if you fail to plan, you plan to fail

I recently had a conversation with a very close friend of mine on how to manage time as a sales person…Balancing existing accounts with newly inherited accounts and still finding time to prospect, all in 8 lovely hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The answer is first and foremost smart planning. After having a conversation with my boss and mentor on this subject during an annual planning session I coincidentally got this fortune cookie that weekend:


But was it a coincidence?  Probably not.  I never eat Chinese first off.. well rarely. Now I keep this fortune taped on the wall by my desk and read it daily.

At that point in time I was struggling with the same issue that most people in sales face. How to build time for relationship building with all of my clients and still find time to prospect?  Well if you are like me then you just *love* to cold call; said no one ever… Getting strangers to engage in conversations about data is hard and calling my clients is a whole lot easier and more fun.  I got in a slump and found I needed to build time to prospect.  But how?

The most important thing I did: BLOCK DEDICATED TIME TO PROSPECT – this is uninterrupted, entry on the calendar and door shut time spent prospecting.  Do things still come up? Ya, from time to time, but throughout the week I know I have a total of 8 hours reserved for prospecting and that is huge. After all, that is where the big sales usually come from and especially commissions.

Next: I built a huge territory plan laying out all of my prospecting activities throughout the year.  The best people in sales plan. Plan for wins and plan for even bigger losses.  That is the only way to stay ahead.  Build more losses than expected into the goal and dedicate time to making those calls to grow existing accounts plus find new prospects..  In my role I need to have at least 30-40 active prospects in the pool since our sales life cycle can be a brutal 12-18 months after the first introductory calls are made.

What I did as a next step was huge and saved me countless hours of my valuable time.  I invested in my future success. I made a gamble on my prospecting capabilities and basically grew a pair (which is not a very lady like saying).  How did I do that? Stay tuned to the second part of this blog later next week and I will tell you!

For all of my friends in sales, I would love to hear your tips and tricks.Comment below with your favorite ways to stay ahead of the curve and manage your sales cycles!

Currently listening to: Sweetness Alive by Goldroom

2 thoughts on “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail

  1. Awesome post, Crystal!

    Three time-saving sales tips:

    1. Plan your work, then work your plan.
    2. UP OR OUT. On every sales call, you want to either move the customer UP the pipeline, or fall them OUT of the pipeline until next sales cycle so you have time to call other leads. It’s fine if they say no. Calls where the customer doesn’t move UP or OUT are probably a waste of time.
    3. Cold-called prospects convert at 2%. Referrals convert at 40%. You are TWENTY TIMES MORE LIKELY to convert a referral than a cold call. You will get TWENTY TIMES MORE SALES if you call 50 referrals as opposed to 50 cold calls. And it takes much less time to get a referral than it does to find a prospect! Ask for referrals on EVERY call and practice your referral asks. Before prospecting, ask yourself if you have asked every existing customer and colleague that you have for referrals.


  2. plenty of relevance to non-sales jobs here too. obviously leads don’t translate to other office jobs. and building relationships, while important, aren’t nearly as vital to, say, engineers (my occupation) as they are to salespeople. with that said, time management is crucial in any job. just recently, i’ve just begun to “BLOCK DEDICATED TIME TO [BLANK].” now, that [blank] for me isn’t prospecting, but it does force me to work on something that normally i would just “have to find time for.” well, more often than not: a) i can’t find that time because it’s been occupied by something else or b) i simply forget about it. using a tool like microsoft outlook to remind me to work on that thing (especially forgettable things like long term projects and prep for meetings) is already paying off.


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