Toward the end of a very hectic December, I was facilitating a series of 2014 sales plan reviews for the senior sales team of a new customer. It was interesting for me to note that in a few of the presentations, even heavily experienced salesguys commented that although this was their plan for the year, there "are a number of factors that are out of my control". Always the pain-in-the-neck, provoking guy that I am, I asked about those, and the responses were...
well, first, there's the economy...
then, there's the competition...
and finally, there's the availability of product
First, I should point out that this is a great company with a strong brand name, and these are experienced sales leaders, but, this is the first time that they've been required to produce quarterly plans for the upcoming year. Back in the day, their business was based on personal relationships, and "selling" often came down to lunches, beers after work and making cold calls. In today's new world order, with zero time availability of the person on the buyer side of the desk plus battle-hardened competition, they now recognize that those tactics may be "ok", but they barely have any meaningful impact anymore.
Today, better sales results comes down to the best short term sales planning followed up with determined execution.
Second, my questions, when I listened to these responses, acknowledged that although those comments may be reality, they are comments that apply not just to their markets, but also for the vast majority of other industries. I also pointed out that these are comments that need to be followed by The "So" Statement, as in... "So, given these realities (or even assumptions), here's how I'm going to plan my sales activities for the next 90 days."
As I'm writing this blog on Saturday, I'm sitting (in front of the fireplace, of course) watching the rain pour down on the slopes of Stratton Mountain Resort.
- No one planned for it to rain for 24 hours both last Monday or today.
- No one expected 40 degree temps and 70mph winds today
- No one built this into their planning one week before MLK weekend
And yet, this experienced and very successful team understands that...
they have no control over Vermont's weather in the winta' or the summa'
they must bring in their revenue & profit targets whatever the weather
they must exude a culture of fun, hard work and high customer satisfaction
Getting It Done...no matter what!
And so, they get it done. Storm after storm, season after season, making Stratton repeatedly one of the most successful ski resorts in the country. Clearly the leader in the quality of its snow, its customer satisfaction levels and its guest services. In addition to living a strong culture, a lot of this success comes down to a tightly unified management that reaches deeply into the organization and ensures that everyone plans out their businesses for 30 to 180 days into the future.
On that Saturday, I happened to have scheduled lunch with the Stratton head of sales and marketing, and I asked her just what is it that you do do in a case like this when it's raining outside and you have a major weekend just a few days away?
Her responses were very telling and instructive for all of us who work in industries where the weather really is not an impact on our sales success...
- We make sure that our plans are "bulletproof"
- We always have backup plans with alternative scenarios
- We review our plans, as an entire group, in detail, every week
- We're transparent about the weather, and we market the positives
- We're always positive about, and we live, the Stratton experience
Lessons from an experienced team with excellent results which even though they don't have (yet) any control over the weather, believe that they can control everything else.
A couple of takeaways...
In my season on injured reserves, I'm still at Stratton on the weekends. Come on up, and we can have lunch.
Take a look this week at your Q1 plans and ask yourself how fail-safe are they? Do you have backup plans if the ________ (you fill in the blanks) happens?
Never allow negativity on your team. Trust me, there is always a positive side to everything. At Stratton when it rains, the messaging is about the Stratton "BE" experience, the use of the village, the health club and the restaurants.
Be transparent, acknowledge quickly what it is, move on and message the positive about you, your business, your customers, the weatha’…anything. Stomp on negative attitudes and insist on the positive! That's your job since there is no one else!
No better way to put some new thinking into 2014 than to attend our upcoming Sales Management Boot Camp. To learn more...
- Click on the icon below for an outline of what takes place.
- You can also click HERE for a more detailed agenda
- Or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, for a 10 minute call