Getting a salesman to plan his time is regarded by many sales executives as the one of the major problem in sales management. Why is time management and planning so important for sales? The answer lies in today’s rising costs, in the midst of hot competition and the obvious decline in the face-to-face selling time.
Setting a time budget :
Setting a time budget is a task that requires joint effort by the management and the salesmen. The sales manager and his field managers are accountable for a salesman’s productivity, so they have the responsibility of ensuring that the salesmen manage their time well. At the same time, it is also the duty of the salesman must also plan his time wisely.
Since it is not possible for a salesman to be under constant supervision, he has to be independent and flexible. A sales person’s day is rarely ever routine, for instance, one customer may keep him waiting in the reception room longer than expected or may cancel the appointment after the salesman has arrived at his office, or spend a half hour airing complaints.
All time management does is, create a proper environment for the sales man to utilize his time well. It is designed to get him face-to-face with as many prospects and customers as possible. This does not mean he will work harder; but only that he will work smarter.
The ability to plan well is a big asset to any sales person and it is essential for a successful salesman to also be a good manager, in order to manage himself, his home, his job and a segment of a sales territory.
Controlling a time budget :
The first step in controlling a time budget is the periodic analysis of the call-reports and time charts. The salesman should get a copy of this analysis to help him improve time management skills. Call reports are to be routinely scanned and filed, too many call-reports, however don’t serve any real purpose.
The first thing a sales manager should teach his sales men about effective time management is the appropriate hours to make sales calls and whether a prospective customer should be dealt with over the phone or face to face. This basic knowledge could save a sales man a lot of time and resources.
Some companies use their marketing service staff to assist the regional and branch managers in directing salesmen to manage their time more efficiently. Some others grant clerical help in field offices to reduce the amount of paper work. Many firms provide audio-visual equipment to create more persuasive sales presentations to make the most of the precious three or four hours of face to face interviews with potential customers each day.
The amount of time a salesman delegates for travel and work depends on various factors such as the management’s knowledge of the sales territory, the present and prospective accounts, traffic conditions, etc. All of the salesman’s plans must be flexible because the workload and territorial boundaries may very from time to time. Managers cannot afford to work entirely at their desks, using control maps, it is important that they get into the territory, not only to make logical alterations but also to bolster the salesman’s morale and to make sure he values the plans that he is expected to follow.
The way in which a salesperson should plan his time is not too different from how people from other professions should manage theirs. It is only a matter of priority, since certain tasks are best accomplished within a particular time period than others. It is therefore essential that salesmen be sold on the need to plan well.
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