One of the first rules that I learned as a parent was infants and toddlers thrive on routine and consistency. As adults we tend to lose our way much of the time, and planning and scheduling becomes a dirty word.
Sales professionals can get lost without planning and scheduling as well. If we thrive on routines early in life, should the need for “the expected” not extend throughout our lives? Think about how much more efficient you would be if you stuck to a schedule even 70, 80 or 90% of the time?
A classic story that I heard during my career involved an executive and the sales team at his office. He walked in to the “sales bullpen” mid morning one day, and saw all the reps sitting at their desks. He asked his manager if he could “reorganize” the sales area when they left for their territories. The reps were very surprised the next morning when they found their desks stacked on top of each other in the warehouse! He did it to prove a point, and strongly believed that by mid morning, they should be out in the field making sales calls and getting orders.
As often as possible during my career, I have operated under the system of a “Daily Powerplay” for 4 days each week. Many sales experts have their own theory on this, but somewhere between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm is the ideal time to be in front of customers.
This is a sample of my schedule:
7:30 am – 9:30 am
- Return emails and phone calls
- Complete any outstanding follow-up To Do’s
- Phone cold calling (if applicable) & setting up appointments
9:30 am – 4:00 pm
- Sales Calls, lunches with clients/prospects, training sessions or golf (and other relationship building time) with clients
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
- Similar to the morning, clean up as much as possible by the end of the day
The key to a good schedule is to know yourself, and when you are at your best. If you are “in the zone” first thing in the morning, then conduct important cold calls or face to face meeting then. If you gain momentum later in the afternoon, conduct these activities then instead. I colleague of mine was not functional until around 10 am, and he was still one of the best reps in that organization. He worked later than most of us, and our boss was comfortable with that. It was all about the numbers, and it would have been counterproductive for the company to expect him to do a big presentation at 8 am.
If you expect to leave the office every day at 9 or 930 am, do so when possible.
There should be very few excuses why you cannot leave the office when you intended to. Less important things than face to face selling can always be dealt with later. Speaking from experience, issues come up from time to time, but they should not derail your plans very often. Go sell!
The key to the “Daily Powerplay” is the fifth day each week is an office day. I typically use Mondays as the day to catch up from the previous week, and plan the next four days. Some people prefer the office day to be on Fridays. Be careful though, there is always the temptation to start your weekend early.
- Do you have a daily planning and scheduling system?What changes do you need to implemented in your daily activities to start a schedule and/or follow one more closely if you don’t already?
- Do you stick to it?
- If so, how often?
Do more of what is working for you, and stop doing what is not. Evaluate your processes and planning regularly, and tweak systems as you go along. The pain of spending the time making a plan and sticking to it, will be much less in the long run than being disorganized, without focus, and becoming frustrated by the lack of results.