Map efficient routes – Optimize travel time for field reps.
- Block focus time – Prevent interruptions during deep work.
- Hire for culture fit – Seek team players aligned to company values.
- Onboard thoroughly – Equip new reps with the foundations for success.
- Set SMART goals – Provide clear direction to motivate peak effort.
- Incentivize excellence – Spark friendly competition with rewards and recognition.
- Coach constantly – Give timely guidance and feedback based on rep strengths/gaps.
- Analyze data – Let metrics guide management decisions and strategy.
- Collaborate cross-functionally – Foster partnerships with marketing, customer success, etc.
Importance of Optimizing Time Allocation
With sales reps spending just a third of work time on actual selling, poor time management tangibly impedes results. The lost revenue from wasted selling hours severely impacts businesses.
But simple strategies to increase efficiency and consolidate administrative tasks free up capacity for high-value selling activities. Sales leaders must themselves model and reinforce strong time management disciplines.
Technology and Tools to Enhance Productivity
CRM, sales engagement, and conversation intelligence tools equip teams with an integrated tech stack to enhance consistency, visibility, and scalability.
Automation handles repetitive tasks so reps can focus on higher thinking. Analytics surfaces insights to fine-tune strategy. Leaders must ensure proper adoption and usage.
Hiring, Onboarding, Ongoing Training and Coaching
Sales excellence starts with hiring talented reps aligned to company values. But onboarding and sales-specific skills training cannot end there.
Ongoing enrichment expands reps’ capabilities, while frequent coaching provides the timely guidance for continuous improvement. Skills and knowledge compound over time.
Performance Tracking and Transparency
Monitoring activity metrics and pipeline health gives leaders an objective lens into team productivity to guide decisions.
Sharing insights openly fosters collaboration. Public recognition motivates individuals. Transparency applied constructively aligns around shared success.
Motivation, Incentives and Culture of Excellence
Compensation only goes so far. Savvy leaders spark teams through public praise, competitions, promotions, and instilling hunger for excellence.
Culture matters immensely. Healthy team dynamics where people feel valued, supported, heard, and rewarded yields tremendous dividends.
Sales leadership is certainly challenging. But implementing the approaches detailed in this guide positions any manager to build a motivated, accomplished team.
Mastering productivity and performance management liberates leaders to focus on higher-level vision and strategy. As the saying goes…work on your business, not just in your business.
The concepts presented form the foundation on which to execute forward-looking sales game plans from a position of strength. Absorb these lessons, and achieve new levels of sales excellence.
Here are the key takeaways for the full article:
- Time management is critical in sales roles, yet most reps spend only 35% of their time on actual selling. Mastering productivity enhances results.
- Prioritize high-ROI activities like calls, demos, and closing. Limit lower-value tasks through automation and efficient workflows.
- Batch similar tasks together to maximize focus. Also, reduce multitasking which severely hinders productivity.
- Technologies like CRM, sales automation, and analytics platforms optimize efficiency and provide insights.
- Establish repeatable processes for critical selling steps like prospecting, presenting, negotiating. Leverage templates.
- Set SMART goals to direct team efforts and stretch performance. Monitor progress analytically.
- Motivate reps with recognition, leaderboards, competitions and promotions opportunities. Celebrate all wins.
- Hire sales reps aligned to company values and coachable. Onboard thoroughly then train continually.
- Provide frequent coaching and feedback based on rep strengths/gaps. Review skills qualitatively and quantitatively.
- Create transparentculture where visibility into individual and team performance promotes healthy competition.
- Eliminate silos between sales and fellow departments. Facilitate collaboration and understanding.
- Seek frequent feedback from reps on hurdles they face. Equip them with the technology, resources and support needed to excel.
- While compensation is foundational, culture cements loyalty. Foster an environment where excellence is contagious and celebrated.
- Mastering sales time management and performance leadership allows organizations to maximize selling capacity and achieve full potential.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is sales time management important?
Effective time management is critical in sales to maximize capacity for high-value activities like interacting with prospects. Studies show reps spend just 35% of time selling, so optimizing efficiency directly boosts results.
How can sales reps improve time management?
Top techniques include prioritizing high-ROI tasks, creating consistent sales processes, limiting multitasking, batching similar tasks, automating admin work, blocking time, and conquering unpleasant tasks early.
What tools can optimize sales time management?
CRM organizes pipeline data. Sales automation handles repetitive tasks. Analytics provides insights. Call routing streamlines outreach. Conversation intelligence analyzes calls. Time blocking apps protect focus time.
How can sales managers set their team up for success?
Hire top talent aligned to company values. Set clear SMART goals. Establish sales methodology and processes. Implement sales technology stack. Incentivize excellence. Coach constantly. Track metrics. Motivate and celebrate wins.
What sales team structures are most effective?
Common structures are islands (reps handle full sales cycle) and assembly lines (specialized roles for each pipeline stage). Hybrids like sales pods also exist. Evaluate team size, sales complexity, resources, and other factors.
How should sales managers motivate their team?
Motivation tactics include recognition, competitions, leaderboards, stretch goals, promotions, culture of excellence, and more. Compensation enables, but culture cements loyalty when reps feel fulfilled.
How can managers avoid high sales team turnover?
Reduce turnover by hiring good culture fits, thorough onboarding, clear expectations, continual training, work flexibility, mentoring programs, competitive pay, and promoting work-life balance. Make top talent want to stay.
How often should sales reps receive coaching?
Ideally, reps should receive regular coaching and feedback at least biweekly if not weekly. Reviews based on call recordings, metrics, pipeline health, and process consistency help guide development.
What activity metrics should be tracked for sales teams?
Critical metrics include calls made, meetings set, proposals created, presentations delivered, deals won, average sales cycle length, win rate by rep/segment, average deal size, lead response rate, and objection frequency.
How can sales managers create a culture of excellence?
Sharing visible performance data fosters healthy competition. Public recognition of top performers sets examples. Friendly team contests build camaraderie. Instilling hunger for continuous improvement benchmarked to past performance elevates culture.