I learnt a technique from my very first coaching client, 21 years ago, that many of my clients today still find really useful.
Paul was the marketing manager, at the New Zealand head office, for a large car company. A significant part of his job was keeping in touch with his car dealers. They, not the public, were his clients.
One problem he struggled with was how to make sure he was in regular contact with everyone. His workload was large and varied and it was too easy for a week or two to go by without any meaningful exchange with some of his top dealers.
At first he thought about keeping records in his computer. He was a very computer-savvy guy so that was initially appealing. However, he realised that a document buried in a computer is not visible enough it had to be something he could either have on the wall or at his desk. So, back to good old paper (although the list was created in the computer.)
Firstly he wrote a list of all the dealer principals, dividing them up into A, B and C clients.
Next the frequency of contact. He decided that he'd aim for weekly contact for his top selling A's. The B's would get a fortnightly contact and the C's (who only sold 1 or 2 of his cars a month) only needed contact once a month.
The names were listed down the left-hand-side of the page and then 5 columns ran down the page Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 etc
From then on, whenever he had any point of contact he jotted down the date and a brief note incoming call, outgoing call, fax-out, email, visit and so on. If he got to the end of the week and still hadn't spoken to one of the people due for a call or contact, he picked up the phone.
It was visual, easy, and a really fast way of keeping track. And he even took it with him when travelling around the country.
The benefits to Paul were many his clients felt appreciated, he didn't waste time doing unnecessary calls, and because there were over 50 companies on the list, it saved him brain strain in trying to remember who to call next. As a result, the sales of company product went up.
It's way too easy to get stuck at a desk and forget that, for many business people, communication with clients is key to our success. A variation on this simple check list might be just the tool you need to get you face-to-face or voice-to-voice with the people who buy your company's products.
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