Sandcastles and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Sat, Apr 21, 2012

Beautiful day yesterday even though the only initial glimpses I got of it was as I and the team raced from various hotels and offices in Boston and Cambridge, jumped into careening cabs as we shuffled from one venture fundraising pitch to another.  Good for the team as we scored great insight and a couple of “c’mon backs”, and good for me to get down on my knees again searching for funding-always an exciting…and humbling…learning experience. 

Sales and SandcastlesWinding up a bit earlier allowed me to beat the normal long commute home and actually see the beach yesterday in the daylight.  Stepping on to the still cool-in-the-season sand, I was immediately splashed with images of laughing kids, bright neon shovels, pails of every color and size stacked alongside Lilliputian motor pools of various plastic trucks and Tonka bulldozers all engaged in the building of sandcastles and hopeful dikes to stop the incoming tide.  Sandcastles are great for the kids playing in the art of constructing sandcastles.  Not so great for salespeople working in the science of building sales pipelines.

The kids on the beach, and especially the veteran 6-10 year olds, now have the experience of how to build the best drip castles and accompanying moats as they hope that the tide just might be slowed down and not wash away their afternoon creations.  In the world of professional sales, working with the best hunters, farmers and scouts, no one believes in the  “hope”.   Hope is Not a Sales StrategyBy now, we’ve all heard the often quoted “Hope is not a Sales Strategy”, but it bears keeping this phrase on a sticky note pasted right in the center of our forehead…especially at this point in the quarter.  

Sales PlanningNo time of the year is more important for building rock hard sales plans than Q2.  You have the experience of Q1 successes and failures to retune and build in the actuality of executing through the April-May-June period.  You have the opportunity of expanded time looking out into Q3 and Q4 to ramp your velocity based on Q2’s results.  You have (or will have) enough experience in gaining comfort with your new sales and marketing tools to be able to put them to even better use during Q3.  All rock solid blocking and tackling execution tactics and tools to ensure that you’re not just going to make your numbers this year, but blow them away.  That level of success is all about the ramp speed at which you leave Q2, which, in turn is about having formal short term 90 day plans, a number of ongoing timed experiments that are bubbling away and being measured every day at your key accounts and a strict focus on the rhythms of the incoming tides over the next 10 weeks.

The tides don’t stop-they just wash away the dreams and the hope that a child’s sandcastle will last.  The reality of the end-of-months and quota don’t stop.  We just need to make sure that our sales plans are built on rock, not sand, and have deep foundations constructed by more and more perfected tools and proven tactics and not just hope.

Sales SkillsHow do you rank your personal selling tools?

1.  This weekend start outlining your Key Account plan for May and June. Kick it around during the week, ask the best salesperson you work with to critique it then tune it up and polish it to completion next weekend.  5-8 accounts with hard timelines, detailed tactical plans by the week, if not by day.  Answer the tough question for every account: How do I bring them financial value?

2.  Take just one selling skill.  I don't really care what it is, and start on an immediate 30 day personal improvement program.  For me, during April, it was taking my Discovery process to the next level.  May's is more personalized Salesforce training.  I need to slow down this month in order to speed up later in the year. 

Great Selling this week as you close April !

Head Coach
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A couple follow on comments from prior blogs...

1. Check out for a superb way to take the work out of your next "Lunch & Learns".  Thanks, Glenn!

2.  We have one more Tufts company slot to fill for next semester.  Marketing teams of juniors and seniors working on your "I wish I had resources to explore" projects.

3.  Sales Tools?  Go to our Solutions Page-Sales, Business & Marketing.  Could use your help here:  What additional tools would you like to see us develop this summer?

4.  Come listen to Jack as Chair of Common Angels and Jerry Bird, CEO of MTDC, spar off on May 10th at the 128 Innovation Capital Group on which is the better way to fund your start up-angels of venture capital. 


Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, sales, sales management, sales management effectiveness, sales plan process, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, sales planning, sales tools, selling, improved sales management, sales management training, selling skills, closing sales, Sales quota, sales training, sales plans