In mid-July, I wrote about doing a first half year review, taking score of where you are and re-planning for the second half of the year. That tactic of the first half review is used in business, in life, in football, and I'm now just suggesting to do it later this week for everyone working in Sales and now facing the critical 4th Quarter. Very simply, when the 4th Quarter is finished on the 31st of December, it's game over, and the 2019 numbers are posted for all to see on the scoreboard. No more time, no more timeouts, no more substitutions, no more injured players, no more excuses. Done!!!
- True salespeople, women and men, sales execs or BDRs, district managers or CEOs always know exactly where they are in their revenue metrics. I'm currently in the critical process of signing up partners to the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, and I don't need to have my head of finance remind me where I am...but she does all the time...because she's a strong manager and a critical partner, and at the end of the day, money is money! Bottom line is that I'm behind, and I now need to double down in effort, add more time to the sales clock and execute on a couple of new short term tactics.
- This week, theoretically there's 13 weeks left in the year, but in the cold hard reality of vacations and holidays, there's really nine. Given that, today, as in Monday, the last day of Q3, you should be totally focused on today, and then on Tuesday, as in tomorrow, immediately shift that focus to Q4 and the remaining 50 selling days left in the year.
Congratulations! to those of you who wake up tomorrow morning knowing that you're ahead of the game for the year, that the team is fully balanced, everyone is trained and amped up for the long drive through the rest of the quarter.
Like the Pats, it's great to be ahead of the pack!
For those of us behind the curve, me included, it's time to change something since whatever it is that we've been doing for the past 270 days or so has not been working that well, and given current course and speed, the simple math says that nothing will change. As professionals in the science of Sales, we gave up on the "Strategy of Hope" a very long time ago. It doesn't take that many slaps upside the head from past failures to figure out that the "same old, same old" even with a fresh coat of paint, rarely works.
TIME to Create a New Game Plan
- It's the 4th Quarter which brings with it all of the normal issues of competition, focus, pricing discounts
and the lack of time on the part of everyone on both sides of the buying and selling table.
- In this particular 4th quarter, add to the lack of time, the confusion about tariffs, the stupidity of both political parties and the brain-dead media rapidly talking the country into a recession. But, given the buoyancy of the economy, low unemployment, low interest rates and wheelbarrows of cash still parked on the sidelines, there's plenty of buying power left in corporate America... at least for the short term.
- Today announce that you're gathering the team around the table this Friday morning at 7:30 to spend the entire morning walking through every strategy, every tactic, every contingency scenario and every personnel resource you're going to need during the next 53 days of the quarter. Give assignments out today so that everyone is prepared and everyone has something to present.
And, btw, wherever you are on whichever side of the competitive edge you are on today, it could be a lot worse! Imagine if you're a senior manager or are on the sales teams of WeWork, Peloton, Boeing or Juul having to rebuild your entire business model and your product plans.
- I also think back to the readings of my sales coach, SunTzu, who time and again has pulled me out of the sales doldrums and has givin me immediate short and mid-term focus to the tactical job at hand.
- Similarly, Eisenhower's response when after learning on that morning of the highly planned invasion of the beaches at Normandy that everything was disastrously falling apart by the hour, he executed a totally revised tactical plan which quickly got the soldiers off the beaches. Weeks after, he was quoted with "It's not the plan that's important; it's the planning process.".
- And it was from those dark early days of the war when Britain stood alone following the invasion of France and the disaster at Dunkirk that Winston Churchill responded with "When you're going through hell, keep going", followed again and again with "Never, never, never give up".
Things to do this week:
1. Get that Friday morning planning session together with assignments and concise and impactful tactical presentations focused on the remaining 50ish days. Don't allow anyone to complain about their lack of time, or those big bad competitors, or the problems with tariffs when in fact, it's most probably the lack of small, focused tactical selling plans that's the real problem.
2. Focus on geographies at the Friday planning meeting. With a small number of days left in the year, we need to focus on streets, not states. There are 31 NFL cities in the U.S. The cities themselves account for 10% of the U.S. population. The "greater" population directly around those cities equals another 25%. Go where the customers are and the prospects are going to be. Don't waste time exploring new geographies!
3. Pick your critical metrics and communicate them every week Next week institute 30 minute team calls every Monday morning at 7:30, and at the end a day midweek-either Wednesday or Thursday-to discover on a peer-to-peer basis-what tactics worked and the results that came from them.