Do you sometimes finish your day and wonder what you accomplished, if anything?
You started off with great intentions to sell like crazy but somehow things got de-railed. You got side tracked here and there: e-mails galore; a lengthy proposal; troublesome client; a chatty friend; sales calls that got off kilter; a report that needed completion… and only a handful of client and prospect contacts. You know the drill. Sales didn’t get done.
Hey, it’s okay: we all have days like that.
But don’t write if off either. Whether it’s a bad day – or even a good day- you can take it and learn from it. You can squeeze and extract something from every single day if you simply put seven minutes aside at the end of your work day and conduct a ‘debrief’ by asking yourself these three questions:
Question #1: What happened today?
Take a moment and evaluate your day. Look at what you accomplished. What successes / victories did you have? Bask in them for a few seconds. Look at what you did not accomplish. Look at the stumbling blocks. Determine what wasn’t so successful.
The answers to these questions provide perspective about your day. By assessing the highs and lows you are giving credence to your strengths and you’re acknowledging your weaknesses. It provides a sense of balance that can help mitigate discouragement or despair. It can also balance too much euphoria which can be equally dangerous.
Question #2: What did I learn ?
Here’s a question I learned from a mentor a long time ago. At the end of day ask yourself, ‘what did I learn from what happened today?’ This penetrating question gets you to drill deeper and learn the lessons of success and/or failure. Typically the answers are behavior related. They tell you what you have to do or what you have to do more of. Here are some quotes from reps I have worked with when I asked them what they learned about their day:
“I learned that cold calling at the end of day is not good for me. I’m tired and not at my best…”
“I realize that I should not check my e-mail so often because I get distracted…”
“I found out that spending less time socializing increased my contact rate… Kind of embarrassed by that…”
“ I learned that I did not spend enough time preparing my approach to the follow up call.”
“I learned that if I do the hard stuff first, the rest of the day isn’t so bad.”
“I worked on a lot of things but not the ‘right’ things!”
“I spend too much time and effort on composing e-mails.”
“I should have asked my manager for help on this quote a lot sooner…”
“I learned that I spent too much time pitching and not enough time questioning and listening”
“I think I learned that I focus too much on getting things perfect.’”
Question #3: What needs communicating?
This is a new question I have added to the end of the day de-brief. I got this from Peter Bregman’s book “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done,” and I love it.
Bregman suggests taking a few moments to think of whom you interacted with that day? Customers, vendors, prospects, co-workers, other departments? Is there anyone you should update? What about thank? Get clarification? Ask a question? Acknowledge?
This is a brilliant and powerful question. It forces you to think about people and events in the day, and you can use it to help you grow and develop relationships. It can create value. It can position and brand you. It can make you more efficient and effective. It gives you an edge. It shows appreciation; courtesy; thoughtfulness. Its gets you to do those little extras that most sales reps don’t do.
You should de-brief yourself at your desk before you leave. Don’t do it on the commute home. Do it in your work environment in case you need to take care of something (see Question #3).
You could de-brief with a co-worker. This works well because it forces you to verbally articulate the answers and in an odd way, it holds you more accountable.
You could de-brief with your boss if he/she has time every day. Mind you, that’s not always practical
Why 7 Minutes?
Seven minutes is an unusual time so you tend to remember it. Take five of those minutes to reflect on the questions. Take the last two minutes to communicate to those who matter (if required). Send an e-mail or text. Write a thank you card. Go over to someone’s desk to say thank you or whatever.
Get into this simple routine. It gets you THINKING. It’s not only effective, it’s fun. You’ll actually enjoy the process because you’ll have a greater sense of what you must do or must do more of. It puts you in the driver’s seat. It eliminates victimization. It gives your focus and direction so that the next day is a little bit better.