By Jeff Fortney
I spoke recently with a merchant level salesperson (MLS) who was struggling to plan for the coming year. We discussed all the necessary goal-setting and action steps. But then the salesperson said, "I can set all the goals, develop all the action plans, and even set short-term goals, but it still comes down to today and tomorrow. What do I do to make today and tomorrow successful?"
I realized the majority of MLSs face this dilemma. It has been said that generals plan battles, but privates fire the guns. We're all generals, in one way or another, but unless we have several salespeople working for us, we're all privates, too. We need to plan while also taking actions that make every day count.
FranklinCovey has existed for decades. One of the company's central premises is that you should prioritize actions each day. First, make a list of everything you feel needs to be done – not just tasks you want to complete today, but everything you want to do, period.
Once you have finished this list, prioritize each item. You can use a 1, 2 and 3 or an A, B, and C system. The key is to clarify what must be done (1), what needs to be done (2), and what you want to do (3).
The first day's list will probably be long, but that's OK. Remember, not every item must be done that day. Do not designate too many items as highest priority; your list will become overwhelming, and you won't be able to address less urgent items until they become critical. If an item must be done that day, make it a 1. If it can be done the next day, or the day after, it is not truly a 1.
Take time on this first list; it will be the key to all future days. If you finish every item on the list on the first day, you probably omitted items that should be on your list. If this happens, talk with your ISO partner for tasks to put on your list – items that will drive your success.
You must manage your time effectively each day. One priority above all will define your success: designating daily sales time. Set a minimum time commitment for selling, or your time will be swallowed by activities unrelated to sales.
Schedule specific sales time and place it on your calendar every day. This isn't the only time you will sell; it's your minimum commitment. It may be four hours or it may be only two. Either way, schedule sales time each day.
Start each Monday by booking sales time. If you need to schedule a meeting, do so around this time. Or if you book a meeting for the following week, schedule your sales time accordingly. Remember, if you're not selling, you aren't building your portfolio. Anything unrelated to sales must be done outside of this time.
As you complete a task, check it off your list. Remember, tackle the critical items first. The last task of each day will help shape your list for the following day. Use your unfinished list as your starting point for a new list. Then reprioritize each item. Something that was a 2 may now become a 1.
Also, review your calendar regularly. Make sure you haven't booked a whole day in a way that will prevent you from selling and meeting the demands of the critical items on your list.
The number one cause of day-to-day planning failure is "scatter shooting," which is doing whatever task pops up with no reason for the order. For example, you might find yourself on one side of town needing to complete a task on the other. This is unproductive and frustrating, and frustration is the number two cause of failure.
Your day should begin and end with your list. Manage your time consistently and you will not only meet your daily goals, but you will also exceed your long-term goals. The generals will be happy, and the privates will survive.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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