By Tom Reilly

In the pre-technology days, salespeople relied on old-school methods to keep themselves and their territories organized. There were no cloud calendars, CRM, or sales force automation programs. There were no laptops, PDA’s, or smart phones. No electronic alerts.

Salespeople used paper calendars, account cards (index cards), and Rolodexes. A follow-up system meant a tickler file. This was generally an index-card file box or a set of dated file folders where salespeople would store follow-up information. The problem was that it often involved double record keeping. Salespeople needed one file (or card) for customer information and another for a follow-up reminder, the tickler. Things slipped through the cracks, and it was time-consuming. If salespeople were not organized, they often missed opportunities. Pipeline management generally meant keeping a list of pending sales opportunities and updating it daily. Managers would ask to see this list on demand.

Today, salespeople have incredible tools to keep themselves organized. Calendars that sync with laptops, company systems, and smart phones make information access immediate. There is no double entry. There are reminders and alerts that prompt salespeople hours in advance to make calls, send emails, or call customers. These electronic assistants are like having a personal support staff to keep salespeople organized.

The result of these systems is that THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO MISS A FOLLOW-UP OPPORTUNITY. It is nearly impossible to have sloppy follow-up these days. In fact, today’s salespeople have to work as hard at being disorganized as old-schoolers had to work at being organized. Salespeople who fail to follow up on time and as promised do not deserve the success they desire.

Tom Reilly is the guy who wrote the book on Value-Added Selling. For more information, visit his website at

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