You may believe that your calendar is for keeping track of the appointments that you have with other people, with your clients and your dream clients. You would be wrong. Your calendar is for much, much more than that.
Your Appointments With Yourself
Your appointments with other people are important. You wouldn’t dream of missing an appointment with a client, a dream client—or with anyone else, for that matter. It would mean something awful about you, that you don’t care about them, that their time isn’t valuable, that they aren’t important, and that you don’t intend to create value for them.
Appointments with other people are not the most important appointments that you need to keep. The appointments that you make with yourself are equally important—and sometimes even more important than appointments with others. Not making or keeping appointments with yourself says the something about you, too; it says that you don’t care about the results you produce, that your time isn’t valuable, that you aren’t important, and that you don’t have a responsibility to create something a value for yourself—namely, a life.
Much of the progress you make in sales is made in face-to-face visits with your clients. An equal or greater amount of your effectiveness is made during the big blocks of open space on your calendar (at least the big, bare blocks that were on your calendar before you read this blog post). Filling in those empty blocks with meaningful tasks and appointments is the key to producing results, succeeding, and a meaningful life.
Your Appointments with Your High Impact Tasks
I hear you saying, “I get it, I get it . . . I know this is true.” So, how do you get started? The place to start isn’t with your calendar; we’ll get to that. Start with a blank sheet of paper. Write down the highest impact tasks that you have to complete in the next couple of weeks.
These tasks are the highest impact tasks. That is something very different than the highly urgent tasks. The urgent tasks need scheduled too, but before you get to those, let’s get real.
Take the whole piece of paper, and keep writing.
If it isn’t at the top of your list, write the word “Prospecting.” Now, go to your calendar and find a nice three or four hour block. Is there a higher impact, lower urgency task than prospecting? If your prospecting has become something you need to approach with urgency, I am afraid I got here too late. Take the block of time and make an appointment with yourself to spend that time prospecting. Make a couple of appointments with yourself.
Next write the word “Nurturing,” on your list. Find another block of three or four hours on your calendar. Nurturing is a lot like prospecting; it’s never urgent, and is always a high impact activity that yields outsized results long after the effort has been made (which is why most salespeople don’t do enough of it). Take another block of time and make another couple of appointments with yourself.
Now, here is the tough part: treat these appointments with yourself as if they are equally as important as the calendared appointments you have made with others. Your intentions here are meaningless, just like they would be were you to write the name of your biggest, best dream client in that block if you didn’t keep that appointment.
Your Appointments with Urgent, High Impact Tasks
The urgent tasks never have trouble commanding your attention. The problem with the urgent tasks is they command too much of your attention, and deadlines tend to make you feel busy—even when you aren’t doing anything towards accomplishing the urgent task.
You know what I mean.
You have a big deal dream client deep into the sales process. You need to put together some information and respond to some requests. You need to have a couple conversations with your internal team before that can happen. So what do you do? Nothing! I mean, come on, this is a big client. You can’t do anything else, can you?
Of course you can.
You feel busy because you have tasks that need done and you are waiting for something or someone. I hate multitasking; doing more than one task at a time means doing a lesser job than you might have otherwise done on each task. This is where knowing how to use your calendar becomes important.
Look at the tasks that need done. Call the people you need to call and schedule an appointment to collect the information that you need. Then, find a block of time when you are going to compile the information, respond to the request, and to make it presentation-worthy.
Keeping the commitments that you make to yourself means calendaring these events so you can then move on to tasks that produce greater results than waiting around doing nothing. Go back up to the part above where you schedule the non-urgent but high impact tasks and fill in the empty blocks between your appointments with other people and the appointments that you have made with yourself.
Treat all of the appointments you make with yourself or with other people as if they are critical to your results and your success—they are.
What would it mean if you missed an appointment you made with another person, be it a client, a dream client, or anyone else? What does it mean if you don’t make or keep commitments to yourself?
Grab your calendar. Look at the big empty blocks on your calendar. What commitments to yourself do you need to make and keep? What belongs in those blocks?
Stick with the calendar. What do you need to do that isn’t urgent, but that is a high priority, high impact task? Where does that task go on your calendar?
Think of the things that you believe are goals. Most of these are probably really disciplines. The activities that make up your goals need to be calendared, and those appointments with yourself need to be kept. Write them in now.
For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.
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