When you're going through hell, what do you do?

In mid-July, I wrote about doing a first half year review, taking score of where you are and re-planning for the second half of the year.  That tactic of the first half review is used in business, in life, in football, and I'm now just suggesting to do it later this week for everyone working in Sales and now facing the critical 4th Quarter.  Very simply, when the 4th Quarter is finished on the 31st of December, it's game over, and the 2019 numbers are posted for all to see on the scoreboard.  No more time, no more timeouts, no more substitutions, no more injured players, no more excuses.  Done!!!

  • True salespeople, women and men, sales execs or BDRs, district managers or CEOs always know exactly where they are in their revenue metrics.  I'm currently in the critical process of signing up partners to the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, and I don't need to have my head of finance remind me where I am...but she does all the time...because she's a strong manager and a critical partner, and at the end of the day, money is money!   Bottom line is that I'm behind, and I now need to double down in effort, add more time to the sales clock and execute on a couple of new short term tactics. 
  • This week, theoretically there's 13 weeks left in the year, but in the cold hard reality of vacations and holidays, there's really nine. Given that, today, as in Monday, the last day of Q3, you should be totally focused on today, and then on Tuesday, as in tomorrow, immediately shift that focus to Q4 and the remaining 50 selling days left in the year.

Congratulations! to those of you who wake up tomorrow morning knowing that you're ahead of the game for the year, that the team is fully balanced, everyone is trained and amped up for the long drive through the rest of the quarter. 

Like the Pats, it's great to be ahead of the pack!

For those of us behind the curve, me included, it's time to change something since whatever it is that we've been doing for the past 270 days or so has not been working that well, and given current course and speed, the simple math says that nothing will change.  As professionals in the science of Sales, we gave up on the "Strategy of Hope" a very long time ago. It doesn't take that many slaps upside the head from past failures to figure out that the "same old, same old" even with a fresh coat of paint, rarely works.  

TIME to Create a New Game Plan

  •  It's the 4th Quarter which brings with it all of the normal issues of competition, focus, pricing discounts
     and the lack of time on the part of everyone on both sides of the buying and selling table.
  • In this particular 4th quarter, add to the lack of time, the confusion about tariffs, the stupidity of both political parties and the brain-dead media rapidly talking the country into a recession.  But, given the buoyancy of the economy, low unemployment, low interest rates and wheelbarrows of cash still parked on the sidelines, there's plenty of buying power left in corporate America... at least for the short term. 
  •  Today announce that you're gathering the team around the table this Friday morning at 7:30 to spend the entire morning walking through every strategy, every tactic, every contingency scenario and every personnel resource you're going to need during the next 53 days of the quarter.  Give assignments out today so that everyone is prepared and everyone has something to present.

And, btw, wherever you are on whichever side of the competitive edge you are on today, it could be a lot worse!  Imagine if you're a senior manager or are on the sales teams of WeWork, Peloton, Boeing or Juul having to rebuild your entire business model and your product plans.

  • I also think back to the readings of my sales coach, SunTzu, who time and again has pulled me out of the sales doldrums and has givin me immediate short and mid-term focus to the tactical job at hand. 
  • Similarly, Eisenhower's response when after learning on that morning of the highly planned invasion of the beaches at Normandy that everything was disastrously falling apart by the hour, he executed a totally revised tactical plan which quickly got the soldiers off the beaches.  Weeks after, he was quoted with "It's not the plan that's important; it's the planning process.".  
  • And it was from those dark early days of the war when Britain stood alone following the invasion of France and the disaster at Dunkirk that Winston Churchill responded with "When you're going through hell, keep going", followed again and again with "Never, never, never give up".  

Things to do this week:

1. Get that Friday morning planning session together with assignments and concise and impactful tactical presentations focused on the remaining 50ish days.  Don't allow anyone to complain about their lack of time, or those big bad competitors, or the problems with tariffs when in fact, it's most probably the lack of small, focused tactical selling plans that's the real problem.

 

2. Focus on geographies at the Friday planning meeting.  With a small number of days left in the year, we need to focus on streets, not states.  There are 31 NFL cities in the U.S.   The cities themselves  account for 10% of the U.S. population.  The "greater" population directly around those cities equals another 25%.  Go where the customers are and the prospects are going to be. Don't waste time exploring new geographies!  

3. Pick your critical metrics and communicate them every week  Next week institute 30 minute team calls every Monday morning at 7:30, and at the end a day midweek-either Wednesday or Thursday-to discover on a peer-to-peer basis-what tactics worked and the results that came from them.   

