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  • Any sales people out there using GTD?

    Hi all,

    Since I'm in an outside sales occupation, I was wondering how other sales folks practice GTD? If so, do you keep your clients as Projects or Areas of Focus?

    I'm leaning towards making my clients my Projects. The main reason is so they are regularly at the forefront of my mind via the weekly reviews. But with over 500 clients, it might be an issue.

    What are your thoughts? Any practical examples of what you're doing?

    Thanks!
    Mike

  • #2
    Mike,

    I am a sales manager with a 5 state territory, and I have been using GTD for the past 2 years. I do not have my customers listed as projects per se because like you, there are too many and my weekly review would get bogged down.

    What I think you are asking is how best to review your account base and integrate that process with the GTD methodology. How you track customers in GTD will depend on several factors, including how many "Contexts" you have in your week, how many customer visits per week, are you in the field 80% of the time, etc. For example my contexts include Airports, interminable car rides, hotel stays, customer meetings, and then home office time.

    Because I am in the field so often, I place a high premium on having all my data, all the time, in a variety of contexts. That means I live and die by my blackberry. You can try to do some GTD with paper, but as a salesman, you are going to have some sort of electronic database, and from my experience, the guys that just call it early and go as digital as possible with their planning tools come out ahead. I personally use ACT! as a CRM, which I sync to Handheld Contact on my blackberry. I use this only for logging my activities. If I do a customer visit, I log the visit in my BB immediately after. If I have to make a call, I call from Handheld Contact and it gets logged. I make notes if I need to. I send emails from Handheld Contact as well. It all gets logged. At the end of the week during my weekly review I run an activity report in ACT! and there I have all my weekly activities, which is useful to trigger any reminders or follow up tasks I may have missed.

    That is just CRM, by the way. The Bare bones of GTD I accomplish through Lotus Notes/Blackberry in a process too convoluted to describe without you thinking I don't need therapy. Suffice it to say I have found what works depending on if I am on the road or in my home office.

    As far as the type of items I would put as projects, I would not put "Customer X" as a project because it is not descriptive enough. What do you want your desired outcome to be? Do you want to kill this guy? Take him to lunch? Sell more? Since we are in sales I always kind of assume I am supposed to sell more, but how much more? I might put as a project, "Increase Customer X sales by 15%" (HA! Not this year!) Or, "Get key engineering contact at account Y" if I am trying to break into some place. Usually, projects turn into a list of things I have promised a distributor that I don't exactly know how to do. I might have "Schedule lunch and learn with distributor Z at engineering firm A", etc. How many steps are there in that? What are you going to talk about? Who is going to buy lunch and from where? DO you have your powerpoint tailored and ready to go? Those are your actions.

    Depending on the CRM you use, your ideal situation would be to link this project to your customer data, and then link the project to your tasks. ACT! Gets you pretty close, and if you have a standalone version that you can modify, you might even get all the way there. I personally resist that approach because I find the Lotus interface to be more ideal for GTD methodology (Being able to create a Task out of an Email or Calendar Entry, for Example) So to sum up, I have my entire workflow in Lotus/Blackberry, ACT!/Handheld Contact can count as "reference" materials. Projects don't get linked to customer info because the Lotus and ACT! aren't integrated, but I basically know who is who, so I don't worry about it.

    I don't know about you, but I find the 80/20 rule definitely applies to my accounts. A while ago I just stopped caring about the bottom 80 percent, because they just seemed to buy at the same level no matter what I did. Such accounts are not worth the brain cells necessary to track, because you might start thinking that there is something for you to do about them, when you should be taking your top customers out for golf and mimosas. I would say the same should apply to your GTD system, don't glut the system with a bunch of dud accounts just because they happen to be on your list. That is too much for anyone to track, and probably your boss doesn't really care that much if you call on them all. Just make your numbers every month and maybe track the important guys as projects with specific goals, and your life will be much sweeter.

    Randy

    Comment


    • #3
      GTD For Salespeople

      Great to see some ideas for salespeople. I use Outlook, and Salesforce.com which sync to my Blackberry. I struggle as to what type of notetaking / binder to use in the field as noted in my post earlier this morning. What do you use in the field for notes, lists etc??

      Comment


      • #4
        For lists, those are all in Lotus/Blackberry. The sync is good, so the BB is always up to date. I wish there were a way to link the actions to projects, so I could pull a project up on my BB and see a list of Next Actions, but I'm not there yet. I use NextAction! on my BB to make the list more searchable. I am still testing it out, but has worked well so far so I will probably buy it.

        For notetaking in the field while I am at a customer, I have a paper folio that holds a pen, a legal pad, and my business card. There is no electronic device that will keep up that I have found when you are in the middle of a sales call, so I do use paper for that. I write the notes down from top to bottom, noting the date and the customer I am calling on. For multiple calls listed on the same page I put a big line at the bottom of the previous call, and then start again so that the paper looks like a series of panels with dates, customer names, and relevant notes. I suppose I could do one call per page, as that would be more GTD saavy, what can I say? I do what I can for the environment. At the end of the day or the trip, I will get back in my office and tear the top pages off and put them in my inbox for processing. From there I can enter tasks, tickler reminders, etc. in my system.

