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Managing somebody else’s time

Good time management is one of those fundamentally, indispensable business skills. It’s rightfully part of every basic sales training course. As a sales leader, your time management aptitude is even more critical. You also need to be sure that everyone on your team manages time well.

But trying to manage your sales pros’ time for them is doomed to failure.

timemgmtThey’ll revolt. They’ll push back against the (perceived) micro-management even when it’s for their own good.

So now what?

The answer is, change the question. Nobody can lead or manage a sales team by dictating what needs to be done when. The only answer is based on identification, tracking, reporting and discussion of a handful of core metrics. And the only way to identify the core metrics is to first clearly define the sales process that’s being measured.

For starters, answer the following:

  • What are the stages of your organization’s sales funnel?
  • What are the crystal clear completion criteria for each of those stages?

With those answers in place and a half-way decent CRM system, four critical metrics emerge:

  • Number of opportunities at each sales funnel stage
  • $ Value of opportunities at each sales funnel stage
  • % Opportunities Advanced from each stage
  • Cycle Time for each stage

Those metrics in turn can serve as the basis for really, really useful conversations. (Ummmm, maybe those conversations could be called coaching???) Picture yourself sitting down with each of your reps kicking around the following talking points:

  • Your “Metric X” is 27% lower/higher than the team average
    • Why is that?
    • If it were higher/lower, what impact would that have on your sales?
    • Should it be higher/lower given your territory?
    • What can you and/or I do to drive it higher/lower?
  • Your “Metric Y” is 19% lower/higher this month than it has been over the last year
    • Why is that?
    • Is that good or bad in terms of closing deals?
    • What can you and/or I do to drive it higher/lower?

No dictating in that sort of discussion. And no directing of where to invest time. Just agreement on what metrics deserve focus and mutual thinking about what to do next and how to do it.

So it’s not managing somebody else’s time. It is, however, causing time to get invested where it’s most needed. It’s coaching and it’s leadership.

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