In one of our previous articles, we talked about sales team structures, their benefits and downsides, and how to choose the best one for your type of business. In this article we look at your teams’ daily tasks, how to properly manage them, and how this can benefit your sales.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that project management and task management are not the same thing.
Simply put, projects are made up of many different tasks. Tasks are the smallest units of work, each having their own deliverables and deadlines. The success of your project depends on how well your team will execute everyday tasks like monitoring, testing and reporting.
To make tasks more manageable, prioritising them in different ways is a must. There are a few popular approaches to this, but the two most common ways are:
- This week
- This month
You should further categorise your tasks with a system that supports status updates, so your sales team can keep track of their progress at all times. The most common terms used are:
- In progress
This kind of categorisation can also be seen in your sales pipeline, which we will talk about further down this article. Essentially, if you are managing your sales pipeline through these defined sales stages, you can track the progress on each lead and optimise the sales process.
Now that we have the basic outlines of what task management is, let’s take a look at how a project is handled through it.
1. Gather All the Information
Whether you’re building a website or having a yard sale, every project will start off as a storm of ideas, questions and observations.
For example, let’s say that you’re building a bicycle. First, you would gather and write down all the information needed for this project to come to life: for example, the parts you’ll need, the different shops you have to visit, and maybe specialised professionals you will call to help you.
If you’re doing a business project, putting things on paper might not be enough. What you should do is create charts and mind maps.
A few things to keep in mind at this stage:
- Break down the project into wide-range steps
- Use past projects as a loose guide
- Each big step should have a deliverable outcome attached to it
2. Turn Chaos Into Order
The next step is to organise all the information and divide it into three categories:
- Activities ‒ all the actions needed to complete a task
- Deliverables ‒ the end result of a finished task
- Tips ‒ insights from your previous projects or experiences that can help you finish your tasks faster
At this stage, it’s really important to keep in mind a concept called task dependency.
Here we can see the relationship of the tasks your salespeople are working on, or more accurately, the order in which those tasks need to be performed.
You might ask yourself here, who determines task dependency and how?
Some tasks have their dependency decided naturally, as they are created. We could call these hard dependencies, as one task has to be finished for the other one to start. For example, the first step when doing any kind of sales is to make an offer to your potential customer.
Other dependencies are resource-based, meaning that both tasks are being funded from the same resource. In which case you can determine which one needs to be finished first.
Tips For Increasing Efficiency
Automate As Much As Possible
With today’s availability of task automation tools, you have no reason not to implement them and help your sales team further. People working in sales have repetitive tasks each day. Things like sending outreach, following up, updating your CRM, and sharing content on your social media channels, can be automated.
Recent sales force automation research shows that you could achieve an increase of 30% in deal closures, 18% sales cycle reduction, and a 14% reduction in administration time.
Don’t Let Your Employees Multi-task
This happens to all of us when work piles up – in an effort to catch up, we end up trying to do a few things at once.
Multi-tasking can be useful when it involves mundane tasks, like when you’re talking on your phone and cutting bread. Sure, by the time you finish your call you’ll have the bread sliced… but you also might end up with a cut! If you divide your attention and simultaneously do two things, your efficiency will drop. The more complicated the tasks are, the less effective you will be.
New research shows that multi-tasking is a myth – even if you think you’re doing more, the reality is that the quality of your work deteriorates. By creating a work environment that supports single-tasking, your sales team will be more efficient.
Let Your Employees Rest
Even if your employees successfully avoid multi-tasking, their performance will drop after a certain amount of time. When scheduling tasks, especially stressful ones, make sure to leave enough breathing space between them to avoid employee burnout.
Splitting your project into ‘’sprints’’ and ‘’breaks’’ is the basic theory behind agile task and project management.
The Mother of all Tools ‒ CRM
Since we talked about what task management is, its place in the project as a whole, and how to make it more efficient, let’s take a look at what can CRM software bring to the task management table.
With our CRM you’ll be able to set up tasks, which you can follow and manage from your dashboard. You can also create reminders in your customer accounts, which can be sync’ed with your calendar.
Finished tasks will appear in your customers activity timeline, and tasks that are not completed are clearly visible to everyone in your team. Here you can find out more about our task management process.
Other than that, it will enable your sales team to be more efficient by automating some of the more mundane administrative tasks they handle. Furthermore, automation doesn’t apply only to simple tasks, but also to more complex processes such as sales pipeline management. With each new lead added to the pipeline, their status will be automatically updated along the sales cycle, creating tasks as required to optimise the sale.
By using CRM software you will put an end to data duplication, time-wasting, and task maltreatment.
Other Helpful Tools
Task and project management tools have never been more pleasing to the eye. Trello uses a system of cards that represent each task. They’re organised in vertical categories – Trello boards. Cards also have a front side with a short summary and a back side with details.
The card system is perfect for sales people since each card can represent a lead with all the necessary information. There is also a visible status of the lead, which changes with moving the cards from ‘’incoming’’ to ‘’won’’. Another nice feature is that you can attach files to cards such as SLAs and contracts.
Trello also has an app, so if you follow the BYOD trend, your employees will be able to do all of this on the run.
With a more traditional look, Wrike allows you to create projects and tasks, make folders, and upload files. Thanks to a real-time editing system, you can follow your teams’ activities, and if you’re not happy with the most recent updates, you can choose the previous version.
It also comes with Gant charts, which allow the user to view their project schedule and set dependencies for tasks. To make planning and investing easier, it also tracks time, budget, and resources.
This agile task management tool allows you to handle projects of all kinds. Some of the notable features are creating tasks, adding deadlines and task owners, and uploading files.
Asana is free for up to 15 users, which makes it perfect for small to mid-sized teams.
With the dashboard, you get a full few of your team’s tasks, their status, and how close you are to completing the project.
With every Monday morning, you will be greeted with a weekly digest of all your projects. As these reports are automatic, it’s one less thing to worry about.
Task management can seem very daunting, but it’s necessary for any project regardless of its size.
By implementing the knowledge and tips from this article, your sales team will be able to be on top of every task and project you throw at them. Fortunately, there are also various tools and automation to help simplify and streamline task management.