Summer is almost upon us. This is a great time- one that should be spent with family and friends. For many of us, our kids are out of school. For others, this can be a period to recharge. Are you looking at a much needed vacation? Wanting to pursue an established or new hobby? Need to ensure that your weekends are free to spend time the way you want? What about your customers? How do you ensure to make time for yourself without letting the ball drop?
Engaging in the activities that you enjoy is necessary to keep your sanity. Without a periodic recharge, focus and results can suffer. The challenge is that customers typically don’t care about your time-off needs. If projects are on the table, their focus is getting things done – on their timeframe. If you have multiple customers, it can be very difficult to carve out time for yourself.
As a sales professional, you are paid to manage and get results from your patch. ‘A’ Players take this seriously. I used to work with a lady who was a perennial President’s club winner. She had tunnel vision about her success. To service her customers, she would return from the awards trip 2 days early – every year. Management loved her because she was “company first”. One year I spoke to her about it. She told me that she didn’t feel that she could ever take more than a long weekend. She needed to stay on top. Eventually, she flamed out.
Success is what we all strive for. But at what price? Without time to recharge with our friends and family, we are on the path to burnout. Or worse. We need to keep our momentum, but at what cost?
Being a sales professional today, we need to pull the clown act. We are constantly juggling a hatchet, a bowling ball and a watermelon. Nothing can afford to drop. The words “work-life balance” don’t apply any more. In today’s sales world, the functional words are “work-life integration”. We need to be able to bring life into our work world and vice-versa. So how do we do this and maintain our results as well as our sanity?
Get things on the calendar. The first step is to identify the activities and time that we want to enjoy and get them on our calendar. In my experience, if it’s not on my calendar, I never end up going. This is not healthy.
Work backwards from your dates off. Once your time off is on your calendar, it is time to work backwards. Examine your active opportunities. Look at major milestones and meetings that need to occur. These still need to take place in a timely manner, but adjust the schedule accordingly. If you can arrange for yourself to be present instead of sending a colleague, this is always best.
Notify key interfaces. This goes for both the customer side as well as your team. Make sure that people are aware of the time that you will be out of pocket. Present your plan to ensure that everything will be addressed in a timely manner. When people are aware and have time to prepare, minimal disruption results.
Set available times for contact. This is part of work-life integration. There will always be fires to put out. Set the time during your vacation when you are willing to do this. If you establish a window in the morning and / or evening, customers will feel your focus. It is important to let the customer feel that you are not going completely dark on them.
Plan an admin day for your first day back. Jumping right back into customer meetings on your first day back can be disastrous. Plan for an extra day to focus on getting your ducks in a row. This will allow you to keep from taking precious vacation time to prepare for the real world.