Excerpt from 'Secrets of Successful Sales' by Alison Edgar

Alison Edgar, otherwise known as the Entrepreneur's Godmother, recently released Secrets of Successful Sales: a guide for start-ups, micro businesses, and SMEs on how to increase sales. Alison also runs an online course for sales, and Freelance Corner members can access it for free by using code POSITIVE at checkout.


Like any well-planned journey, there are always things that hold us back, such as unexpected traffic jams. One of the biggest traffic jams that holds the majority of my customers back and sometimes even holds me back is a lack of time. So many business owners tell me that they don’t have time for this and they don’t have time for that. When I train sales teams, I see salespeople who don’t follow-up with prospects because they don’t have time.


Obviously, there are only so many hours in a day and we can’t do anything about that, but we can do something about the way we manage our time. The time management system I teach my clients is based on Dr Stephen Covey’s example of rocks in a jar. Covey’s demonstration uses rocks, pebbles, sand and a jar to demonstrate how you can manage time, and if you haven’t seen this already, I recommend it. There are loads of videos online.

The system I teach is called ‘Alison’s Big Balls’ which is both amusing and effective.


First, you need to write a list of your tasks and categorise them based on whether they are urgent or important


We then split these into three lists:


•   Basketballs – Tasks that are both urgent and important, these are the ones you need to complete first – after all, a basketball to the face hurts.


•   Tennis balls – These are the tasks that are urgent but not important. You have to watch these, as if you’re not careful they will become basketballs.


•   Ping pong balls – These are important but not urgent. They are the things that would be nice to do but don’t need to be done right now.


If you have a task that is neither urgent nor important, then remove it from your list, as it’s just a blocker. I use an online tool called Trello that enables me to easily create the three lists of basketballs, tennis balls and ping pong balls. You can then add each task and move it from one list to the other. I also like to create a ‘Yay, it’s done’ list that you can move all completed tasks to – this can be quite satisfying!


The great thing about Trello is that you can share your lists and boards with your team, so you can work together on projects and leave notes on each task. Of course, there are other tools you can use. Trello is just the one that has always worked well for us.


As a business owner, it can be hard to keep up with all aspects of the business, and that’s why I always use my big ball system to make time for sales.

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