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(SALES) In Search of the Perfect O

3-31-2014

By Jon Horton

Which aspect of your job performance needs the most work? Thats one of the questions I always ask sellers during our first meeting and the #1 response never changes: Help me improve my O. To be clear, this O stands for Organization.

If youre surprised, consider that Ive been asking this question for more than three decades as a sales manager, trainer, and consultant. My conclusion is based on a fairly substantial sample size. Moreover, the results are the same whether Im asking seasoned sales veterans or raw beginners.

Tell me how I can be better organized, they ask. So I do. Write it down, I say. Make a list. Plot every task you should perform on your calendar. Then, let your calendar control your daily activity. Thats it. How hard can it be?
Even rank novice salespeople have been exposed to fundamental elements of the selling process. They know the steps: prospecting, client needs, solutions, presentations, closing, service, and renewal. Just put them on the calendar and then execute. How hard can it be?

Want to send a Thank You note for a new order? Write it down. Need to research a prospects business? Put it on the list. Thinking about picking up a birthday card for a special client? Add it to the calendar. How hard can it be?

Sadly, it can be very, very hard and human nature is mostly to blame. We are all guilty of trusting our ability to remember things we need to do, particularly little things. Unfortunately, our abundant self-confidence is misplaced and we forget.

Are you thinking you shouldnt be included in this generalization? Okay, heres a test. Please stand up if you have ever gone to the grocery store relying on your memory for a short list, only to get home having forgotten at least one item. Those of you still sitting down (liars) may be excused from the remainder of this lesson.

My organization solution isnt sexy but it is simple. If it needs to get done, write it down. This works equally well if your calendar comes with pen and paper or as sophisticated software. The greatest challenge for sellers seeking organizational nirvana is recognizing the limitations of the brain.

Following my method in excruciating detail requires a truly special commitment. For the few of you actually prepared to take my Organization Pledge, a few rules will help keep you on target:
1. No activity is too insignificant to merit being written down. Drop off dry cleaning appears on my calendar every week;
2. Front load each day with those things you look forward to least. Doing so will make the rest of the day go by more quickly;
3. Update your calendar at the end of each day so you can get a fast start the following morning; and,
4. Check off tasks as you complete them every day. Move unfinished activities forward (a day, a week, a month) on your calendar.
As this Organization Pledge becomes habit, sellers will enjoy peace of mind and improved efficiency. Plus, they will earn an A for O.

Jon E. Horton is the author of The 22 Unbreakable Laws of Selling available in both paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon.com. For more of his blogs, please visit www.JonEHorton.com. Comments to Jon@JonEHorton.com.



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