Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

Last month’s column discussed the importance of creating a weekly sales plan. A tool called the Customer Contact Log was introduced and the column highlighted how it can assist the salesperson in creating a quick, proactive, and strategic sales plan for any week. Many readers reached out requesting a copy of the Customer Contact Log to see if it could help them. The use of this tool can help you minimize pinballing around your territory at the whim of the customer, putting out countless fires, and help you cover your territory more effectively. Having a plan is certainly important, but executing on that plan is equally important. This month, let’s discuss how you work that plan daily.

Keep the Plan Visible: If you’ve gone to the trouble of creating a good plan for the week, don’t let it set in the middle of a notebook or under a pile of papers in the passenger seat of your vehicle. A plan out of sight will be out of mind. Keep your plan, calendar, and task list readily available and preferably within eyesight while traveling during your day. This regular visibility to your plan and time management tools will give you a better chance of working your day and not having your day work you.

Pressure Test Incoming Correspondence: Any phone call, text or email you get during a day has the potential to disrupt your day. Fires can erupt at any time and on the surface, they appear to all be emergencies that require your immediate attention – maybe they do…maybe they don’t. Having a plan in place for the day, and the week, gives you a precious opportunity to politely test the pressure being put on you. Does this have to be looked at today, or can it be pushed until tomorrow or the next day when you will be in that area anyway? You will find that some of these fires can be extinguished later in the week, allowing you to stick with your plan, make more sales, help more customers, and make more commission dollars. And when the fire can’t wait, the customer needs your help, and needs it now, then make every effort to make that happen.

Manage the Clock on Sales Calls: The NBA Finals are in full swing, and you often hear how the coaches are being judged on their game and clock management, especially in tight games coming down to the wire. Managing your clock during sales calls can do wonders in helping you stick to a plan and maximize your sales activity during a day. One thing working against salespeople during a sales call is the inevitable “chit chat” that takes place, especially at the end of sales calls. Things get wrapped up then the conversation turns to the big game, plans for the weekend, the kid’s school event, etc. This can easily add 15-20 minutes to the end of a sales call. Now don’t get me wrong, building relationships and showing interest in your customer’s personal lives is an important part of customer management. But tread lightly, it feels like you’re making a better personal connection, but you run the risk of overstaying your welcome and talking yourself out of a sale. Having a Sales Objective defined for each sales call helps you manage your “sales game clock.” Before the call ask yourself: “What action do I want this customer to take as a result of this call?” When you have achieved that objective, the call can end with you extending your hand and saying, “You look pretty busy, and I have some things to attend to as well, I’ll see you next Tuesday afternoon, have a great day!” and boom, you’re out the door and on to the next your next sales call. This can easily add 60-90 minutes of productive sales time to your day.

A good plan with poor execution can waste a lot of your time, and good execution with no plan can have you running around spinning your wheels with little tangible accomplishments at the end of your day. Planning and execution are both very important; make your plan-work your plan. Happy Selling!!