Of the many aspects of sales performance that a manager must evaluate, perhaps none is more difficult to measure than “time management.” Seemingly identical performances by salespeople often can yield very different results, and many managers feel stifled when it comes time to discern the reasons. The reality is that time management success is relative not to the quantity of effort but rather to the quality of those efforts.
The means by which you can improve the quality of your time management is simply to make more appointments. While this is hardly a surprising statement, the reality is that many salespeople, in spite of this obvious knowledge, still spend much of their time driving around showing up at offices and jobsites unannounced.
You probably are aware of this and have fallen prey to the unorganized salesman who “pops in” with little more purpose other than to say he “showed up” (or delivered donuts). One salesman I recently traveled with made more than 10 stops in a day without having scheduled even one appointment. As you'd expect, we were met with resistance or empty offices, or had short, unproductive meetings; little was accomplished that day. When I asked him why he took this tack, he stated that he didn't want to give customers a chance to tell him not to visit!
His manager was mystified why his highly active sales performer was not achieving good results. The problem is that the manager was busy measuring the amount of sales calls his salesman was making and not the method by which those calls were being scheduled. Instead of focusing on the quantity of activity, this manager obviously would have gained much greater insight into his employee's performance had he evaluated the number of scheduled appointments relative to his overall activity.
Naturally, our industry is one in which pop-ins and unscheduled appointments will remain common practice. In order to improve the quality of time, salespeople should not rely on this practice as a crutch, but should strive to schedule better quality time without reducing the quantity of sales calls.
Taking Stock Every sales call report you have ever seen includes various items of information, including the name of the contact, location, purpose of the call, and even the result of the call. But what these creative writing assignments fail to record is the method by which the meeting was scheduled. Gathering this pertinent piece of information will allow managers and salespeople to systematically measure short-term behavior to improve long-term results.
If you can provide your sales team with concrete measurements that show the results of their actions, you will motivate them to make changes for the better. Consider an independent study that revealed how waiters can increase their tips and improve customer satisfaction simply by engaging in three behaviors—crouching at the table to meet customers at eye level, smiling broadly when greeting customers, and even, at appropriate times, making casual physical contact, e.g., a touch on the shoulder or a handshake. The study determined that waiters' gratuities would increase an average of 10 percent when they engaged in these three behaviors.