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Oiling Your Pipeline

You care about your leads, don’t you?

After all, you’re a thinker, a tastemaker, and a very important business person.

Let’s talk about Oiling Your Pipeline.

Regular inspection, maintenance, and oiling of your pipeline will help prevent it from going dry.

Survey the scene

Do you have a list of where your leads come from? Have you inventoried your most recent leads?

Step 1? Take 30-minutes, sit down, and make a list. Write that stuff down so you can remember it later. Ask yourself:

“Self, who are my ten most recent leads? How did they find out about me? What marketing seems to have brought them to me?

Answer that question as best as you can.

For me and Double Your Ecommerce, my Shopify consultancy, today’s list looks like:

  • Referral sources (clients)
  • Referral sources (partners)
  • Podcast Tours
  • Email marketing
  • Lead Necromancy (One of the seven lead systems included in Get More Leads https://kaidavis.com/leads/)

If you survey the scene and find yourself thinking

That’s odd. I’m not seeing <BLANK>…

That’s an opportunity to make a note of The Missing Lead Source and investigate it later.

The outcome of surveying the scene? You have a better idea of what lead sources are working (or, not working).

Triage your lead sources

You can’t focus on everything, so focus on the top one or two.

Take your list of lead sources and 80/20 it.

How do you know which are at the top? Use whatever measure you want:

  • Volume of leads
  • Value of leads
  • Most profitable leads
  • Total revenue through that lead source

Make a list, chop it down to the top 1 or 2.

Take intentional action

If your top lead source is a source of referrals, check-in with them. Take an interest in how they’re doing.

  • Ask questions
  • Be helpful
  • Remind them of who your best fit referrals are
  • Thank them

If your top lead source is an ongoing process (like SEO or Email marketing), review the process and ask yourself a few questions.

  • What’s working well?
  • What could be going better?
  • What’s one thing you can do today to help this go better?

For each of your top leads sources, schedule a time to take deliberate, intentional action.

After that, schedule a time in 1, 2, or 3 months to come back and review how the lead source has been doing.

🚀 Get More Leads

If you’re looking for a never-ending stream of leads for your business, you’re going to have to put in the work, friend-o.

If you’re looking for systems to help you get consistent leads without spending hours doing market research or writing highly personalized emails, then you’ll want to check out Get More Leads: https://kaidavis.com/leads/

Excelsior!

Kai

Rest First

Priority Number 1 is rest.

When you’re building your calendar, schedule your rests first — pauses, breaks, silences, holidays, and time off.

It’s too easy to schedule your work first and let a holiday, vacation day, or relaxed 3-day weekend miss you.

Don’t give that mistake room to happen.

You can always turn a rest day into a workday. It’s much harder to transform a workday into a rest day; especially in the middle of a busy work week.

First, schedule your time for rest. After that, schedule time to work on your business.

Excelsior!

Kai

Damn. Fine?

If you’re looking to get a reply to your emails (to a leads, client, etc.) then include instructions on what to do next.

Don’t just ask, “What are your thoughts?” and wait by the inbox.

Give the other person a specific next action to take:

If you’re interested in working together, just hit reply and say “I’m in!”

After that, I’ll reply with details about the next steps. I’ll need to hear back from you by 5 PM this coming Monday.

That’s an excerpt of one of the ten tips to help you write better emails included with Damn Fine Emails.

Don’t settle for ‘good enough’ when you’re writing an email. Learn how to write Damn Fine Emails https://kaidavis.com/damn/

Excelsior!

Kai

Intentional Eventing

Conferences and events suck for the most part.

You’re tired, in a strange spot, meeting new people every day, and the coffee tastes like crap.

It’s easy to move through an event (conference, meet-up, event, intentional gathering of likeminded individuals, whatever) on autopilot.

Here’s what I do to an intentional event experience, instead of a reactive experience.

Before the event, I ask myself these ten questions. I write down my answers — 2-3 sentences for each question.

Going through this process helps me know what actions to take (before, during, or after the event), without needing to figure it out on the fly.


