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How do you prioritize anything when everything seems essential?  This is an aged-old question and it has been the dilemma for many sales people regardless of geography, time and product.  If you are feeling this way, you’re not alone.

Spring brings a refreshed sense of renewal. We’re reminded of the promise we made to ourselves in January that we were going to manage our priorities more effectively… only to discover we’ve slipped back into our old routine.  It’s time to take action.

Let’s begin…

Set SMART goals.

They are the key to successfully managing your priorities. SMART Goals must be: Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic and have a Target Date.

“I’m going to make more cold calls this week” is too vague to be a SMART goal.

“Starting Monday, I am going to do 5 extra cold calls per week and review the results with my Sales Manager once each month” meets all the criteria for a SMART goal.

What are you doing?

Are you filing paperwork at the office when you should be in front of a client?  Are you procrastinating?  Talking too often and too long at the water cooler?  These habits are stealing your selling time!

See your top customers. 

Pareto’s principle, which is commonly accepted in the business community, suggests that 80% of your income derives from 20% of your customers. Review your customer list; who are your 20%?  How often do you see them?  When?

I started in sales 19 years ago and I had a lot to learn. Organization was very important to me, but I learned that I needed to be in front of my customer at 2:00 in the afternoon, not in my office, organizing stuff.  As my Sales Manager wisely cautioned, “If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you’ll never get out of the driveway”.

All of us have the same amount of time – 168 hours – each week.  Do you really know how many of those hours are fully productive?  We can help you with that.  The Time Analysis Sheet and the Time Analysis Summary Sheet are great tools to assist you to understand where you are spending your hours. 

To achieve the clearest picture, I highly recommend you print them and use the Time Analysis Sheet for three days of regular activity, not the two days you’re attending an annual conference. You decide if you prefer to track your business or your personal life. Write down every activity you do. Be honest: only you will see it unless you choose to share. You’ll add up your minutes and calculate the percentage spent on each activity on the Summary Sheet.

When you complete your calculations, you may be surprised by the results.  The question will be: are you happy with the results? What will you do to improve?