Do you have a plan?Joe Cornotype keywords here..SEPERATE BY COMAS ONLY(,) Okay, the tanked industry is beginning to show a pulse once again. Successful sales people have a common bondthey have a plan. So what is your plan to succeed in today's industry? If you choose to keep doing what has been unsuccessful, you are insane. Some people put together a "positive/negative" list about themselves on paper. They draw a line down the middle and on one side they place, in print, what makes them who they are. Experience, attributes, beliefs and philosophy is listed on one side of the sheet of paper. On the other side (depending on your sensitivity of yourself), you list things that need improvement, or in other words, things you hate about yourself. They can be physical, emotional or unprofessional. Do I follow up completely? Am I a good listener? Do I blame or make excuses when I mess up? Once you honestly list and discover your strengths and weaknesses, you develop into who you want to become. You know when you decide to be the person you want to be when you grow up. Think of others who you respect and hope to be likereligious figures, professional people and others that you like to be around. Then, you initiate a plan to hang around such people, learn and seek advice from them. The plan needs to get you scheduled and in front of such people, so now you set goals to be at certain places, at certain times, to become acquainted with such people. This is where other trainers and courses initiate "goal setting." You know, an annual list of volume and life goals. Forget that! Just start getting yourself in front of people and start learning from them. The other instructors and curriculum stresses timelines for accomplishing the established set goals. Forget that! You will get bogged down in business planning and establishing goals, and it will be deflating if you do not accomplish the targeted goals. Just keep putting yourself in the process of doing a little more each daymeeting more people each day, seeing how they believe, how they establish relationships and how religious they are. When you pick people you meet, to work with and partner up in developing each other, this becomes your "strategic marketing plan." Don't worry about how many people you need or what type of people you need. Long-term top producers leave themselves flexible to work with anyone that wants to work with them. I have read and heard that this top dog, or this major player, only works with people that share the same beliefs, drive, commitment, etc. Forget that! Simply because someone doesnt share my beliefs and philosophy doesnt mean that they are not an attribute and support to my marketing plan. One of the editors of a national magazine that I write for supports a different religious denomination as I do. If the editor, or myself, limited our relationships to our own religion, we would become bigots. Some successful people are in areas where population secures their success. This does not make a true top producer. However, there is a common denominator in that all top producers do business everywhere, and they are not just the shop around the corner. Continually visit the "things I need to improve on" side of the list. Take a class, ask a mentor, or pay for training to turn the weaknesses into strengths. Like Forrest Gump said (to the effect): I do not know if it's fate or destiny, or if things just happen; I think it is a little of both. Your strategic plan needs to allow for things to happen as you attempt to direct your destiny. The concept of being available at certain times of the day to take or return calls is bunk. Forget it! This does not mean that you are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week either. Instant messaging is just that. If you do not use it for the intention of instant messaging, then stay away from it. My phone message says that I will return your call as soon as I am available to do so. This tells every one that they are important to me and not placed on some timed limitation for me to review their message. Do not block your day into neatly packed segments of two hours for returning calls, two hours for answering e-mails, three hours for appointments, etc. Here's a great example of needing a flexible schedule to be of service and to be successful. A woman called during my "answer the phone" block of time and said: "I want to get a loan." I said, "Fine, when can we meet?" She replied: "Now." I replied with an attempt to get her into the office. She replied, "Come to my home." Luckily, I was in a "learn from the client" mode and told her that I would be there in half an hour. She had three flyers in front of her when I arrived. She had called the two competing companies first. One had a voice message saying that they return calls at a certain time of the day, and the other refused to leave the office because they were in their "take incoming calls" time. The loan ended up being one of my top ten commissions, but the woman had more to teach me. I was at the closing office, being the good originator that I am, when I received a phone call. It was her and she said, "Well! Where are you?" I told her that I was at the escrow office. She returned with, "Come get me!" I picked her up, attended the closing with her and delivered her back home afterward. Dont get conned into some type of "time blocking" customer disservice plan. Listen to your clients and treat them the way that you would want to be treated. You could develop a pre-survey sheet where the client writes down the times they want to be contacted in a week, the method in which they want to be contacted and what they expect to hear when you leave a message. I bet none of them want to hear about your vacation or your time segments for returning messages. Do what the clients want you to do and put the pre-survey into your calendar. Does anyone really like the self-glorifying pleas for business letters? You know the ones. They have more than a hundred years of experience, funding billions of dollars in loans. I have developed a systematic system for you as if you were my family. I only give my wife 45 minutes, my children 7.5 minutes each, and the dog an hour of each and every day. Oh! Remember, I am always looking for people who share my beliefs and concepts, and want to talk to you briefly this week to ask for referrals. I have 2.74 minutes on Thursday at 4:54 p.m. Talk to you then. Everyone knows that if your teenager calls and says, "I just had an accident," you are not responding with, "I cannot respond to this until 2:00 p.m." Time management, time segmenting and time blocking does not work for most people. Neither does being available all the time. Live your life and just sharpen up; be a little better, work a little more, or be a little smarter and learn one thing more each day. Following through, or following up, plays an important factor in being successful. I am training a motorcycle service company to follow through with post-service calls, asking how the motorcycle is performing after the recent service. None of that "tell your other biker friends" or "we pride ourselves on excellent service" hype. They call the recent customer, talk to them or leave a message and say, "I just wanted to know how your bike is performing." The service business has increased three times over the past three months. Think about sending everyone you meet a CD or DVD explaining and expressing who you are, what you represent and what your strategic plan is. Give each and every person preferential, customized and valued service the way that they want it, and do it because you are not like everyone else. You are atypical. Joe Corno is president of Utah-based We Be Consulting and Seminars. He may be reached at (801) 836-2077 or e-mail [email protected].