What’s your game plan for the event? (50,000ft view)

What are the two outcomes you’d like to happen from this event?

What are the two questions you’d like to get a lot of perspectives on?

What’s a good conversation starter question you can ask and reuse?

Who are two or three people you’d like to have an intentional conversation with?

Who are two or three people or speakers you’d like to plan on following-up with after the event?

Where is my post-event email template to say: “That was awesome. Let’s keep our conversation about X going, and…”

How are you going to capture notes during the event? iPhone? Notebook? Laptop? Something else? (You’ll want to reference these in your follow-up emails).

What’s an introvert-friendly spot (coffee shop, book store, park) near the event that you can go to for some alone time if you need a break?

Do you have time scheduled after the event to distill actions from the new ideas in your notebook and head?


Next time you’re going to an event, take 10 minutes, and answer these questions for yourself. You’ll find that the path forward is a lot clearer when you pause, survey the scene, and ask yourself a few questions.

Excelsior!

Kai

P.S., Looking for direction on what best actions to take to get more leads? You’ll want to schedule a 1-on-1 Business Clarity Call: https://calendly.com/kaid/call/

“I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I don’t know”

When you start a new project, you don’t yet know everything about the client’s business and current situation.

You are flying blind.

Don’t be afraid to admit that.

Embrace Shoshin (beginner’s mind)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin.

An attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level

When you start a project, admit that you are currently ignorant about the client’s business and that you would love to learn more.

You’re a specialist in That Thing You Do. Your clients are specialists in running their business.

They are as ignorant about what you do as you are about their business.

Embrace your beginner’s mind — and encourage your clients to embrace their beginner’s mind as you learn about their current situation.

You’ll be able to learn more about your client’s business and the outcomes they’re looking for and answer their beginner’s mind questions about what you do.

One great way to embrace beginner’s mind? Start your projects with a small engagement focused on analysis, strategy, and discovery (a Roadmapping Session https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/).

Excelsior!

Kai

Time Debt 🕰️ 💸

“What is Time Debt?”

Time Debt is when you don’t have enough hours in the day to get things done, so you raid your Time Banks and then steal more time through a Time Heist.


You’re here because you’ve run out of time.

You’ve sold your time to too many clients, projects, and obligations.

So? You go into Time Debt.

You raid your Time Banks

You work a weekend.

You keep working weekends.

Evenings get raided, too.

Late nights become regular. You revel in getting into bed early.

Meetings get rescheduled. Expectations get renegotiated.

You slide further into time debt.

You start to do drastic things.

Time Poor

When you’re Time Poor, you don’t have enough time, so you start skipping on obligations and commitments:

  • Exercise
  • Hobbies
  • Sleep
  • Friendships
  • Regular practices, like Yoga or Meditation
  • Marketing your business

When you’re Time Poor, the easiest thing to do is stop managing your pipeline.

It’s easy to pull time from marketing. You don’t see the effects of your marketing (or your lack of marketing) for a month or three.

And if you’re client-rich? Then it’s easy to ignore your marketing. Why focus on it, when you’re paying down your Time Debt to your clients?

You pull time from marketing. You don’t notice it yet, but your leads start to thin out.

Getting out of Time Debt

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, friend-o.

If you want to get out of Time Debt, you need to spend less time.

Cut the time you’re spending on your obligations, commitments, and worries.

It’s time for a Time Heist

Start saying no

Start tracking your “No”s. Say no to every project, commitment, or opportunity that shows up. Give yourself 1 point for each Significant No1.

Stop deferring, start declining

If it’s good enough to do later, it’s good enough to say ‘no’ to today. Then, when you’ve paid off your time debt, see if it’s still worth doing (or needs doing).

Cancel meetings

You can’t kick them to forward to ‘future you” through a reschedule. You need to cancel the meetings.

When you defer or reschedule a meeting, you’re stealing time from your future self.

Kick a week of meetings into the future? Nice. Now you’ll get caught up.

But it’s all on credit.

Your future self has to deal with those deferred meetings on top of their regular meetings.

Review projects and cut, cut, cut

How many projects do you have on the go right now?

