Sales is not only a numbers game, it’s a game of time. Every day, salespeople must decide how they want to spend their limited hours, and how to maximize each of those hours to get them closer to their goal — not always an easy feat.
To make things even more complicated, sales reps are frequently asked to do things that don’t serve the bottom line. These requests may come from management, prospects, or from coworkers, but they add to the increasingly complex problem of time management that plagues all sellers, from the most competitive industries on down.
To be sure, there are plenty of things sales reps must prioritize, such as prospecting, conducting customer research, and follow-up. But there are others things that may seem productive, while literally doing nothing except distracting the rep from tasks that might actually move the needle — a double negative of sorts.
We think that sales reps (and their employers) are best served when they can focus on selling, so we’ve put together a list of things reps do every day that they absolutely don’t need to. So if you’re a seller looking to trim some time from your overly-busy schedule, see if any of the following apply to you.
1. Get ready to get ready
There’s being prepared, and there’s being “prepared.” Too many sales reps conflate preparation with self-deception, thinking that if they spend a few more hours making the right list, listening to the right podcast, following the right influencer, or reading the right book, all of their sales dreams will come true and they’ll get that massive commission check in their bank account.
The reality is that while preparation is good (and important), at some point, you have to do the work. Sales is a labor-intensive game, but unless you focus your time on real work rather than tasks that look like work, you’ll never achieve the goals you set out to achieve.
2. Manually update Salesforce
Salesforce is a necessary tool, but it tends to ask a lot of its users, much to the dismay of hard-working sales reps. Most reps believe that their options (when it comes to Salesforce) are limited to either spending hours every week slogging through manual data entry, or ignoring it altogether (which won’t make anybody’s sales manager very happy).
The reality, thankfully, is that there’s a better option… Dooly! (yes, this is a shameless plug, but a very honest one). Dooly allows you to update your pipeline with one click, instantly syncs your notes to Salesforce, and automatically adds new contacts to an account. Of course, if you like wasting time on manual data entry, then it might not be a good fit for you.
3. Talk to anyone and everyone
Once again, not all activity is created equal. Far too many reps think that having a conversation = being productive, and they’re not super discerning about who those conversations are with.
In reality, if you want to succeed, especially at the highest level of sales, you must become ruthless with your qualification process, and make the shift from going wide (working with as many prospects as possible), to going deep (taking the time to research and build trust with the right prospects). It can be a difficult transition to make, but unless you focus on people who are able and willing to buy from you, you’ll be stuck on a hamster wheel of activity, without getting the cheese at the end of the tunnel (yes, those are mismatched metaphors, but you know what we’re trying to say).
4. Consume social media
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but scrolling LinkedIn or Twitter, even if your feed is filled with people posting exclusively about sales, is not an effective use of a sales rep’s time. Using LinkedIn to prospect is a necessity, of course, and if you create content yourself, then it can be a great way to build your personal brand and lead to inbound activity.
But let’s be honest for a moment here. Many of us spend time on LinkedIn consuming, and not a whole lot of time producing. And sitting around endlessly scrolling does literally nothing to get you closer to a closed-won than sitting and staring at a wall would.
So the next time you open social media, pay attention to your actions. If you’re hunting for customers, keep at it! But if not… then you might want to get to work.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
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