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Boosting Sales Results with Limited Resources: Time Management Strategy for Sales Managers

By Ray Makela, CEO and Managing Director, Sales Readiness Group
A person sits in a chair on a laptop atop a floor made out of a clock

Are your sales managers feeling overwhelmed with all of their responsibilities?

Most sales managers know they should be coaching their team. Yet we often hear in our sales management training workshops that managers need more time to coach.

This is a common scenario. Managers are doing many of their reps’ jobs, spending too much time on urgent tasks. They’re answering every phone call. They’re solving every problem. They’re resolving customer issues – and even closing deals for their reps!

So, how can sales managers work smarter, not harder?

Stop doing your reps’ job for them. Instead, teach and coach your reps to be more self-sufficient.

In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Covey defines Habit 3 as putting first things first and prioritizing those with the most significant impact and leverage. Then, invest your time in those activities that create the most significant return on your effort.

Covey further defines this using four quadrants of urgent versus important.

Think of importance on the left axis and urgency on the right axis.

  1. At the upper left are those things that are important and urgent. You have to do them.
  2. The upper right is those important but not urgent.
  3. The lower left is not important but urgent.
  4. And the lower right is not important and not urgent.

Quadrant 1

We often get stuck in what Covey calls Quadrant 1: the urgent and the important.

Those are the items we must do today.

These are client issues, closing deals, personnel problems, end-of-the-quarter status, and competitive threats. We often get pulled into these items by our reps, and we can’t help but become the chief problem solver. The more we do these things for the reps, the more we teach them to rely on us.

We do have to resolve these, but how can we get out of this cycle?

Well, could you teach reps to come to you with recommendations?

Use these as coaching opportunities. Plan and improve your processes so you reduce or cut the items altogether. What we miss as we spend all our time in Quadrant 1 is the importance of Quadrant 2.

Quadrant 2

Those important but not urgent tasks.

These are easy to put off but important to becoming more productive (e.g., planning, training, coaching, strategy, and process improvement). Even personal items like exercise, professional development, and relationship investing fall under Quadrant 2.

We need to create time to have the discipline to focus on these daily activities.

In return, these will reduce the number of Quadrant 1 activities we need to respond to. So, if we can coach and train our reps to solve their problems, we’ll be spending less time doing their job for them.

Quadrant 3

Quadrant 3 activities are those that are not important but urgent.

These include unexpected phone calls, meetings, interruptions, and hallway conversations. They don’t have to happen, and they’re not important, but somebody demands your time. We must decide if we’ll give in to that pressure and allow them to waste our time.

An open-door policy is excellent, but we must manage our time and sometimes block out our calendars to finish the strategic work.

For Quadrant 3 activities, we can delegate or get others to fulfill these duties. For example, could someone do that meeting for you? And would someone else be able to complete that report or respond to that email? If you didn’t do this activity at all, would anyone notice?

Quadrant 4

Finally, Quadrant 4 activities are not essential and not urgent.

These are time wasters. Many things fall under this category. These include spending too much time on the internet, YouTube videos, TV, and social media. Ideally, we’d like to drop these activities altogether and reduce the number of Quadrant 3 activities.

That will give us more time to focus on the important but not urgent items in Quadrant 2, to become an effective sales manager. So please list these, block out those activities on your calendar, and make time for them. Your time is valuable – especially when you think about the leverage you can create across the organization when you use that time in the appropriate activities.

Refrain from letting others waste your time and get distracted doing your reps’ job.

To dive deeper into how to help sales managers work more efficiently and effectively, read our white paper Developing Great Sales Managers.” Learn strategies and techniques that top sales managers use to get the most out of their teams. Don’t miss out on this valuable resource – click here to read it now!