“I don’t have time” is a lame excuse.

When we’re coaching salespeople, they often tell us “I just never seem to have enough time.” Sales managers complain that their sales team members don’t spend enough time selling; they spend too much time in the office. Salespeople complain about being asked to do so many administrative duties that they don’t have time to sell.

One of the first things we look for on a new coaching assignment is whether the sales pro uses some semblance of a plan on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It astounds us to find people calling themselves professionals who don’t effectively use a calendar (paper or electronic) or don’t have written goals.

Let’s start with the easy one. Use a calendar, not just to keep track of appointments but also as a planning device. You know you need some “office time” each week to catch up on quotes, attend sales meetings, meet with your manager, and so on. Plan it! Put that on your calendar each week.

We all think of prime selling time being somewhere between 8:30 and 4:30. Having said that, you’d be surprised how many times you can catch someone earlier in the morning or later in the day.  Many people use their cell phone exclusively.  You can sometimes catch them during drive time.

Slot your appointments with travel time built in. If you know an average call lasts 30 minutes and you need 15 minutes to travel between calls, allow 1 hour for each call. You should be able to schedule seven or eight per day.

Plan three weeks in advance. Your current week should be 80 to 100% confirmed with appointments and activities. The next week should be 50 to 60% confirmed with appointments, and the third week out should be 20 to 30% confirmed.

If you use Outlook, color code appointments on your calendar to make the important ones jump out. If you use an electronic calendar, set it up to sync with your Outlook program.  That seems painfully obvious, but not everyone does it.

Finally: there is life beyond selling. Put your vacations on your calendar at the beginning of every year. Thinking you are going to squeeze vacation in somewhere almost guarantees an unhappy home life.

“Plan your work and work your plan” is one easy step to success. If you are a sales manager, ask your team members to review their calendars with you on a regular basis.

Sales quote: “Learn to hide your need and show your skill.”

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