Have a great day selling today !

Please stay connected!

Advisor, Derby Management, experts in-
-Sales & Marketing Productivity
-Business and Strategic Planning
WHAT WE DO AT DERBY MANAGEMENT    

Director, TEC-Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
Cummings Family Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship
Spark-Incubate-Accelerate@Tufts
Come to our Events

2019 $100K New Ventures
Cell:  617-504-4222 jack.derby@tufts.edu



Read More

Tags: sales planning meeting, sales leadership, sales management productivity, sales motivation

Nothing ! gets better by itself...

 

"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself"


...Andy Warhol

 


Read More

Tags: price waterhouse coopers, student intern marketing projects, sales planning meetings, sales leadership, value propositions, selling trust, sales motivation

Welcome to the Spring-Don't Get Stuck in the Mud!

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Mar 22, 2019

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 !

Read More

Tags: entreprenurial, Sales Management Best Practices, sales optomization, sales management boot camp, improving sales productivity, sales leadership, Making Tough Choices

10 Lessons for Success from a Serial Entrepreneur!

At the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, in addition to shepherding 450 enthusiastic and curious students a semester among 16 wicked smart professors, I've been focusing on building an event structure throughout the year that leads up to our $100K New Venture Competition in the spring.  Right now, you should Mark April 5th in your calendar and come and participate in what Forbes ranks as one of "The top 15 business plan contests in the country." 

Read More

Tags: sales leadership, value propositions, jack derby professor at Tufts, sales management plans, creating trust in sales, Tufts Entrepreneurship

Activities, Activities, Activities...and more Sales

 

All about the team, a strong sales culture...and having fun

 I was sitting in a board meeting at Brainshark yesterday and listening to Colleen Honan, the highly experienced and talented Chief Sales Officer, talk about activity planning.  Colleen has all of the background, the years, and the depth of experience to truly be qualified as the head of sales of a leading tech company.  She's disciplined in her approach, fluent in new processes and technology and unrelenting in her approach to sales coaching, sales planning, sales training while  having fun at the same time.  

So when I walked in to the headquarters in Waltham at 7:30 yesterday, I was not surprised to see the salespeople already at work planning out their activities for the day and getting in early morning calls.  I was however, a bit taken back by the fact that one of the leading teams of 20 or so, was dressed in tuxes and gowns.  And then I learned that Colleen had been talking to them about the Gatsby generation, which inspired this very hard working team of classic millennials to dress the part for the day. So very cool...and engaging...and being part cementing the team!

Read More

Tags: Tufts marketing projects, interns for marketing projects, sales leadership, Sales Hiring Perfectly, jack derby professor at Tufts, how to write a sales plan, sales management productivity, sales effectivness, sales plans for 2018

Time to Start Filling the Beach Bag

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Mar 06, 2018

Maybe it's just the calendar as we race into March especially today sandwiched between the weekend nor'easter and tomorrow's nor'easter. Hard to believe that I was out raking in the NH yard in the sun on Sunday morning. Harder to believe that I was raking seaweed out of the grass after these waves went way over the seawall and closed the roads.

Maybe it was the bright 50 degree, sunny days just two weeks ago.  "In-Like-a-Lion" March lives up to its reputation this week



All I know is that just three months from now, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer, and the summer means the beach, and the beach means mega-reading and mega-writing. 

Nothing better for me, my psyche, my health and my curiosity than taking my overloaded beach bag out early on a Saturday morning and opening up a book about sales or marketing and taking out my writing tablet.

Each summer, I also use the time on the beach to rewrite our 115 page Writing the Winning Business Plan and our 50 page Writing the Winning Marketing Plan. If you want copies of either of these, just click on below.  Actually, if you do read these now, and you have ideas or comments, just let me know, and we will make sure that we will add those comments if we can and give you attribution, as you will note in the front of the Writing the Winning Business Plan book

 

Read More

Tags: sales leadership, entrepreneurship, jack derby professor at Tufts, sales management plans, sales management productivity, sales plans for 2018

Gold-Silver-Bronze...How's Your Sales Team Doing for Medals?

Nothing is more exciting for me than watching the Olympics, and the U.S. Women's Hockey Team taking the gold last night in a decisive win over Canada was one of the huge highlights of this very exciting winter's games !  