Sit down and make a list. Write down all the projects that come to mind.

Get ready to cut your total projects by 50% or more.

Each of your projects is something that you’re spending time on. You’re either working at it or worrying about it.

What have you left untended? What have you safely ignored?

If it’s survived this long, it’s either going to thrive or die on its own.

Free yourself of that worry.

Set the weeds of worry on fire. It’s the only way you’ll survive.

Review your overdue tasks and delete, delete, delete

If it hasn’t gotten done by now, you aren’t going to do it.

If you keep rescheduling it for the future, delete it.

Yes, someone will care. So what?

Just delete it.

If it’s a client project that you can’t get to, maybe you’ll need to refund some money.

Have a conversation with your client about how you can realistically help them (or, can’t help them).

Free yourself of worrying about that things that you’re never going to get to. Be happy.

Do the hard and necessary thing

Say no.

Free yourself.

Excelsior!

Kai

  1. Thank you, Patrick!

The Cleaning Dash — 💨

Look around your workspace/desk/office right now.

What’s around you?

  • Notes/papers to sort through?
  • Mail that’s waiting to be opened/recycled?
  • Coffee mugs?
  • Phone?
  • Headphones?
  • Water glasses?

Take fifteen minutes (right now, or as soon as you can) and do a…

Cleaning Dash

First, switch your context. Close your tabs, back away from the computer, and put down any distracting apps.

Prep a 15-minute timer. Don’t start the timer yet. Your cleaning dash is a time-boxed activity. No need to clean everything, you’re just going to do a short cleaning dash.

Survey the scene. What are the easy wins?

You’re going to want to clear the easy, big things out of the way first.

Don’t tackle too many things thing in this dash – you can do another one later today or tomorrow.

  • Bring those glasses back to the kitchen
  • Put the papers/mail/notes into a single pile
  • Refill your water bottle/glass
  • Put excess, extra, not in use gadgets or accessories (headphones, power cables, whatever) away
  • If stuff has drifted/multiplied/spawned, bring it back to its home (or put it in a neat pile/box for sorting later)

Take a ‘before’ photo of your workspace. Now you’ll be able to see the difference you made.

Cool. You’ve switched contexts, you’ve prepared a timer, you’ve surveyed the scene and made a plan, and you’ve taken a ‘before’ photo. You’re ready to get started.

Start your timer and Go.

Excelsior!

Kai

The last word on email signatures

This week in Freelance Camp (https://freelance.camp), a rousing discussion on where we stand when it comes to email signatures.

This is a topic I have a lot of strong, strange opinions on.

In Camp, I shared an impromptu teardown of my email signature, and I’m sharing it here with you. Maybe this will spark a few ideas on your part.

—-

I separate the body of the email from my email sig with a horizontal line. There’s an argument to be made that the horizontal line says “You can stop reading here.” Which, fair point.

I still like it.

Kai Davis • https://kaidavis.com

I sign my emails

Talk soon!
Kai
---
<Email Signature>

Which means I include my name twice in an email.

That… could be improved.

The Link — I’m of the mind that including a link to more information about you is a good move.

The homepage isn’t the ideal place to drive these eyeballs. The link should, ideally, go to an about page (or similar, scoped for email).

To do:

  • [ ] Cut name from signature or from “Talk Soon!” block
  • [ ] Find better use for name space
  • [ ] Change URL to /about/

I reply to email at 10 am Pacific Time and 4 pm Pacific Time, Tuesday through Thursday.

Expectation setting on both sides:

  1. Expect replies from me in those windows and during those times
  2. “Kai, make sure to only dive into your inbox in those times.”

1 is working. 2 isn’t.

Typing this, I realize that I should schedule email time on those days (instead of all days).

To do:

  • [ ] Rescope email time on my calendar to be in my email time windows

If you’re looking for a reply outside of those hours, I recommend my 1-on-1 Business Coaching for Freelancers and Consultants (https://kaidavis.com/coaching/)

I think that this call to action for a service is a great thing to use and include. It costs nothing and gets in front of hundreds or thousands of people in a short time.

