Who is your Biggest Competitor?

When you start a new sales position, one of your first tasks is to determine who your competitors are in your niche industry.

Depending on where you are working, your employer may already have a list of key competitors, along with descriptions, and a cheat sheet of the key differences between your products and services vs. your competition.

That’s all good news.

But some salespeople are missing the point – your biggest competitor isn’t other companies.

Your biggest competitor is time.

That’s right – time.

Think about it. It takes time to make sales calls. It takes time to do research. It takes time managementtime to enter your notes in your CRM. It takes time to leave several messages before your reach your prospect. It takes time to send and respond to emails every day. It takes time to attend sales meetings. Hell, it takes time to commute to work!

Time, then, is your biggest competitor.

How you manage your time can make a difference between achieving your goals or just getting by.

Here are 10 tips for time management

1). Focus on your top prospects first. However, don’t spend all your time on your big prospects, because depending on the industry you are in, your sales cycle could be long. So it’s a good idea to mix it up – maybe devote 70% of our time on your larger accounts, and 30% on the smaller ones that you hope to close quickly.

2). Set time aside for administrative work – Too often, salespeople get caught up on administrative work, and they neglect doing what they were hired to do – which is to sell. Unless it’s urgent, I find it’s better to set aside one hour in the late afternoon to handle administrative work.

3). Research – unless it’s a large account, don’t spend too much time on researching your prospects. It’s very easy to get caught reading too many websites and LinkedIn profile pages. I usually spend no more than three (3) minutes doing research, and then copying/pasting my findings in my CRM for future reference.

coffee breaks4). Snacks – rather than wasting time constantly going to the vending machine or your building’s sandwich shop, I find it’s better to bring snacks to work and put them in my desk. The same is true with water. Rather than run back and forth to the water cooler, I keep a plastic water bottle at my desk. I also bring in a coffee canister from home to save money and time at my local coffee shop. (Plus, I prefer drinking strong coffee).

5). Stay off the internet – it’s easy to get lost online these days, especially if your company gives you a lot of freedom to go on the internet. I always set time aside during lunch or in the late afternoon to go online to read the news. Even then, I keep my reading at a minimum and just skim the headlines.

6). Watch the small talk – it’s so easy to engage in conversations at work. But in sales, you simply don’t have the time. Sure, you don’t want to be rude. And sometimes we all need to release tension by talking about diets, movies, celebrities, etc. But you have to work to make money. Through my body language, I try to convey that I’m busy or don’t want to be disturbed when working.  I know that can be tough to do in an open office environment. Just try to avoid eye contact and focus on your monitor.

7). Organize your email – If you’re like me, you probably come in each morning with a slew of emails to read and respond to.  With Outlook, I’ve created several folders and put my emails into each one. It’s saves me a lot of time later when I have to retrieve an important email. Also, unless it’s urgent, I try not responding to emails until later in the day when I’m doing my administrative work.

8). Keep your Smartphone out of sight – I purposely put my Smartphone out of sight during the day. I only check my personal emails while commuting to work on the Metro, during my lunch hour, and while commuting back home. That’s it.

9). Email templates – rather than keep writing the same emails over and over again, I have a file of email templates that I use. However, I will sometimes modify and personalize my emails before sending them out. Also, I usually keep a file of attachments (articles and brochures) that I send out, and I will refresh my attachments with new material every couple of weeks.

10). Schedule calls – whenever possible, I always try to schedule my calls and online tours. Yes, sometimes people will cancel your phone calls at the last-minute, or become complete “no shows,” but in the long run scheduling calls beats making repeated calls or sending out tons of emails.

I hope you like my suggestions.

Here are links to other articles on time management for salespeople –

“Eight Time Management Hacks for Sales Reps,” by Andrew Quinn
“6 Effective Time Management Techniques for Success in Sales,” by Jenny Poore

Here are some books on time management that could help  you –

11 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople, 11th Anniversary Edition: Gain the Competitive Edge and Make Every Second Count, by Career Press

Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Salespeople, by Thomas Nelson

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book – Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

5 reasons why Friday isn’t a Slow Sales Day

It’s Friday. The weekend is almost here. You’ve had a long week. You have secured some large orders. Now you are looking forward to receiving a large commission check soon.

Friday is not a slow sales dayWhile Friday is still a work day, you figure that you can relax and prepare for the weekend. So you’re kicking back and planning to see a movie, or visit friends, or go to that new hot restaurant you’ve been hearing about.  Maybe you have some administrative work to catch up on. Or maybe you want to catch up on your sales training by watching a video or two at your desk. Or maybe you want to take a long lunch.

After all, you’re thinking to yourself – “Fridays are slow sales days. Most of the key decision makers are taking an early weekend. I can relax.”

Wrong.

Fridays should never be considered a “slow sales day.”

Why?

1). Not all decision makers are the same – While you may think that all key decision makers are taking a long weekend, that’s not always the case. In fact, decision makers may be working harder to clean up their workload before they enjoy the weekend. Why? Well, because they’re decision makers and they have a lot of decisions to make.

2). The gatekeeper isn’t around – Chances are the gatekeeper is the real one taking a long weekend while her boss is working. That’s good news for you, because it means you may be able to reach the decision maker without the challenge of going through the gatekeeper.

3). The decision maker may be caught off his guard – Decision makers may think like you. They may feel that those “pesky salespeople” aren’t going to call them on a Friday, so they may end up answering the phone instead of the gatekeeper. And sometimes the decision maker, looking forward to the weekend, may be more relaxed and open to accepting your phone call.

4). Other salespeople aren’t calling  – Because they feel the decision maker isn’t around, so they make the common mistake of doing admin work, or leaving early for the weekend. With the competition out-of-the-way, that gives you a greater opportunity to reach and speak to the decision maker.

5). You’re more relaxed – After a long week, you may feel more relaxed and less anxious when making sales calls. Knowing that the weekend is upon you, you may actually find yourself being more consultative and conversational with your prospects. Which in turn means more sales for you.

So, the next time Friday rolls around, don’t be lazy. Pretend that Friday is like any other day of the week, and continue with your same high energy work flow.  You may be surprised by the results.