This is the first in a series of articles that will examine David Allen’s bestselling book and wildly popular time management concepts, Getting Things Done. I’m sure every profession and segment of society has their own take on applying these concepts to their specific environment, but we’ve got sort of an endorsement that relates to sales from the author himself.
From the sequel, Making It All Work:
“But can you really train someone to get things done? Can a definable set of behaviors increase that facility. Popular belief still holds that certain people are by nature more productive while others just aren’t born that way. A similar preconception used to be applied to salespeople until one day someone woke up and realized that there was a characteristic, identifiable sales process. Some individuals understood it more intuitively and spontaneously than others, but it actually involved a particular set of procedures that could be taught, learned and implemented.” (Emphasis mine.)
It is this concept – a consistent and unified sales workflow – that we have identified as the basis for the getting things done in sales. And in sales, getting things done means opportunity management, and that is what we’ll be examining, the GTD of sales, what we’re calling Getting Sales Done.
In his book, Allen posits five stages of mastering workflow. Simply put, these are the five steps you take to get things under control so you can get them done. As a start, we’ll be studying each of these steps and see if it has an equivalent sales process stage.
Collect everything. In sales, that means leads, information, intelligence, competition, customers, to-do’s, history, interactions, etc. Collect it using the tool or tools that work for you, but get it collected.
Allen has used both terms in different editions, but it all means put it where it belongs. In the trash if it’s useless, delegate it if you can, get it done if it’s easy and quick, get it categorized if it isn’t.
Anything left for you to do must go into a trusted system that will support getting it done, generally calendars and lists.
Review your trusted system regularly. Calendars have deadlines, lists and steps and stages. Keep aware of these things, review them on the appropriate schedule, daily for active projects, weekly at least for your master list.
Get it done when it’s time and when you’re in the right place and when you have the necessary resources to do it. If you can’t get it done, don’t start it.
All of these have an analogue in sales, specifically in applying the principles of GTD in opportunity management, and we’ll go into greater depth examining them. There will be other articles, but these will get things going.
Our special insight into this is that, along with others, we realized many years ago that there is a definable sales process, and we took it a step further. If you can define a process, really define it with specific and consistent meaning and repeatable steps linked to distinct and explicit sets of circumstances, then you can automate that process. In short, you can teach it to a computer.
All of our articles on Allen’s book and concepts bring this single, unique vision to the study of Allen’s work. And this is what we hope will make our examination special, unlike all the others that people have written. It’s not just about time management within the sales profession, it’s about applying these principles for effective organization and action to opportunity management.
Here are links to all of the articles in the series.
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