The implementation of the CTA could be better.

I like the bridge from ‘expectation that replies take time’ to ‘here is how you get in touch with me as you need.’

CTA should have a benefit included in addition to the above.

I don’t like listing the service name here. That may be space I can repurpose for benefits.

Coaching is an okay target for this, though I’d argue that no one is reading my signature and impulse-purchasing a 3-month $3,000 project https://kaidavis.com/coaching.

I’ll consider making this a smaller, initial purchase, like The Initial Call Script (https://kaidavis.com/initial-call-script) or a 1-on-1 Call (https://kaidavis.com/call).

To do:

  • [ ] Rewrite CTA to add a benefit to the description
  • [ ] Drop service name and use that space in another way
  • [ ] Include UTM tags so I can track using SegMetrics
  • [ ] Evaluate a separate, email only landing page. Pluses: a bit easier to track in Google Analytics. Minuses: Yet Another Page.

Where do you stand on email signatures?

Excelsior!

Kai

BattleBoard

The one thing that I usually break out when I’m in the final stages of shipping a project/preparing for a trip is

The BattleBoard

The BattleBoard is a Kanban board named Today that has a simple, essential function:

Take the pile of things I need to get done and turn it into an ordered, scored, estimated list of things that I can move to Completed.

It’s a Trello Board set up as a Kanban board. On the right of each card, it looks like there are a bunch of pixelated tomatoes.

I use Trello for my BattleBoard. You could use Notion for it. Or you could use your tool of choice. (You can find a Trello and a Notion template to copy at the end of this article)

How To Play BattleBoards

Here’s how you get started.

Start Your Day

You start your BattleBoard by doing a brain dump and calendar dump of everything that you have to do today. Write it on paper with pen or pencil.

Schedule 30- to 60-minutes to just brain dump every single task, project, action, and item that you need to tackle. Get messy with it.

Alright, you’ve written down everything that you need to get done.

Build Your BattleBoard

Spawn a new Trello/Notion/Whatever board. Create the following columns:

  • Backlog
  • Working On (2)
  • The Pen
  • Completed

That “(2)” is important. We’ll come back to it in a bit.

In Backlog, you want to create a card for each thing on your list.

Boom. You’ve got a messy list.

Now, for each card, ask yourself:

Why should this card stay?

Make the default deleting the card.

If you can’t identify the reason why you need to tackle this today, stop thinking about it.

Get it off your board.

🍅 Score Your Cards

The Pomodoro Met –

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks.

https://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730

Ahem.

The Pomodoro Technique has you work in a 25-minute working session followed by a 5-minute break.

The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to score your projects. Is it going to take:

  • 25 minutes? One Pomodoro = 25 minutes = 🍅
  • 50 minutes? 🍅 🍅
  • 75 minutes? 🍅 🍅 🍅

That’s a very convenient way to estimate how long something will take.

And, hey, it works well on individual Trello cards.

Go through your board and do a rough time estimate for each card:

  • 🍅 (25 minutes)
  • 🍅 🍅 (50 minutes)
  • 🍅 🍅 🍅 (75 minutes)
  • 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 (100 minutes)

“But Kai, what if a task will take less than 25-minutes?”

Score it as one tomato 🍅. If you finish a card early, take your break early and then get started on the next card.

Prepare for The Game

Alright, now you’ve got:

  • A BattleBoard
  • A bunch of cards in the backlog (your ‘deck’ )
  • Tomatoes all over your cards

Here’s how you prepare for your game.

Stack Your Deck

You want to sort your deck of cards (your ‘backlog’) so the most important cards are at the top.

Go through the cards in Backlog (your deck) and stack it.

Put the cards you want to tackle first at the top of the deck. The cards that, when completed, will have the most impact.

Prep Your Notes

The back of every card is a spot you can leave yourself notes: instructions, links, summaries, checklists, or quick notes.

Click on the card. Add to the description and comments.

Hide Your Phone

Store your phone outside of your working space. Put it in your bedroom, your bag, your car, or leave it at home.

Capture Distractions As They Happen

Get a pen and a piece of paper or a legal pad.

