All My Stuff
An army of one. While there is debate of the exact etymology of that phrase and what it was originally meant for, it certainly rings true for solo consultants who take on many different roles in their businesses.
While it may feel more imperative to keep things streamlined and organized when working with a larger team to ensure nothing falls through the cracks, even that army of one can have too many inputs to properly stay organized.
That one person could have multiple email addresses, clients, projects with deadlines, sales to close, tasks to complete.
How can that army of one keep things together?
Jeff Toister is a solo consultant from San Diego who focuses on how to help organizations get the most out of their customer support teams. Through his company, Toister Performance Solutions, he not only advises businesses individually, but leads video training courses, has written two books, and has a calendar full of speaking engagements.
“My number one goal is to be helpful,” Jeff tells us. “As a consultant, there’s a stigma that if we’re going to have a conversation, it’s going to be on the clock, and that’s not the case for me at all. I don’t mind having conversations with people or responding to an email to be helpful.”
The beginning of any relationship in the consulting world comes by way of a lead. Jeff sees his online courses as a huge front door to where many of his business relationships begin.
“I get a lot of my leads through online courses I teach through LinkedIn Learning,” Jeff says. “A lot of the time, people will reach out to me once to ask a question, and I never hear from them again. But if they reach out a second time, that’s when they go into my CRM.
“Highrise has the ability to help me keep track of people, of sales, and of projects. I can put everything all in one place, and that’s what lead me to adopt it.”
Jeff takes great inspiration from the book “Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” In the book, author David Allen tries to help the reader understand that approaching work calm and without stress can help us be more productive.
According to Jeff, he used to struggle to get things done because he had to go to too many inputs, including four or five different email addresses. “If I have to go to a different email client for each of those, that’s a struggle,” he says. “If I have a planner where I keep my to do list, and a digital calendar, all of a sudden it blows up with the sheer volume of things you manage, forget getting any work done.”
For Jeff, that’s where Highrise comes into play. It gives him the ability to have one place for everything he needs to get done. “I can visualize projects I have going on, the person I need to contact and all of their information is right there,” he tells us. “As a writer, deadlines are hugely important. I can get content delivered to editors on time because I have a tool where I can lay out exactly what I need to do to come in on that deadline.
“I don’t have to go back and forth to manage that, I spend more time doing and less time managing.”
As a solo consultant, Jeff uses Highrise for three primary functions:
1 — Tracking sales leads. A Deal is set up to remind Jeff when to touch base, what we’ve already discussed, and a few details to tie into the key contacts.
2 — Cases. When Jeff picks up a new project, or something more than a single to do item, he creates a Case. He’ll name it in a way that describes both the case, the name of the client, and the date to easily find and keep track.
3- Managing contacts. Capturing email conversations there, as well as making liberal use of tags are a powerful way to mark who’s interested in what topic Jeff specializes in. Then those tags can be used specifically to follow up with people.
“I love being able to manage conversations, and instead of keeping them all on the email app on my phone, where it doesn’t tie into other context, everything is together in Highrise,” Jeff tells us.
He also lays out one of the most important things to him as it relates to being able to get everything done as that army of one. “I use Highrise to help me visualize the context of all of my tasks.
“Sometimes we see tasks in a vacuum, like I think this is going to take me 5 minutes. Maybe, but will it really, given all of the other tasks I have? Seeing everything in one place allows me to see all of the other potential hurdles to completing a task and working around them.”
But at it’s core, Jeff sees Highrise as the ultimate relationship platform, helping him keep track of the most important thing to any business: customers.
“I’m not the best at remembering the details of people’s lives as I want to be, and Highrise helps me keep track of those little things, like the name of someone’s new puppy,” he tells us. “To be more deliberate about creating great relationships, a tool like this is so helpful.
“When I add people to Highrise, I tag them as well with what they are interested in. That way I can send them a new resource along with using the tags as a reminder to say ‘Hey, I know you’re interested in X, here’s something you might find valuable.’”
When asked to sum up Highrise, Jeff uses three words. All my stuff.
“By stuff I mean all the loose ends,” he says. “The phone call, the email, the project I’m working on, the sale I’m trying to close. All of these things are in one place, in Highrise.
“Highrise is such a part of my routine now, I can’t recall what life was like before it.”