Re-Plan, Reduce, Re-Create
Sometime over the next 45 days, as you’re pushing everyone through the heat of the summer, gather your management team or your sales management together and think about checking off these three R’s:
Going into the second half of this year with the same game plan that you created in January is like the Spanish team going into the final game of the World Cup last Sunday using the playbooks that were nicely laid out back in May and June. Things change, some players don’t work out, and positioning evolves.
The basic game plan that you wrote back in January for your business or your sales organization may be structurally the same in that you’re still selling the identical products and services; however, I’m sure that all of your tactics did not work as planned through the first half, nor, my guess is, did every one of your salespeople live up to your expectations.
To insure that re-planning is consistently done and that everyone is working to their potential, one tactic that we like to see is for every salesperson to produce a written “30-60-90 Plan”which is a rolling quarterly sales battle plan outlining a small number of very specific tactics, metrics and objectives. There is nothing strategic about a “30-60-90?; it’s extremely detailed, very focused and very activity based. Similar to going into the last quarter of the game, a “30-60-90? should be the personal playbook for each member of the team. Your job as a manager is to make sure that they all make sense, they all fit together, and that you have enough bandwidth to apply your coaching skills to the team members who are not yet A players. Sounds simple, but it isn’t to start. Once it’s up and consistenly running, it becomes a very effective tool for improving productivity.
A question: Is it really necessary that you or your business should be tackling all of the tasks, market opportunities and product introductions that you’ve outlined for the next six or twelve month?
Is it necessary to have all your salespeople trying to develop both new accounts while they’re struggling with expanding their existing customers? Should they be doing both, and do they have the skills to do both? Maybe it would be better to have a Red Team handling new and a Blue Team handling expansion?
Is it necessary that they should be pretending to cover large geographies with one person in the Southeast, one in the Midwest, one in the West and so on? Maybe it would make more sense to target, one by one, a few of the NFL cities, where 68% of the population lives anyhow and forget about the rest of the country? “Streets not States and not Territories” might be a much more focused strategy that would reduce expenses substantially and focus your sales presence.
Just as we’ve all had to sharply reduce our expenses over the past 18 months, perhaps it would make a lot of sense to reduce the number of strategies and activities that you or your salespeople are pretending that you can handle. Instead of a broad range of lots of different activities, how about sharply reducing the number and focus specific sales and marketing strengths on only two or three super critical tactics where you know that you can be successful over the period of the next five months? Come November you can worry about what 2011 is going to look like and whether you should increase the number of your strategies and tactics for next year.
One of my companies, which is not doing well, continues to focus time on their existing market. That’s where they grew up; that’s where they played the game successfully for years, that’s the only language that they know, and that’s where all of their salespeople were born. The problem is that the market has dramatically changed, and in a 2.0 world, it is not coming back-ever.
The bigger problem is that they know all of this intellectually, but they’re still swimming in the same (now much smaller) pond with all of the rest of their failing competitors and constantly complaining about reduced pricing, tighter margins and the market dynamics of a tough economy. The first half of the year was just short of a disaster; no one made quota and now the long knives have come out and the finger pointing is heating up.
All talented individuals, and now they’ve finally come to realize-although it took the blunt instrument of an ugly first half to make this happen-that they need to re-create a much larger new pond, a few new products, a different cost structure and simply terminate anyone who is not on board with moving ahead.
In a dramatically changed customer world with new economics and new opportunities sprouting up everywhere, the same old, same old is simply a short road to failure.
My Kindle has been on overload this summer with me reading a couple of books a week, but one of my favorites so far, that you must read, is Blue Ocean Strategy. Whether you take the content to its fullest extent is up to you, but I’ll guarantee that you that after reading you’ll start thinking differently about how you can re-create your own blue ocean.
As long as you’re going to think about addressing these opportunities with the team, take them offsite to a mind-expanding inexpensive location like the Stratton Mountain Club in Vermont or the ever-classic MIT Endicott House in Dedham or take a walk on the beach at the Wentworth in Portsmouth. Just an added touch to get everyone’s head in the game and gain a bit more perspective plus an opportunity to thank them for bringing in the first half of the year and engaging them in the planning to ensure the second half.
Good selling !