2021 & a new edit to "Writing the Winning Business Plan"

About 20 years ago, I found myself having breakfast meeting after breakfast meeting with both entrepreneurs and managers of established business walking through my initial review of their business plans especially at the beginning of the year.  For me, it was lead gen for follow-on consulting work, but actually expensive lead gen since it took a ton of time and way too many fattening $30 Marriott buffets.  There had to be a better way, so I began the first edition of a what was then a 30-page free ebook titled... Writing the Winning Business Plan"

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Tags: business coaching, strategic planning, writing a business plan, business planning meetings, writing business plans

Time to get your fingers deep in the crankcase oil!



January is the most critical time of the year for the entire management team to get their fingers deep into the crankcase oil of the entire engine of the business in order to achieve...

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Tags: sales management effectiveness, sales enablement, business coaching, how to close sales, business planning meetings, how to write a sales plan, writing business plans, forgetsalesstrategyfocusontactics

2021...a year of big changes in Sales

With way too much unprecedented confusion and distraction around us, we're now a full two weeks into our Q1 sales quota, and most probably will lose a couple of days this month for our kickoff virtual sales meeting. Most probably, you experienced this more than a couple of times in 2020, again, most probably, will be doing the same for the majority of '21. 

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2021 a year all about change...

This week...

I write this this afternoon at the end of an extraordinarily cataclysmic week. 

I could not even begin to provide any meaningful content today that has not been said better and more fluently by much more knowledgeable people than me. 

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Tags: sales coaching, Sales Optimization, sales effectiveness, best sales practices;, sales productiv, how to write a sales plan

Just one word this morning...

"Connections"

I guess on the day before Christmas, I could wish for world peace, freedom from all hatred, an ability to embrace diversity at all levels and, of course the best health for you, your families, your friends and your employees...and, of course, I do hope for all of that.

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Tags: closing sales, best sales practices;, sales success, sales effectivness, connections

Accurate sales forecasting-all about the science!

This morning, with tonight's Nor'easter looming just a few hours from now, and the end of the entire sales year only eight days away, it's interesting to compare two timely forecasting scenarios:
-On one hand, we have local Boston weather forecasters guessing about snowfall.
-On the other, we have professional salespeople forecasting real revenue.

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Tags: sales coach, sales enablement, closing sales, how to close sales, sales boot camps, improving sales productivity, sales success, how to write a sales plan, sales readiness, forgetsalesstrategyfocusontactics

Does structure influence results?

The final Tufts six presentations from my marketing course were completed last Friday.   Six companies provided individual marketing projects, with five to six students assigned to a team back in July so everyone hit the ground running in September.

  • "just extraordinary",
  • "over the top",
  • "far-surpassed expectations"
...were a few of the phrases voiced most importantly by the senior management of our six host companies. 
Each of the management teams of the six companies actually provide 40% of the overall course grade for the semester. Now, this weekend I and my TAs will work through the very difficult job of grading 32 students.

Being a student or being a salesperson is always about the bottom-line reality of how many points go on the scoreboard.  Right now, before I work through the math of the actual grading, it would appear, based on the customer feedback, that there will be an overabundance of "A"s.  In addition to the actual grading, I am very pleased that two of our project companies this semester have provided job offers to three students.   

During one of the debriefs last Friday following their presentation, I asked the six-person team, who worked on the marketing plan for a $40m company looking at a new market, what defined the success of this project for them, and I was struck by the maturity and the exacting management behavior that they expressed.  So, I thought I would share this this morning for you to assess your work during these final two weeks of the year.

  
"Structure influenced our behavior" 

- "Since no one on the team knew another when we began, we defined up front who would do what and what the team and our individual responsibilities would be."
- "We agreed to strict daily and weekly timelines since we knew the reality to deliver a marketing plan in 13 weeks."
- "Yea, we elected a Team Captain, but we all agreed to complete responsibility for the project as a team."


"We committed to rAPID Group Knowledge"!

  • "We agreed to making sure that all six of us knew "everything about everything" so that there were no islands of knowledge. Yes, primary responsibilities were centered in individuals, but we agreed that "Group Knowledge" was most important especially for our research work and for our customer discovery with the company's prospects and customers."
  • "We used a strategy of writing down content quickly that we discovered and also we created as "a stream of consciousness" not caring much about making it formal with punctuation or format."
  • "We used Google Drive and avoided Slack and Teams because Google was just more personally comfortable and immediate for us individually."  
  • "We operated in frequent short sprints with no long meetings until the end" 

"We created Connective Tissue"

  • "Space, time and location were unimportant in our virtual team, and being online virtually actually worked much better than needing to get together physically
  • "Time was now...all the time."
  • "We formally scheduled customer meetings at the same time every single week"
  • "We completed exhaustive discovery up front repeating the same questions again and again until we came to very detailed answers which led to very detailed objectives"

 

As a professor, I always learn as much as I teach! 

