Forget "ABC" - "Always be Closing".
It's old school, offensive and counter to what we should be doing as salespeople, which is to sell value and create trust with our prospects and customers, and not force them to close.
According to Karen Penticost, VP of Strategic Development at Envision Technology Advisors, who was part of the management team working with us at our Sales Management Boot Camp at the MIT Endicott House last week, we should...
"always be interviewing"
When asked why, Karen's responses were...
- ..."I need to manage just like a coach of a professional sports team who plans to win games"
- ..."just like any manager who needs to balance monthly objectives with long term strategies"
- ..."I need to plan that I will want to turn over and add to my team by x% every year"
Years ago, I joined CB Sports, working with CB Vaughn, the genius founder and design visionary who brought together the reality of high performance fabrics and fashion becoming the market leader in skiwear. Pretty much every week, CB would rush into my office with "yet-another" potential hire in tow that he had recently met. As in any successful fast growth company, CB Sports was built on a culture of speed, customer urgency, and high performance and design. Having said that, the reality of life in any apparel company, and especially in a seasonal, "depends-on-the-weather-business", was that we closely watched the cycles of our cash flows, and, as a result, the necessity of hiring anyone was always highly questioned and repeatedly scrubbed down.
After a month or so of seeing numbers of "good people for the team", I talked to CB about the reality of not being able to hire anyone in the short term. I will always remember his response, which parallels Karen's.
"Jack, my job is to bring you future draft choices; you're job is to figure out where they could fit, if not for this season, then the next". My first real life example of what "building the bench" really meant since, at that time being the hottest product in the market, everyone wanted to work for CB Sports.
At the Boot Camp, we dissected the math to hire a sales person from the "Go Ahead Day":
-Hiring: 2-3 months
-Onboarding: 2-3 months
-First sale: 2-4 months
-Full ramp speed to quota: 12 months
As a result of the management tactics of "always be interviewing", at the very least, you take 2 to 3 months off the critical timeline of getting up to quota consistently.
Plus, this tactic keeps you much more attuned to the reality that we typically experience between a 20% and 35% annual turnover, both voluntary and non-voluntary, every year on our sales teams. The reality of whatever the percentage is that on that day of the firing or the resignation, we, as the manager, are immediately brought back to ground zero-Excel Cell #1, where we start over...unless, of course, there's that bench of future draft choice waiting in the wings.
Sounds too Simple !?
It actually is very simple, and it goes right alongside many of the other Sales Basics that we, as managers, learned long ago, and then tended to forget or, more likely, we overthought and complicated to the extent that they no longer were... .just simple
The simplicity of the solution is that we work 60 hour weeks at a minimum, which taken over the time of a year is approximately 3,000 hours a year. First, subtract all of the time for vacations, holidays, being sick and the incredibly unproductive time of badly run meetings. Then plan out in your calendar how you will take just 3 hours a month to spend with possible future draft choices...even if you don't have an opening. Three hours times ten months comes down to 30 hours which should yield 10-12 potentials over the period of a year. Even if it this process were to yield just five future draft choices, my guess is that's five ahead of where you are right now.
Success in Sales always comes down to the basics of...
- hiring ahead
- time management
- activity planning
- training and certification
- the formality of sales processes and tools
- ...and, or course, personal accountability
...all lessons that were reinforced for all of us at last week's Boot Camp...
If you want to learn more about "The Basics", click HERE, which will bring you to our site and The Basics of Sales Tools. (4th section down is about hiring)
Looking forward to a great Q4!
Have a great weekend!
Good Selling, Good Marketing...and Good Planning!
The time is now, not tomorrow!
Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaches
Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222