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Time management hacks for B2B sales reps

August 27, 2020

Time management isn’t just about getting things done faster...

It’s a combination of prioritising your most urgent tasks and executing them effectively. This is the mark of an elite salesperson.

For the less experienced sales rep, the busiest day of the week is always tomorrow.

We spoke to William Gay, an impassioned Cognism BDM who has reduced B2B sales to its basic elements and refined his processes to an astonishing degree. Having booked an average of 104 meetings per month through the height of the 2020 lockdown, Will is - in a word - efficient! He told us:

“For me, time management is the single most important sales skill. Managing your time effectively allows you to not only achieve your targets, but overachieve.”

Starting out as an SDR 👨‍💼

Life in SaaS sales wasn’t always easy for Will. He started out feeling much the same as most salespeople taking their first steps: a little overwhelmed.

“When I started I had post-it notes all over my desk. I was finding it hard to keep up and ended my first month by hitting 10% of my target. This wasn’t good enough. The following quarter I achieved 143% of target by working hard and becoming more efficient.”

Will’s transition began with a commitment to his development and one simple exercise: planning out his day.

“I blocked the day into actionable chunks. The brain doesn’t like hopping from activity to activity. The more effectively you can block your day into manageable tasks, the more easily you can get into a rhythm.”

For the next few months, Will had this plan Sellotaped to his desk.

“With this structure, I was spending less time making cold calls, but making more cold calls than the other SDRs. It was so helpful for me to always be able to look down and remind myself of exactly what I should be doing.”

Will’s time management hacks ⏰

Will has come a long way since his first month at Cognism. He has moved quickly up the ranks and even ran an efficiency workshop based on what he learnt. Here are his 7 key time management hacks:

1 - Keyboard shortcuts ⌨️

“Learn them. Blocking off your time is vital, but you still need to be efficient. These ones have really helped me.”

  • Cmd + L - clicks and highlights the text in the URL bar.
  • Cmd + F - searches anywhere on the screen for a keyword.
  • Cmd + X, C and V - cut, copy and paste, respectively.
  • Cmd + alt + shift + V - paste text into an area in the same format as the area.

“Using your mouse takes much more time. Learn the keyboard strokes and you’ll get the less interesting tasks done much faster, giving you more time to focus on what matters most... selling!”

2 - Find shortcuts for repetitive actions ⏩

“If you find yourself regularly repeating a task, find something that shortcuts that task. I recently found a tool called aText. If you regularly write the same sentence, you can save it. When you next write the beginning of that sentence, aText will find the sentence and input it for you.”

Will also mentioned using Grammarly to quickly check his emails. If there’s technology out there which will speed up your process, use it. Don’t slow yourself down with unnecessary work!

3 - Take notes 📝

“Assume you will remember nothing and write everything down. Always take great notes; this will help you to remember more actively.”

“Also, keep your notes organised. I use OneNote to categorise my notes, and I’m now able to quickly jump back and check them in no time at all. Good note-taking and organisation practically eradicate the need to remember anything!”

4 - 30-minute daily preparation 📅

“When I was an SDR and an MDR, I’d spend the first half-hour of every day preparing and setting reminders on my computer. This was how I stayed organised and on track. This process will put you in the right state of mind for work, while reminding you of your daily tasks.”

Often, salespeople try to speed up by diving headfirst into a big pile of work at the start of their day. The more things I do, the more effective I become! Usually, this approach isn’t effective and only results in unnecessarily wasted time. Instead, plan out your sales strategy at the beginning of your day and space out your tasks evenly.

5 - Follow the right people on LinkedIn 📲

First, it should be noted, we don’t recommend spending too much time on LinkedIn looking for inspiration. LinkedIn “research” could be considered professional procrastination. That said, LinkedIn can help you to discover some innovative ways to step up your sales game.

“Follow everyone who is putting out good content on LinkedIn. Substitute all your Instagram and Facebook time for LinkedIn and optimise your intake. Don’t do this during working hours though!”

6 - Use a CRM or sales engagement tool 💻

In fact, use the best CRM and sales engagement tools you can afford. Find one which solves the challenges you face, and use it! Sales technology will make your job so much easier.

“I’d recommend using a tool like SalesLoft. So many companies don’t use a sales enablement tool. It means you have to log every single task, move it, update it. A good CRM drives sales growth and forces you to be consistent in your actions.”

Investing in the right software will vastly reduce the number of manual activities you have to complete, and will free up a lot of your time.

7 - Read books that inspire you 📖

Will is a big fan of Audible, as it allows him to use his time off to feed his appetite for knowledge. While reading books can’t directly save you time, investing in your personal growth ultimately can. Will named a few books which have inspired him to develop in his sales career.

Check out some more B2B sales content 🚀

Many thanks to William Gay for showing us exactly how he transitioned from struggling SDR to bar-raising BDM, running efficiency workshops!

If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some more of our great sales content.

We've recently published The Outbound Prospecting Playbook, our new sales eBook. It contains plenty of tips, tricks and valuable insights for you to use! Inside, you’ll find information on:

  • Identifying and calculating your TAM.
  • How to cold call like a pro!
  • The art of the outbound email.
  • Social selling advice for LinkedIn.
  • Templates for cadences that convert.
  • And much, much more!

Download the full copy by clicking the link below!

Cognism Outbound Prospecting Playbook