During each Pomodoro, write down distractions as they happen.

When you’re distracted, make a hash mark on a piece of paper.

This is what my “Distraction Log” looks like:

Each time I get distracted – tabbing to Slack, grabbing my phone, checking iMessage, whatever – I make a hash mark on the paper.

This technique comes from Scott Hanselman’s talk Scaling Yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS1mnISoG7U

Get Your Timer

You want to be reminded to take breaks. Remember, you’re following The Pomodoro Technique. That means a 25-minute working session and then a 5-minute break.

I use an app on my Mac to run 25-minute timers (https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/47506/timebar). A timer on your phone works quite well.

Get Your Time Tracker

“Kai, a time tracker?”

Yup.

I love using a time tracker. (I hate hourly billing.)

Using a time tracker lets you see how accurate your time estimates are.

If you say “This is going to take me 25-minutes,” how do I know if you spent too much time on it? How do you know if it only took you 10-minutes?

A time tracker lets you close that loop and see how long it takes you to finish a card.

I use Noko (https://nokotime.com/) for my time tracking and like it. Any time tracker will work.

When you move a card from “Working On (2)” to “The Pen” or “Completed,” you can log your time as a comment.

Then, when you complete the card, you can compare your estimate (🍅 🍅 🍅) against the time and see how accurate you were.

This feedback loop lets you adjust your scoring as the day goes on. Find that you’ve under-estimated the time required for a few cards? Review your deck, adjust your estimates as you see fit, and re-stack your deck.

Playing BattleBoards

Your goal is to move cards from the left (your deck) to the right (completed) and through:

  • Working On (2)
  • The Pen

Cards can only move to the right, with one exception explained in “The Pen.”

As you tackle new cards, pull them from your deck and move them to

Working On (2)

You get to work on two cards at a time. Maximum. You can’t be working on more.

When you’re done working on the card, move it forward to “Completed” (if the card is complete) or “The Pen” (if the card isn’t finished)

What if you’re waiting for someone to send you information so you can complete a card? Let me tell you about

The Pen

The Pen is where you put cards that are stuck, stalled, or waiting on other people.

  • Stuck and need to hit pause on a card?
  • Waiting for someone to send you some information?

Put the card in The Pen.

When you’re ready to move a card out of The Pen, move it back to “Working On (2).”

When you’re done working on the card, move it forward to “Completed” (if the card is complete) or “The Pen” (if the card isn’t finished)

Completed

Completed is where you put cards that you’ve completed 🎉


Start Your BattleBoard Game

You’re ready to get started.

To review, you have:

  • Your BattleBoard
  • Your Cards (a ‘deck’) on your BattleBoard
  • …with a Time Estimate (🍅) on each card
  • Notes on the back of the relevant cards
  • Your Timer (to take breaks)
  • Your Time Tracker (to measure the accuracy of your time estimates)
  • Your Paper (to track distractions/interruptions)
  • Your Water Bottle (because it’s cool to stay hydrated 🚰)

You’re ready to play BattleBoards

Start your timer. Start your time tracker.

▶️ Take the top card or two in your backlog and move them to “Working On.”

📇 Work on your card. Move it forward to “The Pen” or “Completed,” depending.

⏰ Take breaks when your timer tells you to take a break

⏲️ Track your time in your Time Tracker. Record how much time you’ve spent on a card

📝 Write down distractions as they happen in each Pomodoro.

🚰 Stay Hydrated

2️⃣Two cards maximum in “Working On (2)” at a time

🌟 Your goal is to move as many cards from your deck (“Backlog”) to “Completed” as possible

When you’re done for the day, count up all the cards (and 🍅) you completed.

Congratulations, friend. That was a great workday.

Here’s the truth: you aren’t going to complete everything you intended to in a day. That’s just how life is.

At The End of The Day

You’ll have cards in:

  • Completed
  • The Pen
  • Working On (2)
  • Backlog

Get rid of all the cards in “Completed.” They’re done. You don’t need to think about them anymore.

