Here are eight simple steps to help you find ways to become more efficient in the use of your time. Let's take a look at each one, because they all require a commitment.

Set goals and priorities

In order to know where you are going, you must have goals. Most of us in sales have always worked with quotas or goals. You should have not only sales goals but also personal goals. These goals should be not only for the coming year but also for two or three years in the future. Once you have goals, everything you do is related to them. You set your daily, weekly and monthly priorities based on their impact to your goal.

Allow some free time

People who are successful work hard but play equally as hard. There also must be time to think about what you will be doing in relation to the set goals.

Create value for everything you sell

Creating enough value to justify the prices you need to be profitable is your job. It is not easy to do, but is essential to your success. Once you have the value set for any item, it must be believable by you first and then sellable to a buyer. If it is not, then create more value until you reach a point where the value exceeds the price in the buyer's mind.

Eliminate wasted time

A good example is using a cell phone with a hands-free device as you drive to your first appointment. While taking coffee breaks in the morning or afternoon, use your time to make phone calls to customers. "Tele-selling" is a great way to have contact with the customer without having to meet in person. Have your car serviced or get gas during the evening hours.

Take time to plan

The time to plan your calls is not while you are driving to a customer. Planning should be done the night before. Make sure you use your time and cover your territory efficiently. If you don't, you will not be able to work your sales territory and maximize your sales effort. If you plan each call and make sure you are have all the material you will need to make the customer happy, you will be successful.

Implement your plan

Once you have established a plan stick to it. Make very few exceptions. A good way to keep customers happy is to make this statement: "Call me the day or night before and I will make room for you. Call me during the day and I'll see you the next day." If you plan every evening for the next day, you can always fit these people into your schedule and keep them happy. The problem is when you make it easy for people to see you at the drop of a hat, you suffer, your customers suffer and you'll have trouble meeting your goals.

Make time for your family and yourself

Taking a break is as important for your family as it is for you. When things are great at home, things seem to be great in the field. Make your family happy and you'll be happier. Also keep in mind that all work and no play will make you a dull person. If you don't have hobbies, get some.

Eliminate procrastination

No decision is a bad decision. Never put of until tomorrow what you can do today. A good sales person will always have some way to manage any situation, so there is no reason to put it off.

Save time and you will find yourself with enough time to make those extra calls, making yourself and your company more money.

(Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone (800) 447-7355; fax (717) 698-6555.)