And, with the coming of this new calendar year...of life, of Sales, of relationships, of exploring, and, most importantly, of learning, also comes the requirement to take a look around and assess where you personally are in your sales and marketing career. Part of this personal responsibility comes merely as a result of turning the page in the calendar and being able to broadly look out over the landscape of the next 12 months that are about to unfold...whether you're ready or not. Make a few resolutions if you must, but, most importantly, place a firm stake in the ground now, and take control of where you want be and what you want to have accomplished at this exact time in January, 2016.
Open your Calendar
...and type in words that beg you to get to the next plateau, to extend, and to surpass the point at which you are today. Pick today's date in 2016, go to that digital page and write out questions such as...
-What are the new Sales or Marketing skills I learned this year?
-What must I do to consistently excel in my career and get to the next level?
...and then type in the bigger overriding questions of...
- "Have I lived up to what I said I would do one year ago?"
- "Am I riding the surf, or just standing on the beach?"
- "Have I advanced my personal value during this year?"
- "Did I accomplish just two of the activities that I said I would?"
A Deliberate Practice
With that centering completed, and having placed a couple of stakes in the ground, (or, at least on the digital page), 2015 should be about taking deliberate time out each quarter, to assess your progress over the period of the next 12 months. Since the actual planning and review process is yours alone, it doesn't take much time-perhaps a couple of hours each month.
Think of this process as a product development project for which you would create a timeline chunked up into milestones with review mechanisms strategically placed along the way to measure your work and your success.
The only difference, and it's a critical difference, is that if this were a product development project at work, you would have a team of active contributors, but, in this case, you will typically be a product development team of one. All the more important that you mark up your calendar now, while it's fresh and shiny, and fill in a year's worth of checkpoints and quarterly reviews...for example, on the first Saturday morning of each quarter.
Sales for Example
In my own case, I believe that I'm a pretty good salesguy. Been doing this for a long time, and since it's not how I started my career (Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering at Honeywell and Becton Dickinson), I tend to study and read more about Sales while continuing to bring my analytical skills from the manufacturing floor and engineering labs into the worlds of Sales and Marketing. So far, all of that has worked in my favor and improved my sales abilities especially since today's hottest trends of data analytics (Insight Squared) and sales productivity improvement (Brainshark's Sales Accelerator) are at the leading edge of a tsunami of change in the rapidly evolving market of Sales 3.0.
Having said that, while I currently feel very comfortable about what's happening in this new world order, my fear is that I may become too complacent in a year or so. As a result, for me, 2015 is about pushing myself to think about...
- ...what does the next wave of Sales Productivity Improvement look like?
- ...what's at the next intersection of salespeople, more efficient technology and evern easier-to-use Sales and Marketing tools?
- ...what can I do to truly enable my sales team and have them take not only total responsibility, but personal accountability for their actions?
Bundled up in the output of all of this thinking are my 2015 resolutions to become a better salesguy and a far better manager.
BTW, as you're taking charge for the planning for your own 2015 resolutions, also take some deliberate time to STOP DOING a few other activities. I personally found this short HBR blog fun to read and personally instructive as I borrowed three or four ideas for my own list of improvements. I especially liked... "Stop being so positive — research shows it’s not all that helpful for achieving your goals."
Ok, that's it. Off to MGH for that much awaited early Tuesday morning meeting. See you in a month or so.
Best of everything that you can accomplish in 2015...just because you can!