Categories | Community Contributions | Implementation
This is how to apply GTD to managing sales and client accounts. Keeping true to the technologically-agnostic principle of GTD, I am going to describe the system as it would work in a paper-based way. You can adapt it to the various tools that you prefer or that are mandated by your employer.
A sales cycle is something like: prospecting, establishing the relationship, discovering a need, defining a solution, and closing the sale. Let’s put it in a GTD framework.Perhaps you get a list of leads from marketing: these are people you need to call. Keep the prospecting list separate from your other calls. There are several reasons for this that, including mostly having to do with the calls being less time sensitive so they can be postponed if a sales opportunity arises that takes over your day. So let’s call this list @Call Prospects, which will be on a sheet of paper.
When you call @Call Prospects, most of the time you get voicemail. Each time this happens mark the prospect’s name as “VM.” If you connect with a prospect, cross the name of the list. If there is no opportunity, you’re done. If there is an opportunity, cross off the name and then I create a Project for it. (We’ll get to that in a minute.) When you are done making calls, take that @Call Prospects list and put it in your Tickler File for one week out, so you can try calling the incomplete ones again. That is how to manage your prospecting.
Each qualified prospect now becomes a Project and (pretending you are only using paper), so label a folder with the prospect’s name, and put a sheet of paper in the folder, which is for your notes. Write the date of the call and everything you have learned up until that point. That sheet should remain on the top of the folder stack, and it will be a log of all calls and exchanges. Under it you can put website printouts, meeting notes, email exchanges, etc.
All interaction with Client-Project — all calls, to-dos, waiting-fors — will be kept in your general GTD system: handle the Client-Project like any other project. The Client-Project folder is not where your next-actions reside: it is your support materials, including your notes.
Your next-actions might be on your @Calls list, or @Online to send an email, or @Waiting if they are supposed to call you back, or on your calendar if it’s a hard deadline, such as when someone asks you to call then next Friday. If someone says to call them in Q4, put their name on @Calls list in your October Tickler Folder.
All projects have a completion. A Client-Project is completed when you either close the sale or lose the sale. If it is postponed for six months, move the Client-Project folder into your Archives, make a note in my tickler for when to resume it, and replace the folder in your Active category once the sales process resumes.
If the client is a repeat buyer, still treat each sales opportunity as a separate project. The client in this case is an Account, which may have multiple, ongoing projects. So in this way the Account is, in GTD terms, an Area of Focus. Depending on what it takes to nurture an Account, you should have reminders in your GTD system to check in on them, meet them periodically, etc.
Whether it is part of your weekly review or it also includes reporting to your boss about your sales status, the top sheet of each Client-Project will have all the summary information you need to review where you are. Anything you or your boss thinks needs to be a next step goes into your general GTD system: “Call Mary to see if I can provide more support documentation to speed up the IT due diligence,” or “Call Bob to ask when he is going to send back his comments on the contract.”
GTD works very well for when you are wearing your salesperson hat. In summary:
- Prospect calls need to be treating differently than your @Calls
- Each potential sale is its own Project
- Each Client-Project has a top-sheet that summarizes all activities, and supporting documents go underneath it
- Client-Projects have a completion and need to be moved to Archives or out of your Active area when they either stall or conclude (i.e. you either win or lose the sale)
- All next actions go into your overall GTD system to keep them integrated with the rest of your life
- Weekly reviews or status updates with your boss refer largely on the top sheet of each project, and identified next actions go into your overall GTD system.