Sales, perhaps more than most professions, requires the ability to juggle multiple competing demands. Not only do salespeople need to keep a myriad of existing and potential prospects happy, they need to do this while prospecting for new business, and meeting the standard demands of the workplace: administrative tasks, management, product knowledge, and interpersonal workplace relations.
To put it simply: salespeople are (or should be) busy.
But not all work is created equal, and salespeople spend hours doing things that don’t actually move the needle. It can be difficult figuring out where to expend our energies when there are so many different interests vying for our attention, but it’s the only way to become truly efficient and reach that next level most strive for.
Here are ten common time-wasters in sales:
1. Get ready to get ready
Preparation and organization is great, but by itself, it doesn’t put food on the table. Too many salespeople spend their time making lists, setting up reminders, organizing, planning, and preparing instead of actually doing the work. Some call it analysis paralysis. It holds us back from performing because it makes us feel like we’re doing something, even if that something does little to fill the pipeline and get prospects on board. So make sure you prepare, but not at the expense of actual selling.
2. Attend internal meetings
Some meetings are absolutely necessary. You need to stay informed about what’s happening in your workplace and on your team.
But not all meetings are of equal importance, and many of them run longer than necessary, eating into time that could otherwise be used productively. In fact, 55% of sales reps we surveyed for our 2021 Sales Happiness Index say that internal calls or meetings take time away from selling. So if you’re able, hit the “decline” button on that next meeting invite… unless it’s with an actual prospect.
3. Search for prospect-requested content
According to Forbes, the single biggest time-waster for salespeople is spending time searching (or coming up with) prospect-requested content. This can take the form of a white paper, proposal, or any other source of information requested by the prospect.
The problem with these requests is that they’re frequently made in order to get the sales rep out of the prospect’s hair, which means that salespeople might waste days or even weeks coming up with a document that the prospect has no real interest in reading. The next time a prospect asks for something specific, use Dooly playbooks on the call to avoid a scavenger hunt, but make sure you clarify exactly what they’re looking for and why… otherwise, you might just be wasting precious sales time.
A whopping 54% of the 600 salespeople Dooly surveyed say that scheduling calls or meetings is one of the top activities that takes time away from selling. This is less than ideal, given the frequency with which salespeople, who communicate with hundreds of different people a week, must dig into their calendar in order to line everything up.
While integrations have helped speed up the process, it can still be incredibly time-consuming to coordinate multiple schedules, cancellations, and competing demands. If salespeople could snap their fingers and eliminate one of their time-consuming activities, this one would be near the top of the list.
5. Put out fires
In many cases, this one is unavoidable, but in an efficient organization, putting out fires should be taken off the salesperson’s plate and handled by customer support or another department whenever possible.
Since salespeople are a customer’s original point of contact, they’re usually the ones who field calls and emails about pressing issues, and at times, an entire day can be spent trying to coordinate solutions to the customer’s problems. Taking this out of the salesperson’s hands would free them up to do what they’re meant to do: find and earn new business.
6. Chase low-intent prospects
Not all prospecting is created equal and we should learn to differentiate between activities that move the needle and activities for activities’ sake. There is perhaps no worse use of time than pursuing prospects who aren’t going to buy, whether it’s because they’re not qualified, or because they’re not interested.
This problem can be solved by investing more time upfront to qualify, ask the right questions, and ascertain whether you’re dealing with a serious buyer. If you don’t do this, then you run the risk of wasting time pursuing a lost cause rather than using that time to go after somebody who can put money in your pocket. Dealing with time-wasters is a sales skill all on its own, and once you learn how to identify the time-wasters, and, more importantly, learn to quickly move on, you’ll be coming into your own as a sales professional, and get one step closer to success.
7. Internal communications
Though internal communication tools like Slack and Teams can be fun and efficient, they can also trap us in an endless cycle of idle chit-chat, especially since salespeople tend to be social creatures.
Think about how much time you spend in your internal comms channels. Now think about how much of that time you spend being productive versus how much time is spent catching up with coworkers. Unfortunately, there’s a very high chance that the latter outweighs the former. Although we all want to make our work experience a fun one, time spent sending each other memes is time that’s not spent closing deals.
8. Talk instead of listening
It’s no secret that if you asked the top sales trainers in the world for the one piece of advice that could help salespeople close more deals, a majority of them would say “work on your listening skills.”
Listening is critical to success in sales. If you listen long enough, the prospect will usually tell you exactly what it will take to earn their business; sort of like a roadmap. Many salespeople believe they should be driving the conversation, choosing a dominant role in the discussion, and foregoing an opportunity to become a trusted advisor. The next time you’re on a sales call, try asking a question and letting the prospect speak for as long as they want. You’ll find that it’s a lot more difficult than it seems, but you’ll also realize how well it works.
9. Update Salesforce
While a CRM is better than a pad and paper, it still sucks up time that could have been spent on productive activity. Inputting notes, waiting for every field and page to load, and crossing your fingers and hoping it doesn’t refresh in the middle of your updates all cause pain and frustration, and ensure that salespeople spend just as much time on the manual activity as they do on prospecting, follow-up, and pitching deals.
Thankfully, there are simple solutions (like Dooly, which can save you five hours of Salesforce gruntwork per week), but there’s no doubt that the reason sales managers have to hound their teams to update their CRMs is because most salespeople would rather spend their time selling.
10. Grieve lost deals
Barbara Corcoran, the wildly successful real estate entrepreneur and Shark Tank personality once said: “The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” This is especially true in sales, where dealing with rejection is not only part of the day-to-day grind, it’s a fundamental part of the profession.
It hurts to lose a deal, especially if it’s one you’ve spent a lot of time pursuing. But it’s also counter-productive to spend more than a few minutes feeling bad about it. It does nothing to get you closer to your goal. Instead, dust yourself off, pick yourself back up, and look for the next deal. The sooner you learn to do that, the less you’ll have to feel bad about.
Join the thousands of top-performing salespeople who use Dooly every day to stay more organized, instantly update their pipeline, and spend more time selling instead of mindless admin work. Try Dooly free, no credit card required. Or, Request a demo to speak with a Dooly product expert right now.