Just as the coming of spring for me translates to cleaning up the winter debris washed up on the beach and lugging chain saws and chippers around the Vermont woodlot on my ATV, so too does this time of year push me to get even more tightly organized for next quarter.
It often strikes me that too many salespeople merely seem to fall headfirst into the month of January having just completed their marathon to nail down the end of December. Then, with the pressures of January's annual kickoff meetings, the demands of the sales treadmill increasingly speed up such that the short month of February slams them up against the cold reality of hard-to-achieve Q1 quotas. And, then here they are midway through March scrambling for new business since they drained their lead generation funnel in order to make last year's Q4 numbers.
A tough place to be, but it is what it is-neither good nor bad. It's just a result of the rhythm of business at the beginning of every year, which is exactly why you need to get very busy and highly organized right now as you shift into even higher gear and speed into Q2. For me, Q2 is the most critical quarter of the year and always sets the pace for the remaining six months.
Here's a few ideas that might make this process bit easier:
Tactical Sales Plans
First, there's plenty of time left to generate meaningful tactical sales plans that will impact your quota for both Q3 and Q4. Here's a Generic Sales Plan Example that you might want to adapt to get you started.
Simple construction, an easy-to-define template, and it takes the concept of sales planning down to where the rubber hits the road.
There's a laundry list of activities to turn on with your marketing people in order to create lead gen specifically for those yet-to-be-found prospects that will take you through the summer doldrums. The question here is exactly what do you need in terms of not leads, but qualified leads, so that you can do your stuff and drive x% of those leads to ground before the end of Q2?
In order to do this, you need to sit down by yourself, or preferably with someone from marketing, and create the "typical" math and the corresponding waterfall of events that will bring you from a specific marketing campaign to total leads to qualified leads to a defined opportunity in your pipeline. At this point, you should care only about the math and what you need in terms of output and leave the campaigning up to someone else who has the hands-on marketing expertise.
Marketing today is a science based on measured experiments, and typically the more successful salespeople fail miserably at attempting to manage real lead gen. Our experience is that there are good salespeople, and that there are good marketing people, but that there are no good sales & marketing people. As a professor of Marketing, my thought about marketing today is that marketing is like signing in the shower. Everybody believes that they are very good at it, but, in reality, there are very few who are trained professionals, and they are never successful salespeople. Just very different skills and totally different DNA.
If you like gardening and being outdoors as much as I do, every spring there always an excuse to go to Home Depot and buy a few more tools. Not that you really need that shovel with the narrow cutting edge which would be perfect for trimming the lawn or the new pruning shears-when if you really put your mind to it, you could probably find the ones that you misplaced last September. Having a good set of new gardening tools always produces better results, and the same is true for your sales tools and the corresponding results they produce.
-When's the last time you updated your introductory sales deck slides?
-The same goes for your opening script?
-What's your Champion Letter look like?
-How about cleaning out and updating your Salesforce leads?
-Have you recently edited your Linked In profile?
-What about more LI recommendations from your customers?
-What about a weekly blog on the industry?
-What referral groups, real or virtual, are you joining this year?
-What are the skills that you plan to hone this year and how are you going to do that?
Rather than develop a long list, focus on just three tools that you need to update or actually create for use in early April. Just like the grass and gardens around your house will appreciate a firm raking and a new sprinkling of fertilizer, so too will your sales game and your confidence be able to grow.
Good Selling!Head CoachJack
At this time of year, most of us are working on our sales and business plans. As a result, we put together two detailed documents to help you through what is sometimes a difficult process.
The first is an easy-to-read 2011 Tactical Sales Planning Guide. Hope you find it useful.
Our second document is the 2010 edition of "Writing The Winning Business Plan". A 10 year work in the making, this 75 page book will undergo a major rewrite this summer and be released on our new website, so if you have any edits, comments, examples or stories that you want to be included, let us know.
For more valuable resources, visit our Solution Center. Hope you find these useful, and any comments and edits would be greatly appreciated.
-and the rest of the managers on the team-
Jan Olmstead: Marketing & Customer Voice Surveys,
George Pilla: Early stage interim CFO
Frank Porter: Operations & Manufacturing
George Simmons: Finance, Sales Optimization, Senior management