  • Superb conditioning on the part of every player !
  • Mental toughness all around !
  • Highly skilled and practiced plays !
  • Just superb athletes in everyone on the team !

I'm a long time snowboarder and have been riding for almost 25 years with countless years attending the U.S. Open at Stratton watching Olympic champs Shaun White and Lindsey Jacobellis walk away with gold medals there and at the Olympics.  Last week's snowboarding medals by Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard, and the ageless Shaun White just proved once again that.....

To win in any sport, and in any sales activity, medal performance always, always comes down to the basics of...

1.  Consistent training...and more training

2.  Certification that the training was done correctly

3.  Mental conditioning and then...even more training

 

Sounds pretty basic, and it is. 

Actually, there should be no difference in how we assess our professional athletes on our own sales teams when comparing our players to the athletes at the Olympics or in any professional sport.  Once we start to think differently, that's the point at which we take ourselves out of the race to get to the Olympics and become medal winners.  "Pretty Good" or "Good Enough" B players are just that... "not good enough" if you're planning to consistently be on the podium at the end of any quarter.

Homework to do

This weekend, come up with a numeric rating system against your top three sales metrics.  You probably have already done weighting factors of revenue, gross margin, monthly or annual subscription values, and bookings.  Now rank all of your salespeople in the categories of Gold, Silver and Bronze.  There will definitely  be a couple of players who, given the fact that they are new to the company, are still on the development team, but they can also be ranked once they're past the three month curve. 
Do this ranking separately for every gradation of salespeople that you have whether they are hunters, account managers, farmers or BDRs.  
So far, easy homework to do, and don't overthink this...just Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Now the Question

The question now is for you to figure out where you should be spending your own time as a Player-Coach?  Since all time is finite, and, most probably you're already spending 60-75 hours a week both managing and selling, the question that needs to be asked and definitevely answered in numbers of hours/week is where should you be spending your coaching time with your athletes.

1.  Do you spend the majority of your time with your Gold players (the top 20%) and train and motivate them to increase their current performance another 15%?

2.  Do you limit your time with your Gold players and pump that time into increased training, more practices and one-on-one motivational time with your Silver medalists (the average and above average 60%)?

3. Just what are you planning to do with your bottom 20%...and when are you going to take specific action?  It's also time to make those decisions.  

I know what I always do, and I'll be happy to share that in next week's blog, or you can just email me in the meantime, and we can schedule a call. 

But, much more importantly, I would really like you to express in the comments section how you carve up your work time and where would you allocate your coaching time from now through June...clearly the most important sales period of the year?  It would be very important, given your experience, if you were to share where and how you allocate your time with the rest of our readers.    Just a simple note in "comments" would be important for all of us since peer learning in the world of Sales is always the most impactful.

  • Whatever training and planning against the tactical playbook that you write now and then actually occurs between March and June will determine the course and speed for the balance of your quota year. 
  • This period of four months is simply a lot of actual time-about 80 work days, and if that time is used wisely and is formally balanced between both playing the game and training to play the game, you will find that there is a very impactful ROI on that investment in time that will occur over the period of the summer when you will need it most. 

Have a great day selling today, and raise a glass tonight the Women's Hockey Team...and all of the other superb medal winners...all sports, all countries! 

   

Coach & Advisor to Derby Management
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies, Tufts University
Cummings Professor of Entrepreneurship

 

 


Read More

Tags: Sales Leadership in the Revolution, sales leadership, entrepreneurship, Making Tough Choices, jack derby professor at Tufts, sales management productivity, sales effectivness, sales plans for 2018

Management & Sales Lessons from the Commissioner

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Feb 08, 2018

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."

Read More

Tags: improving sales productivity, sales leadership, sales management productivity, sales effectivness, sales plans for 2018, creating trust in sales

As a salesguy, I'm making just one 2018 resolution...

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Jan 12, 2018
I have lots of room for improvements, so it's hard to limit my 2018 resolutions to just one, but in my work as a salesguy...

What would that be?

  • Would it be to make more calls?  Close more deals?
  • Travel more?  Or actually, travel less?
  • Hire managers and salespeople more quickly and with few mistakes?
  • Plan my time better for the week or for the month or quarter?

It looks like 2018 will be a year of significant change for me, so while all of the bullets above are actually pretty good ideas, and while I can always do better, my one resolution is both simpler and more complex.  Simple, because it actually is, but, more complex because I always want to express my opinion, when in fact, I should just shut up, not speak and listen much more completely.

