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: sales plans for 2018, sales effectivness, sales management productivity, how to write a sales plan, jack derby professor at Tufts, Sales Hiring Perfectly, sales leadership, interns for marketing projects, Tufts marketing projects
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 plans for 2018, sales effectivness, sales management productivity, jack derby professor at Tufts, Making Tough Choices, sales leadership, entrepreneurship, Sales Leadership in the Revolution
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."
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.
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.
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
It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat or a Republican; we are now faced with an interesting management problem.