Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Power of Planning - 10 Minutes A Day!

I'll admit it.  Sometimes its all I can do just to fight the commute home, spend time with my family and crawl into bed.  Same with the morning.  After barely getting enough sleep to survive the next day, I'm in the car the moment I'm done getting dressed and when I arrive at work - it's one emergency after another.

Unfortunately, this pattern isn't the norm, and all of us as sales professionals can stop this behavior with some simple PLAN.  Let's discuss some really key principles of planning and allow me to humbly make a few suggestions to dramatically change your effectiveness at work (or home):

  1. Did you know there are over a thousand scientific studies on the effectiveness of short, simple planning methods?  A PubMed search reveals these easily and should be enough for even the most skeptical salespeople to realize there's something actually happening here.
  2. Planning for your success in work or at home is an age-old concept, going back way before there were personal computers, task managers, PalmPilot's, Day-Planners or even hand-written accounting journals.  Planning can be as simple as two things:  1) A little bit of time;  2) a piece of paper and something to write with.  With today's modern computerized tools, it makes it even simpler.  
  3. Have you heard this age-old wisdom:  Failing to Prepare is Preparing for Failure.  True today just as it's always been.  If you don't invest time in preparing for your life, it will go wherever it wants to.  Sometimes this isn't the best road to travel.
  4. I believe in the practice of planning for:  tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year and 3-5 year strategic planning.  You can do this for your work, but it works wonders for your personal life as well.  Need a tool to help?  Franklin Covey makes it easy.  So does plain-old calendaring (like Outlook).
  5. The 5/5 Rule for day to day planning.  The last five minutes of your work day, stop and plan the next day.  What needs to get done?  What item has priority over others?  What resources will you need to accomplish your daily tasks?  The first five minutes of your work day is more of the same.  If you invest the 5/5 each day, you'll increase your productiveness about 20%.  Pretty sweet for ten minutes.
  6. Monthly, Quarterly, Annual Goals.  These need to be a bit more scripted based on your specific career and job.  As salespeople, we can certainly understand what we need to sell for these time-frames  but there are other tasks and projects that require more thought.  Here's some examples:  What career education needs to be accomplished?  What books should be read?  What training classes do I need to attend?  How do I plan to get to a higher compensation model?  What requirements need to be met for me to get promoted?
  7. Three to Five Year Strategic Planning.  This is the one that most of us put off.  Unfortunately, this type of planning is really some of the most important time-spent to accomplish longer term goals.  When I ask sales candidates this question in the interview process, 90% have not thought this through.  "Where do you envision yourself in 3-5 years?"  I always follow-up with the following question:  "What planning are you doing to realize these goals?"
Do more with less.  Be more productive.  Create efficiency in your sales and personal life.  Get what you want by planning it in advance.  Take the time today to sharpen Covey's proverbial saw.

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