This morning I'm thinking very differently about the words "a long hard slog", and looking at this business environment not as a world of chaos and interruption, but as one of creating a much more simplified process that creates a much straighter line between "start" and "purchase".
This is exactly where we hoped we would not be, and yet, here we are today in the belly of the beast.
Not many of us any longer are hoping that this situation will get better, since what we have experienced most recently in the harsh reality of the last seven days, clearly defines that the personal and business impact will become a lot worse before it improves. I am neither capable nor technically equipped to make any projections, and my personal business expectations are just as good or as bad as yours, but having said that, I, like you, run businesses and, like you, I'm a pragmatist, and I know that we are in this chaotic situation for a long time until vaccines hit the market.
The rhythm of the seasons...Taint spring yet
I was reminded yesterday of the inevitable rhythm of the seasons both in VT and in the world of Sales. It seems that for some yet unknown reason, a decision has been made to redo the kitchen in Vermont. Not that I was consulted or even asked in this decision process, but I was told that a decision had been made all the same. Given this, I reached out to my friend Steve at Homestead, the company up at the end of the road a piece that does the plowing in the winta', the lawn in the summa' and basically everything else from landscaping to construction at the VT house.
Today, hopefully you're heads down and totally focused on completing the year ahead of plan. Whether you're in the profession of sales or you're an artist working on delivering the last of the Christmas ornaments, next week is the week when all of the marbles get measured. Yea, I know...the month doesn't end on the 20th, but for all practical purposes, it really does. Even if you're planning to work on the 24th and the 30th and 31st, you're going to be very lonely sitting at home talking to no one, so this is the last week to "Git-R-Done!"
As you're lining up calls, connections and closings today while keeping an anxious eye on the disappearing minutes on the clock, keep very focused on just three things:
Don't Overthink.Your work today and next week is all about your focus to close deals in five days from today!
You are not in the business of providing creative strategy or product development solutions for your prospective customer that will impact their business two or three years from now. You're the solution and business value provider whose company will provide the absolute best products and services that will improve your prospects' 2020 business results by increasing their revenue, their gross profit and their net income.
Be HumanWith a short countdown till launch of only five days, be human and project your own humanity of working 10 and 12 hours a day at this time of year to the person on the other side of the table-phone-text-email-videophone. They're just as stressed as you are and have equally stretched schedules of work, kids, teacher conferences, holiday parties and wicked travel. Yesterday, it took me two and a half hours just to drive from Logan to the Back Bay...and there were no accidents. Forget 128/95/495 travel at 7:00 AM or 5:00 PM, but also remember that that's the reality of what happens to your prospect every day. Be extremely sensitive to that type of reality and assess what it is that you could do personally that would reduce the stress, improve the time efficiency and impact the value that you and your products provide to your buying decision maker?
I'm running a two-day business planning session during the first week of January for 16 people. The real work is the technical stuff related to the prep, the interviews, and the facilitation of the meeting. I happily volunteered (and was immediately asked to do so) to take care of all of the logistics, hotel and travel reservations, food and everything else freeing up the senior team to focus on closing their year.
Buckle UpThis is crunch time; it's as simple as that!. This weekend and the next five days require 100 hours of work, waking up before the kids tomorrow and Sunday and getting in at 7:00 AM and not 8:30 all next week.
Do everything you already know how to do and make sure that you're physically and mentally on the top of your game because when it's over, it's over!
Now, get back to work, and have a great day today being remarkable!
Many of us are currently crunching through data, spreadsheets, analytics and forecasts trying to figure out what our operating plans will be for 2020. Whether it's the almighty CFO continuously prodding us for this information as she assembles the company's financial plan or our sales manager taking even more time out of our already super-packed prospecting week to juggle scenarios, the pressure's on to figure out plans for 2020. Hard enough as a salesperson, wicked hard as a manager and darn near impossible as the boss, but, who cares? It is what it is, and what it is is about business planning and forecasting at this time of year in the seasonal cycle of business.
The weak salespeople and managers will whine, complain and not dive in and do the real hard work of assessing the last 10 months of data and will simply guess. The pros will sift through the analytics, consult with their peers, sit with marketing and then work directly with the quants in Finance to make sure that what their forecasting works for the department and the company. Nothing exists in a vacuum!
Of course the announcement of the beginning of Spring brings out all of that amorphous stuff about rebirth, awakening and new growth. For me, after all of these springs, I'm sure that those touchy feelings also exist somewhere neatly filed in some dusty corner of my brain right alongside my desire to look for the first robin. Not really !
"A clean forest is a happy forest !"
In the tiny town of Bondville (Federal government's name) and/or Winhall (the State's name), population 647, I was out in my Vermont woodlot this past weekend. Always a work process of love for the land that is good for my head, the soul and especially for the woods!
My family has lived in this valley for over 250 years, and I have enough great grandfather and grandfather stories of real entrepreneurship to fill a book. I think that it's not by coincidence that I'm now director of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, just two miles from my grandfather's first retail store opened in Davis Square in 1908. Bapa left the not-so-rural town of Poultney, just 20 miles up the road a piece from where I live in Vermont, to settle in Somerville next to the Tufts campus.
Last Friday, Mike, my trusted co-worker, and I were deep in the Vermont muck with chain saws and ATV's cutting, bushwhacking, and generally cleaning up the final damage of the winta'.
Today's critical number is seven!
- Seven days in the week
- Seven is a very spiritual number; just like three
- Seven continents and seven seas
- Shakespeare's "seven stages of life"
- Seven colors in a rainbow
- Seven letter in "SUCCESS"
- ...and, of course, just seven days left in Q2 to make quota !
For years, I've always been a countdown guy ticking the numbers down from here to there, or more typically, I start at the "there" and back into where "here" is so that everything...quota, work, travel, and my work at Tufts with my extraordinary students and professors, gets handled efficiently...and most of the time, effectively.
Time is obviously finite and allows for zero expansion in life, in projects and certainly in Sales. The month closes, the calendar page turns and BAANNG, it's a new month, a new quarter, and we're on the other side of that measuring bar. Same as in sports when the buzzer sounds! Zero difference since Sales is just like any professional sport. Always remember that we're all professional athletes just like any professional sports figure...we just chose different careers. Same requirements for training, motivation and the clarity of our drive!
Yikes ! The first full week of February already ?!?!
- How are those New Year's Resolutions doing?
- What about those personal changes you've been thinking about?
- If you wrote down "be a better sales leader", do you now have a plan?
When he was CEO of GE, Jack Welch wrote:
"The world will not belong to managers of those who can make the numbers dance. The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders-people who not only have enormous amounts of energy, but who can energize those whom they lead."