Time management is an ongoing challenge for almost everyone I know.  This is no different for salespeople.  Prospecting must be well planned and scheduled.

Since most salespeople like prospecting the least of all their duties, they leave it until last and don’t give it the attention it deserves.  Prospecting is not a good thing to do when you are tired or frustrated, and it is too important to be left for last.  Using all of the ideas in my previous articles salespeople will understand how to really prospect and they will enjoy it more which should bring it closer to the top of the list.

The key to time management is blocking time for activities and holding that sacred.  Salespeople need to look at their calendars and decide when they will do prospecting.  I recommend that it be done during the part of the day when the salesperson is at their best.

Salespeople need to ask themselves, “How many hours a week do I spend prospecting?” and “Is that enough?”  Devoting the proper amount of time to prospecting is difficult but it will make all the difference when you are trying to increase sales.  The amount of time may vary but the minimum should be 8 hours.  Yes, eight hours.  But any increase in time spent prospecting will be beneficial.

Let’s revisit the definition of prospecting so that it is clear on what you can do during your prospecting time.

The word “Prospecting” is not directly defined by Webster’s but leads you to the word “explore” thus the following definition.

prospecting: to make or conduct a systematic search

prospect: a potential customer, client or purchaser

If a prospect is a potential customer, client or purchaser and prospecting means to make or conduct a systematic search then prospecting activities can be as follows:

  1. Make a systematic search of your current clients to look for more business.
  2. Make a systematic search of their referrals to look for new business.
  3. Contact all of the people you have met at networking events to determine if they need your solutions.
  4. Research companies and gather information so that you can contact them.
  5. Make phone calls from a lead list.
  6. Follow up on direct mail that has been sent to prospects.

Here’s what salespeople can do:

  1. Determine how much time you currently spend prospecting.
  2. Make a list of the prospecting activities you do.
  3. Look at your calendar for the next 3 weeks and block out your prospecting time.
  4. After blocking your time, keep records of the time you do spend prospecting.
  5. Keep records of each prospecting activity to determine which results in the most sales.
  6. Reward yourself for spending more time on prospecting.

If your salespeople are having a hard time finding the time to prospect you will need to have them do a time on task survey for about a week.  Simply have them write down every activity they do during the day.  Once you have this information you can help them prioritize and eliminate activities so that they have the time to prospect.