As I write this on a 14-degree sunny Saturday morning, I'm just in from snowblowing deep in the woods of Winhall (or Bondville) Vermont (pop.647). Known by the State of Vermont, the town of Winhall is-according to the Feds-also the village of Winhall in the town Bondville. Or maybe it's the other way around. Hard to figure.
Right now I'm about four hours away from my first Marketing course of this new semester at Tufts, and I never know who's more nervous or excited about the upcoming 13 weeks- me or the students?
Experience says that it's always me!.
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 !
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 !
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."
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!
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
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
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
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