Read More

Tags: sales leadership, sales productiv, how to write a sales plan, sales effectivness, creating trust in sales

Heading to the beach..."Field Research" on Sales Leadership

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Jun 09, 2016

Interesting comments from a number of readers on a blog I did back in February on what it takes to become a sales leader.  I realized as a result of that blog and the comments and questions that I received, that I knew a whole lot more about what a sales leader is not, than what a true leader of salespeople really is.

For example, I know that a sales leader is not...

  • Captain Command & Control
    This guy is all about gruffness and full blunt force, marked by swearing and shouting in public coupled with a list of not-so-veiled threats about being fired.  

    The result in what he creates is always a small salesforce of dispirited workers who run for cubicle cover and start looking at their shoes every time "The Captain" marches into the office.  You would think that after all of these years, this dinosaur had finally been bogged down in the tar pits of the 1980's and been classified as extinct, but he's still out there shouting even louder since all of the good salespeople have already jumped off of his ship.    
  • Mary Micromanager
    Mary isn't quite sure what exactly her leadership role is as a new sales manager since she quickly rose through the ranks from BDR to sales rep to team leader and is now a district or regional manager.  

    As a result, she never really had the time or the support from her managers to be properly trained and, as a result, she was just thrown into the deep end of the pool to see if she would either sink or swim.   Mary has now become the ubersalesperson looking for more and more detail and constantly doing activity follow up with her team while she basically drives them nuts.   What Mary has not yet learned is that there are manager roles, like Player-Coach, where she can bring real value to the team and allow them the freedom to do their front line job... perhaps in many cases better than she could do it.
  • Tommy Technology 
    T2 is a manager who is all about technology and replacing F2F field salespeople with inside sales teams armed with highly integrated CRM platforms and a variety of apps.  

    I'm all for integrating tech stuff into sales processes and strongly believe that technology platforms like Insight Squared, Hubspot and Brainshark, wrapped around formal sales processes, can improve average sales productivity by 25%.  But, the problem with having Tommy as a manager is that he has forgotten about delivering customer value, and he's run way too fast right to the edge of the cliff never looking back to see if his salespeople are following him or are just going to watch him jump into the abyss shouting... "Good riddance, Tommy."

So, just what is Sales Leadership?

So, as I said, I'm pretty good at understanding what sales leadership is not, but I'm still pretty sure that if I had to teach even a general 101 course on leadership, let alone sales leadership, I would not have much to say after the first or second class.

As a result, I've been packing up the summer beach bag, that hangs quietly in the garage all winter amid various beach towels and chairs, with a variety of books and downloaded articles that I've come across this year as I try to figure out just what being a sales leader is all about.   

A good place for me to start was this article from McKinsey on...
"The BullS--- of Leadership."  I also thought that it's something that you might also find worthwhile.  Since so much of defining "leadership" is to provide examples, most of the books that are referenced in the article are about individuals.  My intent is to read through a number of them during the summer...in between my normal prep reading on the beach for next semester's marketing course at Tufts and MIT's business planning classes.

 

Master of the Senate, (about Lyndon Johnson) by Robert Caro

The Power Broker,, (about Robert Moses), by Robert Caro 

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

Team of Rivals (about Lincoln) by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Influence of Science & Practice by Robert Cialdini

 

 

 

Need Your Guidance & ideas...

Given all of this reading about sales leadership and sales management, I and the rest of the partners at the firm could use your help, guidance and opinions.


For approximately 15 years, we've run twice-a-year Sales Management Boot Camps.  Limited to 20, maybe 25, individuals who are managing other salespeople, these 2.5 day programs held in the unique setting of the MIT Endicott House, 20 miles outside of Boston, focus on a wide variety of sales leadership topics crossing an equally wide variety of industries and markets.  We've found that the industry variety is actually key to the success of these programs since managers can openly discuss their issues in a confidential environment where there are no competitors, but there's deep experience in size, in type and in the industries of the attendees.

Taught by my guys and a number of well recognized sales management experts in the Boston community, we're gearing up for another program in November.   The question that I would greatly appreciate your guidance on and direction for is simply...

"If you were to come to a sales management leadership program, what would you want to learn?"

Your help would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

 

IT'S TIME TO TUNE UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS & MARKETING PLANS

Also, since you're now deep into Q2, you just may want to put aside a day during the next two weeks 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.

Good Selling!  

   

 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 

     

 

 

Read More

Tags: sales, sales tools, sales management training, sales management boot camp, sales leadership