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How to balance your sales time between prospecting, lead nurturing, closing and upselling

Balance Your Sales Time
How to avoid distractions and spend more time selling
The expert sales management advice you need to prioritize your team’s time
Final thoughts

Your pipeline is full, you’re adding quality prospects, converting new leads and upselling to your existing customers.

As you start to get busier, however, managing your time across your sales pipeline, sales process and reporting can get complicated.

How do you split your time between lead generation and qualification, prospecting, closing deals, onboarding, upselling and reducing churn?

In this article, we’ll share time management tips and techniques so sales managers and sales professionals can streamline workflows, prioritize key tasks and increase sales effectiveness as they scale.

How to avoid distractions and spend more time selling

Busyness often creates an illusion of cohesion and focus.

A steady flow of prospects, leads, customers and upsell opportunities is great.

However, without strategic sales time management, your sales reps may miss quotas and overall sales productivity could decline.

Busy salespeople are already juggling tons of tasks. You can’t afford an ad-hoc approach to time management.

According to Jonathan Spira, the author of Overload:

A person’s recovery time from any interruption is 10-20 times the length of that interruption.

Think about how many times you let yourself become interrupted during your workday. Some distractions are unavoidable. Others we bring on ourselves.

Gloria Mark, of the University of California, has shown workers typically attend to a task for about three minutes before switching to something else (usually an electronic communication like a text, a call, social media message, or an email). It then takes about 20 minutes to get back to the task properly.

Calls, emails, ad-hoc conversations, administrative tasks and more pop up every hour for every salesperson. You need a time management strategy to efficiently streamline workflows and minimize distractions (i.e. productivity killers).

One of the best places to start is with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. A CRM enables reps to stay organized while at their desks or on the go. They make it easy to access customer information, sales call lists, email templates, case studies, buyer personas, sales enablement, white papers and other documents, all in one centralized place.

Here are five ways to minimize distraction so your team can spend less time context switching and more time selling.

1. Managing new leads

According to Todd Falcone, author of The Fearless Networker:

Your pipeline must always be full. This is at the very basic level of any sales process

While a full pipeline is important, a pipeline full of prospects doesn’t always translate into leads and sales success.

Here’s a tricky situation most salespeople can relate to:

  • You find a fresh and exciting lead

  • After a series of emails, you manage to get your hot lead on the phone

  • You think you’ve got a deal nailed until you’re left talking around in circles for half an hour

  • Frustration kicks in as you put down the phone

Do you follow up and chase the lead you thought had potential? Or is your time better spent nurturing a different lead after you remove this contact from your pipeline?

Collate as much information as you can on the potential lead and make any decisions based on data-driven insights. You can do this quickly and easily with Pipedrive’s sales pipeline management functionality.

Crucially, you need to be able to recognize a dead lead, looking specifically at the following:

  • Whether they have a need for what you’re selling

  • If they’re the key decision-maker

  • If they truly have the available budget

If you understand these factors, you’ll know which leads are deserving of your precious time.

2. Managing your sales pipeline

Too often we focus on unnecessary sales metrics. Huge volumes of metrics are intended to help you sell more, but you can be left with the opposite effect: drowning in heaps of data that doesn’t align with your predefined goals.

You only need to focus on the few sales metrics that matter to regain clarity and be able to manage your time effectively. Here’s what those key KPIs could look like:

  • The number of deals in your pipeline

  • The average size of the deals in your pipeline

  • Your close ratio or the average percentage of deals closed

  • The sales velocity, or the average time it takes to close a deal

If you want help determining the key metrics you should be monitoring, we dedicated an entire article to the sales objectives you need to track.

Once decided, you can analyze the group of important metrics and automatically pull reports on them with Pipedrive’s sales funnel management system. This quick, clear visibility helps you immediately understand things like:

  • Sales pipeline coverage

  • Opportunity win rate by individual team member

  • Historical sales cycle velocity

3. Dealing with churn

Customer churn should always be something you analyze to improve your process and establish new ways of working.

While customer churn is generally considered a bad thing,

losing a low revenue customer can be a good thing for your business. This way, you can focus your time finding, converting, upselling and keeping ideal customers.

Step one is to figure out what the normal level of churn is for your industry.

Next, determine your ideal customer profile (ICP) and what type of leads are worth pursuing.

Once you’re crystal clear on your ICP, re-prioritize your efforts to reduce churn for existing customers that fall into that segment.

