Time management is often a sales rep’s biggest challenge, and at first glance, it would seem that adding additional demands such as online sales training would just make things more difficult.
However, sales professionals realize that in addition to making sales calls, building the pipeline, completing sales reports, and servicing customers, they can accomplish great things by taking the time to stay up-to-date on the latest sales strategies and techniques.
Online sales training has been shown to have real benefit. U.S. companies spend billions annually on sales training. Still, salespeople often complain they just don’t have the time to be trained. Sales professionals know better. They realize that you have to make the time for sales training, and that whatever time you invest to sharpen your skills and learn new approaches will be more than repaid in the form of incremental sales success in the wake of the training.
The need to fit sales training into an already robust work and home schedule makes online sales training particularly attractive. With online courses you can log in when you want and move through the lessons at your own pace. Of course, that sense of infinite freedom can be bad news as well as good news. Because they can tackle training at any time, some sales reps fail to find any time to do online training, or they try to work it in between tasks or late at night when they can’t give the training their full attention.
Fortunately, with the help of some straightforward time-management strategies, you’ll find yourself completing your online training in a timely manner and getting the most out of it. Here are seven tips to help you fold online sales training into your workday:
1. Maintain a work schedule
Good time management starts with a structured schedule. Identify those tasks that need to be accomplished during the workday and set aside sufficient time for each, including additional time for unexpected interruptions and distractions. Somewhere in your schedule build in time for training. Ideally, the online training program you select will have the content divided into small enough lessons so that you can enjoy them whenever you have as few as 15 spare minutes in your day.
2. “Eat the frog”
Mark Twain said, “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” Unpleasant tasks will be part of your workday; do them first to get them out of the way. That’s not to say that online sales training has to be unpleasant! On the contrary, the ideal online sales training program will be both engaging and immediately actionable. An interesting lesson that is also immediately applicable to your day-to-day activities will encourage you to absorb and apply what you learn right away. The faster you see positive results, the more likely you’ll be motivated to power through the rest of the lessons looking for similar gems.
3. Be more efficient online
One of the great things about working in the 21st century is access to information and communications. The web, email, text, and other online resources, including sales training, all hold the potential to improve productivity. The flip side, of course, is that all of those new resources also create an abundance of potential distractions. Learn how to make the most of the resources at your disposal. Be efficient with your time online to gather the information you need without wasting effort or being distracted.
4. Plan for the unexpected
There are going to be interruptions in your workday: an urgent phone call, a last-minute request for a report, a customer emergency, or some other unpredictable event. Deal with them as well as you can; however, stay focused and don’t let the unexpected disrupt your schedule any more than necessary. This is another reason that shorter online lessons are preferred; it’s more likely you’ll be at a natural stopping point if and when an unexpected task is dropped in your lap.
5. Create focused time for training
As part of your schedule, allocate time for online training. If you have created a work schedule, dealt with the tough stuff early in the day, and are ready to handle disruptions, you should be able to include dedicated time for training. Set aside the time you need, whether it is 15 minutes over your morning coffee, or a portion of your lunch hour, or perhaps some precious time at home once the kids are in bed. Whatever time slot you select, stay focused and use that quality time to ensure that you’re genuinely absorbing the material as well as visualizing ways to apply it to your current prospects and customers. Surveys show that most successful executives start their workday at 6AM or even earlier to get a jump on their days. You might find that embracing your online sales training in the early morning, followed by a review of your goal sheet and To Do list, would position you to make the most of each and every day.
6. Remember that multitasking is a myth
Don’t try to incorporate sales training into other tasks. Trying to absorb information while sitting in on a boring conference call is not the way to learn. You cannot focus on two tasks at the same time. That said, there are plenty of times during the day when you have to wait. Using those 15 and 30-minute windows to view (or review) an online sales lesson on your smartphone would be a wonderful way to make the most of those otherwise wasted fractions of an hour. And if you can listen to an audio-only sales training program, you’re well-positioned to make the most of the countless hours of windshield time that most sales professionals endure each week while commuting to/from the office and/or their customers’ locations. In the era of working from home, your only “daily commute” might be talking a healthy stroll to clear your head in the middle of the day, or walking the dog, both of which would be ideal times to be listening to motivating sales training material.
7. Reward work well done
Consider rewarding yourself for successfully advancing through your sales curriculum. Tell yourself you have to complete the next three lessons before taking a break or calling it a day. Creating your own rewards in the spirit of personal gamification is a great way to stay focused and motivated.
Many organizations rely on studies citing the ROI of online sales training to justify their investment. However, any training’s return on investment is a function of the attitude, commitment and diligence that the trainees bring to the table. Attitude is everything. If you understand the value of training and its potential to increase your sales (and the size of your commission check), then you won’t see it as something that interferes with your workday. Make time for sales training. And if you are organized, committed, and attentive, then online training will surely yield great rewards for both you and your organization.