To start, I want to make it clear that no two sales managers have the same weekly schedule. I’ve seen sales managers that served as the company’s ‘closer’, flying around and helping reps close big deals. I’ve also worked with Ms. Dashboard, the sales manager that spends most of her day reviewing reports and data with little time to spare for actual human interaction. From company to company or even week to week your schedule, as a sales manager, will vary. However, in order for a sales managers to properly manage her schedule she must balance three main priorities.
Any task or responsibility that does not relate to spending time with a customer or a sales professional is “the business.” The business requires expense management, technology, human resources, forecasting, and any cross-department meeting. It’s a requirement to spend time each week working in the business. It’s equally important for a sales manager to eliminate the need for his or her team to spend any time working in the business. Sales professionals should spend 90% of their time with customers or trying to be with customers. For a true sales leader this is the hardest segment to give attention. If you are reading this and find yourself enjoying the “business” section’s work the most, then we should have an honest conversation about your future as a sales leader. Focusing on the business is just as important as the other two, but you shouldn’t enjoy more than your team or your customers. It’s vital to remember that the business exists to support the customer and the team, not the other way around.
Often this responsibility gets lost in the customer section. If you are with one of your reps for a field ride or shadow day, and all of your time is spent with the customer, then your time should be categorized as customer time. Working on the team is coaching on opportunities for improvement. Spending time on the team is assessing performance and helping each sales professional get from here to there. These goals can be accomplished while on a field ride, but in the car or at the end of the day. Many managers miss the opportunity and choose to talk about other subjects (that’s OK and sometimes important, but still worth calling out).
It’s also a sales manager’s responsibility to know the customer. If the manager doesn’t have a relationship with key accounts, and a rep leaves (trust me they all do at some point) the business can suffer. It’s Important for a sales managers to dedicate time to customer interaction. In fact spend time with prospects, mid-level accounts, not just big strategic accounts. This is also the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the market. Relying solely on our team’s perspective is a dangerous position. Stay relevant and spend time with customers.
How much time you spend in each category will depend on your business. If your business requires more interaction with the product team, then you (the manager) will need to shepherd your team from business tasks. You can’t afford for salespeople to spend time on things that don’t produce revenue. Take it off their schedule and help handle those aspects for them.
In my personal scheduling I try and spend Tuesday-Thursday with customers and the team. I reserve Monday and Friday for business related tasks like: executive team meetings, IT meetings, P&L management, expense approval, vendor meetings, human resource paperwork (reviews, new hire paperwork, interviews), etc. That schedule sets me up for success by helping me spread my time between my three most important priorities.
Make sure your schedule allows for you to spend time in all three categories. Many sales leaders neglect the business section, and your team suffers as a result. Let them sell, while you eliminate distractions.