If you are involved in sales, fundraising or just an active networker, you have probably tried a variety of tools to manage your contact list and remind yourself to stay in touch with all of the prospects and people you meet. This tickler file is designed to be an inexpensive, effective, tool that can be used by salespeople in a variety of different types of organizations.
This tickler file uses inexpensive index cards and a simple file box. You will need the following items to create your own index card sales tool. I found everything I needed at my local office supply store. The total cost was around $25.00.
- A box to store the index cards
- Monthly 3" by 5" index tabs
- Daily (1-31) 3" by 5" index tabs
- Alphabetical 3" by 5" index tabs
- A ton of white ruled 3" by 5" index cards (you don't need a photo, right?)
- A bunch of colored 3" by 5" index cards (pick your favorite color)
- A small case to carry your in your pocket
Once you have purchased the required supplies, you can organize your 3X5. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that you are assembling your 3X5 on January 1st. If this is the case you would first organize your tabs in the order below (front to back):
- January tab
- Daily tabs 1-31
- February - December monthly tabs
- A-Z alphabetical tabs
- Blank index cards - white and your favorite color
All of your cards should now be in the file box and the first thing you should see is the January tab.
Next, you should start creating cards for your leads. In the beginning, this is going to take some time (assuming you have a lot of leads). You might choose to use one color card for prospects, one color for customers, another for personal contacts, etc. If you are not going to organize your contacts by color, you will only need white cards. Nonetheless, you can either copy your contacts information onto the cards or simply staple their business card to one of the index cards.
The system works like this.
Let's imagine it is January 1st. and you attend a networking event where you meet a potential client. You get this lead's business card at the event and you want to contact him/her on the 2nd., so when you get to your office, you staple the leads business card to a white index card and drop it behind the "2" tab and then go home for the day. After all, it is new years day and you have been working hard to create your new sales system and you attended a networking event.
So, you arrive at work on January 2nd. and open up your tickler file. The first thing you should do is move the "1" tab back behind the February tab. You will always be rolling the system forward like this, so that the first tab you see in the box represents the most current month, then the most current day.
Now, you go to the tab for today (Jan 2nd.) and find the card for the lead that you met at the networking event yesterday. You call the lead and learn that he/she is out of town until January 6th. so you make a note which says, "1/2/05 - Mr. Lead is on vacation till 1/6". Now you drop the card behind the "6" tab for the month of January.
You will continue to roll this lead forward in the system, making notes at each step, until the lead either turns into a customer or asks you to leave them alone.
When the lead turns into a customer, I staple their business card to a colored card and place it behind the appropriate alphabetical tab. If their is another opportunity with this client, I move the colored card back to the dated section and move them through the process again.
Of course, as you add more people to your pipeline, you might not get to contact everyone on the day you have them slotted for. Just move them to the next day's slot at the end of the current day so you contact them tomorrow.
You will not want to carry around a huge metal box full of index cards, which is why you want to have a small index card wallet or box, so if you are going to be on the road or out of the office, you can simply grab your cards for the day and go.
Not just for salespeople.
While the system is great for salespeople, it also is a great tool for those of us who are focusing on networking. I actually use three different colored cards and use white for leads, blue for clients and red for my networking contacts (patriotic, I know). On the red cards, I write either 7, 14, 30, 45, 60, etc in the upper right hand corner of the index card to remind myself how frequently I want to contact the person, so I simply move the card forward based on the number on the card. If I want to contact someone every seven days, I move the card ahead a week after I make contact.
I hope this system works well for you. If you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to send them to me through my website (http://www.stephenlabuda.com).