It’s not a big secret that many sales people dislike (with a passion?) doing admin. It’s outside of their comfort zone and natural skill set. And, while it is a necessary evil, poor admin skills can actually result in more admin and so the problem gets worse.
Here are three mistakes made by sales people that actually increase admin time along with suggestions to resolve them all…
1. Using Email to manage tasks
How often do business people (not just sales people) use their email client to manage their tasks? Too often! In addition, they also have a ‘to do’ list (or several), notebooks, CRM tasks, sticky notes and a range of ways to note down what they have to do. And the result? Far too much time trying to manage task lists, let alone doing the tasks!
How to manage your sales tasks better
Imagine starting the day and all your tasks are not only in one place but when you update them, you automatically update your CRM and create a follow-on task. Sounds good? (if you don’t already use a CRM, read our blog How to Leverage a CRM to Boost Sales)
First of all, befriend the tasks function of your CRM and ditch every other method of reminding yourself to do a sales task! If you receive a sales email that you need to respond to later, copy it into your CRM (most of the major CRMs have a plugin that will allow you to copy an email into the associated lead/contact record at the click of a button – ask your IT guys to do it for you if you don’t know how) and create a task with a deadline. Stop writing post-it notes. Don’t write manual ‘to-do’ lists. Avoid using your electronic task list unless it sits within your CRM!
Every morning, make a habit of checking your CRM task list and just do the tasks that are due today. When you close a task (and enjoy the associated satisfaction in doing so), automatically schedule a follow-on task with a new deadline. Then you can forget about it until you view the tasks due on that day.
2. Avoiding admin
Admin is unavoidable, it is necessary to improve overall results and keeps things in order, making everyone’s job easier. Except when one team (we’re looking at you Sales!) do it badly and cause more work for themselves and everyone else.
How to improve your sales admin
If you have any additional support (i.e. a PA or Administrator) then offload onto them. Having someone else manage your admin for you will free up so much of your time, you will automatically become more productive and produce better results.
If you can’t afford or don’t have any additional resource that enables you to offload your admin, then reduce the ways you administer your tasks. Here are our top tips:
- Use your CRM task list to manage all your key sales activities and use Outlook (or similar) tasks to manage your non-CRM activities.
- Be diligent about putting realistic deadlines against each task and focus on the ones scheduled for each day on that day only.
- Bundle groups of admin tasks together so you can plough through them quickly, i.e. group your filing, call-backs, invoicing etc. and do them all in one go before moving on to the next group.
- Schedule time into your diary to work through admin, for example after lunch when you have an energy slump or at the end of the day when you are less alert.
- Don’t, Don’t, Don’t multi-task! This only distracts you and ultimately takes longer to complete each group of tasks. Focus on one task or group of tasks, i.e. replying to LinkedIn messages, and finish them all before doing anything else.
- Don’t get distracted! If you start a task or group of tasks, stick with it. If the phone rings and it is not urgent, don’t answer it. Let the caller leave a message and schedule your call backs into a group for a time that is convenient for you.
3. Reinventing the wheel
More often than not, there is some form of repetitiveness in a Salesperson’s admin, be it sending quotations, introduction emails, sales orders, sales confirmations or just a simple follow up email. Yet how many sales people either start from scratch each time, spending ages typing the same sorts of emails, or worse, take the last document/email and amend it for the next? There are fundamental flaws in both approaches. The first simply wastes time, the second results in mistakes (check through previous sales orders/contracts/quotations that you have sent and check how many have the wrong information on them). There is a smarter way to manage your admin…
How to save time on repetitive tasks
Behold the power of templates! Templates are one of a sales person’s best tools! Not only do they reduce admin time (saving the need to retype from scratch), they remove the need for too much thought and produce a much cleaner, tidier and, more importantly, factually correct document. Create templates for all your major communication & sales documents and discipline yourself to use them. Save them in a logical place, such as a folder called templates, be that in your OneDrive, in your CRM Email Templates (ask your IT department if you don’t know how) or your Outlook Shortcuts.
Here are some cases where sales templates are really useful:
- Sales emails – if you need help with your written comms ask someone else to draft them for you. If you don’t have staff and friends/family don’t have this skill, pay someone to do it for you. If cash is short, use People Per Hour or Fiverr. Then simply change the first and last paragraph each time you send out the template to customise it for the recipient. Don’t forget to include any relevant attachments like pdf brochures to the templates! Sales emails can include: introduction email, meeting request/confirmation, keeping in touch/follow up, confirmation of sale, quote etc.
- Quotations & Sales Orders – create a template or download one from Microsoft or the internet, customise it to your corporate colours (see our blog: How to improve your brand image to increase sales) and highlight the bits that need updating, i.e. customer name, quotation number, address etc.
- Terms & Conditions – we would always recommend having your T&Cs checked by a legal professional. If you don’t have them already, then a standard template is available to FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) members. Highlight in a different colour the bits that need amending, i.e. client name, address etc. Or you could add form fields and lock the document down so you can only amend those sections.
- LinkedIn messages – if you use the same phrase each time to request a LinkedIn connection, save it as a template (in a Word document or in Outlook Notes etc.) then simply copy & paste each time you want to connect, changing the person’s name after the greeting. Have different templates for different connection types. For example, request for somebody you met at a networking event, who you found on LinkedIn, somebody you know etc. Then, just change the bits that make them personal, i.e. the name of the event you met them at.
These tips will involve a little time to set up. When done though, they will free up your time, make you more productive and ultimately help you sell more!