Your End-of-the-Week Checklist
Finally, it’s Friday afternoon. Another long week of sales challenges is now behind you. Your task list is a mass of scribbles, arrows, and check marks. Sure, there are some bullet points not completed, but when is that not the case? The only thing between this moment and you heading home is that Sales Challenges column in Printing Impressions magazine your boss dropped on your desk this morning. You promised you’d have a look. It’s usually a decent read and, every once in a while, the author makes a good point. Let’s see, this one is called, “Your End-of-Week Checklist.” How ironic. Oh, good. It’s written in bullet point style. This will be easy to read. You’ll be out of here in no time. You put on your glasses and start reading ...
Finally, it’s Friday afternoon. Another long week of sales challenges is behind you. Your task list is a mass of scribbles, arrows, and check marks. Sure, there are some bullet points not completed, but when is that not the case? Before you head out of the office, whether you are commuting from a traditional office to home, or from a third bedroom to the kitchen, make certain to do the following:
- Ask, “How’d it go?” That is, think back on the week and reflect on it from a time management standpoint. What worked? What didn’t? Were some days better than others? Why? Next, ask yourself, “Did I do my job this week?”
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Before you answer that, remember: The definition of “doing your job” doesn’t always pertain to the ultimate result of making a sale. Doing your job can also mean making a lot of sales calls but not seeing any results. So-called “set-up” days occur far more often than the days when it rains business.
Next week-in-review question: “Did I consistently use my time wisely?” No one can be 100% in this area. There are myriad distractions in the work day. But by asking, “What is the best use of my time right now?” again and again, good things generally follow.
- Ask, “What did I learn?” Self-awareness is typically the kind of language that Birkenstock-wearing, Prius-owning, earthy types use during yoga. However, being self-aware in sales also means understanding what motivates you, what support you need, and what works from a sales management standpoint.
During any given sales week, lessons abound, but you need to be awake and paying attention in order to benefit from them. That’s not to say you need to stop and navel-gaze after every significant moment. A general observation of the significant “Aha” moments and the smaller, “Huh … ” realizations can be a part of your goal of constant improvement.
And what about the mistakes? There is tremendous value in making mistakes, but only if they are recognized and corrected, or else you are doomed to repeating them. Thomas Edison is said to have failed 10,000 times before inventing the light bulb. When questioned on it, he corrected the reporter by saying, “I have not failed. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
Spoiler alert: You might just realize greater knowledge comes from the negative than the positive. That’s largely because we are trained to ask, “What did I do wrong?” more than “What did I do right?” Ask both.
- Ask, “What would I change?” Imagine going back to the beginning of the week and doing the entire thing over again, knowing what you know now. What might you do differently? Over the course of an entire sales career, every sales challenge you face once, you will face multiple times.
Asking and answering these questions opens up the possibility of taking a different tactic next time. That could lead to an entirely different — and perhaps happier — ending.
Looking Ahead and Planning
Okay, so now that you have looked back to assess, improve, and alter, let’s look ahead and plan …
- Think through next week as a whole. What are the general tasks that lie ahead? Are there appointments you need to prepare for, meetings to plan out, or opportunities that might require additional resources or input from colleagues?
Every week has a theme. Some weeks are all about prospecting. Others are spent mostly on the road. If you can look at the week ahead and give it a name, do it. That will give you focus and improve your overall efficiency.
For example, let’s say you look at your calendar and see that you have an appointment one hour from the office on Thursday. Knowing that now gives you the chance to schedule a second meeting in that area, thus doubling your reasons to be out of the office.
- Make a plan for Monday. It is critical to your time management that every day start with a list of actions, priorities, calls to make, and appointments. This single step is the difference between a productive day and eight hours of sales whack-a-mole.
What will you do first? Second? What is the one thing you want to accomplish if nothing else goes right? Whether it is with pen and paper, or using an electronic planner of some kind, the simple act of thinking through the next business day is a must.
- Make some calls. Yes, you are all buttoned up for the week. You have thought through your mistakes and successes of the past and considered the future. Car keys are in your left hand. Cell phone is in your pocket. You have mentally punched the time clock. It’s Miller time! Except … Friday afternoons are a great time to make sales calls for the simple reason that your competition thinks they’re not. They believe no one wants to hear from a sales rep on a Friday, so they don’t even try.
This leaves the coast clear and the customer’s Caller ID devoid of phone numbers. What better time to call than right now? Put the keys down, pull out the phone, and make a call … or two … or five. Now, when you ask yourself, “How did it go?” you can include, “It sure ended well!” to the end. And, “What did you learn?” is not complete without, “ … making a few calls is a great way to finish!”
The goal of this mental exercise is to improve. Next week, when you are following this routine, you can be quicker and wiser. An efficient sales week is not an accident. It starts with thoughtful planning and ends with careful consideration followed by more thoughtful planning.
There! You’ve finished reading the column as promised to your boss. Your keys are in your left hand and your cell phone is in your pocket. There is nothing standing between you and the weekend ahead. You stand and put on your jacket. But … the author did make some good points. You really haven’t looked back and you certainly haven’t put any consideration into the week ahead. And could you make a few calls? Sure.
Looks like your week isn’t done after all.
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.