Whether you're the leader of a sales team or a member of one, your sales task list is always long and a constant juggling act. There are leads to generate, opportunities to cultivate, contracts to write, customers to call back, trade shows to sign up for and sales meetings to attend.
Which tasks take precedence over the others? Is your day just a series of running from one urgent sales task to the next? A recent study found that two-thirds of a sales rep's time is spent on non-revenue generating tasks. That means it's essential for sales managers and the sales team to understand the difference between urgent and important sales tasks. Why? It directly affects your ability to generate revenue, the sole purpose of a rep's job. Here are some tips to help you make this distinction.
Urgent Sales Tasks Generate Revenue
For a sales manager or a member of a sales team, an urgent task is one that generates revenue. For example, writing up a final contract or returning the call of a client who wants to make a purchase are revenue-generating tasks, and therefore urgent. When you and your team review upcoming tasks, the first question should always be, does it generate revenue? When the answer is yes, it moves to the urgent column of your to-do list.
Managers Highlight Urgent Tasks
It's always a good idea to highlight urgent tasks in some way. If you're a sales manager with a whiteboard, dedicate a section to urgent tasks. Or, use a different color — maybe green, the color of money — marker for urgent tasks. You want your team to always know which tasks to concentrate their time and energy on.
Team Members Create a To-do List
When you're a member of a sales team, you have individual tasks that you're responsible for completing. Some of these tasks generate sales while others don't. Create a prioritized to-do list each morning or at the end of the day for the next.
Let your urgent tasks lead the list. As your day progresses, and you add tasks to the list, you need a way to indicate urgent sales tasks. Consider highlighting them or using an online to-do list where you can rearrange your priorities.
Urgent tasks are always the ones that generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or part of a team, you want your company to succeed. Making sales is the best way to grow a business.
What is an Important Sales Task?
An important task is a job that needs to get done in the near future, but it does not directly generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or a salesperson, there are administrative tasks that must get done. For example, an important task might include completing yearly performance reviews for your team or entering leads from the last trade show into the database. These are tasks that must get done in a timely manner to keep the company running smoothly. However, they don't directly generate revenue.
Focus on the Urgent without Neglecting the Important
As a sales manager, it's your goal to keep your team focused on urgent tasks without neglecting the important ones. Consider dedicating one hour a day to important tasks or maybe one afternoon each week.
If you're a member of a sales team and your manager doesn't dedicate time to important administrative tasks, find time that does not interfere with revenue-generating tasks to tackle the important jobs in your workflow. However, be careful not to allow an important sales task to slow any momentum your team has built throughout the day.
Create a To-Do List
There are important sales tasks that need to be completed each day, once a week or once a month. Create a daily, weekly and monthly to-do list, so you don't miss any important tasks.
Find a balance between completing urgent and important tasks that doesn't leave important tasks sitting for days, weeks or months unfinished. Similarly, as a sales manager, dedicate a specific time each day or week to these tasks.
What About the Gray Area?
There are some tasks that seem urgent, but don't generate revenue immediately. For example, cold calling leads has the potential to generate revenue, but it isn't guaranteed. Of course, you have to develop leads to increase your customer base and generate greater revenue for your company. However, does it fall under the urgent and important task list? It's actually the gray area in between the two. Make time for these tasks as well.
Managers Help the Team Prioritize
As a sales manager, it's your job to help your team make the most of their time. You wouldn't want gray area tasks placed ahead of urgent tasks. However, you don't want your team working on important administrative duties while a batch of gray area tasks waits. Find the gray area tasks a spot at the bottom of your urgent to-do list, ahead of the important items.
Sales teams want to generate as much revenue as possible for the company, especially if they work on commission. Complete all your urgent tasks first. Then, devote some time to gray area tasks that have the potential to generate income, even if it isn't in the immediate future.
Create a Routine
Put these gray area tasks on your to-do list somewhere between urgent and important. Work on these tasks without completely ignoring your important administrative tasks. Creating consistency in your daily and weekly tasks will benefit you and your team. Sales team members thrive with a level of consistency and routine.
Ask for Input
Trust your team. They likely have many years of experience in prioritizing tasks. No doubt, they will offer solutions to help incorporate important tasks without losing momentum on urgent ones. Encourage your team to come and discuss the possibilities with you. When you put a co-created plan in place, it helps you achieve the team's goals with support and accountability.
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