"What Wakes Me Up in the Middle of the Night"

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Nov 15, 2016

Last week was Not a time for sleep!

sleep less and sales time.pngIn addition to my two "day jobs" of running our firm in Boston and teaching at Tufts, I spent hours and hours last week preparing for and then actually voting in my quirky little NH seacoast town.

More than anything else, standing out in the 35 degree Tuesday morning cold at 8:00 AM while waiting in line and sharing free coffee and hand made pastries from the local PTA, once again, I realized that this election process is a true testament to both "The American Way",...and also why New Hampshire is lovingly labeled "The Live Free or Die State". 


All of this may not be perfect, but, it sure works more than the alternatives.  Both the running of the country and the running of our businesses are fueled by growth, and it's time to put the election process behind us and get back to growing our companies.  



Up all night watching the results, I never slept and fumbled back into the Boston office at 4:00 AM on Wednesday to catch up on what had been happening in the real world.  Later that afternoon, I had a fascinating discussion with my Tufts marketing students on which candidate ran the better marketing campaign, and who used their marketing tools and budgets more effectively.  The outcome was a clear decision for Donald with the students noting numbers of the tactics that we've learned this semester:

  • his simple and consistent CoM- "Command of the Message"
  • his small number of clear "Value Propositions"
  • his commanding use of social media
  • his decisive and purposeful use of the press  

With the election now thankfully behind us, hopefully this week we can hopefully get back to running our businesses full time and worrying about the real things that actually do keep us up at night, and, most importantly, what we can do that will lead to increased sales.  


What Really Does Keep Most CEO's and Sales Managers up at night?

We know this answer since we constantly ask "What keeps you up at night?" of hundreds of our CEOs and Sales VPs during the year.  The number #1 answer for the past three years continues to be... 

"I need my salespeople to be more productive!" 

To hammer that point home, take a look below at the recently released data from the team at Sales Benchmark Index. In the last three years, productivity declined for the world’s largest sales forces.

  • Only 41 of the SBI 100 companies increased sales productivity per employee.
  • There's been an average productivity decline of 2.5 percent over the last three years
  • On the low end of the productivity curve are highly respected brands including Paychex, Salesforce.com, ADP, Oracle and PitneyBowes.

sales productivity Jim Ninivaggi Brainshark.pngWe know that increasing sales productivity is very high in the top #1-#3 priorities of most executives. We know this from our own data, from Jim Ninivaggi, the head of Partnerships at Brainshark (and previously at Sirius Decisions).  

Unfortunately, whatever our sales teams, in general, have been doing to improve sales productivity hasn't been working except in specific pockets.  It's only in those companies where the company leaders have focused on a balanced integration of disciplined sales processes, highly integrated sales tools and combined sales and marketing technology platforms like Hubspot, that productivity has improved.

We also know that unfortunately cutting expenses to make up for lackluster sales productivity is relatively easy.  Increasing revenue is, by comparison, far more complex than cutting expenses simply because it involves a much wider set of both strategic and tactical decision making, which typically also involves initial additional expense, which makes both the strategic and tactical decision making all that much harder.  

Planning process.jpg-1.pngMost of the time there are not four or five strategic choices to increasing revenue, there are 10, or 15 or 20, and all of those need to be discussed, researched, analyzed, prioritized and then and finally decided on as to "yes", "no", or "not-at-this-time".

It's only then, when these strategic decisions are made, that the hard work can begin in creating the detailed 2017 sales and marketing tactical plans and their budgets.  



Right now I'm sure you're wicked busy...

  • Executing Job #1 closing deals over the 30 effective selling days left in this year
  • Getting reminded by the finance guy that you need to finish your 2017 budget
  • Knowing that you need a lot more time to work through your various 2017 sales plans
  • ...plus your 2017 marketing plans
  • Being constantly reminded that the January Sales Meeting agenda is not yet finished
  • ...and a host of other very loud to screaming priorities that seem to pile up every day now

Lock yourself away for just 2 hours sometime this week !

  • Forget about everything else!  No emails!  No more talk about election results!  
  • Focus on one objective:  "What will it take to increase sales productivity by x% in 2017?"
  • Then build a matrix of planning activities for the next 20 days totally focused on that objective.

Forget the election results!  We need to move on!

  • All of us now need to get this process behind us and unify the country around a new president
  • We voted, and the process may or may not have been perfect, but it is our American way 
  • No one can change the results.  It's simply time to quickly move on since there's a huge amount of real work to do which will require tough decisions and unity among all of us.  
  • What we as managers do have in our total control is that all of us can dramatically impact the results of our future revenue curve whether that's over the next 30 days or in our time to complete our 2017 planning.  All it now takes is decisive strategic decision making and detailed tactical planning...and, of course, your personal leadership!  

Nothing else counts right now!

In order to make this process of 2017 planning a bit easier for you, each summer, we update our free 100 page book, "Writing the Winning Business Plan", which you can download at our Solution Center, where you can also find a number of other tools to make your 2017 planning work easier.

Also, when you have questions, just email us, and we will quickly set up a time to talk and become a (free) confidential sounding board.  Take a bit of your time this weekend and think through your sales and your business planning processes and make sure that it's effective and works for the benefit of you and your team.



Tufts Fall, 2014-2-1.jpgWith my announcement in last week's blog for projects for my current Marketing course and my new Sales course at Tufts in January, we had a number of excellent projects that we have signed up, and I am still looking for additional projects.

If you're interested in submitting either a marketing or a sales project for this spring, just email me at jack@derbymanagement, and I will send out the instructions on what's expected, the logistics and the dates for the spring semester for both the sales and the marketing courses.

Remember back to when you were in college, and you were wondering how you were going to put into use that course in sociology or whatever you were studying at the time?   At Tufts, the experience we provide for our marketing and sales students through these projects is unique since they learn strategy, they debate tactics, and then get their hands dirty by actually diving deep into the crankcase oil by being asked to provide detailed recommendations and actual execution activities.  That's the value received on the student's side of the table.

For your company's side of the table, the value received is...

  • extraordinary hard work coupled with a very high work ethic on the part of these students
  • deep market and competitor research
  • fresh and innovative ideas
  • and, interestingly enough...experience.  Every team has at least one and often time more students who already have had experience through prior marketing, BDR and sales internships.

Good selling this week!

  Jack Derby
Head Coach  

 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 

Tags: sales productivity, sales enablement, sales plans