I've thought about these comments all week.  The maturity and the sophistication of the basic, but hard things that make a project or one's quota not only achievable, but highly attainable and successful.  This morning as we look out over the remaining 12 days of December, I thought that some of these best practices of managing against the clock and to the project or to your quota might prove useful.  For other ideas, check out our site for tactics at... https://www.derbymanagement.com/sales-productivity

 

Have a great day selling Today...12 days left!

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

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Tags: Sales Best Practices, sales coach, marketing effectiveness, how to close sales, Tufts marketing projects, how to write a sales plan, sales effectivness, sales readiness

Today's number is 20!

a few Reasons to be thankful!

We just finished what I always consider to be "the best holiday of the year".
--no one really worked last Wednesday, and even if you did, your prospects may not have.
--definitely, no one worked Thursday, and we celebrated with whomever was safe.
--most people did not work Friday other than in retail or necessary services.
--two days of good weather on the weekend came next.
--and yesterday, we closed out November's quota...hopefully on plan!

now it's Tuesday & we have 20 selling days left 

20 days are actually a ton of time to do what we do as sales pros!

With the correctly qualified accounts, all of us, as the seasoned pros we are, have enough time to push down the field, mount play-after-play, bring together the right team and move almost any deal to a close.  That's this week, still early in the game with lots of time left on the scoreboard. 

Next week, not so much time left since we'd already be in the second half of the selling month in pre-holiday time.

The following week, we have no time at all unless we're just a few relative yards/minutes away from pulling everyone over the goal line.   

 

Here's a couple of tactics that always work...

1. Focus on the 80/20 Rule!

Today, as in today-Tuesday-separate out the 20%, (maybe it's only the 10%) of what's in your pipeline that will make the biggest impact on your quota.  In fact, one or two of these opportunities may also be the most difficult and will take maximum time and effort, which is why you're focusing today on the 20% since you have a full 20 days to get to a close.  Plenty of time in fact to make a difference in almost any deal.  

 

2. Get rid of the detractors & interrupters!

The good side of being zoom-distanced is that there are fewer office-talk interruptions although your WFH time may be equally challenged by kids and pets.  The very good news is that you have 20 days.  Multiply that by 10 hours, and you have a ton of time.  The reality of that news is that you have only 20 days. 

  • My buddy, Frank Y., who excels as a BDR, works time zones following the sun across the country.
  • My neighbor, Ray, moves his office to the garage, during the kids' home-schooling hours.
  • I'm up even earlier at 4:00 AM planning out three days ahead and getting rid of the mental clutter. 

3.  Clean up your calendar! 

- Today, plan out all of your selling days for the rest of the year and just jam into those same time blocks everything you think that you will need to do between now and then. 

- Then take an expanded view of what you have just done and make sure that it makes sense balancing what time blocks you now have in your 20-day calendar and what time you have available to actually sell.  Try to view your calendar as if you were 20 feet above the view and not able to see the details other than the available time to sell. 

In some sales markets such as recruiting and real estate, these are called "the money hours", which these highly trained salespeople know from experience are the two or four optimum times during a day to connect with a prospect.
The point here is to take a hard look at what you have available to sell and simply get rid of everything else and forklift it over to January.   Yes, January!

  • I'm a fanatic about time, and I just did this exercise yesterday morning and realized I had overlapping times in two critical presentations and was not allowing enough travel time Wednesday night to prep for a critical early Thursday call.
  • Make sure that you ask your December prospects what their vacation plans are for December and also extend that question to everyone else in the purchasing approval cycle.  Nothing's worse than trying to track down someone in the legal department for a cursory review of the final approval docs when that person is on the ski slopes between Christmas and New Year's.  
  • For sales management, there's the added reality during these same 20 days of having to spend some time fine-tuning the 2021 sales plans you submitted to your boss and the finance people in November. Another reality for sure, and there's no way around that other than weekend work.  Having dealt with this at all levels for 25 plus years, if you want a few ideas as to how to compress time and focus your planning on the sales and financial KPIs that really count, just connect for a no-cost call.  

4.  Clean Body, Focused Mind!  

No, this is not another statement on what you need to do to prevent infection.  You already know more than the basics by this time.  This relates to doing whatever you need to do to stay healthy, efficient, alert and sales-effective through the balance of this month which comes down to the simple truths of exercising, getting enough sleep and eating correctly...just like Mom told us. 

