The beauty of a sales career is that you’re able to get out what you put in. With relatively uncapped earning potential, the harder you work, the more successful you will be. The drawback to this element is that you’re never “off the clock” when you’re working in sales. It can be difficult to maintain an appropriate work-life balance, especially early on in your career, when you’re working to improve your practice.
While it does take great discipline, holding yourself to a schedule that allows a healthy working relationship benefits both your career and personal happiness in the long run. The three guidelines below outline how to do just that.
1. Establish boundaries and set expectations.
If you were a doctor, lawyer, or instructor, you wouldn’t allow clients to contact you at all hours of the night, or schedule meetings outside of your designated hours. You would expect them to meet you during your office hours. Determine what hours of the day you’ll be most effective working with clients and only accept meetings during those times. It’s okay to have an occasional meeting outside of regular hours, but don’t set the expectation upfront that you’re always available.
This may seem like a scary idea – giving up a meeting opportunity – but having this structure will establish an air of professionalism that will garner respect from your clients. If you start relationships with clients in this fashion, it will set a standard for how they should interact with you and vice versa. If you start your career by accepting meetings at any and all times, even if you have the good intention of showing how hard you’re willing to work, clients may continue to expect this kind of back-bending throughout your entire relationship.
2. Put the work in now so you can prosper later.
Only accepting requests from clients during certain times doesn’t mean that you should relax the rest of the time. Early in your career, make sure you’re maximizing the time that you have available.
As your start your career, your work days will be longer. It takes time to develop your portfolio and client base, accumulate knowledge of efficiencies, and take care of the necessary administrative tasks until you have staff to assist you.
As you develop, you’ll be able to focus more on your existing clients instead of manufacturing new ones. Inherently, this takes less time and will be easier for you as a seller. Additionally, you’ll grow to learn many tips that will increase your level of efficiency and free up your time. Tasks that still consume too much of your time or energy can be delegated to other staff members.
3. Develop an ideal calendar.
The above guidelines are both great plans, but until they’re put into practice, that’s all they are; plans. To make them more than good intentions, I recommend developing an ideal calendar – a structured outline of how you need to spend your time each day throughout the week.
If you want to phone from 9 to 10 AM, and again from 4 to 5 PM, note that on your calendar. Maybe you want to leave an hour to do paperwork from 5 to 6 PM. If so, denote that as well. Repeat this process for each day of the week and outline the entirety of what you want to accomplish.
Once created, find a good place to hang this calendar. Whether that’s in your cubicle, on a wall of your office, or virtually on your computer, make it somewhere you’ll look each day, and try to adhere to its recommended path. Of course, no day is truly predictable in the sales world, but the closer you can stick to your ideal calendar, the more likely you are to accomplish what you set out to.
Bonus Tip: If you’re having trouble sticking to your plan, find a partner, coworker, mentor, or friend who’s invested in your development and ask them to check in with you daily or weekly to see how it’s going. This added level of accountability should allow you to maintain the proper schedule.
Establishing a healthy work-life balance isn’t always easy, but it can be achieved by properly preparing yourself. By setting expectations, front-loading your work, and developing an ideal calendar, you’re setting yourself up to achieve the proper work-life balance that you desire and deserve.
For additional ways of improving your work-life balance or other aspects of your self-development, check out this section of our blog.