Field sales professionals Philip Schäfer and Catherine Naudé share their thoughts on the importance of planning, and what many of us get wrong when it comes to planning our day.
In your own words, why is planning important?
Philip: Planning is about being organised and on the front foot – this is where field sales software can help. Regular planning is critical within the sales environment, as you must be organised and constantly plan your next move. Things would implode without proper planning and you would not be able to reach your goals. To me, it is non-negotiable!
Catherine: It’s easy to lose complete track of your day if you don’t plan. Time becomes your enemy, as you can get stuck in the office all day instead of seeing potential customers. It’s especially important when you’re working out of town and flight schedules become part of your day. You must find a way to line up back-to-back meetings, to prevent you from having to travel again too soon. Maximise your time while you’re visiting other cities, to minimise time away from home and family.
What do people get wrong about planning?
Philip: People don’t take planning seriously enough and have a more flexible or “cowboyish” approach to it. My observation is that most people’s planning isn’t based on achieving outcomes, but rather a reactive type of planning, simply to keep up with what needs to get done. A mobile sales app allows you to plan much more efficiently.
Catherine: We tend to underestimate the time it will take us to do something. Client meetings always run late, and unforeseen things happen that disrupt our plans. People don’t always accommodate for this, or use their free time to do admin, as they assume the time they allocated to admin will be there when they need it.
What tools do you use/use collaboratively to plan your daily activities?
Philip: I use Skynamo to do my planning as well as other tools to assist me in the process. Skynamo helps me do my daily, weekly and monthly planning, plus it allows me to have oversight of my pipeline. It helps in setting reminders, scheduling meetings and saving critical information on my customers’ profiles. I use lots of functionalities offered by this tool that contribute to my planning. It’s undoubtedly a critical part of my arsenal to successfully do my job.
Catherine: I use the Skynamo app to remind me to follow up on prospects, helping me not to lose sight of who I am still waiting to sign up. I like the fact that I can either move tasks out to later dates, or mark them as done. MS Outlook is also a major part of managing my day.
Is your daily planning influenced by a monthly/annual plan? Is an annual plan necessary for proper daily planning?
Philip: I believe it is important to have a broader plan than the daily one. In our case, we use quarters to measure how successful our methods are. The quarterly analysis does influence our monthly, weekly and daily planning, allowing us to base our actions on those trends we find bring the most success. I use my weekly planning as a core indicator of what can lead to a positive monthly outcome.
Catherine: Yes, my daily planning is influenced by my monthly plan, but not so much by the annual plan. This is especially the case with travelling. I try to spread my flights between cities so that I don’t do more than two flights per month, depending on which meetings need to be prioritised.
Do you integrate your work and personal planning – why/why not?
Philip: I try to keep it separate. It’s easier for me that way.
Catherine: Yes, definitely. Work affects family, so it’s only logical for me to integrate the two. I need to know where my last client visit will be on any given day, so that I can make plans about picking up my kids or meeting my husband somewhere after work accordingly. I use two phones and have to juggle between them to check for personal and work-related commitments.
This is our second post on the importance of planning and particularly how it relates to sales teams. Our first article discussed why it’s important to distinguish between plans and planning, sharing 5 often-overlooked benefits of planning.