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Biggest Time Wasters for Salespeople

Copyright (c) 2006-2023
(See This Article in its Original Format.)

Good time management for salespeople has
been an obsession of mine for more than 30 years. In the last
decade, I've been involved in helping tens of thousands of sales
people improve their results through more effective use of their
time. Over the years, I've seen some regularly occurring patterns
develop - tendencies on the part of sales people to do things
that detract from their effective use of time.

Here are
the four most common time-wasters I've observed. See if any apply
to you or your salespeople.

  1. Allure of the

    Salespeople love to be busy and
    active. We have visions of ourselves as people who can get things
    done. No idol dreamers, we're out there making things happen!

    A big portion of our sense of worth and our personal
    identity is dependent on being busy. At some level in our self
    image of our selves, being busy means that we really are
    important. One of the worst things that can happen to us is to
    have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nothing going on. So, we
    latch onto every task that comes our way, regardless of the

    For example, one of our customers calls with
    a back order problem. "Oh good!" we think, "Something to do! We
    are needed! We can fix it!" So, we drop everything and spend two
    hours expediting the backorder.

    In retrospect, couldn't
    some one in purchasing or customer service have done that? And
    couldn't they have done it better than you? And didn't you just
    allow something that was a little urgent but trivial prevent you
    from making some sales calls? And wouldn't those potential sales
    calls be a whole lot better use of your time?

    Or, one of
    our customers hands us a very involved "Request for Quote."
    "Better schedule a half-day at the office," we think. "Need to
    look up specifications, calculate prices, compile literature,
    etc." We become immediately involved with this task, working on
    this project for our customer. In retrospect, couldn't we have
    given the project to an inside salesperson or customer service
    rep to do the leg work? Couldn't we have just communicated the
    guidelines to some one and then reviewed the finished proposal?

    Once again, we succumbed to the lure of the present task.
    That prevented us from making sales calls and siphoned our energy
    away from the important to the seemingly urgent.

    I could
    go on for pages with examples, but you have the idea. We are so
    enamored with being busy and feeling needed that we often grab at
    any task that comes our way, regardless of how unimportant. And
    each time we do that, we compromise our ability to invest our
    sales times more effectively.

  2. The comfort of the
    status quo.

    A lot of salespeople have evolved to the
    point where they have a comfortable routine. They make enough
    money and they have established routines and habits that are
    comfortable. They really don't want to expend the energy it takes
    to do things in a better way, or to become more successful or

    This can be good. Some of the habits and
    routines that we follow work well for us.

    However, our
    rapidly changing world constantly demands new methods,
    techniques, habits and routines. Just because something has been
    effective for a few years doesn't mean that it continues to be
    so. This problem develops when salespeople are so content with
    the way things are, they have not changed anything in years.

    If you haven't changed or challenged some habit or
    routine in the last few years, chances are you are not as
    effective as you could be.

    For example, you could still
    be writing phone messages down on little slips of paper when
    entering them into your contact manager would be more effective.
    This is a simple example of a principle that can extend towards
    the most important things that we do. Are we using the same
    routines for organizing our work week, for determining who to
    call on, for understanding our customers, for collecting
    information, etc.? There is no practical end to the list.

    Contentment with the status quo almost always means
    salespeople who are not as effective as they could be.

    book, 10
    Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople
    , discusses the
    use of the "more" mindset as an alternative to the status quo.

  3. Lack of trust in other people in the

    Salespeople have a natural tendency to
    work alone. After all, we spend most of the day by ourselves. We
    decide where to go by ourselves, we decide what to do by
    ourselves, and we are pretty much on our own all day long. It's
    no wonder then, we just naturally want to do everything by

    That's generally a positive personality trait
    for a salesperson. Unfortunately, when it extends to those tasks
    that could be done better by other people in our organization it
    turns into a real negative.

    Instead of soliciting aid
    from others in the organization, and thereby making much better
    use of our time, many salespeople insist on doing it themselves,
    no matter how redundant and time-consuming the task is. The world
    is full of salespeople who don't trust their own colleagues to
    write an order, to source a product, to enter an order in the
    system, to follow up on a back order, to deliver some sample or
    literature, to research a quote, to deliver a proposal, etc.
    Again, the list could go on and on.

    The point is that
    many of these tasks can be done better or cheaper by someone else
    in the organization. The salespeople don't release the tasks to
    them because they, the salespeople, don't trust them to do it.
    Too bad. It's a tremendous waste of good selling time and talent.
    Chapter 10 of my book " href="">10 Secrets"
    describes a system to nurture helpful relationships.

  4. Lack of tough-minded thoughtfulness.

    Ultimately, time management begins with thoughtfulness.
    That means a sufficient quantity of good quality thought-energy
    invested in the process. I like to say that good time management
    is a result of "thinking about it before you do it."

    time managers invest sufficiently in this process. They set aside
    time each year to create annual goals, they invest planning time
    every quarter and every month to create plans for those times,
    they plan every week and every sales call. Poor sales time
    managers don't dedicate sufficient time to the "thinking about
    it" phase of their job.

    Not only do good sales time
    managers invest a sufficient quantity of time, but they also are
    disciplined and tough-minded about how they think. They ask
    themselves good questions, and answer them with as much
    objectivity as they can muster.

    • "What do I
      really want to accomplish in this account?"
    • "Why aren't they
      buying from me?"
    • "Who is the key decision maker in this
    • "Am I spending too much time in this account, or
      not enough in that one?"
    • "How can I change what I am doing in
      order to become more effective?"

    These are just
    a few of the tough questions that good sales time managers
    consider on a regular basis. They don't let allow their emotions
    or personal comfort zones to dictate the plans. They go where it
    is smart to go, do what it is smart to do. They do these things
    because they have spent the quantity and quality of thought-time
Of course, there are hundreds of other time-
wasting habits. These four, however, are the most common. Correct
them, and you'll be well on your way to dramatically improved

About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Dave Dave Kahle specializes in customized sales training and sales management training programs designed to increase sales by delivering practical, immediate solutions and creating measurable results. Dave's sales training seminars and sales consulting work has helped his clients increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. He speaks from real world experience, having been the number one salesperson in the country for two companies in two distinct industries. Dave has trained thousands of salespeople to be more successful in the Information Age economy. He's the author of over 500 sales management articles, a weekly sales training ezine, and six books, including the 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople. He has a gift for creating powerful sales training events that get audiences thinking differently about sales.

You can learn more about Dave's sales training programs, online at, or sign-up to get his free content-filled sales training ezine, at /mailinglist.htm. You can reach at 616-451-9377, by email at, or by mail at: The DaCo Corporation 3736 West River Drive, Comstock Park, MI 49321.

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