Over the past few weeks working with sales teams, my go to question on Monday for both the salespeople and the front line managers is- what's happening for this week?
Typically I get some generalized answers like; "I need to get 3 more deals in." or "I have to get my team to sell more of this product." What most lack is an ACTIONABLE plan that ties back to their ultimate goal. Who are they going to talk to? When? About what?
One salesperson asked, "But what happens if you do all this planning, and then life happens like kids get sick..."
The answer I gave him on how I juggle life, business, sales, pretty much everything has been a hybrid of Covey's Habits, time blocking, and various productivity planners. (I really like www.savorthesuccess.com since I am a gardener.)
If you don't have a planner, or an app it's ok- it's not required and you can start now and be done in an hour. All you need is a notebook and a pencil. Some sticky notes might help too. The reason this helps make things actionable is that it's not a long drawn out planning session- it can all fit in one page.
Here's how it works.
The Quarterly Review
First, I break down my yearly goal into quarterly milestones. This includes the numbers, assets, actions and disciplines I need to do and have to get there. With that, I start my quarterly plan by looking at where I am starting from. What is the gap? That is the top of the left side of the page.
Next I reflect on what have I learned in the last quarter. This might be related to a personal discipline. For example, I learned that if I watch TV past 8:30, I won't be able to get to sleep by 9:30 to get up early. I also learned that even though we don't do presentation style training for clients, it is something that is integrated into our process.
After realizing what I have learned, I ask what is it that I have done differently, or need to do differently? What is working well, and what isn't?
Finally, at the bottom of the left page, I look back to see where the fun is in the work. What success can and should be celebrated?
The Quarterly Plan
On the next page on the right side, I list the milestones that need to happen in the quarter. In my case, it's usually a piece of content or research that needs updating or publishing for those that I want to help (my ideal prospects). It also includes the target accounts I am working on, or maybe events like conferences I speak at, or webinar I am hosting, or even getting my taxes done or house re-carpeted.
Then at the bottom of the right page, I list for each month in the quarter the major tasks or milestones. I don't list more than 4, because more than one major event due a week is unreasonable and unrealistic for me.
Last I list the things that I am looking forward to that are fun. For example, this quarter I am looking forward to white water rafting with the family and starting the garden. This is important because it reminds me why I do the work I do.
*You may want to use a sticky note as seen in the first image to be able to easily flip back to your quarterly plan.
The Weekly Plan
Every Sunday night, I do my weekly plan. I don't do it weeks in advance, it's always a week at a time. Same things goes for when we get to the daily plan. One week, one day at a time. The quarterly plan is what keeps me focused on the right things.
Turning the page in my notebook, I use a sticky note here for the start of each week. On the left page, I map out the week's milestones. What day are slides due for a presentation, or a big sales meeting, or the kids PTA meeting? I break those milestones down to AM and PM so that if all else fails, I know what the most important thing that needs to get done on any given morning or afternoon.
On the right page I use the first half to brain dump all my to-do's. From people in the pipeline that I need to talk to that week in my target accounts, blog ideas for the week, admin tasks, spring cleaning projects- all of it. This helps clear my mind of all the distractions.
Under that, I pick the top 3 things for the week. Only 3! Not everything is important and urgent.
Then of course, I write what's fun. What am I looking forward to most this week?
The Daily Plan
The daily plan has a similar format to the weekly plan, first you start each morning with the brain dump to clear out the clutter in your mind. Then I use that brain dump to choose 3 things that need to get done but aren't fun. For me that includes anything paperwork or bookkeeping related, or sitting on the phone for customer support or service. These are the weeds that must be done and aren't fun- but if not done will cause problems.
Under that are the seeds, what are the things that will lead to growth and the goal? For me, this is typically where I list my best sales opportunities. And I put details here, what is the next step with who and what is the message and approach?
Yes, that small little area in the last quadrant is the schedule. It's small so that I don't try to cram too much in. There are only so many hours to do so much. This forces me to focus on what is important and urgent. Everything that is urgent and important gets a slot in the schedule. If there is room for more, great. If not, it gets moved to the next day's list.
On the left side of my daily plan are my daily notes. Yes, I sometimes take notes. Usually only when someone says something that I want to quote later, or if I promise to send a specific thing, ideas I want to explore, or blog posts I am inspired to write. I limit myself to one page per day to prevent myself from relying on notes instead of being present in conversations.
One last piece. Goals should be written, and shared. I share my milestones and goals with a weekly mastermind group and on daily huddles with my partner. The accountability and feedback gives my plans perspective and keeps me from slacking off.
This is what works for me right now. It may not work exactly the same way for you. The point is that without a written plan that is actionable, all your goals are hopes, dreams and wishes. It's not real yet. The other point is to have a system that works for you.
How do you create your own individual action plans? What works for you? Share your tips in the comments below.
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