You don’t understand!” Jim said, sounding frustrated. “I can have the most elaborate plan. Then I come into the dealership, the phone rings and my plan goes down the toilet.”
“So you’re really busy,” I said.
“Now you’re beginning to understand,” he responded.
Jim was right. I have traveled with enough salespeople to know how busy they can be. I have also seen how much time they waste.
Here’s a fact to consider: Planning is for busy people. If you’re not busy, what do you have to plan? Planning allows busy people to get the things done that need to get done.
The No. 1 successful behavior. This is why I list planning as the first of the successful behaviors in my book, P.A.S.S. C.A.L.F.: 8 Behaviors of Sales Success in an Agricultural Dealership. Without proper planning, you would not have time for the other successful behaviors.
Successful behaviors do not, of themselves, create sales. They can swing the odds in your favor to give you better
opportunities to create more sales than the average salesperson.
In my book, I call this No. 1 behavior “Plan Your Day.”
What happens if you don’t plan? Not much. Salespeople who start with no plan spend endless hours chasing their own tail, reacting to situations and customers and putting out fires. Lacking a specific direction for the day, these salespeople will drift aimlessly while trying to stay and look busy. I have seen this behavior firsthand. They are constantly checking to see what they can or should do next.
Make it simple. One of the problems with planning is that salespeople sometimes think they have to plan every five minutes of their day. Instead, they should leave enough “elastic” time to get the unplanned things done. There will be many activities that must get done that were unplanned. The ideal plan allows time for these so they do not pile up and make a shambles of future plans.
Many years ago, I attended a seminar on the use of the Franklin Planner. This is a very useful tool if you use it correctly. Maybe it was just me, but I simply could not understand it well enough to derive much value from it.
I looked at many other planning systems as well and could not find anything that suited me, so I developed my own. I don’t recommend that salespeople use only my system as long as they use some form of planning.
My system. I use a yellow pad. Each Friday evening or Saturday morning, I plan the entire following week. I use one page for each day. Each page is divided into four sections:
nAppointments—Everything else is built around the appointments I have for the day.
nPhone Calls—The people I intend to call that day.
nCalling Me—The people who said they would call me that day. I have been frustrated plenty of times by people who said they would call me and forgot to follow through.
nTo Do—This list can include professional and personal items.
It takes about an hour to lay out my week and about five minutes at the end of each day to update for the next day.
As I go through the day, I draw a line through the items I complete. Whatever is left at the end of the day goes into the next day. If I carry an item over for two weeks, I eliminate it since it was obviously not that important.
The result. I know how busy ag salespeople are. I am twice as busy. Planning allows me to get an awfully large amount of things done in the time I have available. It allows me to hit the road running on Monday and every day of the week.
Time is the most valuable asset of every salesperson. None of us have one millisecond more to spend than anyone else. Since we do not have unlimited time, we should leverage the time we have. Planning allows salespeople to leverage their time to get more value from it.
Make a decision to take control of your time. If you don’t, someone else will—and that someone else likely doesn’t care how much money you make.