Over the span of over 40 years in business, I have never really managed my time as well as I would have liked. Nonetheless, I keep searching for the Holy Grail.
Interestingly, there are parallels between time management and sales lead retrieval. Let’s start with the fact that most of us could manage our time better than we do. Similarly, most of us could manage our lead retrieval process better than we do.
For many years, it has been my practice to rely on several tools to manage my time: my on-line calendar; Post-it Notes; lined yellow pads; the backs of envelopes. With so many places to post my to-do’s and appointments, invariably, mistakes were made and notes were misplaced. For many years, I handled trade show sales leads in much the same manner. Most often, I noted what I considered pertinent on the back of a prospect’s business card. It seemed to work – sort of.
What I failed to recognize was that aside from what appeared on the front of someone’s business card, all I had was a few scribbled bits of information on the reverse side. If I had a large number of leads, the process of attempting to identify the very best leads was painstaking. My time management process contained similar inefficiencies.
Recently, I took a time management “course” that actually has improved management of my time. Here, too, there was a parallel with lead retrieval. For starters, I was extremely dubious that a course would have any impact on my time management. When I finally succumbed and signed up for the 4-hour, $650 course, I found reasons – real or imagined – why the scheduled session would not fit into my calendar. I postponed participation several times.
The course was held in a Midtown Manhattan hotel meeting room. There was eleven of us plus the instructor. By the time we were two hours into the program, I felt certain that I had wasted my time and money. Hour three offered little to make me change my mind.
In hour number four I experienced an epiphany of sorts. In the final hour, the instructor handed out a binder with a series of tabs, the first of which was entitled, “Day’s Plan”. Using this simple system, which on the face-of-it appears expensive, I have already covered my cost by accomplishing more in less time. At the conclusion, the instructor made a salient point: When we lose money, we often agonize over our loss, although money is something that we can make again. We don’t beat ourselves up nearly so much when we lose time, yet time is irreplaceable.
Lead retrieval and management bears many similarities to what I have just described. It can be very simple and easy to implement a really good system. What causes so many trade show exhibitors to refrain from using an electronic lead retrieval system? The reasons range from “It costs too much”, “It’s not in our budget”, to “We know everyone, so we don’t have to record leads”, “We don’t go to trade shows to sell”, to “We like getting business cards and putting notes on the back of them”. Sounds like me and my avoidance of using a time management system, doesn’t it?
The right lead retrieval system, just like the right time management system, will more than pay for itself. What is one lead than pans out worth? I had one that my competitors failed to follow up and I got simply because I did follow up.. What was it worth? Fifteen million and counting!
Use a good lead retrieval system and you will not have to agonize about “the one that got away”.