        I also find it useful to carry a digital recorder in my car for the long road trips. Sometimes I drive for 5 or more hours. Your thoughts can wander, and occasionally you think of something useful. You can fill that up during a road trip, then throw it in your inbox when you get back and process it.

        The problem I have found with most paper based systems is that since 85% of what I do is digital, the complexity of the paper system, with various months, days, and years becomes a drawback. If I do a call on Nov. 5th and then want to process the notes at the end of the week, I need to thumb through the various pages and select out of the binder and put them in my inbox. I then need to put them back in my binder in the right order so that I have a record of what I have done to refer to. That's a headache, that's why I just use a plain pad of paper.

        Randy

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks

          Randy,
          Thanks for your input. I have been thinking about just simplifying the paper part for notes and using the power of my Blackberry / Outlook / SFDC sync!
          Thanks again!

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks

            Randy,
            Thanks for your input. I have been thinking about just simplifying the paper part for notes and using the power of my Blackberry / Outlook / SFDC sync!
            Thanks again!
            Last edited by gator; 02-24-2009, 10:43 AM. Reason: duplicate

            Comment


            • #7
              Seperate Systems

              I'm not really based in the field - more office based myself, but this is the set-up I use:

              CRM/ Sales Calls - run through Goldmine - check the list on a daily basis to see what sales activities I have for that day (that aren't linked to an opportunity)

              MyLifeOrganised - I use this for my list management, and so this is where projects (or in a sales context opportunities) sit.

              As an example:
              1) Goldmine flags a call to Client X
              2) I make the call and chat about research needs (I'm a market researcher)
              3) If there is a potential project on the horizon, I create a project in MLO called 'OPP - Research Project'
              4) Under this goes all the next actions, which could include write proposal, draft costing, arrange meeting etc

              I totally empathise with the 1 client = 1 project = total project overwhelm, even though I have a limited number of clients (and ever dwindling group - I work in pharmaceuticals !!).

              HTH

              Nick

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks guys!

                I was thinking about using NextAction!, but it doesn't work very well with the BB Storm. Come to think about it, there's not a single GTD/task app that currently works well with the Storm .

                As such, I'm using the native task program and am painfully putting up with it. I too use paper folio's when visiting clients. I learned a hard lesson when I showed up several years back at one of my first sales calls with a Palm. I was taking notes on it, but the client I was visiting thought I was playing with it.

                I definitely agree with the 80/20 rule. But in my industry (insurance), the littlest account almost always leads to the largest claim. I'm still trying to find a boilerplate method to get info out to these small accounts so they can protect themselves, but it's impossible to be hands-off with them.

                I'm going to need to do some more research, but thank you guys for helping paint a better picture for me.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mischka View Post
                  Hi all,

                  Since I'm in an outside sales occupation, I was wondering how other sales folks practice GTD? If so, do you keep your clients as Projects or Areas of Focus?

                  I'm leaning towards making my clients my Projects. The main reason is so they are regularly at the forefront of my mind via the weekly reviews. But with over 500 clients, it might be an issue.

                  What are your thoughts? Any practical examples of what you're doing?

                  Thanks!
                  Mike
                  You are right! When I had 660 customers it was a big issue and at that time I didn't know GTD. However at that time, I used to divide all my customers by potential and I divided in different categories A- visit each month, B -visit every two months, C - every three months, D each six months and E once per year. Thanks to DB plus and then to Access in this way you manage better. Then I evaluate the seasonal influence and I crossed this information with the previous. With this system you could have a selection of the customers to visit. Today for each one I'd add a field in the database with the Next Action required for each. I'm thinking to write down something after each visit and sell.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    20,000 Foot Areas of Focus?

                    When I was in sales (like 100 years ago) I thought of my existing clients at a 20,000 Foot Horizon of Focus. They were relationships I wanted to maintain at a certain standard.

                    I tried to keep projects as something tangible I could finish. So for any one client I could have several projects and or actionable items.

                    The challenge is that many CRM applications might not directly support this GTD style organization. I tended to use my GTD system in conjunction with the company supplied application because of what that application could do for me (and not do).

                    Hope that helps.

                    - Mark

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mischka View Post
                      Hi all,

                      Since I'm in an outside sales occupation, I was wondering how other sales folks practice GTD? If so, do you keep your clients as Projects or Areas of Focus?

                      I'm leaning towards making my clients my Projects. The main reason is so they are regularly at the forefront of my mind via the weekly reviews. But with over 500 clients, it might be an issue.

                      What are your thoughts? Any practical examples of what you're doing?

                      Thanks!
                      Mike
                      Clients are contacts. If you can close them in one step, it's a task. If it will take more than one step to close, it's a project. With 500 clients (that you regularly deal with ?) , I would consider another tactic: Delegate. Pay someone close to you a little off the top to organize things for you.

                      GL

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sales and GTD

                        I agree with the earlier posters that sales contact management is not easily done in the project/next action format when you have hundreds of prospects/clients.

                        I am an ACT user and have over 4000 past purchasers or potential purchasers of my products (capital medical equipment) captured in my database. I setup a GROUP called @Active Deals to segregate those with whom I am actively working on deals with.

                        I have been using toodledo free service for my next action listings, however, I spend most of my working (selling) time in ACT calendar and task list for the couple of hundred active deals I have going. I check my toodledo lists for non sales next actions several times per day or in different contexts.

                        more details to follow...

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