Sales Time Wasters

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Which Salesperson Do You Resemble?

Compare two different salespeople and decide who you or your salespeople resemble the most:

Seller #1 makes time to plan for each face-to-face sales call and schedules a full day of appointments with key accounts and prospects.He/she schedules follow-up actions for each call, even if it means there are fewer unscheduled calls made by the end of the day.

Seller #2 calls on many customers throughout the day alternating between the big and the small clients/prospects, depending upon what makes sense geographically, even if it means stopping without an appointment.His/her busy schedule often doesn't allow time for careful pre-call planning, and also results in infrequent follow up.

As a former sales manager, I can personally attest that many salespeople do a poor job of time and territory management. Busy schedules and poor planning unfortunately place more sellers into the category of Seller #2.Successful salespeople plan their calls, schedule strategically and make time to follow up by building it into their day/week/month.

Sales Time Wasters Create Negative Domino Effect
In today's economy, when sales professionals must take maximum advantage of all customer contact, including face to face visits and telephone calls, time and territory management is more essential than ever for salespeople.

Sales time wasters create a negative domino effect. The more one spends on sales time wasters, the less one is available to call or visit with customers. The same holds true for planning and follow up.

During STAR's Time Management for Sales workshop, we work with sales teams and sales managers to identify common sales time wasters and then brainstorm solutions to minimize them. Generally, sales time wasters fall into two categories:

1. Self-generated time wasters (caused by the salesperson)
2. Outside time wasters (caused by other people or circumstances)

Self Generated Time Wasters
Here are the three most frequent self-generated sales time wasters cited by sales professionals and sales managers:

1. Calling on the wrong accounts This is a huge mistake. There are a finite number of sales calls that each seller can make in a year.If you call on an account with little upside or growth opportunity, you've wasted a sales call that you will never get back. That wasted time would have been better spent elsewhere.

2. No appointments We realize that sometimes you need to just stop in, but an entire day of unscheduled sales calls will waste a lot of travel and potential sales time. Also, what message does it send to a customer when you just show up?

3. Failure to plan What is the purpose of each sales call? Who do you need to meet with? What resources should you bring with you for each call?See last month's newsletter titled Back to the Basics: Why Pre-Call Sales Planning Is Crucial Today for more advice on this topic.

There are many other self-generated time wasters, such as disorganization, too much time socializing, failure to automate routine sales tasks, and procrastination.You will be able to free up a lot of wasted time if you address the Top Three cited above.

Outside Time Wasters
Here are the three most frequent outside sales time wasters that are caused by other people or circumstances.

1. Emails Learning to respond, manage and use email can save an enormous amount of time for a sales professional. Based on STAR's work with thousands of sales professionals, email is by far the most common outside time waster encountered by sales professionals.

2. Internal meetings A poorly run meeting wastes everyone's time, and is time that otherwise could be spent by a seller in sales planning and sales calls. For the sales managers who are reading this newsletter, ask yourself this question: How can we improve our sales meetings to free up more time for the sales team?Less is more! A well-run quarterly face to face sales meeting can probably replace a series of monthly meetings.

3. Paperwork and sales reporting How can you strike a balance between the need to gather this information from the salespeople without making the reporting requirements too excessive?

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Bill McCormick has 1 articles online

About the author: Bill McCormick, founder and president of STAR (, a firm specializing in the design, delivery, and reinforcement of sales and management training workshops, including one-on-one coaching of sales professionals and managers.

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Sales Time Wasters

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This article was published on 2010/04/03