Science has determined that the human brain poorly stores list information. Of course, the brain can store large amounts of data, but in practical terms, the brain can retain only a fraction of the vast amount of the information consumed in a single day.
A computer is more efficient than the human brain in storing information, but a computer cannot think up an original idea. The human brain is unique in that it can collect, evaluate, and manipulate data and form new original ideas. Look around you. Everything you see was once an idea in the human brain until someone made it a reality.
We are exposed to over 35GB of new information and over 50,000 self-generated thoughts every day. It is no wonder that it is easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and unfocused. If left untreated, we can see a loss of productivity and effectiveness. Thankfully, there is an answer.
Start using your second brain.
When overwhelmed with too much information, our brain switches to the must-remember mode, and we cycle through our to-do list. We become less efficient. We take our focus off our current task. We start to lose our mental energy in a cycle of worry.
The brain’s primary strength is not storing ideas but creating ideas. The more we worry about keeping track of the details, the less time we spend creating ideas. Taxing the brain’s natural strength to keep track of ideas leads us down the path of declining creativity and reduced productivity.
There is a simple answer to this problem. Start using your second brain, a brain dedicated to holding on to all those emails, tasks, and calls.
It all begins with a list.
Yes, when used properly, the simple list becomes an extension of your primary brain. You can outsource the demands of the must-remember-mind to your second brain, your to-do list.
As a study at the Dominican University of California found, once you put pen to paper on your goal, dream, or plan, you’re 33% more likely actually to achieve it
The list in the selling profession is your second brain that keeps track of the details so your first brain can tackle the art and science of selling. Your primary brain needs to be free of the must-do syndrome to focus on the interpersonal aspects of selling.
You are objectively doing it wrong if you don’t currently manage a large part of your life with lists. Lists are universally effective because they are the simplest way to categorize and store information outside your brain.
The Customer Relationship Management system is the essential list-making tool for salespeople.
The Five Most Important Lists in Sales
The Account List
In the profession of selling, you must have an account list. An account list is a lead indicator. The account list lists the companies you have identified as possible sales opportunities. The account list contains the basic information about the company, the name of the company, the primary address, phone number, website, and notes about the business.
A CRM system uses a relational database, a sophisticated method of linking different database tables to produce many other lists from the same data. You don’t need a spreadsheet, for one thing, a document for the next piece of information, and a list maker for another form of data.
Everything, all of your information, notes, and research reside in one place for easy access.
Remember, garbage in means garbage out. Don’t create partial records with incomplete information and think you will come back and complete the record. Failing to make complete records in your database is like saying you’re too busy driving to stop and buy gasoline. Sooner or later, you will run out of gas at the most inopportune time.
The Prospect List
Once you have identified who you want to try and sell, the next logical step is to decide what you want to sell each one of your leads. The prospect list is a lead indicator. A prospect list is your list of potential customers, but your list is sorted in many different ways this time.
Grouping your sales activities based on the product you plan to sell, the territory you plan to work, or the vertical you want to focus on is a proven way to improve your efficiency in selling.
The Prospect List is the beginning of your Pipeline Report, a lead indicator of your future sales opportunities and your future commission checks.
The Appointment List
Once you know your accounts and what you want to try and sell them, you need to set appointments and keep track of the dates and times. Weakness in time management skills is one of the leading causes of poor performance in sales.
Your appointment list is a lead indicator.
Your appointment list is your calendar. When you start to see all of your appointments visually represented in a calendar format, you can see what you have planned for the current and future weeks.
Hopefully, you don’t see a lot of white space, but if you do, that’s a significant signal that you need to get busy setting appointments.
If you have many appointments, perhaps you’ll see significant gaps between meetings. That’s a signal that maybe you could improve the scheduling of appointments back-to-back or in sequence better.
One common weakness in appointment setting is letting the prospect dictate the date and time for the appointment. There is nothing wrong with you taking a more decisive lead to influence the date and time to fit your calendar.
You only have so many minutes in the day. Your time is your most valuable non-renewable resource. Once it is gone, it is gone for good, and you can never get it back.
You can’t afford to be unorganized when planning your appointments and activities.
The Activity List
The activity list is the history of your past activities. The activity list is a lag indicator. Good historical notes about your actions are an essential planning tool for making the sale.
An accurate record of what you have done will help you gain valuable insight into managing your future efforts.
The Sales List
The sales list is a lag indicator of the sales you have closed. The sales list is a list of your accomplishments and helps you track the growth and retention of the value of your account list.
There are three essential ways to grow a business;
- Bring back your old customers. Your sales list will help you track those customers who no longer do business with you.
- Retain and grow your existing customer base. Your sales list identifies those customers who are stagnant and those that are growing.
- Find new customers for the future. The sales list is a reference point identifying those customers with no business history. Start over at the beginning of the Five Most Important Lists, the account list.
Working harder will help you get ahead. But the value of working harder is limited. To unlock your true potential, you must learn how to work smarter.
I hope this introduction to your brain’s true abilities and the concept of a second brain, your lists, will help you chart a path for a more prosperous future.