Growing up in a non-affluent lifestyle is not a disadvantage. As a matter of fact, I think you become much more creative if your parents could not afford to give you all of the latest toys and gadgets. I wasn’t “under-resourced” growing up; my mother was. She just took me with her everywhere she went! 🙂 I remember spending many summer days playing in the woods, building tree houses and riding bicycles.

One of my favorite memories of growing up was gathering the leftover bits of lumber (usually scraps of 2X4s) and trying to build things with them. Most of the time, the leftovers were not much more than four to six inches in length. But my friends and I would take those blocks and create some amazing structures. And as little boys are apt to do, after we had constructed our “master pieces” – we would kick them all down like Godzilla in a B-Movie. What can I say? Boys will be boys!

I loved playing with blocks as a child. In 2014, I am going to encourage you to do the same thing. However, instead of blocks of wood, I am going to ask you to play with blocks of time.

Success in sales is always a combination of activity and skill set. You have to learn how to budget your time in both areas. For decades, I have taught the concept of “Action Blocks”. An Action Block is a two-hour period of time in which you are highly focused on the activities needed to generate a desired outcome. This two-hour period of time should be played like a game – a very fast-paced game that should also be fun for you and anyone you are working with. Be enthusiastic, focused and a little light-hearted.

Examples of Action Blocks:

Prospecting Action Blocks – two hours of prospecting designed to be fast paced and effective, with a goal of making the minimum number of contacts needed to schedule one appointment for a presentation. When you set one appointment it’s a win. When you set more than one appointment it’s a super-win!

Referral Action Blocks – two hours focused on gaining referrals and introductions from your existing clients and contacts into their sphere of influence. Similar to a Prospecting Action Block, this should have the minimum activity goal of gaining enough referrals that you are able to generate a minimum of one presentation appointment.

Follow-Up Action Blocks – two hours of following up on prospecting calls, contacting referred leads, making presentations and other necessary follow up meetings based on your industry and product. Your goal is to move your contacts through your sales cycle.

Skill Set Action Blocks – two hours devoted to your personal development and getting better at your craft. Ideally, spend this time in practice and coaching with your trusted mentor or a colleague polishing your skills. If you must be alone, spend the time working on a specific skill and/or developing creative ways you can add value to your clients and their lives or businesses.

There may be other blocks that you need based on your product or organizational structure – i.e. administrative blocks, delivery etc.

Look at your calendar like a puzzle – then plug in your blocks.  Then protect your time by putting a “fence” around your most important blocks.

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A sales professional’s income will always mirror the level of their prospecting, whether going up or down. It just does so on a delayed based on your sales cycle. For most salespeople, prospecting seems to be their least favorite activity; therefore it is often neglected – especially right after closing a sale and earning commissions. As a matter of fact, many sales people stop prospecting completely during the delivery and income stage in their sales cycle. When their prospecting goes down, their income is sure to follow.

Make a hard and fast rule that you never break. Always complete a minimum of one Prospecting Action Block every day. Do this without fail. Especially on days where you have just closed a sale, delivered a product or earned a commission. That way you will set up another appointment that will be bringing your next sale. You will usually find that the best time to get people to say yes to an appointment is when you just closed another sale. Your excitement comes across, and they can sense it.