Are you responsible for:
- Generating new business?
- Networking with your current contacts?
- Building relationships?
- Writing proposals?
- Fielding sales calls?
- Going on sales meetings?
- Managing clients?
- Delivering work?
- Building tighter bonds with clients?
- Managing people?
- Setting the strategy for your firm?
If you answered yes to these questions, you are the seller-doer and you probably don't have time to read this article.
With so many different people pulling you in so many different directions, it becomes difficult to prioritize and find time for everything and everyone. There simply are not enough hours to do it all.
Our typical day is comprised of those things that we absolutely have to get done, including the client work we have promised to deliver. Everything else gets pushed to the back burner, including our business development time.
The result: Business development activities are unplanned, leading to limited touches and prospective clients slipping through the cracks because of poor follow-up.
6 Tips for Time Management
Many people rely on "good reasons" for not selling, but, if you want to seriously grow your business and have a steady revenue stream, selling must become as high a priority as doing.
While I cannot create more hours in the day, I can give you some tips that may help you become more effective at balancing your seller-doer hats.
1. Block off time for business development: The excuses for not doing business development are plentiful – I got tied up in a client meeting, I had to deliver a report, I am working on developing a new service, and the list goes on. There is always something else.
To be successful in the balance act, you must make business development a priority. Start by blocking off time, every week, to do business development.
Mornings tend to work best as you are not caught up in other projects and you can start fresh. Block it off in chunks of hours at a time, not a half an hour here, half an hour there. This will allow you to build your momentum.
Avoid distractions during this time and, if you find yourself doing anything that does not involve having a conversation with a prospect or writing a proposal, stop.
2. Stop thinking and start doing: When you think of something, do it. Or, set a task at a later date to reminder yourself to do it.
Maybe you are working on a client deliverable when you remember, "I need to forward that article I read in Sunday's paper along to Joe, he will find it very valuable to what he is trying to get done." You don't stop working on the client deliverable. The thought is gone. The article does not get to Joe.
Why wait? Capture that thought. Open an e-mail and it send it right then. Or schedule a task in Microsoft Outlook. Or, (following tip 4 below), drop the article on a junior person's desk and ask them to send a copy to Joe with a personal note from you.
3. Stay organized: Business development can be a daunting task when you do not keep all of your contacts and leads in a central area. In order to make your sacred business development time most effective, use technology to help keep track of all of your sales conversations.
Take good notes and at the end of each conversation, set a reminder for yourself to follow up with the individual. Set these follow-up tasks for yourself during your blocked-off, business development time, and when the alarm goes off, do them.
4. Use your resources: Delegate whenever possible. Do you need to be the one writing the proposal, or can you have a junior staffer sit in on the sales meeting with you and write the first draft? Do you need to be the one to write all of your follow up emails after you speak at an industry event, or can you hand the list of attendees off to your marketing person and have him craft individual emails to each person and set the appointment for you to go in and meet with them?
In his book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, David Maister writes, "Under-delegation is doing work that could be done by a less costly resource. It is the worst and most prevalent bad habit among professionals adversely affecting the interests of clients, partners, and juniors."
When you leverage your resources well, you get more done for your clients and prospects, you create a learning environment for your junior staffers, and you create more time for yourself to focus on the important tasks and relationship building that only you can do.
5. Prioritize: In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey writes, "put first things first." Covey puts forth a framework for prioritizing work based on long-term goals. He suggests that you focus on work that is less urgent, but more important to your long-term goals instead of focusing on work that is more urgent, but less important to your long-term goals.
As you approach each chunk of business development time, know who you are going to contact and where the highest potential is. Focus your efforts and precious time on your A-Level prospects.
6. Balance: Not only do you need to balance your seller-doer roles, you need to have a good balance of work-life. With out this, and with all of the different priorities pulling you in different directions, you will burn yourself out.
There are only 24 hours in a day and not all of them can be spent either selling or doing. Block off your time and be sure to include blocks of personal time.
Business Development Time In Action
Stop stressing out about your long to do list. Follow these tips and your days could look something like this:
It's Friday morning and you have blocked off three hours for uninterrupted business development time. You sit down at your computer and an alarm goes off instructing you to call back John Smith of ABC Corp, who you met at an industry event two weeks ago.
You open up your contact management system, peruse your notes and see that John is a Red Sox fan. You pick up the phone and call him, making a point to congratulate him on his team's recent World Series victory.
The conversation continues and you mention how you recently read a Harvard Business Review article that relates to ABC Corp's industry and make a note to send it to him. When the conversation ends you set a task in your calendar to follow up with John next month – there is no immediate need, but you realize you can help John's business be more successful in the long term.
Using your database, you put him on your once a month touch plan. You send a quick email to one of your associates asking him to retrieve the article from HBR and send it to John.
You move onto the next person on your list. By the time noon rolls around, you have moved four business development conversations forward and left messages for five other contacts.
This afternoon, you are off to deliver that big consulting project you've been working on all month. You still have time to catch the Celtics game with your kids.
The results: Your business development efforts are consistent and organized. You are developing and pushing the pipeline and moving prospects to the next stages. All this leads to more business and firm growth.
About the Author:
Erica Stritch, General Manager of RainToday.com is a marketing and management consultant. Erica has worked with a variety of professional services firms to strengthen their marketplace messages and competitive positioning. Her experience includes planning, creating, and implementing branding, direct marketing, and lead generation programs.