Are your calendar appointments sacred commitments?

Recently I shared how to get more done by writing down all the projects in a brain dump and then begin to take action on those tasks. If you missed it then go ahead and read (it’s pretty short) and I’ll wait.

One of the action steps I shared was to write in your calendar when you were going to do the things that are on your personal to do list. And I’m willing to bet a good number of y’all didn’t follow directions or got overwhelmed and stopped halfway through.

So let’s talk about that.

Got too much to do? Try a brain dump

Are you the type of creative entrepreneur who thrives on having 25 projects going simultaneously because that’s just how you like to work?

Welcome to the club. We would hold meetings but everyone is double booked anyway.

Having lots of ideas and projects and to do items is part of life but when it comes to “getting organized” or the less idealistic “not going crazy” there are few strategies I love more than a brain dump.

This is by no far an original idea, I first read about it in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done which is a lofty goal of a organized mind and business. The brain dump works like this:

Treating Customers like People

Do you ever receive an email from a store or business and wonder “who write this crap?” Or is it just me?

For years now I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the jargon filled, key word heavy, content light emails that come our way – not just newsletters and sales emails but customer service ones as well. No matter how you’re reaching out and touching your community, if you sound like a cyborg while doing it then your customers are going to be turned off.

Here are my top 3 tips to treating your customers like people by behaving like a human:

Avoiding entrepreneurial burnout

As entrepreneurs we’re in a unique culture that celebrates overworking to get results and underutilizes self-care in the process. No one cheers for the entrepreneur who gets 8 hours of sleep every night and we still look up to the all night coders as great hustlers.

But as important as it is to work hard and make things happen, burnout is a real danger. In this article from Lifehack in 2012, I shared one of my biggest warning signs that burnout is on the horizon: you begin to avoid and dread client calls and want to expand on that a little further.

Is lead follow up your kryponite?

There’s an interesting dichotomy for entrepreneurs because in almost every ideal client profile (aka avatar) there’s the expectation that the right lead for your business will immediately say “yes!” and hand over their credit card. And so while we intellectually understand that most people will need a bit of nurturing, stubbornness takes over.

If you find yourself in need of more clients – at any level of your business – then you have a choice. You can cross your arms and insist that anyone who hesitates isn’t ideal enough or you can reach out and nurture them into the relationship and (inevitably) close more sales.

Here’s how:

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1. Draw on your empathy.

Ever have a big decision to make and find yourself waffling? Your clients have the same tendency because the more important a decision, the bigger the investment of time, energy and money or the greater the payoff, the harder it can be to commit. It’s natural to be nervous and need some time to think things through and doesn’t make a lead less than ideal. When you honor that process by answering questions, gently prompting a decision and providing support you show that you care about the person making the decision, not just the income.

2. Reach out in a way that’s authentic

Back in October I shared some of my favorite ways to reach out to leads such as calling them to check in, sending an email with articles I think they’d find helpful and following them on social media to learn more about their business. The interesting thing is that I got so much pushback in comments and messages to those ideas. While I’ve never maintained that any system is perfect for every person and business it’s interesting how difficult it can be for some of us to reach out.

You don’t have to reach out or follow up with leads in the same way as anyone else. What you do need to commit to is finding something that works for you and practicing it consistently. Whether it’s a card in the mail, a follow up email or a casual hello every few months, do what works for you and feels authentic.

3. Don’t give up

It’s easy to put a lead out of your mind as “cold” if a day goes by without hearing from them. The truth is that your business and offer is probably not the only thing on their mind. Stuff happens, life is messy and circumstances beyond your control can sometimes get in the way. This doesn’t mean that you hound someone to keep your offer at top of mind, but don’t give up on the relationship.

If it’s difficult to remember who all the leads are then you can organize them in an Excel doc, keep a list on your office writeboard or tag them in your CRM software with reminders to follow up. Some clients like Asana for this purpose with a new project just for pending leads and a recurring task to follow up to encourage continued engagement.

The biggest challenge you’ll have is deciding what you’d like to do and designing that system (even if it’s just a 2 part checklist on a Post-It note).

A well designed lead follow up system will feel comfortable and natural, close more clients and take the indecision out of the process.

Action Step: Consider today how many leads in your business have not yet committed to your program or service and how you can reach out to them this week to reconnect.