When we have too many things we could be doing to get in front of people who can hire us to speak, it’s easy to do none of them.
How does this happen in our businesses, and what can we do about it?First, if you’re thinking ‘Having too many people to contact who can hire me sounds like a pretty sweet problem to have,’ you’re right. It comes from regularly adding new qualified prospects to your pipeline and pursuing them. Not doing that means you’ll not only have less potential revenue but you’ll also be at the mercy of someone else picking up the phone or sending you an inquiry.
However, for speakers who are taking the time to actually conduct outreach, there comes a point when they have more prospects than they can contact in a day. The challenge then is that instead of having too few tasks that put them in front of clients (which is where most speakers are), these sales-driven speakers have too many.
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In either case, it’s easy to step away from prospect-facing activity and engage in passive marketing – all the things that someone else has to see, hear, learn and find that would lead them to get in contact with you. While I have nothing against producing great content, I also know that being an expert and sharing that expertise with the world are table stakes in the game of thought leadership. To be hired more and paid more predictably, we have to take initiative and reach out to folks who can pay us to help solve their challenges.
The problem comes when we treat our to-do list as a linear task sheet, simply knocking tasks out as they appear. That doesn’t allow us to ensure we give attention to the most valuable accounts or the ones closest to becoming clients. Additionally, it can be mentally draining to switch between different types of tasks in a frantic sprint to get them all done.
Process Before Prioritizing
Before diving into solutions, we need to understand where those solutions should be kept.
With a CRM, you can not only make notes of every conversation with a prospect, but you can also track where they are in your buying cycle, tag them with differentiating information that allows you to sort them by geography, budget, buying window, etc., and nothing else will give you a strategic view of your potential revenue across hundreds or thousands of prospects.
One of the chief benefits of a CRM is what’s called a ‘dashboard’ or a list of tasks that you have manually set/that a campaign task set has generated that are due each day. It’s a running checklist of all the folks you’ve selected to make contact with today.
Where things get interesting is that many CRMs can also help you out by being able to send templated emails from your business email address, store LinkedIn profile URLs for easy access, and even store print templates that can be easily customized and sent to your printer for letter mailing. Long story short, you should be reaching out to prospects via a variety of communication channels, not just email.
And herein lies the problem that was causing me to feel mentally drained at the end of the day instead of empowered about my speaking business. When I log into my own CRM each day I see dozens of tasks – calls to make, email templates to customize and send, videos to shoot as part of campaigns, letters that need to be printed and mailed, etc. Seeing all those tasks used to cause paralysis by analysis because I was used to going through to-do list from top to bottom and making a phone call, then sending an email, then sending a letter, etc. began to fry my brain.
I had processes, the same ones we share at speakersalessystems.com, but no way to prioritize what needed to get done first, second third, etc. Eventually I realized that unless I knew why I was reaching out in the first place, to any prospect, I’d never know how to prioritize all the tasks in front of me each day.
When I went through my to-do list top to bottom, I’d end the day knowing I worked a lot but never feeling like I moved closer to getting gigs. That’s why I was conducting outreach after all!
If we lose track of why we’re engaging in sales outreach, its easy to let the tasks stack up and overwhelm us. However, once we understand the goal we’re striving to achieve we can then devote time to the right accounts first. This means categorizing our daily outreach tasks into their type and also by where they are in the pipeline.
So how do we prioritize out outreach tasks each day? It actually starts before the day even arrives. As we are mapping out the next task for any given account – whether that task is manually generated because it lives outside a campaign or whether it is part of a pre-planned outreach campaign, we can designate each task by what type of outreach task it is. Here are the categories we use, and once we go over those and what they mean, we’ll get into how I and my salespeople prioritize their outreach.
PRIORITY: There’s a reason that word is in all caps. Those are the tasks for deals that we have open proposals on/those that are close to getting a proposal for. Whether the task itself is a phone call, email, or LinkedIn message, I want to know what accounts are closest to becoming clients so I can ensure I nudge those folks first.
Buying Window: This category is for those prospects who have told me they’d be looking at speakers on that date/in that month. I like having that tag/designator in front of me so I know these folks are actively selecting their speakers.
Film Video: Video prospecting is here to stay, and with good reason. It’s powerful! As professional speakers, we rely on our expertise and stage presence to deliver our content, and what better way to show a prospect what we can do than film a short video for them as part of an email or social media message? The reason this exists as a separate type of task is that I like to knock out all my videos at the same time, usually when the house is quiet and I’m dressed for success. As that doesn’t happen every single day in my home office, I ensure I can pull up all the videos that need to be filmed that week and knock them out in one session.
Phone Call: This means what it says – that task is a phone call. I’ll review the account notes before making the call, but I know that I need to make that call during my calling time-block so I can knock out all my outbound calls at the same time.
Email: Also, this one is self-explanatory, but knowing that the next task on that account is an email means I can dig into it out of my calling window. Many systems allow us to schedule emails to send at certain times in the future, so these email tasks can be accomplished early in the morning/after calling hours and scheduled for when I want them to arrive.
Tasks: This is my administrative ‘catch-all’, and is used for any task that is not prospect-facing but does need to be done. This could include moving an account from one campaign to another, reviewing an account because of an interaction that happened, or even sending a card or letter as those tasks can be accomplished whenever I find the time.
Once we can sort our tasks by their type and ensure we’re blocking time when we’ll be in ‘call mode’, ‘email mode’, ‘video filming mode’, we’ll ensure we’re prioritizing the accounts that are closest to becoming actual revenue and moving all of our other prospects closer to being clients – while knowing at the end of the day that we’ve kept first things first in our lives and businesses.
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