Sarah Wirth, VP Member Service, EcSELL Institute
Busy, busy, busy. If someone were to ask me to identify our members’ top five challenges, being too busy would rank right up there among the most frequently discussed issues. Now when our members are talking about being too busy and struggling with time management, they are talking about it on a strategic level. Essentially, sales leaders have so many competing priorities and so many different goals they are responsible for that they find it challenging to figure out where to allocate their energy. And if sales leaders are struggling with this issue, you can best that their sales teams are too. So how do we as leaders create clarity for ourselves and the teams we are leading? How do we figure out what is most important?
The answers to these questions aren’t always easy and usually to get to them, you have to ask yourself more questions. When determining where to allocate your time, it’s important to begin with your overall goal in mind and for sales leaders that goal is usually pretty straightforward – to exceed your sales target. Beginning with the end in mind and considering any data you have at your disposal, ask yourself the following two questions:
- Which daily priorities are most directly related to driving more sales?
- Which strategic priorities are most likely to eventually drive more sales?
These may seem like simple questions, but if you can’t answer them easily and clearly, then you probably do not have the clarity you need to determine how to allocate your time. You should also ask yourself these same questions for the sales team you are leading. Again, if you can’t answer these questions for your team easily and clearly, they also do not have the clarity they need to spend their time most effectively. This is why you should examine whatever data you have available, as well as use your own analytical skills, to consider which immediate and long-term activities are most relevant to your sales goal.
Once you’ve clearly established your key priorities, take a few minutes to consider how your daily calendar corresponds to those priorities. Mark each event on your calendar for the upcoming week in the following way:
- DP = Daily Priority – an important activity that is directly related to driving more sales
- SP = Strategic Priority – an important priority that will eventually drive more sales
- NP = Non-Priority – an activity that is not highly related to driving more sales
As a general rule of thumb, about 50% of your calendar should be filled with the daily priorities, that is, activities you have determined to be important and directly related to driving your sales goal. Another 30% of your calendar should be filled with strategic priorities, that is, activities that you have determined to be important and related to eventually driving more sales. Lastly, consider how much of your calendar is filled with NPs, that is, non-priorities that aren’t highly related to driving sales. If more than 20% of your calendar is filled with these NPs, you probably aren’t allocating your time as effectively as you should be.
With demands, questions and issues flying every which way, even the most focused sales leader can lose control of how they are spending their time on occasion. So as the emails pile up, the meeting requests come in and the to-do list grows, be sure to take the time to evaluate whether you are really spending your time on the most important priorities. If you don’t check this every so often, you may find yourself very busy, but not very productive.