Instinctively, you want to keep all of your customers. However, like inactive email subscribers, the wrong customer fit can do more harm than good to your business health and cash flow.

Your time is better spent upselling or cross-selling to an existing customer that fits your ICP than trying to persuade a low revenue customer to stay.

With the right sales CRM, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to analyze why customers churn.

Federico Wengi, early-stage tech VC at Paua Ventures explains why Pipedrive’s lost reasons feature is valuable, and exactly how it works:

One good feature of Pipedrive is Lost Reasons. Through this, a user is forced to input a reason when marking a deal as ‘lost’. It is possible to define a list of options and to track what are the reasons for declining deals that happen more often.

Apart from analyzing why customers tend to churn, try using the opposite approach in tandem.

Focus less on churn and more on figuring out what your best customers have in common so you can leverage that knowledge in sales activities

Pipedrive’s sales reporting features make it easy for you to find and compare data on your won deals. You can automate the info gathering process and easily analyze how you’re winning ideal clients, so you can do more of the same in the coming sales cycles.

This fantastic explainer video explains exactly how you can take advantage of smart reporting to improve your sales process and close more of the right deals.

This allows you to balance churn by attracting better quality leads who will help you kick up that all-important MRR (monthly recurring revenue) figure repeatedly over the longer term.

4. Falling down on the upsell

Scaling companies often struggle with figuring out how to increase MRR

At this point, you’ve laid the foundations as a business. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources in your marketing, business development and sales training, refined your processes and your team has been continually driving new sales.

While your conversion rates are good, this is when growth may slow down and the pressure to drive MRR kicks into high gear.

Upselling is a key strategy here. Your sales team needs to dedicate a portion of their time to driving more revenue from existing customers by proving the value of your higher-tier product offering.

Here’s a quote from network marketing expert Tom Chenault:

We need to stop constantly selling and just be good human beings. The end result will be that the person on the other side of the table gets listened to and served.”

Think about this with your existing customers.

Don’t focus 100% of your attention on selling. Instead, break out a portion of your sales time to focus on building relationships with existing customers. Try to understand their specific professional problems and work out how you can offer a better solution with a more premium, customized or advanced product.

Sales reps who master active listening excel at building trust, a critical currency you can exchange for more revenue. If you focus too hard on selling, you may miss where you can really add value to your customers’ businesses.

Relationship development with existing customers will give you a chance for an upsell, help you reduce churn and increase your customer’s average lifetime value (LTV).

Track vital, customer-specific information with Pipedrive’s pipeline sales management tool, so you can convert upsell opportunities effectively.

5. A lack of clarity around customers’ lifetime value

If you can’t calculate CLTV, it’s likely you’ll focus your efforts in the wrong areas, stress over things you should ignore and deliver poor forecasts – setting a dangerous expectation for the senior management in your business.

Through Pipedrive’s sales forecasting tool you can segment your customers, report on their current activity and forecast accurately. Each of these insights can be used to establish a tailored, accurate and structured strategy moving forward.

The expert sales management advice you need to prioritize your team’s time

Balancing your sales time between prospecting, nurturing leads, closing deals, inducting customers, upselling and reducing churn is a tough gig.

Sales time management is one of the trickiest challenges for even the most experienced of sales leaders.

If you have the resources, dedicate each salesperson or team to only one stage of the buyer’s journey.

A fast-scaling business needs its best salespeople firmly focused on upselling existing customers only. Acquiring new customers requires a different process, skill set and rhythm.

Work with them to develop strong expertise in that one stage.

You’ll increase conversion rates much faster, helping you to continually grow that MRR figure. You’ll also scale faster by building expert sales teams dedicated to each key sales function.

Final thoughts

If you’re just starting to grow your sales team and business, put your sales superstars on upselling.

This way, you’ll have your strongest players focused on bringing in a chunk of key revenue, which will give you time to build structured sales processes for the rest of the customer lifecycle stages.

Of course, a sales-specific CRM will come in handy to help you simplify that process and gather all the data you need to improve your sales performance

Pipedrive is free to trial for 14 days, so you can check out the lost reasons and sales reporting features for yourself!)

Time saving tactics ebook

Spend More Minutes Selling With These Time Saving Sales Tactics

Take control of your workday with these time saving sales tactics that will focus your meetings and calls, and help you tackle admin tasks.

Driving business growth