Four Must-Have Calendar Blocks for Sales Effectiveness
Calendar Blocks, Sales Effectiveness and Neuroscience?
I was chatting with a client of mine on sales effectiveness tactics and she shared a breakthrough moment she recently experienced. One day, after 11 years of non-stop action in sales, she asked someone to answer her phone calls while she closed her office door for 90 minutes of uninterrupted activity. She confessed it was liberating to actually block off time to take care of some much-needed tasks.
In the nonstop life of a sales person, pausing the constant volley of emails and calls to complete actual work is nearly impossible. We think we are being efficient when we multitask, but in reality we are not. Take Daniel Levitin, neurologist and author of “The Organized Mind,” in his recent interview with Radio Boston:
“It turns out that we think we’re multitasking, but we’re not. The brain is sequential tasking, we flit from one thought to the next very, very rapidly, giving us the illusion that what we’re doing is doing all these things at once. But I’m here to tell you, as a neuroscientist, just because we think we’re doing something doesn’t mean we are. Our brains are very, very good at self-delusion…What happens is, it releases the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain which leads to foggy thinking, so you’re not even able to judge well whether you’re working well or not. It’s sort of like the way drinking can cloud your perception of whether you’re a good driver or not.”
Wow! More confirmation from the scientific community that multitasking isn’t an effective use of time. And when it comes to sales effectiveness, I believe that productivity can actually increase when sales reps discipline themselves to set times of hyper-focus. For example, I block recurring time each week for four tasks. Then, I type my to-do list directly into the meeting block so that my time is actionable as well.
Here are the four blocks of time I set on my calendar each and every week for sales effectiveness:
No. 1: Administrative Time
Use this time — Mondays work well — to take care of the small, administrative tasks that have piled up from the previous week. Review the previous week’s emails to check for overlooked action items. Re-check your voicemail. Assess and re-prioritize your to-do list. Taking time for organization can help prevent important tasks from slipping through the cracks – it’s a must!
No. 2: Research and Preparation for Business Development
In the contemporary sales role, it’s not good enough to make every call from the same generic script or take a shotgun approach to your email outreach. Your prospective customers are already inundated with these impersonal messages, and frankly, most get ignored. Take some time each week to research your target accounts. I employ LinkedIn to research the people I’d like to connect with, and then leverage my personal network to find a connection.
It’s also important to take this time to review your existing customer base. Which customers are at risk for defection? Which are ripe for cross-sell or expansion into new product lines? Often times, we can mine a wealth of untapped revenue opportunities from our existing customers.
Dedicate time each week to booking your meetings. The administrative and research time will serve you well here as your tasks and research will already be in order. Consider which current or prospective customers you haven’t called on in a while in addition to the big accounts you’re trying to land.
This time is also well-used by trying to understand where your customers are in terms of satisfaction, upsell, or cross-sell, or expansion within your organization. For smaller organizations, this can be easily achieved in a weekly chunk of time. But, for larger industrial B2B companies, this can provide quite the challenge.
No. 3: Relationship Management and Creating Conversations and Interactions of Insight
The sales reps in these larger companies may be responsible thousands of customers selling from a product catalog of tens or even hundreds of thousands of products. Knowing which customers to call on and what products to pitch to those customers is not so simple. Predictive models that identify cross-sell and retention opportunities can help cut through this decision complexity and focus reps on the opportunities most likely to result in a sale.
Making time to meet customers where they are – whether in person or remotely – is framed by the approach you have to creating maximum value for them in this moment based on the research you’ve done and based on your understanding of their strategic initiatives. This is where you position how you would be involved with your products and/or services in their success. Conversations of Insight are framed in light of meeting to create outcomes and well planned communications – meetings, phone calls, webinars and emails all have a role to play and in some ways are ‘Sub-Blocks’ in the category – meaning a day dedicated to travel, 2 hours of phone calls, 1 hour of emails, etc.
No. 4: Transaction Management
Reserving a bit of time in your week to manage your transactions is a must. Check on your orders, to make sure nothing was overlooked. Check to see if anything (fulfillment, payment, otherwise) requires your attention.
Key here is observing the “Non-selling” activities that take you from creating relationships with your ideal clients. Noticing where you invest your time is the start on that path to being a value creator for your clients!
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