Sell Smarter, Not Harder .....Thru Better Time Management

By Ray Silverstein

for The Business Journal (Phoenix)


Whatever it is your company sells, wouldn’t you like to sell more of it? Without, of course, working longer hours?


If you’re the company rainmaker, you need to invest serious time in selling your products or services. Otherwise obviously, sales will dry up. But selling is not often easy for entrepreneurs who wear many hats.


One of the tough things about selling: it’s easy to procrastinate. After all, selling requires energy, passion, and focus—something that’s tough to conjure up when you’re juggling a dozen other responsibilities.


Every hour of every day, you’re making decisions—conscious or otherwise—on how you’ll spend your time. The real question is: how much time are you actually devoting to the business of sales? If you’re not content with your current sales activity, then there’s only one answer: clearly, not enough!


Track Your Activity

Selling is a deceptive activity. You may think you’re working on sales, when in fact you’re accomplishing anything but. It’s time for a reality check.


One way to do this is to keep a time log. For one solid week, document your business activity hour by hour. No, it’s not fun, but by the end of the week, you’ll have a true picture of how much time you’re actually devoting to sales.


Or, if the idea of tracking your hours is just too unappealing, try tracking your activity instead, using a simple point system.


Under this point system, you give yourself points for performing various functions that are essential to your sales process. For example, your point system might look like this:


1 Point - Calling a prospect/asking a customer for a referral

2 Points – Making an appointment with a prospect

3 Points – Meeting with a prospect or current customer

4 Points – Submitting a proposal

5 Points – Closing a sale/receiving an order


Under a system like this, you might aim for a goal of 20 points a day, which of course adds up to 100 points a week. 


You can develop your own point system, or you can use mine. (Over the years, I developed a sales tracker worksheet for entrepreneurs in my peer groups. For a free copy, email me at or call 800-818-0150.)


By the way, this works just as well if you have a sales team and want to get a handle on their productivity. Bonus: the point system can double as a goal system. It’s a great way to give beginning sales pros some concrete targets to shoot for.


The “point” is, once you start tracking your activity points, you’ll quickly see how much effort you’re truly spending on sales. But be prepared: you may be surprised by what you learn. Don’t be dismayed. Rather, use this as an opportunity to make some needed changes.


Outsmarting the Clock

If you conclude that you need to spend more time on sales, you’ll need to free yourself from some less important tasks. To create more “rainmaking” time, consider delegating activities like these:


Paperwork – Perhaps it’s time to get some office help, even if it’s only part-time. If you have a hard time delegating, this is a good place to start. Remember, there are only so many hours in the day. You won’t be able to grow your company beyond a certain point all on your own. If you already have employees, start handing off more responsibility.


Customer Service – Strong customer service is essential to ongoing sales, but that doesn’t mean you must answer every phone call. Get some support. Worried your customers may feel neglected? Actually, they might feel more secure knowing that you have backup.


Lead generation – Cold-calling is probably a poor use of your time, but it lends itself beautifully to outsourcing. In fact, a professional direct mail expert or telemarketer might get better results than you can. And if they’re providing a steady stream of leads, it will free you up to focus on the best of them. 

The point is, don’t do well what you shouldn’t do at all. Put your energies where they’re most valuable. As an entrepreneur, your time is your most valuable asset. And as the company rainmaker, you need to spend that time focused on selling.