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Time Management for Sales Pros

According to a Miller Heiman 2003 Sales Effectiveness Study, over 60% of sales organizations are being pushed to increase results with reduced budgets and fewer salespeople compared to last year

Whether you are a sales rep or a sales manager this information is probably not a surprise to you. Simply put, the current business climate demands you work smarter and not harder. It's about being organized enough to put your best foot forward in order to close business. The sales professionals I work with sales pros who rarely disagree when I say that time management is not only important but a critical factor in being successful. When I break down the most important components, here's what I find:

Prioritize. Most sales professionals I work with have a clear understanding of their goals and priorities, but shifting priorities have become the norm in most organizations. Being able to change quickly can mean gaining a competitive advantage, but it might also leave the employee feeling confused and over-whelmed. To remain flexible, re-visit your priorities several times during the day. Try working on priorities first thing in the morning BEFORE accessing email. This is a much more effective approach, both long and short term. However it can be difficult to implement because we tend to respond to the urgent (email) first. Your time management habits should support your ability to focus and proactively seek working on what's important, because focus and importance shouldn't be on any customer and prospect but on the right customer and the right prospect. Otherwise you're simply wasting time and opportunity.

Process. Selling is a process. It requires being efficient (doing the right thing) and effective (at the right time). And that's what time management is all about. But the first rule of effective time management is to overcome personal disorganization. How do you handle all that incoming information? Is the pile on your desktop stressing you because you fear something might be falling through the cracks? Can you store, manage and retrieve electronic and paper-based information easily? Paper and time management are interconnected so having a roadblock in one area usually leads to a challenge in another. If your systems and processes are already in line, ask how you can make them better because little shifts can make a huge difference in increasing productivity and reducing stress.

Proceed. 'Hope is not a Strategy' is one of my favorite book titles. The same is true for improving your time management skills. It's action that makes the difference. Doing something that moves you forward helps you feel you have more control of your day and your workload. Just thinking about doing something is a waste of your time. Time that would be better spent overcoming roadblocks.

Don't be a slave to poor time management habits, cluttered desktops (and hard drives) and procrastination. Being successful means having more time to spend with your family and friends as well as pursue some of your own interests.

Copyright 2004 Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.

Cynthia Kyriazis is a Professional Organizer, trainer, consultant, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. She is President of Organize it, Inc., an organizational consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients since 1995. Cynthia has worked with over 150 companies and hundreds of professionals to help improve performance in the areas of time, information, space and electronic file management.

Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of International Society for Performance Improvement ? Kansas City chapter (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.

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