Increase Your Sales: Take Charge of Your Inbox and Your Time
Let’s be honest: We all have trouble staying focused and therefore productive throughout the workday. We get distracted by so many tasks that all require our attention, including incoming calls, multiple sales initiatives, offers, internal meetings, keeping up with email, writing phone scripts, researching prospects and more—much more.
What’s your biggest challenge to productivity throughout your workday? For many inside sales reps, it’s email. Many of us finish the day wondering where the time went and why we didn’t accomplish more, not realizing how much our efforts to be productive are thwarted by the distractions of the inbox.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. It is possible to take charge of your inbox, so you can take back those hours of your day and focus on sales instead. In short, managing your email can be an easy way to increase your sales productivity. It gives you more time to focus on your sales goals and quota, as opposed to being focused on smaller tasks.
Mastering your email inbox won’t happen in an instant. It will take some time to learn the new habits that enable it. However, the time invested in getting organized will pay off greatly in the future. Think short-term gain for long-term gain!
Are you ready to take charge of your inbox? If so, here’s some help…
Step 1: Schedule your email
The first thing you absolutely positively must do to take charge of your inbox is to schedule your email time into your day. Many people find it helpful to schedule time at the beginning of the day, middle of the day, and end of the day. You must put your “email time” on your calendar, and include an end time. For example, your calendar might allow for email from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., then another half hour at 11:30 a.m., and a half hour at the end of the business day. Jill Konrath calls it “batch your email checking” and she highly recommends it for increasing productivity.
“Batching” your email time means you won’t get distracted throughout the day as emails come in, keeping you focused on other more important tasks and therefore making you more productive. If you’re like most people, you’ve been reacting to each email as it came in for years. It will take a while and some serious self-discipline to put this into practice (and we know you’ll be tempted to check email on your phone if you have it closed on your laptop—been there, done that!), but it is worth the effort. You’ll be surprised how much less time you spend on email with this approach.
In order to make this work, however, you must also turn off all notifications. Notifications will urge you to check your email every time you hear a ping. And if you hear a bunch of pings in a short period of time, you’ll be even more likely to check your email and blow your batching. So just turn them off. Whatever it is can wait.
Step 2: Sort through your email
With this new approach, the first thing you should do when you get to work is check your email at the beginning of your work day, remembering to only do so for a set amount of time. This will not only let you see what new tasks need to be completed; it will also serve as a way for you to remind yourself of what still needs to get done.
You’re going to do this sorting in an organized way, however. In an article for The Business Journals, Patrick Tamburino suggests you create four top-level folders for your sorting and sort your new emails into the appropriate folders:
- Waiting on…
- Read later
By doing this, you’ll be able to easily sort through your email in the future to know what needs immediate action and what can wait. A variation of this is to create folders based on your clients. Organizing your email into client folders makes it easy to find past emails and documents, and it allows you to have everything you need for a client in one convenient location
Additionally (and perhaps ideally), you could do a combination of these two methods to ensure that everything is prioritized and placed where it needs to be (i.e. associated with a lead or client), and is easy to find in the future.
Step 3: Take action
The next thing you should do after checking your email is make decisions, and act accordingly. Respond to the emails that can be responded to quickly. Then file these in the “Filed” folder. Save the emails that you’ll need to reference later or take action on into their respective folders, or file these in your “Action” folder. Place emails that need another’s response in your “Waiting on…” folder. Lastly, place emails that you need to review at some point but not right away in your “Read later” folder.
These steps will help in getting you organized for the day while keeping you on top of your email inbox.
Step 4: Delete
In addition to scheduling your email time, sorting through emails and making appropriate decisions about actions to take, it’s important that you also delete older emails as new ones come in. Deleting older emails can be a huge help in figuring out what needs to get done because it removes clutter. A clean inbox is a clean mind. There’s no reason for you to have emails from months ago unless they provide you with information that cannot be found in newer emails. If that’s the case, those emails should be filed away so they are out of sight anyway.
Though it might take some time to get used to this new approach, taking charge of your inbox can make the difference in how much you accomplish in a day. Being distracted means you’re missing out on sales opportunities and you’re less productive overall. So take some time to get into a routine and get organized, so both your productivity and your sales are maximized.