In business as in life, time is not just money – time is everything. Effective time management is the difference between a contract delivered on time or a lost client, a bill paid or missed, and the overall success or failure of a business.
Helping employees to manage their time effectively is a necessity for any business, but adoption of any new habits or guidelines always starts at the top. To help increase your employee productivity and drive sales, consider the following starting points:
1. Divide and conquer. Everyone has a role to play in the sales process. To some extent, customers like to deal with a familiar face – someone who manages their relationship with the company. However, not everyone can be good at every part of the sales process. Some employees are better at generating leads, some are closers, some execute, and some are great at offering additional add-ons after the fact. The key here as a manager is to find out where people excel and allow them to utilize their strengths.
2. Always incentivize success. It is important to align an employee’s interest with those of your company as closely as possible. This will provide employees strong motivation to use their time wisely in pursuit of their goals, which will also be your goals. Employees need to be rewarded for success in achieving objectives that have been very carefully selected by you as a manager.
For instance, your goals for an employee may not just be more sales; instead it might be a greater number of sales with high profit margins, which will help your company’s profitability. In the short-term, your goal for employees may be limited to getting more leads. You can always change the objective later to converting more of those leads to sales.
3. Avoid punishing failure. As helpful as positive reinforcement can be in the form of proper incentives, negative reinforcement has shown to be every bit as harmful to employee morale. First, employees can become embarrassed or even resentful of your company. Moreover, punishing mistakes almost inevitably distracts employees from putting their best effort into generating sales.
If mistakes are made – which they inevitably will be – it is best to help an employee understand what was done wrong and what corrections they can make for the future. However, try to let the employee figure out why what they did was wrong. This way they will come to better understand your company’s process and why things are done a certain way. They may even come up with ways to improve the company’s process or develop new best practices.
4. Train, train, train. To really boost productivity in sales or any other area of business, employees need to be given the tools they need to succeed. They need to be empowered with the ability to achieve. That can mean having the flexibility that they need to meet varying customer needs, or the ability to make each sales call count. General George Patton is credited with saying, “don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” Other historical figures from Winston Churchill to Franklin Roosevelt have quotes to the same effect – micromanaging is counter-productive. The best managers are those that help set goals for employees, give them access to superior tools and training, and step back to let the employee determine how best to achieve their objectives.
Helping employees to improve their productivity is almost a full-time job. Many large companies have entire divisions built around employee training and empowerment, developing best practices and exploring new ways to apply ever-increasing knowledge about employee and customer behavior. For smaller firms, even a few areas of improvement can go a long way.
To help the productivity of your employees, try exploring the points above; and be sure to keep an eye out for other areas that you come across as potential sources of improvement. Your company will change over time, and with it will change your staff, customer base, your goals and your needs for employee productivity. Setting your mind early on to developing not only ways to improve productivity, but ways of determining your short-, mid-, and long-term needs will put your business on the right track for long-term success.
About Our Guest Author – Una Lawlor
Una Lawlor is Content Marketing Manager at Advance Systems, a company that provides world-class enterprise HR software. Una has over 10 years’ sales and marketing experience in retail, media, finance and technology. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin with a degree in English & French, Una has extensive content writing experience and specialises in the field of people operations and HR management. You can find Una on Twitter (@lawloru) and Linkedin.