Mark Wardell’s Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Time

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1. Plan the following day at the end of each day

This is the time your mind is most clear. If you try to plan your day in the morning, you become distracted by your e-mail, your voicemail, the telephone, your employees, your customers, and so forth. It’s nearly impossible to think rationally about your priorities when you’re being pulled in 10 different directions.

It’s also a good idea to plan the following week at the end of each week, plan the following month at the end of each month, and plan the following year at the end of each year. Make this part of your regular routine. If you follow no other piece of advice on this list, follow this one. I guarantee you this simple change will increase your productivity more than you can imagine.

2. Prioritize your work

Choose the one most important task you need to accomplish each day, put a star beside it on your to-do list and don’t leave work without completing it.

3. Use a gatekeeper

If at all possible, have someone else screen your visitors and your phone calls. They can then set up appointments for you that fit into your schedule rather than allowing you to be disturbed at random throughout your day. If this is not possible for financial reasons, voice-mail and posted office hours are a good start.

4. Do one thing at a time and complete it before moving on to something else

Most entrepreneurs move and think at an accelerated pace. Consequently, they often do not have the patience to finish what they have started. They want to get on to the next thing right away, so they tend to leave a wake of unfinished projects behind them. Unfortunately, this approach can be highly unproductive. Successful entrepreneurs realize this, and though it may initially feel against their nature, they make a conscious effort to complete what they have started. They know that the value in an activity cannot be fully realized until it has been completed.

5. Organize your meetings

Whenever possible, schedule meetings in advance, rather than holding them spontaneously and always use an agenda. Also, make sure your meetings have both a starting time and an ending time.

6. Learn to say “no”

This is one many entrepreneurs have trouble with. They know they can solve nearly any problem an employee brings to them, so they are inclined to do so. It just seems easier to say “yes” and take over, than it does to say “no” and leave the problem with their employee. “No” doesn’t mean you are not interested or that you are not willing to help, it just means that you are not willing to take your employees problems off of their shoulders and pile them onto yours.

7. Delegate everything you can

This needs to become part of your ongoing behaviour. New work will show up on your desk on a regular basis. If you don’t need to deal with it, don’t. If it is important that it gets done, but someone else can do it, then 9 times out of 10 you should pass it along. Keep the true value of your time firmly in mind and you will easily be able to decide if you should take it on or not.

8. Outsource everything you can

Occasionally it may be prudent to delegate work to an outside expert. If you are having computer troubles, for example, it may make more sense to hire a consultant to solve them for you than to waste time trying to solve them yourself. If a problem can be solved with money, don’t think of it as a problem, think of it as an expense.

9. Clarify your communication

Miscommunication is responsible for vast amounts of wasted time and money. Not only does it cause mistakes, but those mistakes also need to be repaired at the company’s expense. So make sure that when you say something, you only need to say it once. Also, be clear and include all details when leaving vocal or written messages. A lot of wasted time can be avoided if people don’t need to engage in telephone tag just to find out information that should have been made clear in the first place.

10. Do some “strategic planning” every week

If you don’t start doing this now you will never get around to it, so schedule some quiet time on your calendar and let your employees know you will be unavailable. This makes many entrepreneurs nervous at first. They imagine that if they are unreachable by their employees for an hour then everything will fall apart. If this describes you, then try it for two weeks as an experiment. You may be surprised to find your business still standing when you open up your office door at the end of that hour.

Mark Wardell’s Top 10 Tips for Increasing Your Sales

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1. Up-sell to your customers

For starters, they already know and trust you, plus they have demonstrated a willingness to buy.  So if they are given the option of a volume discount, for example, they just might jump at the opportunity to buy more.

2. Cross-sell to your customers

People appreciate convenience and choice.  Be sure to provide both by making additional products or services available that complement and enhance your customers’ buying experience.  For example, if a customer buys a product from you that requires batteries, be sure to offer him batteries at the time of purchase.  Otherwise he’s likely to be frustrated when he gets home and discovers that he needs to head back out to get some batteries… possibly from someone else’s business..

3. Ask your customers for referrals

The best place to find new customers is through your existing customers, assuming they are happy of course. So ask them. Believe it or not, they’ll be glad to help. One way to do this is to generate a list of prospects you think one of your customers may know. Show her this list and ask if she knows anyone on it. If she does, ask if you might use her name as a reference, or better yet, if she might make an introduction for you. If she doesn’t know anyone on the list, ask if she knows of someone whose name should be on the list. It’s a simple approach, but more times than not, it will get you in front of a warm lead.

4. Develop a COI list

A Centre Of Influence (COI) are people, other than yourself, whom your clients consider to be experts. Identify these people and get to know them. Show them what you can do for their customers and find out how you can help them as well… joint marketing or lead sharing, for example. After your customers, a lead from a COI is as strong as they come.

5. Create a value driven seminar/talk

This is a great way to get your message to your market while positioning you as an expert in your field. It’s one of the most powerful ways to generate sales because for a significant period of time, you have the undivided attention of a group of prospects. It doesn’t get much better than that.

6. Systemize your sales processes

Every prospect is different, but if you think about it, you probably go through many of the same steps each time you make a sale. If you have a team of salespeople, find out what the best ones are doing and write it down. Then, turn the best ideas into a repeatable sales system that everyone on your team can utilize. You’ll find this one simple concept will bring your entire sales force up at least a couple of notches from before.