We all know the basics, and, yet most of us struggle with finding enough time or dealing with the realities of not being able go to our favorite gym which we left back in March. 

 

I certainly would rather be back at my workout place in Boston which I last saw on March 9th than walking down into the basement at 4:00 and getting on the Peloton for 30 minutes. But I also know the mental impact of what 30 minutes can make in clearing out the clutter and focusing me for the day ahead. 

................................

Nothing earth-shattering or even new in the four-point outline above...other than the reality of 20 days of superb opportunities in front of us today!   

Have a great day selling today...and for the next 19! 

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

 

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Tags: sales coach, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, closing sales, how to close sales, improving sales productivity, best sales practices;, sales success, sales readiness

"Jack's 3 Rules" to his students as the semester ends

a bASIC law of physics -Time is finite!

  • It can't be lengthened, shortened, bent, borrowed or stored!
  • Nowhere is that more definitive as in Sales. The quarter ends, quota points on the board. Done!
  • College the same way.  The semester ends, grades are given, GPAs are calculated.  Done!

At any university, a semester is about 13 weeks long with most classes meeting once a week, taking a total of 3 hours and bringing x number of credits depending on the university and the undergrad/grad level.  Sounds like a long time, but then we need to mix in normal holidays, 3-day weekends, extended holidays, spring breaks, on-campus recruiting weeks and sometimes very short "winterships"...just to add to the confusion and the crush on time.

This Wednesday !

And so it was on Wednesday, that we held the last of our three hour "content classes" with guest speakers, Ashley McManus, a rock star alum from our course and now Marketing Director at Affectiva, and also our very close friend, Jamie Turner, author, professor, international speaker and blogger and star of the 60 Second Marketer, talking about the rapidly changing-by-the-minute-world of social.  A great way to bring this semester to a close.  

Also, on the last day of actual classes, I always provide my outgoing 30ish students with my thoughts on what comes next in the way of jobs, careers  and business in general.  These comments additionally sum up much of what we have been doing over the prior 13 weeks in what I call "the marketing of me" as we move back and forth between the world of applying sophisticated marketing expertise and tactics for their companies to doing the same for their first jobs next May or internships next summer.  It all works!

Now, to finish the semester, the team has to complete their final presentations during the next two weeks and hand over their full marketing plans to the management at their companies.  Six companies, five or six juniors and seniors on a marketing project team.  The companies range in size from funded startups looking for full marketing plans to large corporations wanting to launch a new product or service into a new sector.  Industries are very diverse ranging this semester from toys to cars parking to hospice to software in a variety of markets. 

To make it all very real, management provides 40% of the course grades while I am my expert team of four TAs grade 60%.  It all works!

If you are interested in applying for one of these semester-long marketing projects, just connect with me right away by text at 617-504-4222, email at jack@derbymanagement, or through LI, and I will send you the instructions and talk through any questions you might have.  The syllabus and the projects go out to the new, already over-sold, class on December 26th.  It is a very rewarding process on both sides of the zoom screen.

AS LONG AS WE'RE DISCUSSING TUFTS... 

I have some gifted 2020 alums and many 2021 Seniors who are highly capable and are looking for entry level sales and marketing positions.  My computer science majors are not having any difficulty in finding jobs, nor are my finance-oriented students who have been interning for the last two summers in Wall Street firms.  Given the state of the current economic questioning, the same cannot be said for many of my other students and recent alums. 

If you are considering hiring an entry-level person as...

  • a marketing or sales intern part time for the spring semester and/or full time for the summer 
  • a full time marketing or sales person who graduated in May ( I have 2)
  • a full time marketing person graduating with an MBA from BU in May.
  • a full time marketing or sales senior graduating in December  (I have 1) 
  • a full time marketing or sales senior graduating in May  ( I have many)

Just connect with me since I have numbers of bright, hard-working, and driven individuals that I would highly recommend...all of whom, of course come with "The Jack Derby Seal of Approval" .

Have a great day selling today! 
Please celebrate a very safe Thanksgiving !

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call. 

I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

 

  

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Tags: sales management boot camp, Tufts marketing projects, Tufts internships, free marketing projects from universities, entrepreneurship, sales success, thanksgiving

Lessons from a Tufts alum on making the best presentations!

I've had the privilege of teaching at MIT and Tufts for 20 and 15 years respectively. The experience...

  • Blends in perfectly with my other passion of consulting in sales, marketing and business planning
  • Reminds me of just how much I still do not know, and my requirement to be a life-long student
  • Provides me with continuing opportunities to catch up with and engage my alums.
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Tags: sales coach, sales effectiveness, marketing effectiveness, sales jobs, Tufts marketing projects, free marketing projects from universities, value propositions, jack derby professor at Tufts