Today we get bombarded with information so that means we are always thinking about doing something, doing something, remembering that we forgot to do something, making a list to do something – we just don’t stop!
I find what works best for me is to “have a meeting with myself” regularly to clear any office backlog, and then I have another “meeting for myself” that gives me permission to chill and do nothing! I find this is the only way that I really can survive – even with the most organized structure in the world! I consider myself a super organized person – I do plan ahead, I do book meetings ahead, I also have high expectations of others!
What is planning? The definition from Wikipedia: Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. I like this definition – I like that it is friendly and does not talk about discipline, processes or even structure. To me, planning is really about knowing my desired outcome or goal and what or who is involved in achieving that. That goal could simply be going to the movies with some friends or it could mean talking to his prospect about doing business together. It really doesn’t matter what level the goal sits.
The habit I encourage everyone to embrace is to plan – to look at the big picture and look at the implications of not planning. In its own right, planning is tedious. If you do it right, planning should make you smile!
Let’s be frivolous…. Will going to the movies with some girlfriends, you plan to eat beforehand and go for coffee after. Think of all the ingredients that need to be addressed: how do we communicate first to get organized? What movie? Where? What time does it start? My usual route has road works, how else can I get there on time? Should we meet at the restaurant or at the cinema? Can everyone get there on time? Will we be able to eat first? Where? What kind of food? Will I save room for popcorn? Do I have to go to the bank? Where will I park? Will we be able to have coffee after? Where? Is it near the cinema we do we have to drive? Will they be open late?
That is not the complete thought process…. But an indication of what we are juggling with just that one decision. Because of how I operate, my friends tend to let me be the organizer. I’ve done this often enough to know what I can control – I control! But I cannot control, I let go! For example, a friend of ours always runs late. That is her problem, not mine. Traffic can be horrific ….. It is everyone’s own problem to navigate their own commute!
Let’s look at this in a business context. I coach my clients, some of whom are actually individual business owners or salespeople, to plan what they can control. Too often you can become overwhelmed with all the detailed planning in an attempt to achieve a goal. I would rather encourage you to break down the goal into manageable chunks that you can achieve and then be motivated to continue to the next step.
For example, in my business I work with individuals who rely on the telephone to communicate with their customers and prospects. It is daunting, there is reluctance, there is fear – it doesn’t matter who you are or how often you make phone calls to embrace your customers. The plan should not be “sales” – “appointment” – “result” …”result” ….. That is way too stressful and will not motivate a fly! Rather, look at motivating yourself with some of these ideas:
o Start making calls half-hour before you normally do
o Plan on 15 dials per hour
o Plan to speak to five receptionists – and make their day a good one!
o Plan on rejection- many of us in sales due talk about the “no factor” – it is true!
o Plan on taking a coffee break – the exact time. Then stop.
This list could go on and on…. The point is to put little things in place that you can plan, then you will be able to handle anything that sidesteps you. If you can achieve little things, irrespective of the task, you will feel good and be self-motivated.
What I’ve learned about sales, and I am continuing to learn about sales….. Is that while the economic arena and marketing canvas has changed, it is still stayed the same! There are still people out there who buy, and businesses still try to entice them to buy from them! What has changed, however, is that the plethora of information out there makes planning difficult. We know that of your prospects, 25% will buy from you in a given period of time. You need to plan and KNOW that the balance-75% – are your future customers. This is the marketing cycle that involves a good deal of planning and strategizing to achieve the long-term sales results. You can try to plan the exact numbers, and an accountant insist that you do, but you need to just understand that you have to plan for those that do not buy immediately and build that relationship and embrace that prospect.
Plan ahead to succeed….. The best planning in the world needs to be paired for the unexpected and you will be able to cope with that if you are ready for everything else!