7. Stop selling and start helping your customers to buy

This is really the difference between the traditional sales model and the new consultative or customer relations model. Buyers are significantly more sophisticated today than they have ever been. They will still buy, but in this age of information, they’re not looking to be sold. They’re looking for an expert who will help them make the intelligent choice that is just right for them. The customer relations approach to selling means you might not make a sale every time, but if you focus on your client’s needs, rather than your own, you’ll make a life long customer. Something that, over time, is significantly more valuable.

8. Track and analyze your sales processes

Once you have a sales system in place, you’ll want to keep improving it. The only way to do this is to carefully track your results. There are many ways to do this and as many software titles available to help, but what’s most important is that you stay the course. It’s impossible to pull good information out of a system that no-one is using consistently. In fact, partial information can be more problematic than no information at all. So begin by getting everyone on board. Then track your progress and make your improvements. You’ll be successful if you think of it as a marathon, rather than a sprint.

9. Hold regular sales meetings

Meetings can be a big waste of time, but with a proper agenda, schedule and leadership, they can also be the catalyst that ensures your success. So don’t discount them. Your salespeople need to set goals. And regular sales meetings are the key to keeping them on track, holding them accountable, and giving them feedback on their progress.

10. Create a variety of lead generating (prospecting) systems

The more fishing lines you have in the water, the more fish you are likely to catch. So keep on experimenting and every time you find success, turn it into a repeatable system. For example, a healthy mix might include advertising, publicity campaigns, public speaking, direct marketing, customer appreciation events, and so forth.

Mark Wardell’s Top 10 Tips for Growing Your Business

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1. Over deliver, but don’t over promise

Most companies do just the opposite.  They want the sale so they promise their customers the moon but then they fall just a little short. They might have provided exceptional customer service, but excellent service loses its luster if it falls short of the promise.  In fact, it’s worse than not promising at all. The bottom line is that you must organize your business so that you always exceed, but absolutely never fall short of a promise to a customer.

2. Use your customer’s name when ever possible

Your customer’s favorite word (everyone’s favorite word) is their name. Use it, use it often, and when you write it, make sure that you spell it correctly.  It’s also important to use a level of formality that will make your customers the most comfortable, so you’ll need to decide whether to use their full names, their surnames or their first names.

3. Give your staff both the responsibility and the authority to solve customer complaints

Customers like to deal with decision makers, so make everyone on your staff a decision maker.  A quick and satisfying resolution to a problem can help to solidify your customer’s loyalty. You’re much more likely to lose customers if they have to wait, or if they get shuffled from department to department.

4. Keep your business spotless

Unless you own a farm, dirt and clutter give an unprofessional impression whereas a clean business sends a message of professionalism to everyone, including your staff. If you can do this within a business that is typically dirty, like a garage for example, you’ll absolutely dazzle your customer. Just imagine the reaction of customers as they peer through the window of an impeccably, neat and organized workshop.

5. Incorporate a dress code

Some people have difficulty with this one because they want their people to have the freedom to express their individuality, but a dress code can mean anything from completely matching outfits all the way to a minimum standard of dress (i.e. clean clothes in good repair with no written messages).  Just as cleanliness does, a dress code sends a message of professionalism to everyone who comes in contact with your business.  It lets them know there is a plan here, that some thought has gone into the development of this business, and most importantly, that it is not exactly the same as every other business of its type.

6. Regularly reward your employees for excellence in customer service

This will show them that you’re not just paying “lip service” to customer service. This doesn’t always have to mean money, it might be as simple as a thank you and tickets to a show, but whatever you do, always do it in front of their peers.  Not only will it make them feel good to be appreciated in front of their peers, but it will send a message to your entire staff that around here, customer service really is important.

7. Ask for 3 referrals from each of your clients

Referrals are always your best source of new clients.  Asking for a specific number adds to the professionalism surrounding your request. Don’t worry about offending them, you won’t.  Just be polite, be direct, and be professional. You’ll be surprised at how much your customers will appreciate the opportunity to help you out.

8. Smile when you answer the telephone

It’ll come through in your voice.  A great example is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company which requires that its employees answer the telephone within three rings and with a smile.  All too often, business phones are answered by busy employees or even busy owners who give the customer the impression that they’re an interruption to their busy day.  No business can afford to send those kinds of messages for long, no matter how successful they are.  Eventually it’ll catch up to them, because of course, customers are not an interruption to their day, customers are the reason they’re in business.

9. Raise your prices

How many customers will you lose if you raise your prices?  An accountant friend of mine recently gave this a try.  He is now enjoying a larger income and a better clientele.  The clients he did lose had been the cheapest and the most demanding of the bunch.  So ask yourself this question, “how many customers will I lose if I raise my prices?”  The answer may surprise you.

10. Set corporate goals

Celebrate with your staff when you reach them. Give them the credit. Great leaders set goals, liberally pass out the credit for their successes and take the blame for their failures.  I’m not saying that you never let your employees know when they are producing substandard work. Everyone’s got to be working on the same page, but if things don’t work out in the end, take responsibility, and if they do work out, share the victory. Your staff will work all the harder because of it.

CanadaONE Article: The 3 Most Common Customer Service Cracks. Sew what?

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Article by Mark Wardell

Read Mark Wardell’s latest article on the customer service case of Mason Sewing Machines at


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