Building systems (and avoiding reactive work)

In the wine sales world, there are SO many balls to juggle at a given time.

Samples, staff trainings, cold calling, prospecting, and personal education to name a few. Returning phone calls, catching up on email, outlining a day, outlining a week, outlining a month. Maybe you work for a wholesaler that requires a weekly plan to be submitted: who you are going to see and when. Maybe you work for a company that requires follow up reporting.

And of course, the regular sales calls to your territory.

This is a ton of work, which is why systems are so important.

Systems, defined here, are simply predictable parts of your job that are slotted for certain days and times. By bunching and grouping similar jobs, or mapping things out carefully based on the type of task or geography, you can increase your efficiency by multiples.

When do you respond to your emails? All day long? That’s reactive and interruptive. You can check them all day long if you wish, but how about responding only at 10:30 am and 3 pm? You can land at a coffee shop or an account with wifi, bang through all emails with nice but short and clear responses, then move on with your day.

What does your voicemail greeting say? “Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can”? That’s what most people say, and that forces a reactive interruption. You told them you’d respond right away, so now you have to. Try this: “I check my voicemail once a day at 3 pm and will respond then. If this is urgent, please send me a text.” Watch what happens.

When do you plan your day, your week, or your month? Kinda whenever you can? Again, that’s reactive. Try a new system: the next day gets planned out the evening before (helps you sleep better, proven in many studies). The next week gets planned out on Friday before. The next month gets planned out on the 24th of the month before.

When do you order samples that are needed for sales calls? How many trips a week do you make to the warehouse to grab just a handful of bottles? Order them all on Wednesday for the following week, pick them up after the Friday sales meeting, and be proud about stopping at the warehouse only once.

Building systems are all about efficiencies and getting ahead of the work. Systems are the key. Stop remaking the wheel with every task for every account every day.

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