I'm now going to date myself, but it's an important perspective in understanding just why I, you and the entire profession of sales need to keep rapidly evolving while it focuses, not on the practice of sales itself, but on the value that we bring to our customers.
Not that long ago, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, which is now a highly desired community to live in with close proximity and an excellent public transportation into the tech and pharma centers of Cambridge and Boston. That's Arlington today, but I clearly remember...
- ...living only a mile away from one of the many pig farms that dotted the west side of Arlington
- ...begging the many linemen installing telephones in the winter for their rolls of black tape so that we could use them as hockey pucks skating on the many swamps and ponds that dotted the home of "the Spy Ponders" and gave birth to decades of Arlington's state champion hockey teams.
- ...having 10 plus kids come to our house on afternoons to watch the one TV in the neighborhood
- ...not having individual phone lines, but only "party lines" shared with three other neighboring families all of whom understood who the call was for through a complex formula of mechanical rings coming from a rotary phone.
Ok, so maybe all of that was some time ago, but certainly not a lifetime and just one of the countless building blocks of tech and social changes that all of us have evidenced during our careers.
With my students at Tufts and MIT, even though we work in engineering tracks, I carefully exclude any mention of ancient companies such as Digital or Kodak or Polaroid which have little relevance, other than dusty history lessons, in any of our discussions regarding marketing or business planning.
All of which brings me to think through this phrase of "party lines" and its relevance to today's tactics of selling and adding value. As we work through these last two weeks of this critical quarter, how well practiced are you, and how would you grade yourself as to your ability to deliver "the party line" of...
- ...exactly what your company does-"The Classic Elevator Speech"?
My guess is that this party line rolls perfectly off your lips. The question is whether those exact words would be and can be described as perfectly by all of your customer-facing employees-Salespeople, BDR's and Customer Experience reps?
- ...your company's Value Proposition?
We know from our own research and the data collected from Forrester and Sirius Decisions that the ability to effectively deliver a company's Value Proposition is the #1 most critical skill of the most successful B2B salespeople.
- ...your company's vision and its two or three top growth strategies for 2016-2017?
This is tougher, and when asked, we've discovered that less than 20% of all customer-facing employees can correctly define the company's vision, and only 10% can talk about the company's primary growth strategies.
Are Party Lines important?
They are absolutely critical, and in the race to jump ahead of the competition and define true customer value, these are very fundamental common questions that are being asked of BDRs, of account reps and especially of customer experience associates.
As this Quarter draws to a close...
IT's time to TUNE UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS & MARKETING PLANS
Also, since you're now very deep into Q2, you just may want to put aside a day during the first half of July to refine and update your 2016 Business Plan, or at least your 2016 Sales and Marketing Plans. To get you started, click here and receive a downloaded copy of our Writing the Winning Business Plan, 2016 edition.
Another opportunity for preparing now for Q4 is to do the same type of "relook" at the basics of your 2016 Marketing Plan after reviewing our ebook on "How to Write a Marketing Plan". This consists of mostly solid basics and tactical structure stuff...which just might be the perfect thing to do right now before you dive too deeply into Q3.
...and, of course, if you just want to talk through some of where you are right now and use us as a confidential sounding board...or do a short Whiteboarding Session with any of us, just email me, and we will work out a convenient schedule.
These are the days that count!
Have a great weekend!
Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs
Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222