You want to prep for tomorrow’s BattleBoard. That means:

  • Create a new column named “Tomorrow”
  • Move all the cards all the board (The Pen, Working On, Backlog) into “Tomorrow”
  • Get out a piece of paper
  • Brain dump anything that comes to mind that you need to take care of tomorrow

Tomorrow, you’ll start with two assets:

Your Brain Dump

Take this as a jumping-off point for your brain dump process. Write down everything that comes to mind.

Your “Tomorrow” Cards

Tomorrow, start by reviewing all the cards in your “Tomorrow” column. These are notes to yourself from Yesterday.

For each card, ask yourself:

Why should this card stay?

Make the default deleting the card.

If you can’t identify the reason why you need to tackle this card today, stop thinking about it. Get it off your board.

Templates for BattleBoards

Trello BattleBoard Template

Open this board in Trello and make a copy of it and you can get started with your BattleBoard: https://kaidavis.com/battleboard/trello

And if you’re new to Trello, you can sign up through my referral link: https://kaidavis.com/loves/trello

Notion BattleBoard Template

Open this board in Notion and duplicate it and you can get started with

your BattleBoard: https://kaidavis.com/battleboard/notion

And if you’re new to Notion, you can sign up through my referral link: https://kaidavis.com/loves/notion

Excelsior!

Kai

  1. 🚨 Very Important Footnote: Stacking the deck doesn’t mean ‘put the easiest cards on top.’ If you do that, when your energy starts to drop, you’ll be looking at a stack of challenging cards, and your enthusiasm will wane.
    Instead, put the most impact generating cards at the top. These might be small (🍅) or large (🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅), depending.
    There’s always a chance you won’t finish your entire deck before the day ends. If that’s the case, you want to make sure you’re tackling the most important cards at the start of your day.
  2. Hell, if you’re feeling particularly courageous, walk up to the barista at your coffee shop and say, “Hi, I’m working on a project. Can you put my phone in the lost and found with my name on it and I’ll pick it up when I’m done?”
    Then give them a tip.

“How does a Sales CRM fit in? “

Lead Tracking

Should you use your CRM to track your sales leads? Most likely. That’s what the tool is for.

Should you use it to track non-sales leads? What about past clients? That question leads to some interesting conversation.

Past Client Follow-up

One significant advantage of using a sales CRM (like Pipedrive: https://pipedrive.com, https://kaidavis.com/loves/pipedrive ← affiliate link) is that you can easily follow-up with your past clients.

Ideally, you’ve been using your CRM to track your leads. That makes following-up with past clients super easy:

  • When you close a deal, schedule a follow-up activity (“Send Follow-up Email”) with that contact for 2-4 months down the road.
  • Schedule the activity now, at the moment the deal closes, instead of waiting until you remember to schedule it
  • When that follow-up comes due, take that action. Send your contact a short email to check-in and then immediately capture your next follow-up activity with that contact.

This way? You’re automatically optimizing for more follow-up with past clients.

Pipedrive’s Activity Based Selling approach (https://kaidavis.com/activity-based-selling/) is like a Vitamin B-12 shot for your sales process.

Now, if you have not been using a CRM, you might be thinking to yourself

Kai, this tool sounds great, but I’ve got none of my data in there. How can this work for me?

If you’re just starting to use a Sales CRM, then one of the first steps is to migrate your data in.

Now, your friend Kai is a fan of the slow and cautious approach. When you’re getting started with a CRM, you don’t want to throw all your information into it.

Why?

Because dirty data stains any system it touches. And if you throw all your data in, you’ll be throwing trash in.

Instead, the slow and cautious approach:

  1. Make a list of your past clients (spreadsheet, paper, and pencil)
  2. Create those clients in Pipedrive (create a contact, create an organization)
  3. Schedule days to send follow-ups to these clients (schedule a future activity on these contacts or companies)

And… presto. You’ve now imported a select group of your past clients and schedule a follow-up activity for each one.

You’re a follow-up master 🌟

Ready to give your sales process a Vitamin B-12 shot? https://kaidavis.com/pipeline-essentials/

Excelsior!

Kai